It’s not often you come away from an awards show thinking “Man those title cards were amazing!” but that’s exactly what I thought while watching the Oscars on Sunday. Everything about the graphics used to introduce the nominees was spot on — from the gorgeously curated objects used for the Production Design nominees to the lovely photos morphing into line drawings used for the in memoriam.
I wasn’t alone in my admiration. And Deadline has a profile of the man behind it: commercial director and Oscar design vet Henry Hobson who is about to make his feature film directing debut. Hobson worked with a variety of talented producers and production houses to introduce a bracingly modern and startlingly stylish look too something that people see for literally five seconds.
Those title cards showing the 3D elements of the visual effects category? The makeup swipes that transformed the actors to their characters? The Best Picture montage from Birdman‘s silhouette fluttering away to the voting ballot from Selma that turned from white to black? It was Hobson, visual producer Lee Lodge and design/production house Elastic who brought it all to life. (How lucky is Maggie‘s financier Lotus Entertainment and its distribs Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions to be able to tap Hobson’s talent for the film’s marketing materials?)
Hobson is quick to give credit all around. “The charge from (producers) Craig (Zadan) and Neil (Meron) was to make each category stand out and as much as possible and not to rely on clips because the audience gets turned off after awhile,” he said. “This year, I wanted to mix it up a bit, so I worked with Elastic for the first time. We had 23 out of 24 categories this year, and we wanted to showcase the uniqueness of each event.” He worked closely with Jennifer Sofio Hall, a producer at Elastic.
Hobson also worked with production designer Derek McLane with Hobson, Lodge and Elastic to recreate the Edmond Pettus bridge set where Common and John Legend sang “Glory,” which had almost everyone watching it in tears.
Here’s a video montage of Hobson’s designs for the title cards for the eight Best Picture nominees. Call it post Saul Bass/Milton Glaser.
Hobson has gotten a ton of attention for his work, including a fascintating interview on Slate where he reveals he such an Alan turing fan that he had reserved alanturing.com back in the 90s.
Sadly I can’t find any large images of his title cards, but you can get an idea of his fusion of classic and modern design sensibilities.
Hobson’s first film, Maggie, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin, comes out in the Spring. While the casting may make you think it’s a “Professional” riff, t’s an offbeat zombie story about a father who stays by the side of a girl who’s been infected. Pretty sure it will look amazing.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.