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Baptiste (BBC, Two Brothers Pictures, CZAR)

Baptiste is a BBC series that is a follow-up to the critically acclaimed 'The Missing', of which 2 seasons have aired. Don't think of it as a third season, but a as a new series, where Julien Baptiste (played by Tchéky Karyo) takes on a new case in Amsterdam. Other starring roles were Tom Hollander, Jessica Raine and Belgian actrice Barbara Sarafian.

For 5 months (June to Oktober) I was the graphical designer on this project. And that's massive, because Baptiste takes place in Amsterdam (and its Red Light district), but was filmed in Belgium, we had to recreate Amsterdam right here. Also, BBC doesn't show brands, so every label, every beer, every cigarette, had to be designed.

This meant coming up with multiple fake brands and their designs every day, checking names with the legal department, and design everything quick enough to be printed/rendered and ready for set. A peanut butter label, a fake meditation app on a phone, a 5 metre high neon sign, a logo for a ficticious airline,..., all in a day's work.

I had an amazing and intensive, 5 months. Amazing collaborations with Alison Riva (production designer), Stijn Verhoeven (Art Director), Myrthe Douma (props master) and Sanne Rubbrecht (Set decoration), and the 2 directors Börkur Sigthorsson and Jan Matthys.

The series launched on BBC in February 2019 and is currently available on Netflix. You can watch the trailer here. As well as a personal memory of the series: a picture taken by director Börkur Sigthorsson himself, while I was on set taking a photograph which was later used to create a hero prop: the picture you see Tom Hollander holding in the trailer. It's an amazing reminder that, even if you are working on a big BBC series, you're still dealing with kind-hearted, wonderful people. Thank you, Börkur, it's been an honour designing for you and bringing the world of Julien Baptiste to life.

 

Here are some designs and screenshots:

 

 

 

The Amsterdam Red Light District

The biggest set in the entire series was dressing an Antwerp street to look like the Amsterdam Red Light District ('De Wallen'). This famous district is a eclectic mix of light, vintage and antique elements, trendy establishments, art and stickers/posters. Tons of (neon) signs, coverups, and details were created. Right down to the small 'no pictures' stickers you see on all the windows. The 5 metre 'Sex Palace' neon sign was the crown jewel of the street.

 

Posters & Signage

Posters and signage played a major role in the series. Not only do they blend in with the environment, to also provide readable information about the environment and cater to the credibility of the set. For the Red Light District, I created some anarchistic and alternative posters, a gas station would benefit more from either posters related to petrol, or promotions of the store, etcetera. A small selection of posters added here.

logos

No existing brands or logo's were used in the series. So every logo had to be designed and every brand name had to invented (and checked with the legal department). This is always on of the funnest things to do since you can really invent something to work in the universe the series takes place in.

 

(Hero) props

Props are the most grateful to work on when designing for film, because they have an inteded (written) story value and thus have a lot of chance to make it on the screen. And that's of course always the most satisfying part of the job. Some props need to be designed (like newspapers, lettres,...), others can be pictures. If it's a hero prop, the text should be real, however. Because the viewer might me able to read them when pauzing. It makes jobs like creating a newspaper extra fun (and time-consuming), because you're responsable for the entire content.

Brands

Since no real brand was shown in the series, all brands had to be created. This is kind of similar to the logo's (coming up with a name, a style, etc), accept that you have to create an entire branding around them too. And this branding has so match the characters of course. If your character is a little cheap, you wouldn't design an expensive package for him (e.g. the laundry detergent).

I ove coming up with names. It's a great way to add some extra layers to the design, and add a little joke or two. Why not call the bottle of scotch for the alcoholic character 'Camhanaich', which is Scottish Gaelic for 'Early morning twillight'.

Here I also created some general brands for the series, like beers, cigarette packages (I fanilally have my own cigarette brand.), etc. I love doing these things, because the small print is always so much fun to write. 'Lorem upsum' can be spotted from a mile away, so I like to write fun things on the packaging. Like peanut butter that should be harmful to people who are allergic to soy, peanuts and concrete. Not visible on the series, but if it makes the crew laugh, it was worth it!

 

Screens

A lot of interfaces were created for the numerous computer and mobile screens in the series. Going from big cctv rooms in the police station, small fake patient files in the hospital, or even the desktop background in Bram's basement. Some of them are stills, others are scrollable, and some are animated.