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Those magical "Only Murders in the Building" main titles – including each hidden Easter egg

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19.10.2021

It's all about telling a good story.

On Hulu's "Only Murders in the Building," that's the philosophy held by a trio of NYC apartment tenants who team up to solve the murder of a neighbor while simultaneously recording a podcast of their investigation. And telling a good story extends to the opening credits sequence, which captures the series' mix of comedy, mystery and the characters' sense of poignant longing.

The animated main titles opens with a woman walking her sweater-clad dog in front of the Arconia before offering glimpses of the tenants through their apartment windows. The camera zooms upward on its voyeuristic journey pausing at the rooftop during sunset before dipping back down to peek in on neighbors. Nighttime brings the three friends standing outside the front of the building, which has now become a crime scene. Bookending the entire sequence is the lady walking her dog, this time in the opposite direction.

The series, created by Steve Martin and John Hoffman, turned to Elastic, known for designing a number of opening credits, including ones for "Game of Thrones," "Watchmen" and "Captain Marvel," among others.

"The brief was this idea of a love letter to New York in a way and true crime and true crime podcasts," Lisa Bolan, a creative director at Elastic, told Salon. "John really wanted to capture this romantic illustrative approach to New York, building on the magic of Hirschfeld and The New Yorker – illustrators who have abstracted New York in a way that's beautiful and also speaks to these little glimpses of magic in the urban landscape.

"When you're walking around New York City, whether it's the steam coming out of a manhole cover or how when the sun sets, you'll see a glimpse in between two buildings or a water tower shadow on the top of a building."

Take a look at the "Only Murders in the Building" main titles below:

Bolan immediately pitched to have award-winning illustrator and comic artist Laura Pérez to tackle the look of the project.

"[She's] a friend of mine who came to mind because her illustration style just seemed like a beautiful modern aesthetic that would work and would feel unique," she said. "This would be our illustration style."

It's easy to see why. Pérez's use of fluid lines, muted color palette and characters with haunted eyes capture the show's eerie beauty and themes of loneliness, all set in a bustling apartment building.

The fictional Arconia is shot at The Belnord in Manhattan, which provided a template for the main titles, along with other iconic Upper West Side building such as the Apthorp. Viewers can see such details included, such as the ornate iron gates and even the bas-relief sculpture of two cherubs over the gate's archway.

"Only Murders in the Building" main titles - Woman walking her dog (Hulu)

"I wanted to put her illustrations into the geometry of the windows and make them these apertures you can see through to see the isolation of the various characters and how the crime brings them together," said Bolan.

Through these windows, each of the main characters are introduced: lonely actor Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin) making eggs for someone who's no longer in his life, gregarious theater director Oliver Putnam (Martin Short) on the phone while drinking wine and solitary artist Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) sketching.

While the opening credits emphasize a primary color palette, the color red is featured in particular.

"What came from the the creative direction was this sort of pink and factory gray kind of beginning and then as the sun sets have the color be golds and rich oranges. And as the sun sets, in turns red to suggest this idea of danger," said Bolan. "And then as the fire alarm is tripped, we have those little lights strobing and the red flooding........

© Salon


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