‘Mindhunter’: An Intro Is Worth a Thousand Words

Will Jones
August 24, 2019
Big Shiny Robot

David Fincher is a meticulous man.

From the infamous tales of his multi-take shooting style to the sheer technical precision consistently on display in his work, it is apparent that Fincher is methodical in his craft, a director who knows what he wants and sees very little point in doing the job if he is ever willing to settle for less than that.

Which is why, in a truly unique way, the opening intro to Fincher’s latest Netflix series, Mindhunter, is essentially a distillation of his entire filmmaking career into a single minute-and-a-half of unnervingly brilliant and precise cinematic craft.

Fincher’s first credit as a filmmaker may have technically been Alien 3, but his career didn’t really begin properly until 1995, with the release of Seven. The tale of a pair of detectives investigating the grisly murders of a serial killer, Seven is in many ways, in hindsight, the perfect introductory statement for Fincher’s body of work as a whole. On the surface, it’s a tightly-woven and meanly constructed narrative about a serial killer and the men trying to catch him. But just beneath the surface (and for our purposes, much more importantly) Fincher is using the narrative as a framework through which to explore themes such as the perverseness of mankind, the lasting wounds of grieving, and obsession.

That last one is important: obsession. Because it’s one he’s come back to again and again, and explored in increasingly interesting ways. Fight Club saw him creating a pop-cultural satire, one that delved deep into the depravity of its time and how the obsessions of a generation essentially derailed the concept of mental stability. Zodiac saw him confronting it in his most direct way yet, showing how Robert Graysmith’s and the nation-at-large’s obsession with the Zodiac murders came to engulf them.

What’s so intriguing about Mindhunter is that it tackles this thematic staple of Fincher’s work in a very similar way, yet it does so without even necessitating a single minute of footage from the series proper.

Read the full article

5 Visual Aesthetics of David Fincher’s MINDHUNTER: A Video Essay

Vashi Nedomansky
November 28, 2018

“I thoroughly enjoyed the visual sensibilities and filmmaking techniques used in the first season of  Mindhunter on Netflix. Here are 5 of my favorite cinematography and film editing techniques that I feel made it a very distinctive show. Created and directed by David Fincher, he used many of the stylistic choices from his feature films such as dark cinematography and glass-like camera movement but also added some new tools to his arsenal as well.”

More by Vashi Nedomansky:

All 25 Subliminal Shots in David Fincher’s MINDHUNTER Title Sequence

Recreating the Mindhunter Reel-to-Reel titles (minus the corpses)

Techmoan (YouTube)
May 5, 2018

A ‘joyously nerdy’ video in which I attempt to assemble all the components to recreate the reel-to-reel title sequence from the Netflix Show Mindhunter.

hifiengine: the Portable Stereo Reel-to-Reel Tape Recorder Sony TC-510-2 (or Sony TC-5550-2 in Japan)

The Tapeheads forums: “Looking for the sony tc-510

The RPF forums: “The Tape Recorder from Netflix MINDHUNTER” (“David wants perfect”)

New Mindhunter style metal 5″ reels can be bought from Righteous Reels.

Special thanks to Jason Moore (on Patreon) for the tip regarding The Professionals episode.

The music used in my recreation of the title sequence is ‘Spirit Of the Dead‘ – by Aakash Ghandi and is from the youtube audio library (Download link).

NOTE: The TDK tape leader was created specifically for the sequence with CGI to hide the original Sony one:

Ollin VFX 2018 Demo reel

Ollin VFX (vimeo)
December 12, 2017

Comment by Kenneth Palkow (Kenney’s Custom Props) in Techmoan’s video

Very nicely done, Techmoan. It’s amazing to see how many people fell in love with that recorder.

Working for David Fincher and having the opportunity to work with some very talented individuals was amazing. About 40% of the prop was recreated. We had acquired a couple machines. There was also one we found in a museum but did not get that one. In the end, I had 2 machines to work with. Some logos you noticed were not present anymore and that’s because that was a part I machined… like the head roller cover. The original had some deep gouged marks.

Since the recorder needed to look new from that time period, it was best to make a new one. I machined that part aluminum. There were other parts I needed recreate and machine. As you know, these machines are rare and it was just easy to tear the recorder down to every nut and bolt and give it a complete restoration. The hardest part was the housing and lettering. Some of it I had to recreate while other parts was just a refinish. In the end, I decided to match the original finish using ceramic based gun coatings. It was a durable finish and the color match ended up being perfect. So, the entire housing and misc parts, like the head/roller cover I totally refinished with this coating.

The next challenge was the reels themselves. David wanted a .005″ chamfer specifically on all edges of the reels. This was mainly because he was going to do plenty close ups and the details and the details had to be spot on. Again, I created a CAD model based on metal reels of that time period and machined them out of aluminum. I had to make custom fixtures to machine these parts because they are so thin. The center hubs a created a CAD model and 3D printed. I then wet polished the hubs down to 2000 grit. The hubs in the sequence were placed upside down. I did not intend or ask for my company initials to be visible…. that just happened by chance or intentional by the prop master or even possibly David was happy enough with my work that he did this for me. Either way, I was really excited to see that in the sequence.

I think The Fincher Analyst is correct about the tape having a cg overlay done. There were many other details I recreated as well…. like the rubber seal between the clear cover and housing. That part I did a cad model, printed a master, pulled a mold, and cast the recreated seals in rubber. The clear cover is also custom made. I did modify the locking knob on the cover to a magnetic one so the actor would just have to pull up vs trying to fidget with trying to get it to release… or worrying about it locking up and not release fluidly for the camera. Remember, the seen had to be very fluid.

Anyway, I hope this gives you some insight as to how much effort David wanted put into that opening sequence. Another friend of mine, Max Burman did the corpse stills you see.

Adam Savage Is Obsessed With This Tape Recorder

Adam Savage’s Tested
May 15, 2023

Comment by Kenneth Palkow (Kenney’s Custom Props) in Adam Savage’s Tested video
May 16, 2023

Hey brother, thank you for the shout out.

Yes, yes, and yes…. David Fincher 100% was extremely meticulous about detail on this reel to reel. His specifications was .005 of an inch chamfer on the reels edges alone. We had two machines at our disposal and I took one to create a superhero prop for that opening sequence alone.

Since a good portion of the recorder had damages, such as deep scratches, gouges, etc etc, I had to re-create those parts by CNC machining. The seal for the top cover I 3-D print it and even the top cover is not original. I had to make a new one from scratch. The top cover where the pick ups are that says Sony, I did not remove the logo, because that part as well I had to remake from scratch. Again, CNC machining. There were areas of machining that I was holding half a thou tolerance. Lol, I know, crazy. But, I was instructed that this would be an extreme close-up scene. The rest of the machine I tore down, refinished the side panels the back panel to take out all of the scratches gouges and then did a refinish using KG gun coatings. There was some Cerakote as well in there.

The reels were probably the most pain in the butt. Machining, thin metal like that can be problematic with vibration so I had to form a custom jig that sandwiched the reels down so I can machine the chamfers. The center hub is 3-D printed and if you look closely on the Opening sequence when he is tightening the reel knob, you will see my company initials KCP. That actually was an accident and no one was supposed to see that but someone put the reels upside down. I’m not gonna complain. Lol.

Truth be told this task of refinishing/fabricating. This reel to reel went in front of two other prop shops before it ultimately ended up in my hands. David was extremely adamant about the quality of this prop that the Prop Master took it to two shops. One of the shops tried, but could not give the quality level of work David was asking for.

That second shop gave me a call one day and said “Kenney don’t be mad at me but I’m sending somebody your way. They are being truly anal about the detail and I told them if you’re looking for someone that’s anal, you need to go to Ken shop“. Not five minutes later Prop Master called me at about 20 minutes later I was on a flight to Pittsburgh for a morning meeting the next day. I looked at the previous work done by the last shop, and thought to myself this is some pretty good work and question whether I could pull off with David wanted. Ultimately, that opening sequence is a project I’m most proud of being a part of and definitely one of the most beautifully done.

And last, I did make mention to the art department that in exchange for the hard work, David needed to bring me on for World War Z 2. Lol there was a lot more to this project but that’s pretty much the gist of it. Thanks again, brother, for the shout out.

If by any chance, you would like files to the the reel to reel or any of the other parts, let me know.

Murder by Imitation: The Influence of Se7en’s Title Sequence

Tim Groves
April 2018 (Issue 43)
Screening the Past

The serial killer film is nothing if not prolific: Robert Cettl discusses over six hundred examples in his annotated filmography, Richard Dyer argues that there are over two thousand serial killer films, and the IMDB lists more than 3500 film and television titles. [1] As with any genre, the serial killer film is marked by its typicality. Indeed, Philip Simpson criticises the serial killer film as a subgenre that is “endlessly derivative of its predecessors”. [2] The tropes of the clever, fiendish killer, his grotesque, ritualistic ‘signature’ and the gifted but damaged investigator are certainly familiar, but how does the serial killer film replicate itself on a textural level? This article will analyse the influence of Kyle Cooper’s much admired opening title sequence in Se7en (David Fincher, 1995). [3] However, rather than exploring the general influence of the sequence, I will focus on its stylistic similarities to the credit sequences of other serial killer texts such as The Bone Collector (Phillip Noyce, 1999), Red Dragon (Brett Rattner, 2002), Sanctimony (Uwe Boll, 2001), Taking Lives (D.J. Caruso, 2004) and the first season of Whitechapel (Ben Court and Caroline Ip, 2009). I will argue that their imitative or plagiaristic qualities can be interpreted in terms of Mark Seltzer’s work on the repetitive and circular discourse of serial killing.


The title sequence of Se7en appears a few minutes into the film, occurring after a brusque initial encounter between Detectives William Somerset (Morgan Freeman) and David Mills (Brad Pitt) at the scene of the first murder. The sequence runs for just over two minutes and contains over a hundred shots, many in close up. It shows a person (whom we retroactively infer is the killer John Doe [Kevin Spacey]) shaving off the skin on his fingertips, and then working on a group of notebooks while wearing bandages. We see Doe writing in longhand, and highlighting and erasing portions of other texts. He also develops photographs and uses scissors to trim Polaroids and pieces of film. Doe incorporates some of these images and texts into the notebooks and then uses needle and thread to stitch the pages of his journal into a book, one of many.

The title sequence provides vital story material for the viewer about Doe’s activities. He removes his fingertips to ensure that he does not leave fingerprints behind, either in his apartment or at crime scenes. This also enables him to toy with the investigators by leaving a message composed of fingerprints on a wall at the second murder scene. Instead of this resulting in Doe’s apprehension, it points the police to his third victim, whose amputated arm was used to ‘write’ the words “help me”. After Doe surrenders, the police discover that he does not have a Social Security number, nor any banking or other official records. He is also, as Somerset states, “John Doe by choice”. His anonymity focuses police attention on to his mission or “work”. Indeed, during the final confrontation, Doe insists that he is not personally important, but that his crimes will be remembered and studied because of their shocking nature and diabolical logic (and Se7en is more memorable than many other serial killer films for precisely this reason).

Read the full essay

In conversation with… Lee Child on David Fincher’s Se7en

A video of Lee Child’s intro to last year’s BFI screening of “SE7EN“. I was there that night for the specially imported, ‘privately owned’ (QT?), original CCE 35mm print. I would have preferred a 4K DCP…

Joe Frady

November 30, 2017
BFI (YouTube)

Thriller author Lee Child talks to the BFI‘s Stuart Brown about David Fincher’s dark crime thriller, which follows a detective duo who find themselves pursuing a serial killer who uses the seven deadly sins to theme his murders. With a great ensemble cast and Darius Khondji’s camerawork helping to bring out the bleak, urban landscape, Se7en was a worldwide success.

Top 10 Title Sequences of 2017

The Very Best Title Sequences of 2017, as chosen by Art of the Title

Lola Landekic & Will Perkins
January 4, 2018
Art of the Title

For our fourth annual list of the year’s top 10 title sequences, Art of the Title’s editors chose from among film, television, video games, web series, and conferences. The Top 10 of 2017 were chosen based on criteria such as originality and innovation, impact, atmosphere, relevance to subject matter, and technique.

Paring the long list down from 142 to just 10 was a difficult task, but one done with relish. These title sequences were painstakingly crafted, acted, shot, composited, modelled, painted, choreographed, rotoscoped, animated, typeset, and hand-drawn by teams large and small all around the world, with budgets modest and mighty, in state-of-the-art facilities and in home studios. So sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the most interesting and innovative work to hit screens this year. These sequences represent the cream of the crop.

Read the full article

The MINDHUNTER Teaser Blood Animation by Joe Fleming


Joe Fleming is a motion designer and animator based in New Orleans, LA. Originally from Omaha, NE, Joe has always had a passion for art and design. He developed his craft while studying Graphic Design at Loyola University in New Orleans. He fell in love with the city and its rich creative scene. While working with clients and colleagues from around the world, he is able to draw from their unique styles and techniques.


Art Direction & Design: Neil Kellerhouse
Edit + Sound + Color: Kirk Baxter, Studio Exile
Blood + Logo Animation: Joe Fleming

2017-03-02 Joe Fleming - Mindhunter. Teaser Animation

2017-03-02 Joe Fleming - Mindhunter. Teaser Animation 01

2017-03-02 Joe Fleming - Mindhunter. Teaser Animation 07

Click to enlarge:

(Joe Fleming, JoeMotion.tv)

Art of the Title: Angus Wall & Elastic

Art of the Title: Angus Wall

Art of the Title: Elastic

In Studio Partners:

Design: Elastic
Editorial: Rock Paper Scissors
VFX: a52

Still Image: Joe LaMattina

The One Thing Game of Thrones, Westworld, and The Crown Have in Common

Along with shows including American Gods, The Defenders, True Detective, and more, they’ve all got gorgeous, elaborate opening credits designed by Elastic.

By Nick Romano
August 24, 2017
Vanity Fair, Hollywood

How do you set the tone for the sprawling world of Game of Thrones in just under 120 seconds? Ask Angus Wall. For the past six years, the designer—who created the HBO drama’s striking main-title sequence—has been devising new bits of opening animation for Thrones to coincide with the drama’s plot progression. Viewers know within the first two minutes of an episode whether they’re heading to Winterfell, King’s Landing, or beyond the Wall—where the night is truly dark and full of terrors. This year, the show’s plot has taken fans to new and long-absent locations including Dragonstone, Oldtown (where Sam studies to be a maester), and Eastwatch-by-the-Sea, which means the sequence itself has also had to evolve.

Read the full article

Elastic on vimeo

Art of the Title: David Fincher

David Fincher: A Film Title Retrospective

August 27, 2012
Art of the Title