A Gentle Hand: Digital Kitchen Creates Opening Titles For '?The Path to 9/11'?

'œWe knew going into this, controversy would abound. In America, isn't that a good thing?'? This comment from Digital Kitchen's Founder and Chief Creative, Paul Matthaeus highlights the challenge of branding ABC's new miniseries, 'œThe Path to 9/11.'? The show is already proving to be a hotbed of controversy and debate about the accuracy of certain scenes is highly charged.

When Digital Kitchen was asked to create opening titles for the show, the company embraced the design as a way to inspire reflection and re-examination. Intended to set an atmosphere of fragility for the audience, the opener does more than introduce; it creates a heightened sense of awareness and sensitivity that prepares viewers for their indelible journey.

Based largely on facts from the 9/11 Commission Report, the miniseries 'œdocudrama'? portrays the famous, the infamous, and the previously unknown people whose lives and deaths have marked one of the greatest tragedies on American soil.

In order to do justice to such a story, Digital Kitchen tried to incorporate the consciousness and delicacy of New York City as a living, breathing thing. They also tried to communicate the ability to at once revel in and mourn the meaning behind the mundane comings and goings of life.

"It's relatively easy to bang the drum hard,'? remarks Chief Creative Officer Paul Matthaeus, 'œ'¦to create a lot of bombast in entertainment. You see that every night. But to hit a note of thoughtfulness, reflection and poignancy '“ that's a tougher equation, especially in a primetime, major network environment. As this project shows, a gentle hand can be infinitely more powerful."

Asked to describe the process the creative team underwent, Co-director/Editor Dave Molloy explained that the footage was collected almost entirely 'œguerrilla style,'? on a two-and-a-half day whirlwind shoot using 16 mm film. Among the team's serendipitous discoveries were two streams of smoke flowing from the familiar grid of a manhole cover '“ echoing the fate of the twin towers.

The team deliberately composed the piece with an emphasis on linear patterning, which quietly pays homage to the architecture of the towers. They also evoked feelings of voyeurism and speculation by featuring New York City benchmarks partially obstructed by crowds or vines. Among these are the Wall Street bull and St. Paul's Chapel, which survived the attack without even a broken window, though it stands opposite the east side of the World Trade Center site.

Producer Hans Proppe, wanted opening titles to match the caliber and class of the show itself. He describes Digital Kitchen's work as 'œexactly the kind of integrated and captivating first two minutes of airtime we envisioned. As we did with the show itself, [Digital Kitchen] created the opening with the tireless attention to detail and endless revision required for artistic distinction.'?

'œThe Path to 9/11'? debuted on ABC Sunday, September 10. The second half of the mini-series is scheduled to air Monday, September 11, at 7:00 CST.

Note: The controversy referred to in this article arose from a preview version of the film. Former Clinton administration officials, 9/11 commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, and the Senate Democratic leadership charged that scenes in the film were fabricated to misrepresent the former administration's response to AlQaeda.