Inside The Edit: Dexter Opening Credits

April 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Inside The Edit: Dexter Opening Credits | Editing Blog


I missed the first season of Dexter.  I didn’t watch a single episode but slowly, everyone around me started talking about Miami Metro’s loveable serial killer.  A trusted friend of mine swore it was a show I had to check out.  So I waited for the Season One box set.

I had no idea what to expect but it’s safe to say I was hooked the second I saw him smack that mosquito.  What a great way to introduce such a complex character.  Someone who appears unlikely to hurt a fly (or at least an innocent fly) smashes it with a devilish grin on his face.

Inside The Edit: Dexter Opening Credits | Editing Blog

This is Dexter.

The whole concept behind the opening titles is nothing short of brilliant.  Every single image is a beautiful balance suggesting this character is both likeable and…  Complicated?

Art of the Title posted an insightful interview with one of the minds behind the Dexter’s opening sequence.  Eric Anderson is a former creative director at Digital Kitchen and provided an inside look at the creation of the 2007 Emmy winner for most outstanding main title design.

“They kept using the word “mundane” over and over. They liked “Six Feet Under” and “Nip/Tuck” for how mundanely both titles dealt with what could have been a visually hyperbolized depiction of each show’s subject matter. This made me think how fascinated I am with crime scene photography, as a kid I loved looking through my grandfather’s “True Detective” magazine collection. Crime scene photographs contextualize mundane things giving those mundane things overwhelming and sinister importance. Along with this process of photographic evidence gathering comes an edgy anti-aesthetic, factually lit, mundanely framed, rawness. This proved to be a very important point for this piece.” (Art of the Title)

Read the amazing full interview here.

Art of the Title | Why do we love Dexter Morgan in the morning?


Beyond the design of the opening titles, it’s the fantastic editing that fascinates me.  Throughout the years, I’ve learned that using jump cuts is a difficult skill to master.  It all boils down to instincts and feel.  It’s about pacing and style.  It’s a beautiful way to edit when it works.  But when it doesn’t, it can be confusing and disorienting to the audience.

The opening sequence in Dexter is full of creative jump cuts but they aren’t over used and non of them are disorienting.  When you’re selecting the frames to omit in a shot, it’s crucial that the action remains smooth.

That’s what I love about Dexter’s opening.  The jump cuts are skillfully created but used sparingly.  Subtle amounts of frames are removed to give speed up slow motion actions while communicating the overall message of the piece.  Dexter is anything but ordinary and neither is this morning routine.


Cutting to music is a ton of fun when you have a song with catchy beats to edit to.  But be honest, you weren’t expecting the Dexter theme were you?  I certainly wasn’t.  But it works because everything came into place.  The music compliments Dexter’s morning routine so well while keeping in line with the design and style of the opening.  Every beat is used to perfection through skillful editing and wonderfully staged moments.

Brilliant cuts…  (pun intended?)

Dexter is a phenomenal show for many reasons but for me, it’s special because it inspires me in so many ways.  Screenwriting, style, originality, suspense, twists, performance and of course the editing.

The awesome opening makes it very clear that you’re about to experience something unique.  It’s evident every time an episode begins that something special is in store.  Bring on the new season!

XTRA | Dexter & Screenwriting

Inside The Edit: Dexter Opening Credits | Editing Blog