There’s many Christmas Cards from agencies. This one is special and it’s all for a good cause. You can make a donation for one of three charities: Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, Shelter and Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centers.
Me and @FizzyPopJules created some gifs to support this great action.
I decided to create a list of the best title sequences of all time, which can’t be skipped while watching TV show. At least in my opinion. I didn’t want to be limited to only one selected keynote (typography, shots or technique), so I decided to describe my thoughts on the whole process and every aspect of creating these short pieces of art. I know I should first mention the classics: Star Wars, Miami Vice, The Addams Family, and Doctor Who. I can’t fit an entire history of the title sequences in one article.
SIX FEET UNDER
Creator: Danny Yount Editor: Eric Anderson Production Company: Digital Kitchen Music: Thomas Newman
Thomas Newman composed the music first. He created 90 second piece of music. After that Digital Kitchen came with the story board, which was based on very specific shots.
“I was inspired by a series of photos that I found, one of which was the gurney going down the hall. That was the strongest image for me” - Danny Yount (source).
“There are so many images in the title sequence that I just adore. But the one that really remains with me is those two hands, when they pull apart and go in slow motion. It’s so perfect with the music and it’s so heartbreaking, because once that separation happens, there’s no going back” - Alan Ball, Six Feet Under (source).
Very important ingredient of perfect title sequences is typography. In this case - the typography and its integration is absolutely amazing (text breaking apart when the crow flies through, text turning into ashes). But not only typography makes this title sequence perfect. This is also beautiful story behind the whole process and symbolism saying that death and life are the serious matters. This is an example of perfect synthesis and I can say that the creators came up with one of the best title sequence of all times.
See the title sequence:
See Danny Yount talking about designing Six Feet Under title sequence:
Executive Creative Director: Paul Mattheaus Creative Directors: Matt Mulder, Rama Allen Editor: Shawn Fedorchuck Designers: Rama Allen, Shawn Fedorchuck, Ryan Gagnier, Matt Mulder, Camm Rowland, Ryan Rothermel, Jacques Broquard
Sex, Death, Religion. How can we mix this 3 words into one title sequence? Alan Ball knew exactly who he should ask. I was perfect task for Digital Kitchen (after making Six Feet Under).
“Ball tweaked Charlaine Harris’s original stories, on which the show is based, to parallel the vampire-as-social-outcast characters in Trueblood to the very real racial, sexual or social outcasts in America. In short we were to expose the soft pink underbelly of rural stereotypes to find what could be just under the surface” - Matt Mulder, Creative Director (source).
Digital Kitchen shot almost everything during 4 day trip in an RV. The final effect is amazing. It feels like we’re taking part of this trip. We can see a white preacher wrapping his hand around the throat of a black woman, girl wrapping and constricting a man with her legs at a bar and many more powerful imagery saying everything about essence of the south culture. The most important thing is the typography, which was inspired by hand made lettering that can be found on a roadside of south. The type was also made by hand. Camm Rowland created 8 True families of fonts. But only 2 of them have been used for the show (True Gothic and True Blade). Another beautiful piece of work from Digital Kitchen. Perfectly executed idea.
Client: HBO Directors: Karin Fong and Michelle Dougherty
Boardwalk Empire - the world where women are fighting for the right to vote, where people can’t drink whisky legally, Great War just ended and everyone is making money out of organized crime. How could you create a 1 minute visual metaphor of this times? Well, nothing easier - months of work using Cinema 4D, Maya, After Effects and one of the best creative minds from Imaginary Forces.
There is loads negative reviews about this piece of work. I don’t agree with those at all. 3D work and all shots are very well developed. It’s maybe less realistic, but this is approach chosen by Imaginary Forces and I really like it. Typography is the most criticized thing. They probably used Helvetica Neu Condensed for the titles, which makes everything simple and easy to read. I would like to see this titles with some custom typeface but I’m afraid it would be less readable. Imaginary Forces co-operated very closely with HBO and I have to say - they created main title sequence that brings the most important points of the story to life and gives us perfect (but not obvious) picture of what we are about to see.
See the stills
Client: AMC Designer and Director: Karin Fong
Another piece of work from Imaginary Forces for this new US drama. Title sequence probably created in After Effects tells us all about the atmosphere of the show: politics and conspiracy theories.
“I can’t say that we started out trying to “explain” anything—rather we were going after the feel of the show, a more visceral response. “Nothing is what it seems,” was given as an over-araching theme. The challenge was to engage the audience into looking closer and sensing something is not quite right.” - Karin Fong, director and designer (http://www.qu3stions.com/2010/11/karin-fong-visual-effects-designer.html)
Simple black and white imaginary, eye-catching yellow highlights and beautifully set typography - all this makes this title sequence stunning and stylish opener.
Colour + Music + Animation = the best Japan’s title sequence of all times. Flashing and moving typography, sharp cuts, vertical and horizontal lines… All this gives us a feel for the show. This beautiful illustrations reminds me a little bit of Saul Bass’ work and when it comes to the music - it’s like James Bond flicks. I’m just wondering what was the heaviest influence… Catch Me If You Can or The Incredibles?
Watch title sequence
UNITED STATES OF TARA
Director: Jamie Caliri Music: Tin Delaghter
Another beautiful animation. This stop motion piece of art, which was shot entirely with Dragon Stop Motion, won the Emmy for Outstanding Main Title Design. I was surprised by interesting typography use. They used simple, white typewriter - style font for this beautiful hand-painted illustrations. Brilliant!!!
Watch title sequence
This is not ordinary title sequence. Authors use lots of photos to show scale of Hurricane Katrina. At the same time we can see New Orleans before the hurricane: tradition, history, music. All this combined with lively music. Interesting approach but very risky. Very simple typography inserted in a visible place, which makes it very readable and sometimes even dominant. You can see the resemblance to True Blood title sequence, but Treme has a completely different tone, a different story to tell. Love it.
Watch title sequence
Creative Director: Paul Schneider Agency: Digital Kitchen Concept/Design: Vince Haycock Lead Designer: Vince Haycock Artist/Designer: Chris Markos
I was surprised by simplicity of this title sequence. However, accurately communicate the main thought to me. The whole symbolism used in title sequence is absolutely brilliant (mannequins as the same looking, lifeless people).
Creative director: Garson Yu Lead designer: Yolanda Santosa
Famous paintings/myths of older times (especially Adam and Eve myth where apple falls right on Adam) is very expressive of what the show is about. “After the final selections were made and rights issues resolved, artists undertook the task of turning the flat artwork into 3-dimensional pop-ups. In order to give the characters dimension, we had to cut them out of the paintings and then paint in the background to fill the holes, explained yU + co designer Yolanda Santosa. We had to extend some of the paintings that were vertically oriented. It took a lot of time and effort to create matte paintings that matched the work of these famous artists.” (source) I really like the typography (traditional and old style), which looks great with all this beautiful illustrations. The whole piece of work is very clearly and well done
Watch title sequence
Client: Lionsgate / AMC Director: Mark Gardner and Steve Fuller
Really nice animation from Imaginary Forces. In just 36 seconds, you become fully aware that Don Draper’s life is not quite as it seems. They took what’s great about that era of design and created something really simple and great. There’s only one thing I would change: typography. I agree with Mark Simonson, who says that Lucida Handwriting from 1992 is not the best choice. “This typeface, which was designed specifically for computer screens, is out of place” - Mark Simonson explains.
During my short stay in Poland I decided to visit the art bookstores and enlarge my collections with something fresh, but still traditional. So I found beautifully designed magazine 2+3D. Lots of inspiration, a lot of the history of traditional design and a lot of thoughts after reading each page.
One article particularly caught my attention: Anti-design, or Liberature. I can only guess how this word would be translated into English. I hope that in another part of this post you will understand its meaning. In 1999, Zenon Fajfer announced the existence of a new, yet completely unknown genre: Liberature. The best meaning of the word has been put by the author of this article MariuszSobczynski: Liberature term refers to the Latin “liber”, which has two meanings: “book” and “free”. Liberature is experimenting with the physical form of books and breaking existing conventions in this respect. It started from the fact that Zenon Fajfer and Katarzyna Bazarnik got commissioned to design the book, which will have three backs and four cover. That’s how they created the book called “Eye-treatment”. This book can not be read from beginning to end. You have to treat this book as a puzzle. It is full of anagrams and texts, which arose from them, invisible texts, drawings. I agree with the author: this book can not be described, you need to pick up and read as this is.
But this is not the first time of using this method in the book design. The best example from earlier years is the book The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman of Laurence Sterne. In the book, the author plays with typography, individual characters, suddenly removing book chapter, and inform the reader via the appropriate page numbering. The reader encounters a blank page to draw a portrait of the main character.
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Liberature theorists also include Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Book of Kells, or the Torah, where all the letters are numbered to the liberature area. Authors of Liberature explain: what we meant here is, that this is a work of literary art, something beautiful, but it is not a work of unique, in the sense picture or sculpture are being unique. This is literature. We did not want to make it functioned on the basis of the book arts, and unique works of art. They managed to do it. These books are published in mass outlays and sold in ordinary bookstores. The only problem become printers, because of printing unique process. This in turn causes the books are a bit more expensive. There is one thing, I can not agree with. Authors say that it does not have anything to do with the design, that everything has a cause of literary. Well, for me, these are beautiful works of art and the authors can say what they want. If every designer would take an example from the Liberature, the design world would be a better place :) For better understanding: http://www.slideshare.net/mik_krakow/zenon-fajfer-liberature-appendix-to-a-dictionary-of-literary-terms
It’s amazing how different approaches to advertising a film through printed media can be. There can be even several different visions to visualize one motion picture. All depends on cultural tendencies. And that’s the beauty of it. Have a look at the best film posters (in my opinion) from all over the world. My Fair Lady, George Cukor, 1964. This my favorite poster. “Can people be changed so that others perceive them as above their social station?”
Zdenek Kaplan, 1967, Czech
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, Luis Bunel, 1972. The movie centers around six middle-class characters trying to have dinner with absurd results. This situation was illustrated really well on both posters (from France and Poland).
Rene Ferracci, 1972, France
Franciszek Starowieyski, 1975, Poland
La Dolce Vita, Federico Fellini, 1960 example of Giorgio Olivetti work and unknown authors from US and Yugoslavia.
The Birds, Alfred Hitchcock, 1963. I love the polish version of the poster (with flocking typography of the polish word Birds converts into an abstract fear stamped repeatedly in trail of winged death).