With more quality TV programming than ever, the title sequence has become a gigantic, possibly even integral, part of telling the story for many modern TV shows. I've often discovered a title sequence on Vimeo, Motiongrapher or Art of the Title without ever watching the show it was made for — and in some cases, I've had a friend send me a title sequence for a show just because he knew that I'd probably nerd out on the awesome UI designs and motion graphics. A few times, this ultimately led me to becoming addicted to the show, proving that the power of good design should not be ignored. While there were so many amazing title sequences put out this year, this list is strictly for TV.
How can you go wrong with Pirates?! What's that? Ask Johnny Depp? Ok, I walked into that one. My favorite title sequence of year just so happens to belong to my favorite show of 2014 — Black Sails. This flat out amazing piece of work, done by Imaginary Forces led by Creative Directors Karin Fong and Michelle Dougherty, took heavy inspiration from the baroque-inspired work of post-industrial Rococo artist Kris Kuksi. With the CG statues and carvings making up the entirety of the title sequence, the reminder that (for a Pirate) death is just around the corner is presented through the contrast between the white porcelain statues and the ebony, ghoulish and somewhat comical skeletons. Bear McCreary's score suits the animation well and remains stuck in my head. I actually found myself humming the score at my desk for days. View the full credits here.
Great title sequences and HBO seem to go hand in hand, and the Emmy award winning title sequence for True Detective by Elastic is no exception. Led by Executive Producer Jennifer Sofio Hall, Creative Director Patrick Clair and Senior Designer Raoul Marks, the sequence takes the audience through the Petrochemical landscapes of Louisiana in the 1990’s via surreal double exposure images. The personal geographies of the lead characters Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) are portrayed before the show even begins. While the visuals take you from dark to light over the course of the sequence, the soundtrack — Far From Any Road by The Handsome Family creates a fitting mood for the period and location. The careful use of texture throughout provide the sequence with a gritty but not over-the-top grunge that I absolutely love. You can learn more about the title sequence, plus view the full credits on Art of the Title.
Apparently you can do a lot with just 30 seconds of screen time. The team consisting of Executive Producer Jennifer Sofio Hall, Creative Director Patrick Clair and lead animator Raoul Marks proves so as they appear on my list for a second time. Eddy Herringson provides the art direction as the titles for AMC’s new period drama Halt and Catch Fire draw inspiration from the title sequence of Tron Legacy. We are taken through the cutthroat world of ’80’s computing by a tiny computer signal leading the way across the landscape of what seems to be an abstract motherboard towards its ultimate destination. The typography pays homage to the advertising and packaging of computers in the ’80’s while the red/magenta color grading further supports the time period. You can learn more about the title sequence, plus view the full credits on Art of the Title.
After going without a full title sequence for its entire first season, post apocalyptic sci-fi show, The 100, got a fresh new title sequence courtesy of We Are Royale. This is one of those cases where a friend emailed me the title sequence after we had discussed how much I like the UI work from the designers such as GMUNK (Oblivion), Ash Thorp (Total Recall) and Patrick Clair (The Blacklist). It immediately peaked my interest in the show, causing me to binge watch all of season 1 on Netflix, just in time to catch the premier of season 2. We Are Royale utilized a mixture of live action shots, CG and motion graphics to pull off the title sequence and set the stage for the storyline of season 2. They obtain this by taking you through the various locations of the show with quick camera pans over and throughout the landscape of a post apocalyptic planet Earth which is dotted by long lost monuments, primitive villages, struggling settlements and crashed space stations.
Yes, the ink effect has been done to death, however — I've yet to see it pulled off as well as the folks at The Mill have done with these gorgeous titles for new Netflix original show Marco Polo, which makes it on the list just in time. I’ve yet to see the show but these gorgeous titles have enticed me. By using traditional Chinese painting techniques (which you The Mill goes in depth in their behind the scenes video), Co-Directors Ben Smith and Bryce Wymer created the expanding abstract ink effects which reveal the world of Marco Polo in the form of landscapes, impaled bodies, severed heads, animals and the armies of Ghengis Khan himself. The title sequence is void of any live action footage, something I particularly like. View the full credits here.