×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Creative Arts Preview: How Epic Title Sequences Set the Tone in Type

Great shows often come with epic title sequences. They give audiences a glimpse behind the curtain, set the mood and the tone and prep viewers for (hopefully) undistracted viewing of the story that’s about to start.

From the early days of television, shows like “The Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery” used some of the most visionary VFX, editing and cinematography techniques to capture their audience. Today’s title designers are using bleeding edge techniques to do the same.

Kyle Cooper met with Ryan Murphy and Alexis Martin Woodall to discuss the title sequence for FX’s “American Horror Story: Apocalypse,” but then was given a lot of room to work with ideas that fit the tone and themes of the show.

“We decided on the mushroom cloud because it’s iconic, and the snake played a big part in it,” says Cooper. “I like to do things practically with not a lot of 3D, and I do a lot of research to find things. Ryan and Alexis will give me notes on things if they want to add something or if something’s unclear. But I tried to scare myself with this because the way the end of the world is described in Revelations is scary.”

Robert Hack went straight to his own source material when creating the title sequence for “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina,” using images from the comic book series he illustrated and showrunner Roberto Aquierre-Sacasa wrote.

“We adapted what we did for the comic book, and then I came in to supply new likeness material for the actors and cast,” says Hack of the Netflix series. “I think Roberto really wanted to have that feel of painting through the book, and then going into the paintings and into the old fashioned-comic panels, the look of hand drawn 2D animation.”

Title design for Jordan Peele’s CBS All Access version of “The Twilight Zone” also borrowed from classic imagery. “The original is just iconic,” says title designer John Likens. “When that came out a lot of people hadn’t really seen anything quite like it. So, we needed to capture that but sort of reimagining it for the modern audience. We initially explored a lot of ideas but we realized that it had to be this perfect modernization, so we ended up picking the most iconic, visual elements like the eyeball, the window and the doorway.”

For Amazon’s “Good Omens,” title designer Peter Anderson used 3D and live action imagery showing an angel and a devil marching through time toward the end of the world. The title sequence for the Neil Gaiman show “is set like a fable that you’re following into the show,” says Anderson. “They were also clear that they wanted us to do something that they’d never seen before, so that set me off on using all of it — even hand-drawn animation — combined together so the audience would know this is special.”

Popular on Variety

More Artisans

  • First still from the set of

    How the 'Jojo Rabbit' Production Team Created a Child's View of Nazi Germany

    When picturing Nazi Germany during World War II, most people think of black-and-white or sepia-toned images of drab cities. For the cinematographer and production designer of “Jojo Rabbit,” a film set squarely in that time and place, it became clear that the color palette of the era was far more varied than they could have [...]

  • National Theatre Live Midsummer's Night Dream

    National Theatre Live Marks Decade of Stage-to-Screen With Immersive ‘Midsummer’

    National Theatre Live has filmed nearly eight dozen theatrical productions over the last decade, bringing theater to the cinema using top technologies and talents in the videography space. This month, on the eve of its 10th anniversary, its production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is challenging the technical producers and crew with an immersive stage [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    How Bright Bulbs Enabled 'The Lighthouse's' Tough Black-and-White Shoot

    Early in development on “The Lighthouse,” writer-director Robert Eggers asked cinematographer Jarin Blaschke if he thought they could capture the look they were going for digitally. Blaschke answered no: Digital wouldn’t let them achieve the texture they had in mind — “what we photography nerds would call ‘micro-contrast.’ [The look] was never going to be [...]

  • Advanced Imaging Society Honors 10 Women

    AIS Honors 10 Women in Tech

    Celebrating 10 years of achievement in entertainment technology, the Advanced Imaging Society today named 10 female industry innovators who will receive the organization’s 2019 Distinguished Leadership Awards at the its 10th annual Entertainment Technology Awards ceremony on October 28 in Beverly Hills. The individuals were selected by an awards committee for being significant “entertainment industry [...]

  • Will Smith Gemini Man Special Effects

    How the 'Gemini Man' VFX Team Digitally Created a Younger Version of Will Smith

    More human than human — yes, that’s a “Blade Runner” reference — yet it sounds like an unattainable standard when it comes to creating believable, photorealistic, digital human characters. But the visual effects team on Ang Lee’s “Gemini Man” set its sights on something even more difficult: creating a digital version of young Will Smith [...]

  • Jest to Impress Cartoon Network Virtual

    New In-House VR Program Helps Cartoon Network Artists Add a Virtual Dimension

    Teams of animators and artists from across Cartoon Network’s numerous properties are getting the chance to expand into virtual reality storytelling via the company’s pilot program, Journeys VR. The work of the first three teams — including experiences based on action, nature and comedy — was unveiled to global audiences Oct. 1 on Steam and [...]

  • Frozen 2

    How the 'Frozen II' Artists Created Believable Emotion Through Animation

    “The more believable you can make the character [look], the more people believe how [it’s] feeling,” says Tony Smeed, who, with Becky Bresee, shared the challenge of heading animation on Disney’s highly anticipated “Frozen II.” “Emotion comes from inside and manifests itself into actions and facial expressions. Anything beyond that is movement for the sake [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content