Behance member wins an Emmy

Paul McDonnel is a London based designer who specializes in Title Design. His projects include title sequences for ”Any Human Heart“, “Copper“, “Without You“, and “By Any Means“. Most recently, McDonnel won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design for his work on the title design of “Da Vinci’s Demons”. We spoke with him about his experiences working on the project, as well as his advice for young designers.


Can you describe your process in creating this project?
It started with a Skype meeting with the creator of the series David S. Goyer. We were invited to pitch against a handful of other title companies. We were given the scripts and I got really into them from the start. I have always idolized Leonardo Da Vinci, and I’ve wanted to be Indiana Jones since I was 4… this program seemed like it was merging the two which was beyond awesome!

David mentioned how much he liked the idea of The Johnny Cash Project, so we used that as inspiration. We created a 5 second test for David and he was really into it; we got the call about 4 days later telling us to get started.

The first step for us was to nail down a narrative and work from there. We then created a rough animatic set to the amazing score written by Bear McCreary. Then we started dropping in some of our 3D objects and footage from the show. We were working at 25fps to get the transitions right but then we dropped it down to 12fps and literally printed out each frame. We then used the print as a base layer and hand sketched over it. We placed one of Leonardo’s sketches on top of that and graded it all in Photoshop before bringing each frame back into After Effects, which was a complete labor of love.

Once it was back in After Effects, we brought the frame rate back up to 25 and cleaned up out transitions. Job done!

Did you go through many versions and iterations before coming up with these final pieces?
Not really. We only pitched two ideas, and once we had the go-ahead there were no major surprises. About halfway through the process we had a re-visit of the initial edit which took a bit of time but went surprisingly smoothly.


“Da Vinci’s Demons was ideal for me because I felt invested from the very beginning. The entire team, from David to Bear, were amazing to work with and I was getting paid to work on a project I would have gladly done in my spare time.”


How does Behance fit into your routine as a creative?
I discovered Behance earlier this year and was completely blown away by not only the high level of work but by the amount of it. If I’m completely honest with you, I found it as depressing as I found it inspirational! Every time I was blown away by a project I would find another that would rock my world within minutes. I have spent a lot of time on Behance since and it’s become a huge help to my design process.


“I would say to people just graduating and looking for work: keep designing or illustrating or animating or what ever your creative field is. The odds of you getting a job you love right off the bat are extremely low. A lot of young people get discouraged by that, but if you keep doing what you have a passion for in your spare time and stay positive things will begin to fall into place.”


What makes a project or an assignment interesting and exciting for you?
Because I work mainly in Title Design, it has to be the subject and quality of the show. Da Vinci’s Demons was ideal for me because I felt invested from the very beginning. The entire team, from David to Bear, were amazing to work with and I was getting paid to work on a project I would have gladly done in my spare time.


Any helpful advice you’d like to share?
I would say to people just graduating and looking for work: keep designing or illustrating or animating or what ever your creative field is. The odds of you getting a job you love right off the bat are extremely low. A lot of young people get discouraged by that, but if you keep doing what you have a passion for in your spare time and stay positive things will begin to fall into place. You have my word as a gentleman!

Posted on September 30th, 2013 by Salonee