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The Essentials: The Best Opens and Promos


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We have a thread for the worst opens, why not the best?


Moreover, why not a thread for the best opens and promos we all can think of? The Classic Video thread is over 300 pages long at this point and it's easy for people to get lost in there. So any reposts are fine here.


I'll start with the obvious one: WPVI's Action News in its purest form, from 1991.



Then, the great WUSA "Death Star" open from Pacific Data Images, probably the best of the CGI flyovers of the 80s:



And to note that not all of the best stuff is old, here's the current NBC Nightly News open:

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I'm not a fan of the current Nightly News open. Obviously it was inspired by ITV News at Ten's open from about a decade ago, which was also created under the watch of Deborah Turness. But it's too much animation to shoehorn under that brisk cut of the Mission, and it veers on looking like a cartoon. I also think it looks really odd on nights when the show doesn't come from New York.


If I were to pick one Nightly open as the best, I'd pick this one from the early 2000s. Vibrant yet restrained graphics that reveal a nice pan up of Rock Center:


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How long did that one last? I honestly do not have much recollection of that one in the early HD era.


Here's January 2008. +2 for Lester Holt, +1 for the better voiceover than whoever they used after this period, -1.5 for the closet studio.



That crooked logo on the main title KILLLLLLLLLED me. It had no depth to look good on an angle like that.

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That crooked logo on the main title KILLLLLLLLLED me. It had no depth to look good on an angle like that.


I can see what look they were trying to go for, but I can understand that. For me, what I didn't like about those late 2000s graphics were that they were just way too busy. There was so much going on, and they kept that bright animation loop going even in the HD wings. So distracting.


As for CBS, I think it's no contest (unless if you have an affinity for the really old stuff). The CBS Evening News hasn't had a great open since the waning years of the Dan Rather era:



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That crooked logo on the main title KILLLLLLLLLED me. It had no depth to look good on an angle like that.

I personally didn't like how the colour scheme was executed in the intro and its graphical elements at the time.


Red orange?


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Any set of local open essentials can't forget the one and only Television by Design. These are just a few of my favorites.





You can definitely see how the fine folks in Atlanta are by far the main influence for my own experiments in graphics work.

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I've picked 10 opens, all from a different year in the 90s...


1990 - Crime! The 90s! Tabloid news! WSVN had already rolled out its tabloid-ification, but their competitor WTVJ joined them that year, resulting in a punchy, oh-so-early 90s open:



1991 - The early 90s, with the Gulf War, were the era of the 24 Hour News Source. Ticking rhythms, frenetic music, and a fast pace: the classic ingredients of "news for the '90s". The original WBFF 10pm open executed that well.



1992 - Polarizing? Yes. Straight out of 1992? Also yes.


1993 - It didn't last long. But "news out of the box" was a format so far ahead of its time not even Seattle could handle it. Today, we'd just call it news.



1994 - A wolf howling in your 10pm open? So 90s, but this was a very good look. It was absolutely nailed, then torn apart not long after.


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1995 - Some of the most majestic orchestral music ever used for TV news. This has long been in my TV news pantheon, so to speak.



1996 - Opens were getting shorter as the 90s went on, but this glassy 3D animation from WBNS still holds up today.




1997 - Since the Fox-ification of the recently acquired New World stations was in full swing, this open is a perfect fit.



1998 - The tightly executed opens and leads reinforced a slogan fitting for a sprawling DMA: "Eyewitness News is Everywhere". (Also, this cut of Battery is badass!)



1999 - A decent turn of the millennium open — lighter music, not as tight-feeling as in the mid-90s, and reflective of trends in TV news branding.


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Three from KYW spanning about an entire decade, each good in its own right. I'm going to go in order of preference, from #3 to #1:


Everyone likes this glossy number from the rebranded "KYW-3" in 1991. I'm less of a fan but I can see why it gets so much praise. Great music and voiceover, a step above the somewhat cheesier stuff they were using.



That being said, I love cheese, so I personally prefer its predecessor. What it lacks in polish it makes up for in spontaneity. I mean, the weekend opens have Ukee Washington and Tom Lamaine doing a fist bump. That alone elevates it over the 1991 set. Plus the music is awesome.



That said, neither compares to the opens used during the spring and summer of 1999. Soaring music, fast-paced visuals, top-notch Al Vanik voiceover. It was a sad day when they shortened these opens and changed the voiceover to Bill Ratner in the fall. If you'd ask me to rank the three best Philadelphia opens, this would at the very minimum be number two. Maybe number one depending on how I feel.



....and since I said three best, I gotta post number three, don't I?


It's the 1990 WTXF 10pm news open. I know, I know, another CGI flyover, and yes it was probably dated the day it was introduced. I still really like it though! I think the music is what does it for me. The way it swells to the conclusion just as the camera zooms in on the Independence Hall clock tower and the text comes flying in.


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No list of best news opens would be complete without this...


I think that one takes the cake.


Here's one that probably wouldn't make most peoples' lists. KCNC's 2003-2008 open:



Why? Because it's probably one of the few instances where corporate and local come together in a really good way. It was much better than what it replaced, and while KCNC's look obviously took a lot of inspiration from KCBS/KCAL's from a few months prior, it is uniquely Colorado and a little less ostentatious than the LA stations. The open is also short, to the point, and was able to be used for all dayparts. KCNC is one of the few cases where the much maligned (on here) and reputed "CBS Mandate" was a significant improvement for the station.

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Similar to what Raymie did, I've counted the '80s with news opens that I personally think defined each respective year.


1980: WFAA went head-to-head with KXAS' MCTYW open showing tons of action shots including their newscopter, and then their news logo animating on screen (made by Klein&). Action shots were pretty common at that time.


1981: Who couldn't forget the lightning bolt that struck the "4" at the beginning of each WNBC newscast?


1982: KTRK unveils a new, virtual set for its newscasts, and thus begins the longtime use of Newsmat graphics for Cap Cities/ABC stations. Also features the well-known Houston Eyewitness News team and "The star Sequence."



1983: Whoosh!!! And after that we see an Atlanta skyline flash into view with news vehicles moving by.


1984: Television by Design became increasingly popular around the mid '80s. WDIV takes the cake for that -- plus the music fits the '80s completely.

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