Some call it an opening sequence, an intro, or a title sequence, but whatever you call it, I have the honor of producing the piece that runs at the beginning of Austin City Limits since season 37. ACL is now in its 40th season. That is cause for a lot of celebration, and I felt honored to have the opportunity to create the right intro.
Many years ago, I became intrigued by a technique called video mapping. This technique serves as the inspiration for the opening sequence. The previous openings I created highlighted our new studio and venue with wide time-lapse shots. This go round, I wanted to stray from focusing on the venue and instead create something that embodies the 40 years of rich history of Austin City Limits. “The history is in the details” concept is what I was going for, so I included more instruments, details of the show, and generally tighter shots.
As is a tradition of many past ACL openings, this current opening starts out with signage from Austin music venues. Terry Lickona and I felt it was a great way to establish the Austin music scene. From the hundreds of artists that have performed over these 40 years, we narrowed down a list of artists to be included to about 40.
We discussed having Gary Clark Jr. compose an original music piece for the opening. Gary Clark Jr. was excited about the possibility of being involved. To give him an idea of how the opening footage was developing, I put together a sample set to Gary Clark Jr.’s “Travis County”. The song fit what I was looking for, and as production went along it was clear that we already had the right song. Gary Clark Jr. initially composed an original piece of music, but in the end agreed with us that “Travis County” was the perfect soundtrack. Heck, it was about Travis County, and we are Austin City Limits. It was a perfect fit.
Here are a couple of fun details in the intro you might want to look for if you missed them: Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan appear twice in the opening. The second time Willie is seen it is a projection of Willie from the pilot episode on his guitar “trigger”, while he is playing it during rehearsal for the Hall of Fame event. The first time Stevie is seen, he’s projected onto Antone’s on 5th (no longer there, of course). I changed the marquee to read “Tonight: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Gary Clark Jr.”