Blog - Smith & Lee Design

Fish / making of

It begins as so many title sequences do, with styleframes. Given the simplicity of the concept, we produced just a few frames. The text falls in slow motion into water, and bubbles rise to the top of the frame.


Once RJ Cutler (the director) selected a typeface he liked, we created an Illustrator document that could be interpreted by a laser cutter. The additional lines you see below in the text were to make the text hollow so we could embed some weights into the wood.


The letters were cut from a sheet of MDF by a laser cutter. Really, it all came down to this: Gareth just wanted to use a laser cutter. This may be the most futuristic thing we’ve ever seen.

The letters were then sanded to perfection.

We then dipped the letters into thick, glossy white paint.

... and allowed them to dry overnight.

An aquarium was rigged to allow us to “reverse puppeteer” the floating letters. We could drop the letters into the tank and they floated up. Their motion was stopped by fishing wire that was rigged to the bottom of the aquarium.


Terence and Jenny team up to wrangle a difficult letter.

As Gareth operates the Epic.

And here are some of the slow motion shots, before any processing in After Effects.

And finally, we composite the letters together in After Effects!

Making ofGareth Smith