Design & Animation: Desmond Du
Created: 15 Nov 2018

Music: “For Whom The Bell Tolls” from film soundtrack 
Special Thanks: Michael Betancourt

This film is a cult classic directed by Richard Kelly that follows Donnie Darko, a troubled teenager plagued by visions of a man in a large rabbit suit who manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after he narrowly escapes a bizarre accident, to save the world. Inspired by the ultra debatable cryptic meaning of the film, I embarked on a journey to redesign the main-on-end title sequence that emulates the film by leaving the audiences more questions than answers from the visuals.



The corruption in time and reality has caused the world to venture into the alternate universe filled with uncanny and inexplicable phenomena. In the eyes of highschooler Donnie Darko, the underlying message of the film questions our mad world of routines, unexamined lives, and ignorance. Using a series of glitching techniques, physical processes, manipulation, and distortion of the formal qualities of pixels, the visuals in this main-on-end title sequence are designed to evoke a haunting sensation of how warped, repetitive and illusionistic our own reality is.



— Corruption & Distorted reality

In the 64 days, 23 hours, 41 minutes and 6 seconds I spent redesigning the title sequence, I experimented with GLITCHES of unimaginable proportion, be through it technique such as databending using Hexfiend and Adobe Audition, datamoshing using Avidemux, and even distorting the formal qualities of the footage with displacement maps in After Effects. Much of the designs were achieved through experimentation. Firstly, I would select the appropriate footage for a credit, and I would twist, alter, transmogrify the visuals into something…interesting. Once I find that ideal abnormal visuals that evokes the concept, I would amplify how much I can push it and control it so that my audience can still identify what is in the scene.

As a big fan of GIFs below is a set of experimentation of different steps.



— Animation rendered by nature

There were also some of my own recorded footage in the title sequence. One of which is the refraction of light through glass that produced these animated wisps or streaks. The GIFs below are the actual footage. 

In addition, I only recorded static noise from an analog television. I was able to use these as textures and transitional elements.


Making weird stuff is fun but the project is still treated as a professional one in which there is a need to adhere to what has been established in the original title sequence.

The project began by analyzing the existing parameters of the existing title sequence in terms of duration and type ratio. From there, there were exploration of different typefaces, leading to the glitchy animation of the letters done in After Effects.


There you have it, I hope you enjoyed reading the process of making this title sequence. It was alot of fun and a lot of hair-pulling as I have to design the unimaginable. In all, I am very proud of what I have achieved with glitches, physical processes and typography to create a professional title sequence for Donnie Darko.