Like Attracts Like: Elevate Your Work to Art

July 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

American Horror Story Opening

Image Source: Designed by Prologue Films for Season 2 of “American Horror Story” via NYTimes.com

While preparing yesterday’s post, “Creating Anticipation: The Theme Song,” I went down the research rabbit hole, learning more about television opening sequences than I had planned.  In the process I began to question something: is it the awesome opening sequence that precedes the intelligent, entertaining television program or do the excellent episodes “in the can” inspire the incisive intro?  Obviously, an opening whose quality exceeds that that of show will not save the show, nor will a less-than-stellar opening kill a program that’s fantastic.  But I wondered.

It seems that the “golden age” of television title design was the 1960’s and that this latest round of “ingeniously designed title sequences … started with Tony Soprano.”  In her examination of the cause of this resurgence in her New York Times piece, “Opening Titles That Grab Viewers’ Attention,” journalist Alice Rawsthorn notes:

‘The Sopranos’ may have acted as a catalyst by reminding producers and directors how intriguing titles could be, but the design revival reflects television’s broader resurgence as a medium. Together with ‘The Wire,’ ‘Mad Men’ and other critically acclaimed series, ‘The Sopranos’ proved that there was a lucrative global market for intelligently made television shows. Budgets increased accordingly, enabling television to attract more talented producers, directors, writers and actors, many of whom were accustomed to working on movies like Neil Jordan, the Oscar-winning screenwriter and director who created ‘The Borgias.’ They have instilled similar design standards in their television projects, including the opening titles.

“Together with ‘The Wire,’ ‘Mad Men’ and other critically acclaimed series, ‘The Sopranos’ proved that there was a lucrative global market for intelligently made television shows. Budgets increased accordingly, enabling television to attract more talented producers, directors, writers and actors…”

I repeat this bit, because therein lies the crux of the matter.  It’s the creators of these seminal series who set off the chain reaction of events.  People who dared to believe that there was an audience for more involved, thought-provoking, adult-themed television programming, much of which is of such complexity that it demands your undivided attention (put down the mobile device, close the laptop) and it has resulted in the current trend to “binge view” (because really, who can remember every salient detail of what happened on last week’s episode of “Homeland” seven days later?).  And it is this intrepid crew attracts other exceptionally talented (although slightly less daring) people to be a part of what they’re doing.

Which leads me back to innovative opening sequences.  Yes, as budgets increased, so did the sophistication and capabilities of the technology, “digital animation and computer graphics,” making it possible to create the eye-catching imagery like that at the start of “Games of Thrones.”  But this development also helped attract talent, in this case the designers with the skills and creativity to deliver the high-level animation expected by the creators.  In turn, they, along with the composers, elevated the lowly intro to art.

Are you doing the same?

Quality attracts quality.  Create and be the best to attract the best.  Elevate your work to art.

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