It’s easy to underestimate the amount of hours and sheer craft that go into designing a title sequence, which, in a minute or less, has to capture the essence of a series.
One of the more notable this year is that of the Tina Fey-Robert Carlock-produced Netflix comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Its 30-second duration belies months of labor on the part of Emily Oberman and her team at design firm Pentagram.
Oberman has an impressive body of work in TV and film. She previously collaborated with Tina Fey on the logo for 30 Rock, and also has created title graphics for Will and Grace, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live. “Mostly I live in the Lorne Michaels world,” she says.
The Kimmy Schmidt sequence attempted to parody a viral video and ended up becoming viral in its own right. “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt team was very adamant that they didn’t want to make an opening sequence that was just like, ‘Let’s have the cast,’ ” Olberman says. “They wanted it to have a life of its own.” Indeed, the sequence is memorable for the way in which it captures the title character, portrayed by Ellie Kemper, and the tone of the show as a whole, which centers on a woman saved from a doomsday cult.
The creation of the opener began with an incredibly catchy song, written by Jeff Richmond in collaboration with the Gregory Brothers—“the Schmoyoho guys,” who are known for their work creating YouTube videos songifying news footage. The sequence mimics the way in which viral news videos use stolen stock footage to create a specific effect. (Interestingly, it features a clip of footage that also was used, by total coincidence, in the opening for the FX series The Americans.)
The Pentagram team developed a logo and color palette based upon the protagonist’s wardrobe and her extremely positive outlook on life. “Tina always says that Kimmy is kind of like a Disney princess trapped in the real world,” Olberman says. “We wanted to sprinkle the whole thing with just a little bit of fairy dust.”
To see the title sequence, click the play button below:
For a longer version posted by the Schmoyoho guys, click the play button below: