WATCHMEN GRAHPIC TITLES
HBO asked Elastic to build a system of title cards for the Watchmen series. The cards needed to be conceptually and stylistically integrated into the opening shots of each episode. Creative director Paul Mitchell and his team designed and built brief, bespoke title cards based on each episode like easter eggs.
"The show creators had a strong opinion about not necessarily having a full minute for a title sequence," says Mitchell. "We came in and said, 'Let's talk about the themes of what each show is. Let's really dive into textural qualities of each one.' It's really about all the imperfections and the unseen things that are inherent in the things we use over time, and how you weave that in graphically."
Mitchell liked how the neon ones turned out, in particular.
"I thought the blue was very unusual, pertaining to Dr. Manhattan," he says. "I liked the typewriter because I thought that was quite dynamic in the way that set that up. The radio tune—I like the style of it, the art direction of it. It's not necessarily animating the words. It's more about animating the dial and playing with the sound design that then leads you straight into a new shot."
Having just a few seconds for a title card obviously forced the designers to be more creative—it's the old adage of finding possibilities within limitations. "You don't have all the bells and whistles. You go, 'Let's be creative in this limited space,' " says Mitchell. "Also, the sound design leads you into the show, so it was seamless in that way as well."
The titles are also clues to what each episode is promising, and so, not surprisingly, they became fan favorites. "People started to follow it because they wanted to know the clues," Mitchell says. "You look at it to understand the premise of what this particular show is going to be about, and I feel that was really interesting."