Even the title sequence in The Rings of Power contains hidden revelations about the show

Even the title sequence in The Rings of Power contains hidden revelations about the show ...

One of the most visually stunning title sequences to premiere on television this year is The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. A series of wispy veins of granite, pebble, and ichor transform and flow across the screen into a latticework of intricate symbols inspired by J.R.R. Tolkiens' writing, coalescing into a sequence that feels at once ancient and timeless.

Katrina Crawford and Mark Bashore of the Seattle-based film studio Plains of Yonder submitted five ideas to the showrunners.

Bashore said in an interview with Polygon that his work was linked directly to Tolkien's universe, with sound and music as fundamental to his world. One of the first things we said when we showed the showrunners some pictures was, What if we created a title sequence that was based on sound?

Crawford, Bashore, and their colleagues drew their inspiration from the field of cymatics, the study of sound wave phenomena and their visual representation. The most common and best-known iteration of cymatics is the Chladni plate, invented by the 18th-century German physicist Ernst Chladni to visualize vibration modes.

Bashore told Polygon that the concept of cymatics was well-known. However, we experienced many moments of panic early on in trying to figure out how to make it work. Sand would be poured on this rig, which would then vibrate and move according to the sound.

From the initial idea to the final edit, the opening title sequence took a total of seven months to complete. The result is a mix of live-action footage and CG animation, with an emphasis on emulating the inherent flaws of cymatics.

Real cymatics is kind of a crazy, choppy, and almost feral-looking activity. We [were] always re-creating that back in over and over again, according to Bashore. Even on the most CG-heavy shots, we were pushed to reintroduce more of that flawed, wild motion back into the picture.

Crawford used a line from Leonard Cohen's Anthem There is a crack in everything/Thats how the light gets in as another inspiration for the opening title sequence. It fits both nicely with what we desired out of the sequence and to the creation myth of Middle-earth. Theres this dexterity that exists alongside the harmony. That's what makes things beautiful.

The title theme of The Rings of Power was written by Howard Shore, well-known for his work on Peter Jacksons The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Crawford directly invokes the godlike Ainur as an influence that bridges the gap between the sequences' real-life inspiration and the world of the series. So that sense of awe and wonder is very cool and that very much inspired us in thinking about how we could convey that in the sequence.

When the dwarven princess Disa speaks to Elrond about the dwarven ability to deduce meaning from songs sung by the mountains of Khazad-dum, the notion of resonance struck me. These conclusions, however strange, were not intended.

Crawford told Polygon that it was a happy coincidence; we saw nothing while making the sequence; we saw no scripts, nothing. All of our ideas stemmed from Tolkiens' own writing.

Crawford notices similarities between the title sequence and the opening sequence of episode 4, The Great Wave, where Numenorean queen Regent Miriel fantasizes of the destruction of her homeland. That whole scene about transitions and impermanence connects directly to our sequence and the theme of Tolkiens' writing. Something might be permanent, but it may not be permanent.

In the days leading up to the premiere of The Rings of Power, anticipation for every aspect of the show, including the title sequence, reached a fever pitch. So much so that a montage of the series' characters, originating from an Entertainment Weekly cover story, became viral.

When it kind of caught fire and became this big humorous thing, Bashore told Polygon. It's hilarious. The best description I saw was someone walking through downtown Portland at 11 p.m. If they ever make a Lord of the Rings comedy series, that would be an excellent main title.

Crawford and Bashore are both relieved and excited by the reception of the actual title opening. "This stuff had to be translated into 60-something languages," Bashore told Polygon.

What Crawford and Bashore are the most proud of is creating an abstract and artful opening for such a well-known television series, especially one with a rich and established history as The Lord of the Rings.

Crawford adds that we want to respect that existing knowledge and intelligence when it comes to a show like this. There are people who come to this show without knowledge of Tolkien, and there are people who come to the show who are professors of Tolkiens world. Do you feel an epic timeliness when you see the sequence? If so, then we did our job.