The new season of Killjoys comes with something extra cool: a fresh opening sequence by a team of animators from Toronto’s Cuppa Coffee Studios. We spoke to the studio’s Creative Director Chris Morris about how the new opener was made and what inspired the unique animation style—oh, and we’re going to let you see it, too.
Space: The new opening shows the Killjoys looking like a hybrid of comic book illustration and rotoscoped animation. What inspired that aesthetic?
Chris Morris: An illustrator I really admire is Wedha Abdul Rahid from Indonesia. His flamboyant and lifelike technique is know as WPAP, or Wedha Pop Art Portrait. When considering the rich, jewel-toned color palette of Killjoys and the strong personalities of the main characters, I thought that WPAP would be an exciting way to showcase all the show has to offer in a slightly unexpected way. At the very beginning of this project, I spent a few days playing with different visual styles but when I showed [Cuppa Coffee] Executive Producer Adam Shaheen my first WPAP portrait of Dutch, we both knew we were onto something special because the illustration was so intense, unique, and lifelike at the same time. And the idea of animating a whole opening sequence and recreating the Killjoys world like this got us fired up.
Can you tell us about the process that went into making the new opening sequence? How long does it take you to do this kind of animation?
The whole process was about two months from beginning to delivery. Luckily, the production and editing team on Killjoys did a lot of heavy lifting for us with pulling hundreds of images from the show for rotoscoping. Many thanks to Ferran Banchs for all his work finding us great images from the show! With a selection of our favourite images, I assembled an animated edit to visualize how the images move from one to the next and to work out how many images we can actually see in 15 seconds. This was an important part of the process because the edit sets the pacing, mood, and crafts the story for the whole sequence.
With our key images selected, my illustrators came on board. Erik Blohm-Gagne and Kelsey Ryan worked diligently for two weeks to create all the illustrations of The Quad, Lucy, and our main characters. It took about a day to create each image in Illustrator. It’s a interesting process, part tracing, part freehand drawing and the illustrators are making critical colour choices with each stroke. I think the effort is truly worth it because the characters come across so powerfully.
What came first, the art for the new sequence or the music, “Happy Damage” by Jacuzzi Boys? Did one influence the other?
The visuals were crafted first. I had a rhythm in my mind throughout the process but I really let the visuals and the flow of the camera drive the sequence. When we completed the visuals, the production team worked hard to come up with a great music track as kick-ass as our animation. The effort that went into music really paid off and I think it feels like they were made together.
We love your version of the ship, Lucy. What was your favourite Killjoys character to recreate?
I think our portrait of Lucy captures the high-tech vibe that we were after but it also has the crazy explosion of colour I was inspired by and I’m very proud of it. All of the characters translated really well on screen. D’avin comes across as tough with attitude—I love his smirk at the beginning of the sequence. Dutch appears beautiful and dangerous. Her hug with John is my favourite shot in the sequence. I have to say, John was my favorite character to create. I think it’s his eyes. John’s eyes are so intense in every shot and his face really translated well to our illustration style. I guess credit should go to Aaron Ashmore for being so photogenic but I still have difficulty thinking about the actors behind the roles because the characters in this show are so strong.
Check out the new opening credits sequence for Killjoys Season 2 below. And remember, the show returns to Space July 1 at 9e 6p, followed by all-new episodes of Dark Matter.