In 2008, Vetor Zero / Lobo was commissioned to create the opening sequence and interstitials for Capitu, a TV mini-series adaptation of Dom Casmurro, the masterpiece by 19th-century Brazilian novelist Machado de Assis. The main inspiration for this job was the work of French artist Jacques Villeglé, who became known in the mid-20th century for developing a technique called “decollage”: instead of building up an image by adding parts of other images, he worked by cutting, tearing or otherwise removing pieces of a picture to reveal parts of other images lying beneath.
The theater and the opera are recurring elements in the novel, so the production relied on classic theatrical techniques for the recreation of the environments. This inspired us to base our layouts on old letterpress show posters – the same material largely employed by the decollage artists. We wanted the aesthetic and the animation technique to be fully integrated in these pieces, which meant that the ripped paper should be more than just a graphic style: it should be the very mechanism that drove the animation forward.
We started by preparing simple animations in After Effects, primarily featuring typography and collage-like graphics representing key concepts of the story. These animations were edited together with short live-action clips from the series, and the entire sequence was then printed sequentially, frame by frame, on different kinds of paper.
These sheets were glued on top of each other, resulting in a stack of paper that had the first frame of the opening at the top and the last frame at the bottom. We mounted the stack below a table-top digital camera and proceeded to rip and tear the paper sheets one by one, slowly revealing each layer underneath. This process was photographed at regular intervals, and the pictures were imported back into After Effects as a sequence, where it received some slight color and time adjustments.