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Title sequence

Related: title - sequence - typography - graphic design

People: Norman McLaren (1914 - 1987)


A title sequence, in a television program or film, is shown at the beginning which displays the show name and credits, usually including actors, producers and directors.

A montage of selected images and/or a theme song are often included to suggest the essential tone of the series.

In films, title sequences are often controlled by detailed contractual provisions regarding crediting the major players in the film (actors, directors, producers, casting agents, etc.) In some cases, directors have found their desire to make the title sequence they want inteferered with by the technical requirements of these contracts. (e.g., that the actors name be at least as large in font size as the title.) Sometimes, these requirements can be avoided by negotiating an ammendment to the actors contractor, although that can be expensive, if possible at all.

George Lucas was fined by the Directors Guild of America for refusing to have a standard title sequence in his Star Wars films. After paying the fine, Lucas quit the guild. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_sequence [Mar 2005]

The official American film directors' trade union is the Directors Guild of America (DGA). In DGA pictures the credit for the director will always be the last credit in the film's title sequence. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Director_%28film%29 [Mar 2005]

The theme music of a radio or television program is a melody closely associated with the show, and usually played during the title sequence and/or end credits. If it is accompanied by lyrics, it is a theme song. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theme_music [Mar 2005]

Saul Bass (1920 - 1996)

image sourced here. [Mar 2005]

Saul Bass (May 8, 1920 - April 25, 1996) is best known for his film title design, which is thought of as the best such work ever seen.

During his 40-year career he worked for some of Hollywood's greatest filmmakers, including most notably Alfred Hitchcock, plus Otto Preminger, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorcese. His most famous example is probably the animated paper cut-out of a heroin addict's arm for Preminger's The Man with the Golden Arm.

Saul Bass designed the 6th AT&T Bell System logo, that at one point achieved a 93 percent recognition rate in the United States. He also designed the AT&T "globe" logo for AT&T after the break up of the Bell System.

Saul Bass was born in New York City on 8th May, 1920. He studied at the Art Student’s League in Manhattan until he was old enough to attend Brooklyn College. He began his time in Hollywood doing print work for film ads, until he collaborated with filmmaker Otto Preminger to design the poster for his 1954 film Carmen Jones. Preminger was so impressed with Bass’s work that he asked him to produce the title sequence as well. This was when Bass first saw the opportunity to create something more than a title sequence, but to create something which would ultimately enhance the experience of the audience and tell the beginning of the story within the opening credits. Saul Bass was one of the first to realise upon the storytelling potential of the opening and closing credits of a film.

Bass became notorious in the industry after creating the title sequence for Otto Premingers The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). The subject of the film was a jazz musicians struggle to overcome his heroin addiction, a taboo subject in the mid 50’s. Bass decided to create a controversial title sequence. He chose the arm as the central image, as the arm is a strong image relating to drug addiction. The titles featured an animated, black paper cut-out arm of a heroin addict. As he expected it caused quite a sensation. It was these kinds of innovative, revolutionary work that made Bass the revered graphic designer he is today. His later work with Martin Scorsese saw him move away from the optical techniques that he had pioneered and move into computerised titles, from which he produced the stunning sequence for Casino.

He had been designing title sequences for 40 years before his death in 1996, from films as diverse as It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) to Casino (1995). He also designed title sequences for films such as Goodfellas (1990), Doc Hollywood (1991), Cape Fear (1991) and The Age of Innocence (1993), all of which feature new and innovative methods of production and startling graphic design, and all of which attempt to tell some of the story, be it introducing characters or giving plot clues, in the first few minutes of the film.

Quote from Bass
"My initial thoughts about what a title can do was to set mood and the prime underlying core of the film's story, to express the story in some metaphorical way. I saw the title as a way of conditioning the audience, so that when the film actually began, viewers would already have an emotional resonance with it." --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul_Bass [Mar 2005]

***Forget the film, watch the credits !*** (2004?) - Frédéric Temps

***Forget the film, watch the credits !***
De echte geschiedenis van de in animatie uitgevoerde filmgenerieken is in de jaren vijftig begonnen toen onder andere Otto Preminger grafisch designer Saul Bass inschakelde voor het ontwerpen van zijn filmtitels. Bass' specifieke stijl kreeg heel wat navolging. Andere belangrijke namen uit die beginperiode zijn Maurice Binder (de eerste James Bond-films) en Fritz Freleng (The Pink Panther).

De jongste jaren zijn geanimeerde generieken opnieuw erg in trek. Dankzij ontwerpers en designers als Kyle Cooper (zijn generiek voor Seven wordt omschreven als 'a masterpiece of dementia'), Daniel Kleinman (Goldeneye) of het France duo Kuntzel & Degas die naam maakten met hun generiek voor de Spielberg-film Catch Me If You Can.

Dit tweedelig programma schetst een beeld van de geschiedenis en de evolutie in de stijlen vanaf 1955 tot 2003. Beide programma's van elk ongeveer 70 minuten worden ingeleid door samensteller Frédéric Temps. Muzikant, producent, journalist en regisseur Frédéric Temps is een van de organisatoren van het Parijse L'Etrange Festival, een atypisch filmfestival dat gespecialiseerd is in het (her)ontdekken van films die buiten alle categorieën vallen of vergeten zijn door de filmencyclopedieën. Dit programma kwam tot stand dankzij de medewerking van Folioscope. --http://www.cinebel.be/nl/film.asp?Code_film=13809 [Mar 2005]

Animated credits from A to Z

The aim of the credit sequence is to draw the viewer into the atmosphere of the film. Famous directors have realised this fact and called for help from animation specialists to make the names and titles dance on the screen. Every era has its style and influences.

First of all, back to the beginnings, as it's really quite comical. Looking again you will be surprised at how modest the "credit cards" were, if there were any at all. Very often, all you saw was the title of the film and the production, considered as a collective piece of work but not something that would last very long. It wasn't until the "talkies" arrived that the pace started to pick up. Each studio wanted to show its up and coming stars to the public. This meant that the public was bombarded with a long list of names and job titles that they were never going to remember.

At the beginning of the 1950's, the great Norman McLaren's overuse of credits on his films triggered Otto Preminger's awareness of the impact that animated credits had on the audience.He tracked down Saul Bass, a young and talented advertising graphic designer, and asked him to direct the credit sequence for Carmen Jones, a personal adaptation of the film Carmen. Happy with the results, Preminger asked him again to do the animated credit sequence for The Man with the Golden Arm. This time, Bass surpassed himself by using a multitude of graphic shapes set to a sustained melody, which riveted the spectators to their seats. This very advanced concept for its time has been repeated in advertising (which Bass opened to the creative field) and on television. The Saul Bass style was born! Alfred Hitchcock was not mistaken and used him to create three of the most beautiful credit sequences in cinema history: Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho.

This brought a new generation of graphic designers who accentuated this new fashion. Maurice Binder (an ex-colleague of Saul Bass and mythical graphic designer for James Bond), Pablo Ferro, inventor of the technique called the "quick cut" being applied to a torrent of letters and explosive images (there is no coincidence that Ferro is often called "the father of MTV") and David de Patie and Fritz Freleng (the fathers of Tweety Pie and Sylvester), creators of the famous Pink Panther

The 1960's saw the explosion of narrative credit sequences. The cost of each film increased (a credit sequence for The Pink Panther cost 13 000 euros at the time!), the producers hoped that the credits would tell a story, captivate the audience and set the atmosphere for the film. In this sense, the credit sequence for Charade, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World or Dr. No mark a decade which today are still the richest as far as graphics and innovation are concerned, bringing their creators tostardom.

It's a little astonishing to think that Europe did not follow the trend and kept their credit designers in the background. Apart from the occasional names like Tito Topin (who opened Jean Yanne's films) or Jean Fouchet (That Man from Rio, Le Cerveau, Borsalino…), how many other artists were left in the shadows? Can anyone remember the talented creator of the Fantomas credits or the films of Michel Audiard?

The visual overdose of imagery in the 90's with ads and music videos saw the return of the sophisticated credit, bringing with it a new group of creators. The very gifted Kyle Cooper (Seven, Sphere, Island of Dr. Moreau) does not hide the enormous influence Saul Bass had on his work. The Englishman, Daniel Kleinman has recently taken over the place vacated by the master, Maurice Binder on the Bond series. As for the French pair Kuntzel & Deygas, they were recently noticed for the credits of Stephen Spielberg's Catch me if you can.

Over fifty years, the equipment has changed, but animated credits are constantly being reinvented. Doesn't Pablo Ferro say: "There's nothing new except that which has been forgotten." Are you up for it? Enjoy. --http://www.annecy.org/home/index.php?Page_ID=1016 [Mar 2005]

The art of film titles

april 7--8, 2000, Film Society of Lincoln Center
Curated by Wendy Keys, Ken Coupland and David Peters.

This program is made possible by a generous grant from the 2wice Arts Foundation and is dedicated to the memories of Tibor Kalman and Saul Bass.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is proud to present a two day survey of movie titles: their history, their roots and their future. There will be two panels with the designers who will show their work and two illustrated presentations by Ken Coupland and David Peters: Titles Then and Titles Now, in which they reveal the creative strategies behind some of the most dramatic experiments in graphic imagery for film.

We will also present two programs of short animated and experimental films which illustrate the roots and inspirations for many of the early title designers.

Our survey will begin with the first wave of creative energy in the 50's and the extraordinary work of Saul Bass, and will move on to explore the present generation of innovative designers.

These mini-masterpieces are an exhilarating fusion of sound, music, text and visuals and often shift the balance of the film, raise the themes and set the mood, thereby significantly enhancing the magical experience of moviegoing.

As titles invite the filmgoer into the pleasures of the film, we invite you to attend this two day tribute to these oft-neglected designers and their magnificent work. --http://www.filmlinc.com/archive/programs/4-2000/titles/titles.htm [Mar 2005]

see also: auteurism - director - animation - name - theme - identity

Générique (cinéma): créateurs et typologie

Saul Bass est réputé comme l'un des meilleurs créateurs de génériques pour le cinéma.

En vrac :

--http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%A9n%C3%A9rique_%28cin%C3%A9ma%29 [Mar 2005]

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