Momoco’s watery title sequence for London Spy

With the final episode of BBC2 drama London Spy airing on TV tonight, we take a look at the show’s dramatic title sequence, created by production company Momoco.

Written by Child 44 author Tom Rob Smith, London Spy stars actors Ben Wishaw and Edward Holcroft. Wishaw’s character Danny falls in love with Alex, played by Holcroft, and is drawn into the murky world of espionage after Alex – who turns out to be a spy – disappears.

The slow motion, live action title sequence begins with a shot of a figure (Alex) falling into darkness, before another figure (Danny) swims down to grab his arm. The pair drift together underwater as a web of lines grows around them, and Alex is then dragged out of sight by a shoal of code, with letters and numbers snaking around him like tendrils. Danny swims to the surface and to a view of London’s skyline, with The Shard and City Hall illuminated in the distance.

“We see The Shard, the city, before it all blurs to ‘bokeh‘,” says creative director Nic Benns. “There’s no moment of release here – Danny has entered a more dangerous place, out of his depth. The lights become frenetic as the web/shards continue growing – they blister the screen until suddenly all is quiet,” he adds.

It’s an elegant sequence, and the abstract take on the show’s plot offers a more intriguing alternative to shots of the cast or familiar images of London.

To create the sequence, Benns filmed two dancers in a blue screen environment. “I choreographed simple moves to create the illusion of a ethereal or aquatic space,” he says. “The project was then animated and composited over a week period.”

It’s another great sequence from Momoco – the company also produced the opening credits for survival film Everest, Idris Elba detective drama Luther (which is returning to BBC for a two-part episode next week) and The Last Panthers, a crime drama from Sky and Canal+ which documents the aftermath of a diamond heist in Marseille.

The Last Panthers sequence features some similar visual effects to London Spy, this time coupled with medieval-looking ink drawings of angels and demons, as well as footage of shattering glass and a smoking gun. Actors were filmed in ultra slow motion and drawings projected onto invisible 3D models using projection mapping. An original score by David Bowie – his first for TV in around 20 years – creates a strong sense of foreboding.

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