A fun step through espionage nostalgia, a ball becomes a blip becomes a bullet becomes a drip connecting the brightly colored character facets in the opening to Adam Reed’s very funny Archer.
Art Director NEAL HOLMAN details the creation of the title sequence for us.
NH: I animated this sequence in about four days, just as we were wrapping production on the pilot. My plan from the very start was to do an open using silhouettes in some form or fashion. Saul Bass and some later Saul Bass-esque opens, like Catch Me If You Can and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, were pretty heavy influences. Even the end sequence of The Incredibles. Anything that had that sort of deft blend of fun and action went into the pot.
I saw the mock Saul Bass Star Wars open a few years ago, around the time when we were working on our previous series, The Xtacles and I loved it, just the playfulness of it. It was simple, but really fun, so that prompted a lot of research into that style, who had done it before etc.
Originally, I had this idea that the silhouettes would be made of fire, moving over top of a burned/textured background. I loved the end titles of 300, the depth they achieved by zooming past elements to reveal the next sequence. The “grungy” textures in the back would be separated into various elements, so we can move past them or pan off them, creating a 3D world affect. The in-house mockups below were done to test the look.
The mockups aren’t perfect, but the idea is there. At this time we were all starting to tire of grunge logos and effects, so ultimately we decided not to go this route. Another approach was to go for more of a cleaner, halftone effect. I liked it as a still, but in movement it wasn’t translating.
Though it might be hard to tell from the pic, the last mockup was the start of the opening sequence as we know it. Once I found the font, the rest followed suit. Every time I finished another bit of the sequence, I would show it to the other guys (there were only 9 of us total) and get feedback. Each of them, Adam Reed especially, had an important hand in shaping the direction of the sequence.
The challenge was to do this entire opening sequence with as little new drawings as possible. By using silhouettes as our main character pieces, I could reuse every element we created for the pilot. Scott Sims did the title music, and I felt like simple shapes could be doable and effective in the incredibly short time frame we had. Also note that the show was titled “Duchess” up until around the last day or so of animating the sequence.
We added some bells and whistles once the series got the green light, just to finesse some of the background animations and improve some small timing issues. Overall, I’m still pretty happy with it, though there are some nitpicky tweaks I’d like to adjust. Maybe in Season Two!
As Art Director, essentially, I’m responsible for every visual element you see on screen. Mack Williams, our Animation Director, is responsible for how those elements move and interact, though this doesn’t mean I draw every element (rarely if ever) or he animates every scene (rarely if ever) we’re the guys directing those departments.
I design almost every environment and work with Trinity Animation as they build those environments, also working with Eric Sims, our backgrounds director, on compiling all of the renders which his team then paints. Chad Hurd is our Lead Character Designer so he and I work together, talking with Adam Reed (creator) about how he wants the cast costumed and styled, etc.
The other half is working with Mack and his department fixing anything that’s not working. The total production team is I believe just above 40, including our exec. producers. It’s a great crew. We generally have four episodes in production at once, all in various stages; one being written, one being boarded, one being drawn, one being animated and Adam Reed plays a large role in the all of the production, he’s got an amazing eye.
View the credits for this sequence