If you watched HBO 30 years ago, you saw the "HBO City" intro sequence, a then-super-impressive bit of film. Today, let's look back at that sequence and how it was made.
In 1983, HBO premiered its first full slate of original series. (Being a kid back then, I didn't see most of them, but I half-remember Not Necessarily the News.) That year, HBO ran its first kids' program, Fraggle Rock—and I first glimpsed that at my HBO-endowed neighbor's house. (It also ran on CBC and TVS outside of the US.)
This was before there were a zillion HBO channels, and before "original programming" was something we associated with HBO. To celebrate this shift into movies and shows that were only available on HBO, the company spent months making an intro film showing a miniature "HBO City." It made extensive use of miniature model-train-style models and photographic tricks. Here's a ten-minute movie showing how that intro was put together, and the truly impressive detail involved. (My favorite part is the starscape photographed using computers but made from paper....)
Warning: video may trigger intense 80s nostalgia!
In case you never saw the actual intro on TV, here it is:
In the context of that intro, today's Game of Thrones opening credits sequence seems even more meta—that CGI recreation of a series of clockwork cities rising from the ground seems to harken back to this genuinely handmade city. On the other hand, GoT doesn't have any of this 80s style. Oh, but it does. Thank you, fan art.