How the original 1980s HBO intro was made

The 1980s HBO Intro to its featured presentation is now iconic. Why was it so “epic?” Probably because it was competing with other movie presentation intros that ran before it. Things like the “Sunday Night Movie” or insert any other night had run for years and they had become memorable in their own right. So when a cable channel that was known for showing movies was going to create their intro, they needed to top it. This is exactly what they did.

The music and the visuals work in perfect harmony to set the stage for what you are about to see. Most often a motion picture presentation. I remember sitting on the floor in my family’s living room at 8 o’clock. The lights all out. My sisters sitting on the couch behind me and this scene hits you and you knew that for the next 1.5 – 2 hours you weren’t going to have a care in the world.

Listen to: You have never heard the classic HBO theme played like this

The intro is sometimes known as “HBO Starship” and the music “HBO In Space.” It was such a big deal that people wanted to know, how did they do it. So HBO released a now famous “making of” video. The featurette shows you how they built “HBO Town” and launched HBO into space. It is a fascinating look at how 1980s HBO Intro was put together with practical effects. The amount of detail they put into the intro without relying on digital effects in impressive, and I am sure that is inspired more than a few people show say it to explore FX as a career.

My one question after watching it was, who has those HBO letters now? I hope someone held onto them and would like to give them to me.

Watch the making of the 1980s HBO Intro “HBO Starship”

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Doug

    Always loved this intro and wondered how this was done.

  2. Wirthy

    I miss those old HBO intros

  3. christopher tupa

    Love it! Amazing how much works goes into something like this! I’ve always liked this intro and miniatures as well. Great find! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Matt

    Amazing – the craftsmanship and attention to detail because they actually physically constructed this model is really incredible – nowadays, they’d CGI it before lunch…..

  5. Brian Adams

    This is incredible. When I was a kid, I thought there would be no better job than to be a modeller for a Hollywood studio. What a fun way to make a living.

  6. Old School

    Very cool. Thanks for sharing this!

  7. Atari Adventure Square

    Terrific video! Physical model work is so much more impressive (both as a problem-solving process and a final result) than flat CGI that it should seem obvious we lost something in the move towards higher technology.

    Seeing the two-sheet starburst effect and rainbow color solution is uplifting in a strange way.

    And I would’ve also loved to be a modeller for the movies, Brian.

  8. Richard

    The intros were great, and they got you into the mood for the program.
    I loved when the pay channels started to do their own shows and I wish you could find those now.

    Shows like the John Byner show (first original program on Showtime & not even listed on IMDB.) Not Necessarily the News, the Paper Chase, Broadway on Showtime, Fraggle Rock.

    Yes, the have a lot of original programing now, but these were the leaders.

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