The first season of HBO's True Detective came to an end on Sunday, marking the conclusion of an eight-episode run that received widespread critical acclaim. But while the show's writing, cinematography, and acting performances all earned stellar marks, it was True Detective's title sequence that set the mood for creator Nic Pizzolatto's vision. In January, creative director Patrick Clair went into great detail on the 90-second intro at Art of the Title. "As soon as Nic and Cary explained the show, I had an unusually clear idea of what I wanted to pitch," writes Clair. "Visually, we were inspired by photographic double exposures. Fragmented portraits, created by using human figures as windows into partial landscapes, served as a great way to show characters that are marginalized or internally divided."
As for the apocalyptic imagery strewn throughout the sequence, Clair says, "Fire is a key element in the show, so it made sense to build from lightness into darkness, and then burn the whole thing down." Those images were paired with "strangely beautiful shots of pollution, prostitution, and wildlife across the Gulf Coast" to drive home the show's tone. A deeper explainer on exactly how the intro was assembled can be found at Art of the Title — along with plenty of great photos documenting the entire process.