Episodes were generally shot over a three-day period in the Los Angeles-based Soundstage Studio 22 and featured upwards of 50 scenes with quick transitions and flashbacks. However, the “Pilot” episode was filmed at CBS Radford. The laugh track was later created by recording an audience being shown the final edited episode. Thomas claimed that shooting before a live audience would have been impossible because of the structure of the show and the numerous flashforwards in each episode and because doing so “would blur the line between ‘audience’ and ‘hostage situation'”. Later seasons started filming in front of an audience on occasion, when smaller sets were used.
The theme song is a portion of “Hey Beautiful” by The Solids, of which Bays and Thomas are members. Episodes from season 1 generally started with the opening credits. A cold opening has been used since season 2. Viewers then occasionally see Ted’s children on a couch and hear him talking to them, telling the story of how he met their mother.
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Alternatively, scenes from previous episodes or shots of New York City with Ted narrating over the top are shown. Thomas has stated that Future Ted is an unreliable narrator, since he is trying to tell a story that happened over 20 years earlier; this has been a plot point in several episodes including “The Goat”, “Oh Honey”, “How I Met Everyone Else”, and “The Mermaid Theory”. Nevertheless, Thomas has also emphasized maintaining a coherent and consistent universe and trying to avoid continuity errors, a problem he noticed in other shows.
A scene relating to the identity of the mother, involving Ted’s future children, was filmed in 2006 for the show’s eventual series finale. This was done because the teenage actors portraying them would be adults by the time the final season was shot.
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