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yU + co Opens ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”

Title Sequence Looks at Women Scorned Through the Ages

yU + co offers its wickedly funny take on the history of female angst in the opening title for ABC’s new hit series Desperate Housewives. In crafting its clever opener for the show that’s the hit of the new television season, the design studio animated images drawn from famous works of art to show how women from Eve to the present have chafed under the marital bit.  yU + co was one of 16 companies invited to pitch on the project.

The sequence begins with a famous Renaissance painting of Adam and Eve animated by yU + co artists in the manner of a pop-up children’s book. In a Monte Python-esque moment, Eve lowers the boom on her disagreeable hubby with an apple the size of a Volkswagen. Similar visions of feminine rage are acted out through animated images drawn from Egyptian hieroglyphs and a Jan Van Eyck painting of a man and his pregnant spouse. The farmer in Grant Wood’s American Gothic is portrayed as a man with a wandering eye, while a woman in a Roy Lichtenstein-style pop art drawing retaliates against her boorish partner with a sock in the jaw. The merriment comes full circle with a pop-up reveal of the Desperate Housewives cast—all clutching bright, red apples.

The idea to use the iconic imagery to convey the anguish of the feminine mind came from Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry, according to yU + co creative director Garson Yu. “We loved Marc’s concept,” said Yu. “Turning the artwork into pop-ups was a way to bring it to life with humor. It was the best kind of collaborative effort and it resulted in a piece that conveys the concept and captures the spirit of the show.”

“yU+co did an innovative job,” added Cherry. “They took my idea and translated it just the way I had envisioned it in my head.  I am ecstatic with what they created.  I had never seen this kind of animatronics main title sequence before.”

yU + co’s first task was to select the women. “Initially, we didn’t just look at paintings,” recalled yU + co producer Lane Jensen. “We conducted intensive research and compiled a fat book of famous women—Catherine the Great, Isadora Duncan, Joan Crawford—before we began to pare it down.

“Once we made our choices, we then had to secure the rights, and that was also a difficult chore.  Some of the paintings that we liked simply weren’t available.”

After the final selections were made and rights issues resolved, artists undertook the task of turning the flat artwork into 3-dimensional pop-ups. “In order to give the characters dimension, we had to cut them out of the paintings and then paint in the background to fill the holes,” explained yU + co designer Yolanda Santosa. “We had to extend some of the paintings that were vertically oriented. It took a lot of time and effort to create matte paintings that matched the work of these famous artists.”

Additionally, the team had to design quirky vignettes around the chosen characters. “We had to come up with ideas that worked in the context in the painting, and could play out and read well in three seconds,” said Jensen. “Each one calls to mind one of the gripes women have faced over the years from infidelity to a husband who can’t pick up after himself.”

Adding humor to staid Old Masters required a good measure of creative ingenuity, added Santosa, saying, “It was really hard to make the farmer in the Grant Wood painting smile.”

Credits for yU + co go to Garson Yu, creative designer/director; Lane Jensen, producer; Yolanda Santosa, lead designer/art director; Edwin Baker, Harkim Chan and Martin Surya, designers; David Yan, 2D animators; Nate Homan and Chris Vincola, 3D animators;  Joel Chang and Otto Tang, 2D artists; Ryan Miller, editor.

Client credits go to  Marc Cherry, Creator/Executive Producer; Michael Edelstein, Executive Producer; Tom Spezialy, Executive Producer;  and George W. Perkins, Producer.

yU + co is located at 941 N. Mansfield Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038. For more information, call (323) 606-5050. 


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