Congrats to Elastic and Patrick Clair on their True Detective Outstanding Main Title Design Emmy win, and to Alan Silvestri, who won the Original Main Title Theme Music Emmy for his work on COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey!
The 2014 Emmy nominations for Outstanding Main Title Design were announced this week. With nods for Black Sails, Masters of Sex, Silicon Valley, and True Detective, cable TV giants HBO, Showtime, and Starz dominated the category, while the lone network offering came courtesy of FOX’s big budget documentary series COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey.
This year’s nominations offered few surprises overall. The strength and high profile of Elastic’s True Detective sequence (not to mention the 2014 SXSW Excellence in Title Design Award) made an Emmy nomination almost a foregone conclusion. Imaginary Forces’ stunning Black Sails titles were also predicted to be a contender by many industry watchers. With plenty of buzz during this past season of TV, Masters of Sex (Elastic’s second berth in the category) and Big Block’s COSMOS were both natural choices for Emmy voters. The only outlier seems to be yU+co.'s Silicon Valley, which at only 11 seconds is just a fraction of the length of its competition.
Altogether, the five sequences are a stellar collection of title design. It's interesting to note the rise of motion graphics as a force in television title design in recent years, with the majority of the 2014 nominees favoring the use of motion design and VFX over live-action elements. The last fully live-action sequence to win an Emmy was Dexter in 2007.
Noticeably absent is the title sequence for AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire (also from Elastic), which premiered on June 1st and missed the Emmy eligibility period by a day.
You can find a full list of the title sequences that were eligible for Emmy nominations here.
The dark sea, calm, is waiting. Sabre and shield invade as elaborate tableaux float past, smooth porcelain faces contorted in ecstasy and anguish. A battle rages in freeze-frame maelstrom, ebony bones clashing with ghost white figures — fierce outcasts crashing against civilization. The remarkable carved filigree designed by Imaginary Forces wears its Baroque and Rococo influences on its ivory sleeves while Bear McCreary’s thunderous score breathes gloom throughout.
Beware that delicious sinking feeling as the opening titles for Black Sails draw you down into the Davy dark.
COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey
Big Block Design Group take us on the most grand journey imaginable with their beautifully designed opening sequence for COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey, the sequel to Carl Sagan's awarding-winning 1980 doc series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.
With the incredible advances in science and technology over the last 34 years, the 'ship of the imagination' (this time piloted by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson) can now travel through time and space. From the microscopic building blocks of life all the way to a distant galaxy in the furthest reaches of outer space, this fantastic main title journey is only made possible thanks to seamless VFX transitions so perfect that they rival the best Hollywood films.
Masters of Sex
Pet that pussycat, pop that cork, grab that bull by the horns. The titles for Showtime’s highly acclaimed new series Masters of Sex take us on a cheeky ride of erotic euphemisms. Through liberal use of stock footage, animation, carnal close-ups, and clips of the clinical, Santa Monica-based studio Elastic playfully explores variations on taboo.
Like 21 Jump Street’s hilariously explosive end title sequence, this opening is another example of how appropriately curated stock footage can be used to great comedic effect. As the show’s title appears on the frosted glass of an office door, the straightforwardly sharp Neutraface Bold typeface reminds us what this show’s really about — scientific research. Right?
So come as you are, take a load off, and let Masters and Johnson show you how it’s done.
yU+co.'s “eboy-esque” take on the rise and fall of the dot coms is an interesting Emmy choice given its blink-and-you'll-miss-it runtime, though it cleverly conveys all it needs to in those fleeting few seconds. A pixelated time lapse demonstrates the ephemeral nature of the tech boom, as startups are built, destroyed, rebuilt, and reimagined over the course of days while industry giants watch on.
Travel to the underbelly of America. Louisiana. The Gulf Coast. Purgatory, USA. A sopping, poisoned wasteland where industry and old time religion meet somewhere in the sugarcane. This is a place haunted by people – good and bad and everything in between – fractured souls who cling to the edges of society and themselves, walking contradictions struggling to get by and simply be. It’s here that two detectives – a broken stranger and a slightly bent local – get wind of something sinister. Among the roach motels and refineries, a serial killer plies his terrible trade against the put-upon: Murder as ritual sacrifice. The cane is burning in the field. The fire eats it all away.
Elastic’s affecting titles for HBO’s True Detective make one hell of a case.
Production Studio: Imaginary Forces (IF)
Designer/Director: Michelle Dougherty
Designer/Director: Karin Fong
Designer/Art Director: Alan Williams
Fine Art Sculptor: Kris Kuksi
COSMOS: A Spacetime Odyssey
Production Studio: Big Block Design Group
Creative Director: Curtis Doss
Creative Director: Shaun Collings
Visual Effects Supervisor: Randall Smith
CG Supervisor: Tom Connors
MASTERS OF SEX
Production Studio: Elastic
Art Director: Leanne Dare
Designer: Yi-Jen Liu
Animator: Jon Forsman
Editor: Gabriel Britz
Production Studio: yU+co.
Creative Director: Garson Yu
Designer/Lead Animator: Mehmet Kizilay
Production Studio: Elastic
Creative Director: Patrick Clair
Creative Producer: Jennifer Sofio Hall
Animator: Raoul Marks