Data gets beamed, microchips form, and the whole thing eventually devolves into flames in the opening titles for AMC’s new series, Halt and Catch Fire. Design company Elastic was charged with coming up with visuals for the show’s high tech 1980s setting that went more for style than kitsch.
“There was a very challenging but exciting task at the core of this—make a sequence about the computer era that was about people, not machines,” says director Patrick Clair to Art of the Title. “What was important to me was to find the core. The show is all about ideas, incubation, inspiration—about people struggling to become visionaries. We went back to the most classic— cliché?—symbol for an idea: the humble light bulb…[but] to place the era, we used a computer indicator LED instead of a normal bulb.”
The sequence uses alarming shades of red and magenta, and manipulated photos of the cast that fade in and out of the intentional graininess. “The show is really the story of people putting pressure on themselves, and risking self-destruction through their own ambition. It made sense to see them decaying, breaking under the pressure of velocity and self-destruction,” says Clair. “It was important to both us and the show’s creators that the titles have a human component. We were all wary of creating a sequence that was just beauty shots of the cast—the showrunners and the network wanted this to be an abstract and symbolic sequence. This was tricky—how do we plug people into a fuzzing red magenta digital void?”
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