Thursday, 15 October 2009

Just how important is it to have a good title sequence at the beginning of your favourite film?

When looking at introductions to films and program
mes it got me thinking about this question above. Many people see titles in different ways. Some see it as just text coming up on screen informing you who is doing what in the piece you’re about to watch, some see it as in introduction to the whole movie or even the first chapter and some see it as an art form in its own right. Is it worth spending money on good titles? Is it equivalent to having a good poster or DVD cover? Some people obviously think so as there is now a whole market for designing and producing title sequences. As well as this there are countless forums and websites dedicated to looking at and discussing the titles in depth showing that thought and money obviously go into making this moving text at the beginning of your favourite films. I think its important to see what these title designers and producers are trying to achieve. I have found numerous interviews and articles by title designers discussing their title pieces from all over the board. By looking at sequences from successful films as well as unsuccessful ones I can see how they influenced the rest of the picture. I have also found articles on festival openings and titles used as pilots or trailers so see how different media approaches the same issues.

Interview with Kyle Cooper

The first article I read was an interview with Kyle Cooper (a titles designer and producer) talking about the title sequence his team produced for the film “The Incredible Hulk”. At the beginning of the interview is an interactive window that allows the viewer to watch the title sequence again. In this he spoke about how the piece was actually produced and techniques used as well as the aims of the piece. He also tells us how the director wanted him to include curtain aspects and what he wanted to achieve in the titles himself. He mentions past projects and how they compare to the piece he had just completed and how the music plays a part in his projects showing his working methods. Cooper does not come across very well in this interview, he seems arrogant and takes all the credit for the piece, which was infact a team effort. After the interview there is a section for readers comments and therefore a chance for an open discussion about the article as well as thoughts on the final outcome.

Screenshots from “The Incredible Hulk” title sequence. (Picture 1)

This is a good in depth article that lets you into the working mind of Kyle Cooper. It shows clearly what he wanted to achieve and what he had to do to obtain the footage he needed. The interactive aspects to the interview also help you understand what he is talking about. There is a link to see the title sequence spoken about which is ideal for refreshing the memory. Also by putting in images of what Kyle Cooper is speaking about in the relevant places is really helpful in visualising the frame. The only downside to the interactive nature of this interview is that it does not show Kyle Cooper in a good light. Readers can post comments on the end of the interview and there are a lot of negative views about Cooper taking all the credit for a team effort. This therefore tarnishes his reputation but is that a bad thing if people who deserve the credit are getting it? I must say after this interview my opinion about Cooper changed. I don’t believe the article is bias as he answered the questions himself, I just think he comes across as an arrogant man. But as I mentioned before this could be down to how the article was presented, had I not read the comments I too may have had a different opinion.

Interview with Eduard Kargin

The next article I read was an interview with Eduard Kargin that spoke about the titles he and his team had just completed for a Russian film called “Новая Земля” (translated to “Terra Nova”). He takes us through the design process and goals of the piece before talking about his inspirations for the stylisation. He compares his piece to pieces by MK-12 and PSYOP. As for the style he bases that very much on the music video for “Spitfire” by The Prodigy. He then continues to talk about working in a team and how they managed to capture the mood of the whole film in a piece which is just 1 minute and 40 seconds long. The film itself wasn’t very successful but the titles haled as cutting edge. Terra Nova was described as “so turbid and gloomy that the audience couldn’t appreciate it.” (, 27/07/09) by Eduard in the interview but the title sequence was included in a special event as one of the past years cutting edge motion works.

Screenshots from “Terra Nova” title sequence (Picture 2)

This article is an informative and descriptive piece that explains how the piece of work was designed and produced. It is well written and the questions asked by the interviewer are very relevant to the subject in hand. You know what you’re reading is the facts as you are hearing it from the horses mouth. This could help you develop your own working methods as you can see that it works for the big names. This reassures the readers that anything is possible giving the whole piece a positive atmosphere. It is a great article from a research purpose because the influences mentioned could then be researched into further to gain a better understanding of Eduard Kargin himself, as well as what he has tried to achieve in the titles. After looking into these myself there is a clear link between the pieces. This can also reassure up and coming designers, as they are encouraged to use techniques they have seen from other influences in their pieces. This piece works well as the reader feels that they connect with Eduard Kargin. It puts Kargin in a good light as he was willing to give up time to do the interview and helps to promote his good reputation via word of mouth.

Interview with Kevin Dart, Stephane Coedel and Cyrille Marchesseau

The third article I read was a large 3-part article and interview with the 3 collaborators and producers of a title sequence for a fake film ie. a film that was never produced. Kevin Dart the author, animator Stephane Coedel and composer Cyrille Marchesseau. The film is called “A Kiss From Tokyo” that actually derived from a book called “The World of Yuki 7”. The title sequence ended up being used as a promotional piece for the book with possible plans to expand in the future. The titles and credits are very much like that of 60’s spy thrillers such as “The Avengers” and “James Bond”, complete with a homage soundtrack. The collaborators talk to the interviewer about the production of the title sequence as well as the pre and post production of the titles too. They outline their inspirations and the individual parts they produced as well as how they managed to work together even though they were in different areas of the world. Cyrille talks of her research into soundtracks and her homage outcome. Kevin is speaking about the character and how he wanted her to be perceived as well as the whole piece. Stephane finishes by informing us how she created the animation and pulled all the parts together.

Screenshots from “A Kiss From Tokyo” title sequence and credits (Picture 3)

I thought this was a brilliant article. It is very in depth and the fact that the interview consists of all three of the creative minds it is not biased in any way. Everyone has an equal say showing what they have produced. This interview was similarly set out to the Kevin Cooper interview I wrote about earlier with a chance to see the titles and the final piece broken down into sections. This therefore means it is easier to read as it is also broken down and also easier to visualise what the collaborators are talking about. Imbedded throughout the piece were sound clips, movie clips and influences works. This creates more interest in the piece as well as managing to keep hold of the readers’ attention through what is a long interview. The comments after this interview were completely different to the Kevin Cooper interview. They were actually complimenting the designers and the piece which helps their reputation and lifts the designers self esteem when looking back to see the publics views. After all, these titles will not have as much airing as the film titles featured earlier, so this is a key way for the collaboration to get feedback.

Article about “F5 Title Sequence”

The last article I read was not as in depth as the others but it got the point across to the audience. This article is about a title sequence for a moving image festival in New York. The festival has a range of speakers that attend and give talks to inspire and motivate new designers. The F5 festival employed a company called “Dvein” to design and create a title sequence that represented the festival and what it is all about. The company wanted to capture the soul of each speaker in the title sequence of the festival. By asking each speaker for 5 objects that inspired them or had something to do with their work they had a starting point for their title sequence. The article was more of a thank you to “Dvein” but it described how they wanted to capture the essence of the festival and how they went about completing the piece. It goes on to talk about the lack of budget and the music composed for the piece and how it was an important part of the composition.

Screenshot from “F5” title sequence (Picture 4)

This short article as mentioned above was more of a thank you to the “Dvein” company but with some very interesting aspects woven into it. In has a large quote in the middle describing how they came up with the starting points and how the most important point of the title sequence was to capture the spirit of the festival. They mention that it is like a “multiple collaboration” even though the speakers didn’t know what they’re answers were being used for. This is very good press for the “Dvein” company as well as “Antfood” that produced the music for the piece. As this piece was done on no budget and was created for the love of titles and the challenge itself, this will look very good on the companies records and they could get much more work from this. Could this even be seen as free advertising space at the opening of the festival?

All the articles were written very well and were very informative about the pieces in which they were talking about. Some were more positive than others and some were set out better than others but that aside they all communicated a similar message. They all agree that titles are very important to the opening of an interactive piece, whether it be film, trailer or festival. Titles can be seen as the first chapter telling the audience information they need to know for the film to come. They could be to refresh memories of previous films or episodes that are important to this piece. They could even be used to set the scene or tone preparing the audience for what they are about to witness. Titles can do so much so they can’t be overlooked. The old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applies in film too. If at the beginning of the film you are sat in silence watching a load of names run across the screen, it could really put you off and set you in a bad mood. This also applies to badly done titles too, so it is important that time and effort is spent on this section. I do believe creating good title sequences is an art form in itself and can be exploited to do so much more than just tell you that guy you know is in this film too.

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