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Hazel Baird talks creation of Emmy-nominated title sequence for ‘The Morning Show’

Hazel Baird (left) and a still from "The Morning Show" title sequence. (Left photo via Art of the Title, right photo courtesy of Elastic)

Hazel Baird had always wanted to be an artist.

Originally from Scotland, Baird wanted to go to school at the Glasgow School of Art with hopes of being a fine artist.

“When I was in school, I wasn’t very academic. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” said Baird. “I wanted to go to the Glasgow School of Art and be a fine artist, but I didn’t get in. Someone suggested I try graphic design, and I didn’t even know what that was at the time.”

Baird attended Swindon School of Art and Design in Wiltshire, England and graduated with an Honors Bachelor of Arts Degree in Graphic Design. It was during her time in school when she started to really gain an understanding for the art and fell in love with it.

“One time I went to a museum and saw David Carsten’s work and thought it was great,” said Baird. “After that, I saw Saul Bass’s and Cal Cooper’s work and I thought then, this was around the mid-90s, that this is what I wanted to do.”

Baird ended up working with Cooper during her time in the U.K. 

“I remember being flabbergasted by having gone that far. I kept pursuing and was able to get a work visa to come to the US so that helped. It all kind of fell into place,” said Baird.

Baird relocated to the United States in 2015 after working for 20 years in London. She has since gained a number of title sequence credits under her belt, including creating the opening sequences for “WWII From Space” (2013), “The Fear of 13” (2015), and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” (2016), just to name a few, before joining the team at Elastic in 2017 as the Creative Director.

Baird recently earned some acclaim for her work on “The Morning Show,” a streaming series that explores the challenges faced by the people who work in morning television. Baird signed on to join “The Morning Show” after receiving a call from Angus Wall, who had been friends with the show’s executive producer Michael Ellenberg. 

 In February 2019, Baird and the team started to brainstorm a title sequence that would be perfect for the show. During this time, the #MeToo movement was gaining a lot of traction, so the showrunners wanted to make sure that the title sequence had a feminist aspect.

“We talked about dolls, people in kiosks, people going to work in a mechanical way.” said Baird. “We ended up having five designs for them, and we went with one that I ended up redesigning. Angus spoke to me about spheres instead of actual people or dolls so it was more abstract. When Angus said that, I knew exactly what I was going to do.”

Baird designed a few frames of the sequence with spheres and the showrunners loved it. After months of conversations and an idea that worked, Baird and the team began to animate the title sequence.

“We didn’t start animating until June that year, and then it was eight to nine weeks of editing,” said Baird. “We didn’t get music until the last two weeks. Luckily it all kind of worked.”

“The Morning Show” Main Title from Elastic on Vimeo.

During the process of animation, Baird and the team ultimately decided to scrap some ideas because there were questions if some concepts were too complicated or ambiguous. It was important to Baird and the team that the audience understood what was going on with the sequence, even if the audience found a different interpretation than what they had intended.

“We had an amazing editor who really helped when we only had a few frames,” said Baird. “He was really telling a great story with the animation. Angus loved it but felt like there wasn’t a thread, and asked ‘What if we followed just one black sphere?’ Se we took the black sphere and threaded it throughout like you’re following a story, which really worked.”

For Baird, it’s incredibly important that the process behind creating the title sequence was a collaborative one.

“We were all sitting there coming up with these different scenarios. It helps because it helps people loosen up,” said Baird. “If they’re just chatting away about something, they come up with much better ideas. So we always do that as a process because it really works.”

Baird has earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Main Title Design for “The Morning Show.” She shares the nomination with Hall, Emanuele Marani, EJ Kang, Peter Murphy, and Erik Righetti.

“It feels great to be nominated, it’s amazing,” said Baird.

Though Baird has secured an Emmy Award for her past work, this is the first time she’s been nominated in this category. 

“This one’s important to me because the main title is something that I’ve always strived for and wanted to do,” said Baird. “It means a lot. It’d be amazing to win, but it’s incredible to be nominated.”

Stay up to date on Baird’s work at yourmotheratemydog.net. “The Morning Show” streams on Apple TV+.

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