Analysis of Credit Sequence History
The Purpose – Credits as Visual Communication
Although the main purpose of a title sequence or opening credits is to introduce the film and entertain the audience, there are a huge range of legal , copyright and marketing information that must be shown – I won’t bore you with that – for this we’ll just stick to the visuals and sound.
Here’s a really well made little film to introduce the masters of this craft:
Titles In Silent Film
Words and lettering played an important role in films of the SILENT ERA. They were the only way the audience would learn the title and stars of the film.
Alongside these were the letter cards (or inter-titles), which provided context and dialogue.
Here is an example of a sequence from 1916:
Everything is explained – in writing. But the effectiveness might have been lessened by the fact that even in Europe and the USA – not everyone could read.
Once sound arrived
The incorporation of sound into films didn’t immediately change how film titles were handled – until the work of Oskar Fischinger changed the way sound and image were juxtaposed.
Juxtaposed or juxtaposition means means putting things that are not related together for good visual effect – for example
Fischinger was a German-American abstract animator, filmmaker, and painter, notable for creating abstract musical animation many decades before the appearance of computer graphics and music videos. He experimented with the relationship between visual effects and music, synchronising the visual rhythm to the audio beat .
Here is an example:
Fine Artists working in film in a similar way: Duchamp
At the same time – the mid 1920s, Marcel Duchamp also worked on Moving Image in an abstract, experimental and conceptual form.
By 1926 people were already familiar with abstract art, moving image and text on screen. Rather than communicating a message Duchamp was simply challenging the audience to train their eyes to recognise ‘art’ that moves and appreciate that as viewers they may have to work at ‘decoding’ what was placed before them in a personal way rather than simply ‘reading’ a narrative.
Fine Artists working in film in a similar way:
John & James Whitney
Between 1943 and 1944 John and James Whitney created their remarkable series of Five Film Exercises. These films were visually based on modern composition theory:
the use of basic shapes arranged to create an aesthetically pleasing result based on classical composition (the golden section etc.)
To call something aesthetically pleasing is in essence to call it beautiful, i.e. pleasing to the senses, but particularly the senses of sight and hearing
The carefully varied examples of form are manipulated with cut-out stencils so that the image photographed is pure light, rather than what science by now was explaining to us -images that are light reflected from drawings or photographs as in traditional animation.
John Witney continued alone into the 60s, creating work that was based on similar fine art experimentation, but was directly related to the op-art work of the period – such as that created by Bridget Riley.
Here is an example of Bridget Riley Op Art work of early 60s London:
Look into her work if you like this style – it’s all VERY Graphic in style.
Back to Visual Communication
Many of the experimental themes explored by investigative, abstract artists were developed for some of the most iconic opening credit designs by Saul Bass, including The Man with the Golden Arm:
More Iconic Credits
Iconic means the work is so well known and admired it’s the first example of the genre that comes to mind
Genre means the style
Kyle Cooper – a God
Another God-like being – the amazing Danny Yount
This sequence influenced one of the KA Media students last year, who produced this title sequence as part of his FMP:
A few more professional credit sequences to look at:
Not a title sequence but a little intro piece of film for an Oscar category:
Personal Critical Analysis:
- IN YOUR OPINION WHAT MAKES A GREAT FILM CREDIT SEQUENCE?
You might consider:
An abstract interpretation of the film mood
Cinematography that is as professional and considered as the film itself
An outstanding audio track
Immediate introduction of the main character
A little film in its own right with no obvious visual or thematic association to the main film
Strong focus on the credit text through noticeable typography
The typography should NOT interfere with the little narrative of the sequence
The typography should be a key part of the moving image
- DON’T feel your own opinions aren’t important – there is NO RIGHT ANSWER HERE. Write what you feel – it can be adapted or amended as you learn more
Experimental Film Makers: Bruce Conner
Some of you might want to delve more into experimental film. A good practitioner is Bruce Conner:
His work is particularly liked by Graphic Designers because he makes use of found footage.
Found Footage: In film-making, found footage is the use of existing film as a found object, re-used in collage films, (a little like a documentary).
Avant Garde Films of Bruce Conner
Bruce Conner was one of the new experimental artists in the American group of the postwar era.
Like many of the Abstract Expressionists and Pop Artists, Conner’s work touches on themes of postwar American society, from a rising consumer culture to the dread of nuclear apocalypse.
What are these genres?
Abstract expressionism is the term applied to new forms of abstract art developed by American painters such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell in the late 1940s and 1950s, often characterized by gestural brush-strokes or mark-making, and the impression of spontaneity:
Pollock Rothko Motherwell
Gestural is a term used to describe the application of paint in free sweeping gestures with a brush (sometimes as large as a garden broom)
Art proceeding from natural feelings or personal instinct without external influences or he need to represent an object
Pop art is an art movement that emerged in the 1950s and flourished in the 1960s in America and Britain, drawing inspiration from sources in popular and commercial culture such as advertising, Hollywood movies and pop music. Key pop artists include Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Ed Ruscha,
Warhol Lichtenstein Ruscha
Back to Conner
Conner worked simultaneously in a range of mediums, but film has been the most influential. He worked initially in collage and assemblage art:
Assemblage is art that is made by assembling varied elements which are often scavenged by the artist, or sometimes bought specially
He brought the concept of finding material created or rejected by others to produce new ‘art’ to film-making.
He used film footage from a variety of sources—news programmes, training films, and documentaries – focusing on disturbing, thought-provoking current themes.
For their structural innovation (how the found film is edited together) and daring subject matter, films like A MOVIE (1958) and CROSSROADS (1976) have become landmarks of American experimental cinema.
This website will give you a broader view of his work:
This one will show you the film A Movie. When considering this – remember WHEN it was created and the fact that the video based immediacy (at the fingertips) aspect of social media hadn’t even been thought about.
This one will show you clips from Crossroads – again, remember the period in which it was made – Cold War etc. Scroll down to end of site to see film:
Most of you will know Shaw – this is his FMP – Conner was an influence and also Andy Warhol – Joe’s film first, then Warhol’s:
My first thoughts
For this I made a decision to concentrate on graphics – I have lots of ideas as I start and I want to show these visually in an efficient method. I feel confident in Photoshop and this will I feel be the right vehicle to start my portfolio of work and get my creative mind working after the break.
My person preference in film is the horror and thriller – they immediately generate lots of imagery to me and I think my knowledge of the effectiveness of certain styles and content will allow me to get the best out of this creative problem.
Some imagery that immediately comes to mind:
Personal Critical Reflection
I can see here that none of these images if particularly frightening or horrific. I can also appreciate that I know the films and therefore know the significance of the images. But there is something about them all that hold universal messages that suggest something bad is going to happen.
My Practical Work
Everything done for the flood thing
Reflection on my work
These three images were initial starters, but once manipulated in Photoshop they went from everyday surroundings to ghostly, Derelict Structures, Looking Post-apocalyptic.
This is one of my manipulated images one of my designs, to be used in my title sequence. With the ghostly figure in the window and the toxic water its fitting to the horror genre, the building is also overgrown with greenery giving it a old, derelict look.
This is my second design, again with the greenery/overgrown look but compared to the previous design there is more happening in the image and looks like a still from a film.
These are my finished 3 designs, these were intended to be just stills but soon developed into film posters. After creating the title out of paper art and using objects to form the lettering.
I then proceeded onto a different aspect of work, and started to use shape construction to form designs. This then escalated into 3D origami art paper folding techniques put together to make various different patterns with colour schemes that relate to the 1950’s style.
Put in the poletr Posters!
This mood-board shows generated ideas, showing derelict landscape and typography skills which are fitting in relation with the genre of Horror/Thriller, I hope to use the derelict atmosphere to merge with typography for example the the typography for ‘The Shinning’ placed a image within the Title lettering.
The process BEFORE starting ANY visual responses
Considering a theme for the imagery
Rather than jumping straight into a genre, method, technique or title – begin by considering the mood you want to communicate
Remember – the MOOD of the credits will be based on the film genre – but the STYLE of the imagery and graphics might be quite different.
So – animated, graphic shapes in the credits will not necessarily mean that the film will be animated. (See Saul Bass).
What are you good at?
What do you want to show your new tutors?
How can you impress?
If you love photography – go with that.
If you have a developing illustration style – show it off.
Do you work at home in a different piece of software that we use at the ADC – get it on a laptop, bring it in and use that!
Have you seen a style in your own personal research you want to use – try it out
Do you want to develop an idea from Year 1 that never got off the ground – do it and use the Year 1 work as part of your development
Are you more interested in AUDIO – what about a soundscape that can synch with existing film footage?
REMEMBER – YOU DON’T HAVE TO CREATE A FILM AT ALL – AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO FINISH IT IN 3 WEEKS, EITHER. STILL IMAGES TO COMMUNICATE THE MOOD ARE PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE AND WILL NOT AFFECT YOUR MARKS
DO YOU WANT TO DO AN ALTERNATIVE CREDIT SEQUENCE FOR AN EXISTING FILM?
You may love the film Zoolander2, but you will literally be kicked out of an interview if you use that and put it in your portfolio! Why? Because it’s mainstream and naff.
The best way to choose a film is to look at this site
which show MINIMALIST alternative film posters designed by contemporary graphic designers – the films chosen by working designers tend to be the best – interesting and often classic.
DO YOU WANT TO WORK IN A SPECIFIC GENRE OF FILM?
That’s fine – just nothing that is disrespectful to specific groups – so avoid racism, sexism and anything that insults your intelligence
Something you LIKE may not be a film to work with because it may prejudice University lecturers AGAINST your work so
Anything with 2 or 3 or more after the title
Dirty Grandpa – or anything to do with Spring Breaks
Behaving Badly – or anything to do with plastics and jocks and teenage romance
Films about terrorism are possibly acceptable – but nothing that would be offensive to any religious group and nothing that is biased to one ‘side’.
No porn – obviously although something like Boogie Nights would be OK.
Tread carefully with Horror – absolutely none of the Human Centipede franchise for obvious reasons!
Anime? Oh – go on then! Studio Ghibly preferred – but try looking at classic Japanese films instead. Ran, Seven Samurai, Tokyo Story
Avoid cheesy films – Special Correspondence, Never Say Never, The Darkness, Mother’s Day etc , films about getting married, bridesmaids – anything ‘popular’ etc – University lecturers will think you’re thick!
Now over to you – use the above to set out your plans and start experimenting – upload all work – even mistakes and analyse each piece
What inspired you? Show an example perhaps
What were you aiming for?
How did you do it?
Did it work practically or did it go wrong? Explain
How will you improve/develop this