When Hazel Baird proposed the idea of an abstract visual concept to her team at Elastic for the title sequence of Apple TV+’s hit drama, “The Morning Show,” they knew she’d landed it. Baird and her team were tasked with developing the first visual touchpoint for a show that would be tackling weighty themes. The challenge was to set viewers up emotionally while being careful not to reveal too much.
In my conversation with Baird in the days following her Emmy nomination, she revealed they had developed a few different concepts that involved dolls or animated people. “It was best to maintain ambiguity. I wanted to capture the themes of organized chaos and going against the grain,” added Baird.
The push and pull of abstract shapes embodies the story which has proven to be a flagship show for Apple TV+’s growing streaming platform. “We wanted to concentrate on human behaviors,” said Baird. “The Morning Show” is nothing if not a showcase for the complicated human behaviors in the world of morning news and a workplace that’s reeling from the complications of troubling sexual politics and misconduct.
The show’s title sequence, with its vibrant primary colors and engaging abstract shapes, is resonant of (and according to Baird) inspired by the work of legendary designers like Saul Bass who developed similarly abstract visual storytelling in the title sequences for classic Hitchcock films like “North By Northwest,” ‘Vertigo” and “Psycho.” In step with the show’s storyline where the power dynamics are shifting from episode to episode, movements that would represent deflated egos and David and Goliath moments were all on Baird’s mind when she and her team fleshed out their ideas.
“With the movement [of the spheres] we wanted to communicate we’re all the same – trying to level the playing field of humanity.” While Baird and her team wanted to communicate the personalities present in the show, they were careful not to have any one shape represent a particular character. They worked hard to maintain the ambiguity and allow viewers to draw their own conclusions and have their own experience with the show.
It’s this kind of nuanced, visual storytelling that’s allowed Elastic to dominate the creative categories at the Emmys this year with multiple nominations for other hard-hitting shows like “The Politician” and “Watchmen.” When I asked Baird what it was like to visually supplement emotionally heavy stories, she described it as helping to carry a weight. She and her team definitely did some heavy lifting on this project and their recognition is well earned.
Hazel Baird is no stranger to winning awards for her exceptional work and we wish her all the best on Emmys night! Stay tuned for more of our coverage leading up to the ceremony.
Congratulations to all of the designers and animators who were nominated for their work on The Morning Show alongside Hazel:
Angus Wall (creative director)
Emanuele Marani (lead designer)
Ej Kang (lead animator)
Peter Murphy (animator)
Erik Righetti (animator)
You can watch the main title sequence for The Morning Show from Elastic on Vimeo.
Are you a fan of “The Morning Show?” Which Emmys do you think it will win? Let us know in the comments section below or on our Twitter account.
You can follow Hannah and hear more of her thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @hannitachula