ZSpace Interview

When Home and Away returned in January this year, it brought with it a brand new Opening Sequence, replacing the underwater shots which had graced our screens since 2000. ZSpace were the team behind the new credits, and in this interview with Sam Hall (Design Producer) and Emile Rademeyer (Senior Designer), we discover a little about the work that went into creating them.

Interview conducted by Chris in December 2004

How and when did Seven first approach you to design the credits?

Zspace was approached to pitch for the design of the title sequence in August 2003. We were one of a number of companies bidding for the chance to design the new opening titles.

What were Seven’s original Guidelines? Was there anything they specifically wanted / didn’t want in the Credits?

The titles had to reflect the feel of the show with the number one pre-requisite that it needed to feature the cast very prominently. Seven wanted us to look at a colour change and shorten the titles to give them more pace. The titles had to keep the same Home & Away logo and had to be flexible to cope with various cast changes.

Did you research past Opening Titles to get an idea of what Seven and the viewers might want?

A lot of research and development goes into the development of a new idea as such. With any project it’s always better to have a look at what has been done before to try and “shake things up” a bit.

How did your team set about choosing the style and design of the Credits?

Zspace senior designer, Emile Rademeyer came up with the look and style of the whole package with Creative Director, Jean-Christophe Danoy keeping a watchful eye over the whole process. Emile’s idea came from the research he did, wanting to bring a fresh, new and organic identity to the show. Zspace’s design philosophy is to create work distinct from what is currently on television. Challenged by the brief, we set out to present the audience with a tempting glimpse of what the upcoming show has to offer: It’s all about setting an exciting and appropriate scene.

How was the sequence created and recorded? Did using a mix of CGI and real shots present any problems?

Under Zspace supervision, the wonderful Home & Away crew filmed all the backgrounds at various locations around Sydney and the North Coast. A big thanks to our Design Producer, Sam Hall, trying to predict suitable weather for the filming 3 weeks in advance! The location shots were combined with the studio shots of the cast, filmed against a massive green screen at Seven’s studios. The shots were then composited together, some consisting of up to 2 background plates, the frame-shot and the cast. Matching the lighting of the exterior and interior plates as well as working in High Definition were the main challenges. It came together remarkably well in the end and since the original titles we have filmed the cast twice over with new backgrounds and new frames!

What were the cast like to work with?

The cast were fantastic. They had to cope with their normal filming schedule as well as our demands on top of it all! They were literally being shuffled from set to our shoot and back again – talk about exhausting! Even when our visual effects shots became fiddly and time consuming they kept a smile up and kept us laughing on set.

Credits featuring Danni and Scott

In the Credits, Dani and Scott’s shot remains the only one not to feature a distinct Picture Frame theme. Was there a specific reason for not making this shot in the same theme as the rest of the Credits?

No, we just felt that it worked best like that. There is another one of those coming up soon….

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Before the 2004 season begun, Seven ran a promo featuring various shots from the new credits – different to the ones actually used. How many variations of each shot were actually created – and whose decision was it over which one made it into the final cut?

It’s always a bit of a group effort on which shots make the cut. We have our favourites and the guys at the Home & Away have theirs. We usually agree. There were a fair amount of background shots that did not suit the set-up and were too busy. Hence some of them have been used for other things.

The Credits have been updated numerous times since they were introduced in January. Does your team work on designing and shooting these new shots when needed, or was all creative control passed over to Seven after the original design process?

No, it’s an ongoing relationship and process.

Looking back, what aspects of the Credits are you most and least proud of?

To be able to have matched the look conceptualised in the original storyboards accurately is always very important. To try and emulate the original idea as best as you can. That we have made a set of titles that is genuinely liked, is always something to be very proud of.