Alejandro González Iñárritu’s survival tale The Revenant is a real piece of art, rightfully racing for a couple of Oscars at this years Academy Awards ceremony. But it’s not necessarily the end product that left me absolutely astonished. The films making-of is easily as fascinating (if not more!) as the supposedly real-life story they are telling. Shot in the arctic cold of the Canadian and Argentinian outback, using only natural light in locations with minimal daylight hours, and pushing everyone involved to their painful limits, The Revenant is an outstanding achievement.
Last december Emmanuel Lubezki published a series of photographs from the wilderness shoot and they’re breathtakingly beautiful. They also ignited my final spark of inspiration to come up with a bunch of custom covers for the soundtrack album.
Sparks is the key word for describing this collection, since this – among designers highly controversial – graphical element was prominently added to the eerily minimalistic teaser one-sheet. But not in form of the stereotyped action sparks, no. They were added in a much more gentle, deliberate way, evoking a log fire atmosphere.
Unable to use the original sparks on each one of my custom covers, I still wanted to mimic this apparently very deliberately chosen visual style. That’s why I downloaded some long exposure shot of campfire sparks and placed them on my prepared high resolution stills, using different blending modes. The title logo and composer credits were extracted from the official digital booklet (which you can find below) and merged on a separate Photoshop layer. This allowed me absolutely free rein to drag them anywhere within the canvas, but at the same time stay consistent with the original cover (#2).
I’m well aware that this series wasn’t absolutely necessary to make, but it allowed me to further develop some Photoshop techniques and even more so, to rave about the sweet beauty that is The Revenant.