April 03, 2019

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

Film Design

We drew inspiration for our archival treatments from the extraordinary photography produced by Leloir, who often took photos of Miles creating and performing music.

Firelight Media came to us with an in-depth documentary about the life and lasting signature talent of the legendary musician, Miles Davis. In Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, director Stanley Nelson examines the people, places and inspirations that carried Miles through his childhood, all the way through his career.

We were thrilled when we saw the first cut and began isolating all the moments we wanted to put our hands on. From the beginning, the team at Firelight had an incredible bank of archival imagery of Miles and his collaborators, along with those in his life that impacted him the most, like the incredible talented & lovable, Frances Davis (who had the best legs in the business).

Initial Main Title Styleframes by Josh Norton | Ink Exploration above by Doug Chang

We drew inspiration for our archival treatments from the extraordinary photography produced by Leloir, who often took photos of Miles creating and performing music. Applying the idea of sequential flow over time, we brought the highly-energetic stills into a more life-like stop motion world. These sequences delved into his time in studio with Gil Evans, the 2nd Quintet, and the “time-hop” open, along with a cut-out version for Frances and her experience as a dancer.

Frances Davis Sequences - Animation by Brian Landisman and Ivan Viaranchyk
Animation by Chris Scales

In addition to these scenes, we had the opportunity to add extra flair and go all-out in animation. We brought sheet music and 52nd street to life, created a psychedelic layer of movement to the infamous “Bitches Brew” album cover, and moved through animated layers of his well-known sketches.

Animation by Brian Landisman, Ivan Viaranchyk, Chris Scales, and Casey Drogin
Animation by Brian Landisman and Ivan Viaranchyk

Thanks again to Stanley Nelson and the Firelight team for allowing us to take part. The entire process was fascinating and dynamic, and we were honored to be able to string visuals together and help tell Miles’ story.

Animation by Ivan Viaranchyk, Jane Wu, and Brian Landisman | Title Sequence Edit by Shannon Hall

-BGSTR


Tidying Up

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Telling the Bigger Story