opening for The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Prime Video’s original series, has one of the most compelling title sequences to premiere on television this year. Over the course of 90 seconds, a series of granite, pebbles, and ichor morph’s wispy nerves and complex symbols inspired by the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien on the screen flow into a latticework of symbols, gathered in a sequence that is one at a time. Feels both ancient and timeless. Its execution.
The sequence, co-directed by Katrina Crawford and Mark Bashor of Seattle-based film studio Plains of Yonder, was one of five ideas given to the audience by their team.
“It was directly linked to the Tolkien universe, with sound and music being fundamental to his world,” Bashor said in an interview with Polygon. “When we showed the audience some pictures one of the first things we said was, ‘What if we made a title sequence that was made from the world of sound?
To achieve this, Crawford, Bashor and their team drew inspiration from the field of semantics, the study of sound wave phenomena and their visual representations. The most common and best-known iteration of simatics, coined by the 20th century natural scientist Dr. Hans Jenny, is the Chladni plate, a device invented by the 18th century German physicist Ernst Chladny to visualize the modes of vibration.
“Concept [of cymatics] Was really well loved,” Bashor recounts. “But of course, we had several moments of panic trying to figure out how to make it. So we started at the kitchen table. Katrina assembled from cheap parts and an iPhone. Basic science set up the rig, and we’d put sand on this rig and play different tones through it. Gregorian chant, fairy music, rock and roll – you name it. And the sand vibrates and moves according to the sound. When we did Seeing the footage, we knew we were doing something.”
It took a total of seven months to complete the opening title sequence, from the first proposal to the final edit. The result is a combination of live-action footage and CG animation with an emphasis on simulating the imperfection inherent in semantics.
“The real semantics are kind of frantic, kind of buzzy, and almost wild-looking. And we [were] Always composing that back again and again,” said Bashor. “Even on the most CG-heavy shots, we were pushing to bring back more of that flawed, wild pace.”
Crawford cited a song from Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem”—”There’s a crack, everything’s a crack / That’s how the light gets on”—as another inspiration for the opening title sequence. “We love that quote, and it’s both exactly what we wanted out of sequence and for the creation myth of Middle-earth. It almost sounds like Tolkien’s refreshing. It’s the discord that’s involved in the music.” That which exists in harmony. That’s how you build things; these are different sides, and that’s what duality brings beauty. We loved it.”
Of course, any title sequence worth remembering is inseparable from its musical score; This is especially true for a person designed to visualize sound. Unlike the series, whose score was composed by God of war Composer Bear McCreery, Title Subject power rings Howard Shore, best known for his work on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
In addition to the concept of noise scores and semantics, the visuals for power ringsThe opening of Tolkien is heavily immersed in the lore of the universe, with Crawford directly citing the divine Ainur as an influence that bridges the divide between the real-life inspiration of the sequence and the world of the series. “When you read the original story, Tolkien writes very clearly that you have Iru Iluvatar, this god-like father who created the Ainur and allowed them to take their powers and put their own personality and things into the universe. is telling. can present.”
The concept of resonance came to the fore in the show’s second episode, when the dwarf princess Desa spoke to Elrond about the dwarf’s ability to extract meaning from the “songs” sung by the mountains of Khazad-dum. These parallels, although supernatural, were not planned.
“It was just a happy coincidence; We didn’t see anything while making the sequence,” Crawford explained. “We didn’t see any script, nothing. We base all our ideas primarily on Tolkien’s writings.”
Crawford sees parallels between the title sequence and the opening of episode 4, “The Great Wave”, where the Numenorean queen Regent Miriel dreams of the destruction of her homeland. “That whole scene about infection and mortality comes back to the theme of our sequence and the writings of Tolkien. We’re making something, and then it’s being immediately crushed, and it probably took aeons to become something, But there is always a flex to the universe. Something may be ‘forever’, but it is not permanent.”
Anticipation for every aspect of the show, including the title sequence, reached a fever pitch in the days leading up to its premiere. power rings, A montage of characters from the series, which originated from Entertainment Weekly’s cover story, was confused for the opening and went viral.
“Someone sent us when it caught fire and it became a very funny thing,” Bashor said. “And it’s hilarious. The best I saw was that someone described it as walking through downtown Portland at 11 a.m. If they ever make a Lord of the Rings comedy series, this Would make an excellent main title.
Ultimately, Crawford and Bashor are relieved and excited to welcome the actual title opening. “We ended this thing a long time ago, because it has to be translated into 60-some languages and so on,” Bashor said. “So it’s really nice to finally get it out there.”
After all, what Crawford and Bayshore are most proud of is an abstract and artistic debut for such a high-profile television series, especially one with a rich and established history as The Lord of the Rings. .
“We try to be very respectful of the fact that viewers can hit that ‘skip intro’ button. When it comes to a show like this we want to respect that existing wisdom and knowledge,” Crawford says. “There are people who come to the show without Tolkien’s knowledge, and there are people who get on the show. Come who is the professor of Tolkien’s world. Do you feel a sense of epic timeliness when you watch the sequence? Are you ready when the show really starts? If that works, we’ve done ours. ,