Hard Graft: The Making Of Deus Ex HR’s Titles

It's an arm. Cool, huh?
It’s starting to feel like intro day here on RPS. Art Of The Title have just concluded their first gaming title sequence dissection, cracking the chest of the appropriately surgical opening of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Production company Goldtooth Creative Paul Furminger’s discusses the scene’s grand theme: “The original concept was a descent from the macroscopic to the microscopic and from the organic to the mechanical. We started working on storyboards and animatics that began with the gruesome reality of Adam’s beaten body and ended with the sublime perfection of veins and circuitry combining at a microscopic level.” Man, I regret skipping it now.

Whether you want to know about the technical aspects or the intended emotional impact, it’s an illuminating read. For example: watching it just there, my brain presumed it was all CGI, but as Furminger points out, that’s not the case at all: “On the first morning, we shot all the love scenes with our Megan and Adam lookalikes. In the afternoon, we put Adam on our futuristic operating table and got all of the surgery shots. On the second day, we shot all of the still elements, the pyro/effects plates, and we did the more serious operation shots – for example, we shot the circular saw cutting into the fake human body on the second day.”

In fact, as Furminger tells it, it’s a whole mish-mash of mixed media, combining CGI live-action and photography to bring the resurrection of Adam Jensen to life: “In the final sequence, there are 25 shots, not counting the title cards. Of those 25 shots, 14 are live action, 9 are computer-generated, and two were created in motion graphics using 2D animation on stills and photographed elements. The laser shot, for example, was entirely created from one still of a horse tranquilizer that we shot on our second day. The still was modified in Photoshop and then animated in After Effects.”

I love Art Of The Title’s singular obsession, and I’m really excited that they’re turning those big brains on games.


  1. Inigo says:

    Warren Spector, on the other hand, was heard to say “Yeah, I know Bob’s eye texture is really low resolution, but fuck it – nobody’ll notice if we zoom out quick enough”.

  2. faelnor says:

    “The original concept was to take everything from Mamoru Oshii’s Innocence and Ghost in the Shell opening sequences before adding hexagons. We started working on storyboards and animatics that began with the gruesome reality of showing Adam’s beaten body using animated 2D planes in a 3D view like in the opening of House MD, a few gratuitous shots from the Crysis suit, and ended with the sublime perfection of plagiarized veins and circuitry combining at a microscopic level.”

    • Stijn says:

      Inspiration isn’t the same as plagiarism, faelnor. It’s cyberpunk, obviously a lot of stuff is borrowed, but it’s not like they’re hiding it.

    • diamondmx says:

      Someone started their day with a healthy bowl of Hate Puffs?

    • RaveTurned says:

      “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion.”
      — T.S. Eliot

      In art, almost nothing is original. The best artists take their inspirations from anything that resonates and draw them together into a coherent form. This is *exactly* what the DXHR team did with that title sequence, and arguably the game as a whole.

    • 2late2die says:

      Every single thing you named borrowed and stole elements from previous works.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Well of course they did. Innocence, along with the other ghost in the shell films, is one of the major inspirations for Deus Ex. I’m happy they drew material from it.

      Also if you have ever been part of developing a movie (which you could argue the cutscene is), you would be amazed at how much is recycled from previous works, right down to camera angles, colour palettes and the backdrops.

    • grundus says:

      Someone should post that clip from Transformers which was lifted straight from an earlier film (I cannot remember the title of said film for I am merely a human) with some giant robots digimatically added in.

      Anyway, I will absolutely not complain about games ripping off Ghost in the Shell until they make an actual Ghost in the Shell game, like a completely awesome one that involves RPG elements and FPS action, possibly with augmentable vision?

    • FeepingCreature says:

      By the way – this is exactly why the modern notion of intellectual property as something created and owned solely by the copyright holder is bizarre and unrealistic.

    • DocSeuss says:

      @Grundus: That scene was done not because Michael Bay is a cheap bastard, but because he’s a cool dude who had an injured stunt driver lady and refused to put her in harm’s way again.

      @FeepingCreature: Line, is that you?

    • LionsPhil says:

      This just in: Michael Bay too cheap to afford a second stunt driver.

    • DocSeuss says:

      @LionsPhil: They were shooting on a limited amount of time, yo.

    • KaL_YoshiKa says:


    • TheApologist says:

      House MD wasn’t entirely original?! I must track down the truth of this scandal!

      *dons deerstalker and lights pipe*

    • c-Row says:

      The opening sequence of “House M.D.” uses huge chunks of Massive Attack’s “Teardrop” (or at least draws some heavy inspiration from it) so I wouldn’t call that exactly original either.

  3. Stijn says:

    I was very, very impressed with the intro sequence when I first saw it, really set the mood for the game well. Fantastic to read such an in-depth background article on it.

    • faelnor says:

      I’m glad that you were impressed, Stijn. I couldn’t, myself, get past the complete absence of original visuals and music.

    • Stijn says:

      No need to repeat yourself :)

    • nobody says:

      But that’s a lie, faelnor! You’re clearly not glad that Stijn was impressed. Unless you were glad to have a chance to demonstrate your superiority? Sometimes I say mean things but I wish I wouldn’t. For example, I already regret this condescending comment. Stijn’s reply was generous. Carry on.

      [edit: Stijn has changed his/her reply. It was previously a nicely disarming [censored — oops, shouldn’t have included content from a self-deleted comment]]

    • Stijn says:

      Actually, I thought my original reply would be perceived as more inflammatory. Either way, now they’re both out there in the open, so take your pick, I guess.

    • faelnor says:

      My reply was merely a mirror of his own reply in the thread above, which did sound condescending. It is all very fun :-)

    • Nogo says:

      Frankly, if you’re gonna harumph about genres sharing visual styles and reference points you deserve all the condescension you get.

  4. battles_atlas says:

    Is “Production Goldtooth Creative” a company name followed by a job role, or a pirate that works in design?

  5. Inigo says:

    On the first morning, we shot all the love scenes with our Megan and Adam lookalikes.


  6. onodera says:

    It really reminded me of ME2 intro.

  7. bagga says:

    Now I feel bad for insta-skipping it.

  8. sinister agent says:

    The only thing I really got from the titles was that someone had decided to make the audio a load of dramatic-sounding non-sequiturs with some cheap gratuitous sex glimpses thrown in. It was very slick, and the music was alright, but the arbitrary voice clips and images were more distracting than anything.

    However, I may have to watch it again. Perhaps it’ll resonate more once I’ve played it through, and knowing that so much work went into it might help.

    Also, orange.