Premium Art Titles: 3 Cable Shows Worth the Intro Alone

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like TV show credits have greatly improved in the last 5-10 years; especially on premium cable shows. Almost every show on now has a memorable, one of kind visual opener that captures the audience’s attention as easily as the actual show.

This year in particular has been a good year for the art of the title and the motion graphics industry.

Out of the bunch, three new shows stand out among the best: HBO’s True Detective, Starz’s Black Sails, and Da Vinci’s Demons — all good shows in their own right — are some of the best title credit opening sequences of 2013-2014.

So here’s my analysis of the three shows breaking the mold and bringing TV show credits into the major leagues.

First up,

  1. Black Sails – Starz (New 2013)

Set in the 1700s during the golden age of piracy in New Providence (The Bahamas), this show boasts itself as a prequel of sorts to Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, following the adventures of some of the most notorious pirates both fictional and historical such as Calico Jack, Captain Flint, Captain Vane, and Anne Bonny. It’s certainly one of the most interesting and best pirate interpretations since Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise I’ve seen.

The title sequence for the show is very unique and creative.  It is inspired  by the Rocco and Baroque period the show is set during and also artists Pablo Genoves and  Kris Kuksi. , utilizing digital sculptures to embody war with the establishment. The sequence was brilliantly designed by Imaginary Forces under the creative direction of Karin Fong and Michelle Dougherty as a juxtaposition of different symbols or concepts, like light vs dark and alludes to the impending doom on the horizon.

An overall highly detailed, intricate, and beautiful ivory masterpiece, that makes  you do a double take.

Personally, I love how this sequence is composed and how in the moment and alive the sculpture feels as the camera moves through the credits. It’s quite intriguing and every time you watch there’s something new to discover.


2.  Da Vinci’s Demons – Starz (Season 2)

This show follows the genius Leonardo Da Vinci, shown in a very different light than previous incarnations and as a  much younger version , during the 15th century as he tries to find the mythical Book of Leaves, as well as his involvement with the House of Medici; all the while facing his own demons or delusions.

Demons which have yet to determine the artist and inventor’s fate. However, the title sequence for the show paints a glimpse into the complicated workings of Da Vinci’s mind. Designed by Huge Designs studio and Creative Director Paul Mcdonnel and his team, this electric, animated sequence of drawings leaves a lasting impression.

Under the clips on the Art of the Title website it says “Genius cannot be contained” which is truly the only way to describe this larger than life historical man, but it also captures the essence of the title sequence. As the images and ideas cover the screen and evolve from one thing to the next at a rapid pace.

It clearly reminds me of my own mind at times because I never seem to be able to turn it off, as ideas are constantly pouring out. Makes me wonder what a non-artist mind must be like — pure bliss?

Last, but surely not least …

  1. True Detective – HBO (New 2013)

A very different show, set in Louisiana, follows the story of two detectives and a ritualistic murder case they had back in 1995. The story and characters are revealed through present day interrogation and looking back into their past relationship in connection with case. It’s a rather dark show and definitely not your typical procedural cop drama.

The story is fittingly portrayed in the style of the title sequence. Somewhat ethereal, but beautiful; the sequence layers images together to create an interesting and revealing truth that captures the characters internal struggles.

It’s an exquisite montage of images, featuring the the two detectives, nude women, and different places around town, that was created by Elastic studio in collaboration with several other studios. It was all inspired by photographer Richard Misrach and executed using various techniques like animation and low-poly modeling with imaging overlapped and composited.

I particularly like the emotional blue and purple coloring that turns into a fiery hell as well as the fragmentation of the photos seen throughout the sequence. Truly surreal.


All of these, once again, are very good shows especially for history buffs like myself. And I plan on exploring other aspects of the shows further in the future so stay tuned and enjoy the links.