Shortform & VFX | Post Production

Shortform & VFX

World Darts Championship Final Opener 2024

Luke Smith, Sky Post Production Editor, explains how he created the stunning opener for the WDC Final of Luke 'The Nuke' Littler vs 'Cool Hand' Luke Humphries.

"To turn out the huge volume of work on the OB the kit we use is primarily Adobe Suite. We edit using Premier Pro and frequently use After Effects for GFX based work. This varies somewhat to the way we work back at base in Sky Post Production where we primarily use Avid. To help speed things up I always take along my personal drive to an OB. This has lots of Sound Effects, After Effects projects, stock footage and textures on it which is extremely handy as there is very little material on the OB computers themselves and not many 3rd party plug-ins installed. It’s also a case of coming along with your own ideas. Darts openers and teases afford a lot of opportunities to get creative in liberal ways and that is one of my favourite things about working on an OB. Furthermore, producers may have less time to prep and may be across various jobs or shoots so it’s really a case of seeing what you can bring to the table creatively and aesthetically. It’s often the case that you are creating from a fairly blank slate so it’s important you have the correct tools and mindset for the job.

In that sense it was awesome to work on the WDC final opener. It’s often easy to take for granted how many people watch and consume the content we create daily, but on the run-up to the final it really hit home. Numerous friends and family messaged me about the final, asking me if I was working on it, then messaging me about how much they enjoyed the opener I created after it went out. After nearly fifteen years of editing at Sky I have to say this was one of the most communal and instantly rewarding moments I have experienced as an editor. My phone immediately pinged with numerous people telling me how much they enjoyed the opener and how excited it made them feel for the final. I was very happy with the way it turned out and the reception it received. It was clear that Luke Littler had really managed to capture the nation’s attention in a way that was quite rare and special.

The idea for the opener was Angus Krompaszky’s. The day before he, and camera operator Aaron Young, did a very nice shoot in the Palace basement with the two finalists, Luke Littler and Luke Humphries. He also selected a very fitting and emotive track with James Blake’s ‘Retrograde’. From there we decided the graphic style and titles on the day. I often let the music drive the style and aesthetics of an edit but with a piece like this, it was also about the story. Two new finalists, a guaranteed new champion and the potential for a 16-year-old to write themselves into the history books of sport. We wanted to communicate how it would feel to be walking onto that stage in front of all those people and millions of viewers at home. And how it would feel picking up that trophy at the end. So, there’s a narrative thread throughout of the two contenders physical and emotional journey as they walk to the stage and get ready to face off for the championship. This is a dream come true for these players, but it’s also a huge amount of pressure, especially for a teenager, and it was about getting those feelings across.

In After Effects, I added some chromatic aberration, some blurring and some lens flares. Some shots were also rotated. It was about creating a dreamlike feel, the idea being that the players were living out their fantasy by taking part in the final. The dancers and the shots of the trophy in the basement all add to this. I guess you could say the basement is a representation of the subconscious recesses of the player’s brain. The place where they get to live out their dreams of being world champion. But it’s also a place shut off from the rest of their psyche. A safe place where they don’t have to deal with the immediate task at hand and their potential defeat at the hands of their opponent. The opener ends with a shot of both players reaching out to touch the trophy, but we cut before they can grab hold of it and seize the moment. Only one of them will taste victory. The dream is not yet a reality. And as the opener ends and the world championship final beckons, it’s clear that there is some work yet to do."

Luke Smith, Editor at Sky Post Production


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