I've been watching a lot of Archer lately on Netflix. I'm just blown away at how well the opening title sequence is. The show in general is very well designed — they have a whole army of illustrators and storyboard artists to create the visual aspect of the show.
Neal Holman, an art director and producer at Floyd County Productions, created the Archer title sequence back in 2009. Neal's credits include production design and art direction on all episodes of Archer, consulting production designer on Unsupervised (also on FX, 2012) and he previously was the art director of the Frisky Dingo (Adult Swim series.)
In an interview with Art of the Title, Holman said, "I animated this sequence in about four days, just as we were wrapping production on the pilot. My plan from the very start was to do an open using silhouettes in some form or fashion. Saul Bass and some later Saul Bass-esque opens, like Catch Me If You Can and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, were pretty heavy influences. Even the end sequence of The Incredibles. Anything that had that sort of deft blend of fun and action went into the pot."
"Originally, I had this idea that the silhouettes would be made of fire, moving over top of a burned/textured background. I loved the end titles of 300, the depth they achieved by zooming past elements to reveal the next sequence. The “grungy” textures in the back would be separated into various elements, so we can move past them or pan off them, creating a 3D world affect. The in-house mockups below were done to test the look."
"The mockups aren’t perfect, but the idea is there. At this time we were all starting to tire of grunge logos and effects, so ultimately we decided not to go this route. Another approach was to go for more of a cleaner, halftone effect. I liked it as a still, but in movement it wasn’t translating."
"Though it might be hard to tell from the pic, the last mockup was the start of the opening sequence as we know it. Once I found the font, the rest followed suit. Every time I finished another bit of the sequence, I would show it to the other guys (there were only 9 of us total) and get feedback. Each of them, Adam Reed especially, had an important hand in shaping the direction of the sequence."
"The challenge was to do this entire opening sequence with as little new drawings as possible. By using silhouettes as our main character pieces, I could reuse every element we created for the pilot. Scott Sims did the title music, and I felt like simple shapes could be doable and effective in the incredibly short time frame we had. Also note that the show was titled “Duchess” up until around the last day or so of animating the sequence."
As the Art Director, Neal Holman is responsible for the visual elements viewers see on the screen. Mack Williams, the Animation Director, is responsible for how the visual elements move. This doesn't mean that Holman draws every element, or that Williams animates each scene. Simply put, they direct the visual and animation departments in creating the best work they can.
Holman designs almost every environment and works with Trinity Animation to build the enviornments we see on each episode. Also a part of the mix is Eric Sims, background director. He compiles all of the renders which his team then paints (there's so much work that goes into this show, how awesome!)
"Chad Hurd is our Lead Character Designer so he and I work together, talking with Adam Reed (creator) about how he wants the cast costumed and styled, etc. The other half is working with Mack and his department fixing anything that’s not working. The total production team is I believe just above 40, including our exec. producers. It’s a great crew. We generally have four episodes in production at once, all in various stages; one being written, one being boarded, one being drawn, one being animated and Adam Reed plays a large role in the all of the production, he’s got an amazing eye," says Holman.