Creative Motion Graphic Titling for Film, Video, and the Web: Dynamic Motion Graphic Title Design

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Creative Motion Graphic Titling for Film, Video, and the Web: Dynamic Motion Graphic Title Design

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C r e at i v e M o t i o n Graphic Titling f o r  F i l m , V i d e o , and the Web

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C r e at i v e M o t i o n Graphic Titling f o r  F i l m , V i d e o , and the Web Yael Braha Bill Byrne


Focal Press is an imprint of Elsevier 30 Corporate Drive, Suite 400, Burlington, MA 01803, USA The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, OX5 1GB, UK © 2011 ELSEVIER INC. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Details on how to seek permission, further information about the Publisher's permissions policies and our arrangements with organizations such as the Copyright Clearance Center and the Copyright Licensing Agency, can be found at our website: This book and the individual contributions contained in it are protected under copyright by the Publisher (other than as may be noted herein).

Notices Knowledge and best practice in this field are constantly changing. As new research and experience broaden our ­understanding, changes in research methods, professional practices, or medical treatment may become necessary. Practitioners and researchers must always rely on their own experience and knowledge in evaluating and using any information, methods, compounds, or experiments described herein. In using such information or methods they should be mindful of their own safety and the safety of others, including parties for whom they have a professional responsibility. To the fullest extent of the law, neither the Publisher nor the authors, contributors, or editors, assume any liability for any injury and/or damage to persons or property as a matter of products liability, negligence or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions, or ideas contained in the material herein. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Application submitted British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN: 978-0-240-81419-3 For information on all Focal Press publications visit our website at 10  11  12  13  14  5  4  3  2  1 Printed in China

Dedication Bill Byrne: To my wife Suzanne, for her love and support that makes everything I do possible. To my brand-new daughter Elinor, for being the most wonderful gift anyone could ever receive. Yael Braha: To all my friends, family, and colleagues that encouraged me throughout the writing and editing of this book. To the surrounding nature and animals that kept providing balance and a source of inspiration. In particular, I dedicate this book to Deny and Shannon, who enrich my life with creativity, love, strength, and courage.

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Contents Dedications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv

Chapter 1 Title Sequences: Function with Form. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 The Purpose and Functions of a Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Creative Process Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Typical Workflow Overview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Title Sequence Positioning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Title Sequence Style, Integration, and Transitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Match Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Titles Over Picture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Alternating Title Cards and Footage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Video-Based Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Animation-Based Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Text as Character . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Combining Footage and Motion Graphics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Escamotage: Alternative Transitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 A Story Within a Story . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Pulling the Threads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Opening and Closing Titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 The Video and Film Workflow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Film Process and Transfer: The Digital Intermediate Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

Chapter 2 A Brief History of Title Sequences. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Early Titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Saul Bass: North by Northwest and Psycho . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dr. Strangelove and Delicatessen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Se7en, Kyle Cooper, and the Modern Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

45 49 52 57



Chapter 3 The Essentials of Typography and Time. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Writing Systems and the Roman Capital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73 Types of Type: The Anatomy of a Typeface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74 Kerning, Tracking, and Leading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 Design Blocks: Choosing a Layout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 Using a Grid System . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81 Establishing and Occupying Your Grid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82 Breaking the Grid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83 Readability: Titles at the Movies, Online, and on Your Cell Phone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Cone of Vision and Screen Dimension . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84 Font Size and Distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85 Titles Online and On Your Cell Phone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 Tutorial: Modifying Text with Adobe Illustrator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89 Creating Your Own Font . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90 Tutorial: Creating a Custom Typeface with Fontlab . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91 Moving Type for the Web with Adobe Flash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 Considerations for Web Viewing and Mobile Devices . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93 The Differences Between After Effects and Flash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 Choosing Between the Two . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 Tutorial: Basic Type Animation in Adobe Flash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 Tutorial: Moving a Type Animation from After Effects to Flash with the XFL Format . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98

Chapter 4 Lights, Color, and Clarity: Preparing Your Titles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 Understanding Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113 A Bit of History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114 Symbolism and the Psychology of Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 116 Color Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 119 Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary; Hue, Brightness, and Saturation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123 Color Harmonies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124 Color Deficiency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126


Color Contrasts: Color and Type Combinations That Work . . . . . . . . . . Understanding Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Color Temperature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Color-Balancing Film and Video Cameras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Qualities of Light: Size, Distance, Angle, and Color . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Functions of Lights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Emotive Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Computer-Generated Lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Using Photoshop Layer Styles with Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Adding and Adjusting Layer Styles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Layer Styles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Using Global Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Contour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Drop Shadow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inner Shadow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Outer Glow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Inner Glow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bevel and Emboss . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Satin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Color Overlay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gradient Overlay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pattern Overlay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stroke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Choosing Between Raster and Vector for Motion Titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What Is a Raster Image? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What Is a Vector Image? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tutorial: Using Stencil Alpha to Cut Out a Texture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Main Title Card Becomes the Movie Logo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tutorial: Animating Layer Styles with After Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tutorial: Adding Animated Illustrative Elements to a Main Title Card . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Title Sequence Workflows . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Project Management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

127 129 131 132 134 137 139 140 147 147 148 149 149 151 151 151 152 153 154 154 155 155 155 155 156 157 157 159 159 161 163 163


Working with the Graphic Design Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300 dpi Becomes 72 ppi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Resizing a Movie Poster Logo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Setting Up in After Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tutorial: Making a Preset . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

165 165 166 167 169

Chapter 5 Importing Text and Other Files into After Effects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191 Workflow Considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191 Importing Files into After Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191 Footage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191 Composition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191 Composition Cropped Layers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 192 Project . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193 Special Considerations for Text Layers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193 Tutorial: Editing Type from an Illustrator Document . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193 Creating Title Cards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195 Tutorial: Animated Title Cards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196 Tutorial: Title Card-Based Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200 Tutorial: Creating a Lower Third Title . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203 Tutorial: Working with Large Blocks of Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207 Tutorial: Creating a Ticker, TV News-Type Crawl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210

Chapter 6 Title Sequences in Production: The Camera and the Edit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 215 Real-World Cameras vs. CG Cameras . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Formats and Aspect Ratios . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Speed and Frames Per Second . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Lenses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Depth of Field . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shutter Speed and Angle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Composing a Shot: Camera Framing and Movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Camera Framing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Camera Movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

215 218 220 227 233 234 238 238 242


Understanding Green-Screen Production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 247 Editing Footage for a Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250 Three Kinds of Edits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250 The Rules and Art of the Edit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 251 Three Kinds of Edits for Title Designers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 252 How to Edit Footage for a Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253 Software Setup . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253 Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 254 Tutorial: Editing Footage for a Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 254 Tutorial: Creating a Title Sequence with a Virtual Camera . . . . . . . . . . . 256

Chapter 7 Sound in Movie Titles. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267 Characteristics of Sound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Pitch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Amplitude . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Reflection, Absorption, Refraction, and Propagation . . . . . . . . . . . . . Walter Murch's Synesthesia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sound in Postproduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Sound Edit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Score . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Mix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Audio Integration with After Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Adding Sound Effects and Music to Your Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tutorial: Introduction to Sound Design: Making a “Whoosh” . . . . . . . Tutorial: Adding Music and Sound Effects in After Effects . . . . . . . . . . Synching Sound with Type Using After Effects Expressions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tutorial: Synching Sound with Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

267 267 268 269 269 269 270 270 271 271 271 275 275 277 278 279

Chapter 8 Essential Techniques. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 289 Timing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 289 Fade Up and Fade Down . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290


Tutorial: The Basic Move . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290 Fade Up and Down by Character . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 291 Tutorial: Fading Up and Down by Character . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 292 Tutorial: Shaped Fade Up and Fade Down . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 294 Tracking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 295 Tutorial: Tracks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 295 Spotlight Reveal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297 Tutorial: Creating a Spotlight Reveal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 297 Text Bounce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299 Tutorial: Make Your Text Bounce . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 299 Title Wipes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 301 Tutorial: Wiping Your Title . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 302 In-Scene Wipes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 303 Tutorial: Creating In-Scene Wipes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 304 Extreme Zoom-In Effect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306 Tutorial: Creating a Zoom-In Effect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306 Falling into Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 307 Tutorial: Falling into Place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 307 Exploding Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309 Tutorial: Exploding Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 309 Stop-Motion Titles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312 Tutorial: Classic Stop Motion with Modern Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 312 Fine-Art Techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 315 Tutorial: Painting or Writing Text on Screen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 315 Tutorial: Write-On Effect with a Font . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 317 Tutorial: Painterly Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319 End Scroll . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322 Why Are End Scrolls Harder with Video? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322 Typefaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322 Effects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323 Processing and Setting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323 Tutorial: Animating an End Scroll . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323


Chapter 9 Famous Movie Title Techniques. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 327 The Sopranos-Style Wipe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 327 Tutorial: Creating the Sopranos-Style Wipe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 327 The Suspense-Style Glowing Back Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 329 Tutorial: Creating the Suspense-Style Glowing Back Light . . . . . . . . . . 329 The Star Wars Backward Crawl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331 Tutorial: Creating the Star Wars Backward Crawl . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 331 The Horror-Jittery Type in the Style of Se7en and Saw . . . . . . . . . . . . . 333 Tutorial: Creating the Horror-Jittery Type in the Style of Se7en and Saw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 333 The Superman-Style Explosive Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 335 Tutorial: Creating the Superman-Style Explosive Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . 335 The Matrix Raining Characters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 338 Tutorial: The Matrix Raining Characters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 338 The Dawn of the Dead Blood-Splatter Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 339 Tutorial: Creating the Dawn of the Dead Blood-Splatter Type . . . . . . . . 340 The Lost-Style Basic 3D Title . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 342 Tutorial: Creating the Lost-Style Basic 3D Title . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 343 The Spider-Man-Style Full-3D Text Animation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 344 Tutorial: Creating the Spider-Man-Style F ­ ull-3D Text Animation . . . . . . 345

Chapter 10 Completing the Creative Process. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 349 Studios/Designers Clients: How Does It All Work? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Planning a Movie Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Project Element Preparation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Typical Order of Credits in an Opening Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . . . Timing/Deliverables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Workflow for Building and Creating a Movie Title Sequence . . . . . . . . Tutorial: Building and Creating a Movie Title Sequence . . . . . . . . . . . .

349 350 351 352 353 354 354

Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 373 Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 375 Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 379

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Acknowledgments Yael Braha:

Eva Camarena

Synderela Peng

Thank you

Heidi Goldstein

Ben Radatz

Jennifer Arvai

Steve Holmes

Sarah Reiwitch

Jonathan Bardelline

Jay Lamm

Rock Ross

David Bolt

Dan Levinson

Rich Simon

Jackie Brady

Terry Minkler

Jacob Trollbäck

Michael Braha

Spencer Nielsen

Jesse Brodkey

Stacy Nimmo

Bill Byrne: My parents, Tom and Marie Byrne My closest friends, Larry Caldwell, Jonah Goldstein, and Bryan Wetzel, for their advice and council The Art Institute of Austin's Dean Carol Kelley and President Newton Myvett. The students in the Media Arts and Animation and Graphic Design departments, whose creativity and questions inspired many of the elements this book. My colleagues at AI Austin, including Barry Underhill, who offered council and advice at the beginning of this process, and Luke Dimick, for allowing me healthy distraction time from this project by playing countless games of Words With Friends. My co-author, Yael Braha, for a positive working experience despite the distance and breadth of this project. Focal Press, Dennis McGonangle, and Carlin Reagan, who made all of this possible.


Title Sequences: Function with Form


You sit in a movie theater. The lights go down. The music and picture start. The opening titles fade in, and you know you're in for a journey! On the surface level, the primary purpose of title sequences is to accurately credit the cast and crew, or even more simply, to give the film's title. But if we dig a bit deeper, title sequences offer much more than that. In some ways, the function of a title sequence is very similar to the cover of a book. It not only gives the title and relevant authorship information; it also attracts the curiosity of the audience, encouraging them to open it up and start reading. The music of title sequences could be compared to the ­concert overture of a classical musical performance or opera. A typical overture precedes the main performance by introducing the main musical themes. It is like a musical call for attention, as if to say, “Everyone! We are starting now! So hold onto your seats!” Title sequences are a powerful expression of motion graphics. They are a prelude to the movie. They engage the audience by hinting at what is about to start, whether it's a movie, TV show, or Web animation.

The Purpose and Functions of a Title Sequence One of the primary functions of a title sequence is to set the tone of the movie you are about to see. Even if you didn't know anything about the movie—and whether you are watching at a movie theater, at a TV in your living room, or at your computer— you get a sense of the genre and pacing of the movie simply by experiencing the first few seconds of an opening title sequence. Imagine watching the opening title sequence of a horror film such as Zach Snider's Dawn of the Dead (1994), created by Prologue, versus a comedy-drama such as Jason Reitman's Juno (2007), with a title sequence created by Shadowplay Studios. Or imagine watching the fast-paced sequence made by Jay Johnson © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00001-5


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Functions of title sequences: • Set the tone, pacing, and genre of the movie • Build anticipation • Create an emotional response; engage and excite the audience • Foreshadow without overshadowing the plot

for David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997) as opposed to the calmer and dreamier pacing of the title sequence made by yU+co for Kevin Lima's Enchanted (2007). Even if you stumbled into any available room at a multiplex without checking the show title first, at the end of the title sequence you should know what genre you are about to experience. Effective title sequences engage and excite the audience by hinting at some of the topics, themes, and, in some cases, the challenges that characters will be facing. The intention is to build anticipation, sometimes revealing some of the main character's traits and possibly setting the stage for questions that will be answered later in the movie. Successful title sequences create an emotional reaction from the audience, leaving them glued to their seats, waiting for more. Effective title sequences foreshadow themes of the movie without overshadowing the movie itself: They anticipate what will come later in the movie but do not give away key plot points. Title sequences shouldn't summarize the plot of the movie or give away a perpetrator's identity that is supposed to be revealed only at the ending. Sometimes a title sequence can be designed so ingeniously that it adds additional meaning, or, even better, exposes some details that are missing from the movie or could go unnoticed. Maybe the scenes that contained the specific details got cut; maybe the script wasn't developed enough, so the title sequences need to clarify a confusing detail; maybe the movie was taken in a different direction in the editing room; or maybe details were intentionally omitted in order to let them thrive in the titles. At times, the most interesting and enduring title sequences offer the audience details whose significance will be revealed by the end of the movie or after a second viewing, such as the one created by Kyle Cooper for David Fincher's Se7en (1995). While fulfilling these functions, the author(s) of a title sequence must visually capture the essence of the movie. You have an arsenal of elements at your disposal to accomplish this task. The following are some elements that as a designer and animator you will have to keep in mind while beginning to work on a title sequence: • Typography • Color palette • Textures • Lighting • Camera/movement style • Editing

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   3

• Imagery (video footage, still images, 2D or 3D animation) • Styles/techniques (cell animation, CG animation, stop motion, video, match moving, etc.) By carefully picking these elements, you are making a statement about the look and feel of your work and carefully directing the audience's emotional response toward the desired result. Before we dive into all these topics, we'll explore title sequence processes and their history.

Creative Process Overview There is no set formula on how to create an effective and successful title sequence. Success depends on a variety of factors, including objective, strategy, and the target audience of a movie. A common tool that will help you navigate through the myriad options, keep the project on target, and avoid pitfalls is to compile a creative brief after the initial meeting with the client. This necessary document will help maintain the focus of your work and identify the best possible creative solution for a given client or project. Every designer should compile this document at the inception of a title sequence project and have it signed by the client. In larger agencies this document is generally prepared by a creative director and then given to the creative team, so that each member can keep the big picture of the project close by. A typical creative brief might include all or some of the ­following sections: client and company/designer contact information, overview/background, objective, target audience, timeline, deliverables, and budget. When working on larger projects that require large production teams, creative briefs could be quite elaborate and as long as 20 or 30 pages. For smaller projects, a creative brief of two or three pages is often sufficient. To compile a creative brief, you'll want to meet with the ­client first, learn about the project, and then do as much research as possible. Part of this research includes: • Watching the movie, TV pilot, or series (at least once!) • Reading the treatment • Reading the script • Researching the themes and topics covered in the movie (this includes thorough audio/visual research) Doing your homework will greatly affect your creative brief and the successful completion of your project.

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Creative Brief in Depth Here is a closer look at the common sections of a creative brief: • Client contact information. Insert the client's name, phone number, and email address. Include the main contact person for this project; if there are multiple contact people, indicate the ultimate decision maker, the person who will sign off on your final project. • Project name. Assign a name to your project (e.g., “The Matrix opening and closing title sequence”). • Prepared by. Insert your name, role, company name, date, and contact information. • Overview/background. Provide a short overview of and background on the project. • Objective. What is/are the main objective(s) you are trying to achieve? What strategies will you utilize to achieve these objectives? • Target audience. Describe the primary and secondary target audience. Include any relevant information regarding demographics. • Timeline. Insert your project's milestones. These are due dates that need to be established at the start of the project. Generally these dates are built forward in the calendar, from the actual date to the project's desired delivery date. However, if there is already a set due date because of a fundraising event, theatrical release date, or other reason, an easy solution to determine your milestones is to work your way back rather than forward. For example, if your delivery date is April 16 and today's date is February 1, you'll need to build all the milestones backward from April to February. That will give you a rough idea of how many days or weeks you'll have to work on each of your design phases. Besides giving you more negotiating power before starting a project, having a detailed timeline at hand will help you by forcing you to create a realistic plan of what can or cannot be done. Make sure that you reserve enough time for yourself or your team to complete the designated tasks. Most important, set deadlines for the client to provide feedback. A designer can do everything in her power to maintain her deliverables (e.g., three concepts for an opening title sequence by a set date), but if the client doesn't provide feedback (such as which one of the three concepts is the best) in a reasonable or designated timeframe, the designer is prevented from completing the next deliverable by its deadline. • Another important step is to identify the client's deadline to deliver you a digital file with all the credits for the title sequence. More often than not, especially in smaller-scale projects, this is a task that is overlooked or left until the last minute, which could cause delays, especially when your project files require a long render time. • Deliverables. Insert details on the exact deliverables that need to be delivered to the client, including file format, frame size, frame rate, color information, and video codec. Indicate whether there are any technical special instructions (such as alpha channels) or any practical instructions (for example, final deliverables must be sent to the film lab for a film-out). • Additional remarks. Include any relevant information or special instructions received from the client that don't fit in the other categories. For example, you could list elements that the client wants or doesn't want to see in this project, such as specific fonts or color palettes. • Budget. Indicate your compensation. This could be a flat fee, an hourly rate, or by accomplished task. When working for an hourly rate, indicate your estimated work hours per each milestone. It would be wise to also indicate the payment plan(s). Is there an advance? Will the payment happen after the deliverable of the final project? Or will there be multiple payments based on what's completed?

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   5

Typical Workflow Overview Now that you are familiar with what should be included in a creative brief, and before moving forward, let's have a quick overview of a typical workflow. While creating a title sequence, a designer (or a creative team) will have to go through three major phases: preproduction, production, and postproduction. Each phase includes a variety of steps. These might be slightly different, depending on whether you are working for a company that has its own workflow in place or if you are working on a smallerscale project on your own. Typical steps in preproduction are: • Research. Perform any necessary research prior to compiling a creative brief. Research can be carried out throughout the project, especially when researching reference images or while ­performing a fact or scientific check. • Creative brief (see above). After the creative brief is completed and approved by the client, the creative team can proceed in developing ideas, which will be consolidated into concepts to pitch to the client. A typical pitch might include a minimum of three different concepts. Each concept is generally presented to the client with (1) a treatment, (2) a storyboard, (3) style frames, and, optionally, (4) preliminary tests. • Treatment. This is a paragraph describing the story and the look and feel of the concept. It is a good rule of thumb to summarize the action as it will be seen on-screen with one sentence per scene. After the description of the action is complete, you can spend a few lines talking about the look and feel of the title sequence: the color palette, textures, characters, sound effects, music, typography, camera movement, editing, and lighting. • Storyboarding. A storyboard is a visual summary of the presented concept. Storyboards consist of rough visuals (generally hand-drawn) of key frames of the title sequence that summarize the story and the flow of the concept being presented. By pointing at their progression, the designer can talk through the key elements of the title sequence: how the story unfolds, the main action of any characters or talent type ­movement, camera movement, cuts, and so on. • Style frames. A style frame is a still frame that is 80–90% identical to how the final title sequence will look. It could be created in a two-dimensional software (such as Illustrator or Photoshop) or in a two-and-a-half- or three-dimensional one (such as Cinema 4D or After Effects) and then saved as a still frame. Still frames are a necessary complement to the storyboard. Because the storyboards are generally hand-drawn, clients will have a better idea of the look and feel of the title sequence being pitched if they can see frame samples. A good number of style frames

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ranges between 6 and 10, and ideally the frames should be picked throughout the title sequence, ­especially to visually represent a turning point or a change in the story visuals. Preliminary testing (optional). If time allows, it is definitely impressive to present a preliminary test in support of one or all concepts. A few animated seconds are sufficient to give the client an idea of the direction in which the concept is going. If time allows for only one preliminary test, I'd recommend picking the idea that the designer (or team) feels the strongest about and creating a test for it. Pitch. Once the concepts are completed with storyboards, treatment, and style frames, they are pitched to the client. By the end of the meeting, a client should be instructed to pick one concept. Often a client likes elements from Concept #1 and others from Concept #2. The task and challenge of a title designer is to satisfy the client's request while still maintaining the original creative vision. Revised storyboards. Once one idea has been picked, the creative team works on further developing the storyboard. A complete storyboard should include a frame for each cut, character or talent screen direction, visual cues to camera movements (including pan, tilt, dolly, ped, and zoom), title card numbering, dialogue, voice over, or any audio cues. Preliminary testing. Prior to devoting precious hours in producing the title sequence, any appropriate preliminary testing must be done to guarantee a smooth production and post and to avoid any unexpected roadblocks. This could include testing greenscreen live action keyed and composited onto animated backgrounds, any transitions that could be problematic, verifying the production and render time of particular shots, and so on. Animatics. Animatics are a preliminary motion animation that give a precise idea of the timing of the animation and type on-screen. The animatics could be presented to the client for approval and can be used as a guideline during the production phase to shoot or animate shots of the desired length. It is also a great way to test the animation with a soundtrack or voiceover in place, so that you can make sure that everything falls into the desired place. The animatics could be presented in the form of animated storyboards or, even better, an animation that could include preliminary testing and rough animation of the title sequence assets. If the title sequence requires live-action performances, you should consider shooting them (even with a low-resolution camera, without the high production value of a full crew) using substitutes for the talent you intend to cast in your actual shoot. Live-action shoot preproduction. Any location scouting, casting, permissions, and logistics must be dealt with around

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   7

this phase of the project. Depending on the scope and ­budget of the project, this is a step that ideally requires a full film or video camera crew. The shoot's organization and logistics can be delegated to a producer or outsourced to a production company so that the title designer can keep focusing on the testing and preproduction of the title sequence. Production: Additional testing. While getting ready for production, any testing that hasn't been performed must be done by now. Any unanswered questions should be dealt before beginning the title sequence production. Live-action shoot (if applicable). You should begin to film live action if your title sequence requires it. The title designer (or the art director or creative director of a motion design company) could act as director or even as on-set visual effects supervisor. It's a good idea to bring the animatics on set; a title designer could be involved to monitor the talent's performance and make sure it adheres to the action and timing of the animatics. Additionally, the cinematographer should have a deep understanding of the nature of the project so that he can frame, light, and compose the shots appropriately. Creating and animating assets. You should begin to create assets through illustration, modeling, and/or animation, if your title sequence requires it. If the workload is divided among various animators, modelers, or illustrators, an art director or creative director will make sure that all crew follow consistent style guides and guidelines so that the look and feel will be consistent throughout. Postproduction: Rough cut (offline editing). In this step everything begins to come together. Live action, animation, title cards—all should be combined in a rough cut. A rough cut is a rough preliminary assembly of all assets of your title sequence, including sound. Fine cut (online editing). A fine cut is a refined version of a rough cut. Both editing and animation are tightened, and any placeholder assets need to be replaced with the final assets at full or “online” resolution. Final deliverable. This final step involves creating the final deliverable of your title sequence for your client. It could involve delivering a digital file—a QuickTime file, for example—or creating an edit decision list to conform the video to film, or even delivering an image sequence to create a filmout. You should make sure that the final project not only is delivered but also is received correctly; everything should be working, displayed, and playing back properly. Only then is your job over and you can begin working on your next one!

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Title Sequence Positioning You now have a client. You have a movie or animation to create a title sequence for. You have a creative brief and have started brainstorming or even storyboarding. Let's spend a moment thinking about how your title sequence could weave into the movie. The positioning of a title sequence within a movie or animation is an important factor to keep in mind and will affect the execution of your title sequence. A title sequence could be positioned: • At the beginning of the movie (an opening title sequence) • In the middle of the movie (generally after the first scene) • At the end of the movie (a closing title sequence) • At the beginning and at the end of the movie (an opening and closing title sequence) 1. At the beginning of the movie. This is a situation in which the movie or animation is short and does not include many credits, so the end credits are omitted and opening titles are created. Typically this is the case for early silent films, independent short films, and homemade movies. Other mainstream directors, such as Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore, also prefer adopting this approach; right after the main title card, they prefer to jump-start to the feature film instead of entertaining the audience with an opening title sequence. 2. In the middle of the movie. At times the opening title sequence could be placed in the middle of the movie, generally after the first scene. When the scene reaches its conclusion, that's generally when the opening titles begin. This is the case for the title sequence made by Big Film Design for Intolerable Cruelty (2003), directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, and the title sequence of Delicatessen (1991), directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. This approach creates an unusual, unexpected, and direct beginning. The audience is not eased into the movie but is instead presented with a stark beginning. Only after the first scene has accomplished its goal of setting up the premise of the movie or introducing the main character can the audience relax, take a breather, and enjoy the title sequence. 3. At the end of the movie: the main-on-end titles. In the absence of an opening title sequence, the closing title sequence, also called the main-on-end titles, has a slightly different set of functions. In this case, the designer/animator will have to create such an engaging end title sequence that it will encourage the audience to keep watching instead of leaving the theater or turning their TVs off. The imagery and sound are not intended to introduce the movie but rather to create a closing statement. An effective main-on-end title sequence pulls the threads

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   9

of the movie together and offers the audience a moment of reflection while keeping them engaged and entertained. This is the case of the title sequence for Iron Man (2008), designed by Prologue. 4. At the beginning and end of the movie. This is the most common format. The opening sequence generally includes the main title and the names of the director, director of photography, various producers, and lead actors. The lengths of these titles vary depending on the movie; they could be as long threeand-a-half minutes, as in the opening title sequence made by Pic Agency for Peter Berg's The Kingdom (2007), or as short as the 30-second opening titles for Paul Thomas Anderson's Magnolia (1999). Opening title sequences for TV shows are generally shorter, catering to a shorter-attention-span audience and the tight limitations of airtime. The end title sequence generally includes all the credits from the opening titles plus the names of the rest of the cast and crew.

Title Sequence Style, Integration, and Transitions How do you transition from the opening titles to the movie, and from the movie to the closing titles? This could appear to be a simple question with a simple answer, but it is indeed more complex. The most intuitive answer is to fade out the opening titles, then fade in the end titles. Although this is definitely a viable option, you should think outside the box and explore other options that could better facilitate the transition between titles to movie. The options and eventual decision making for transitions are defined by the following factors: • How early in the production process the designer is involved. Title designers who are involved at the very beginning of the project will have more creative options than those who start to work on the project when the movie is already completed and the picture locked. They will have a chance to discuss with the director the possibility of shooting extra footage to use in the title sequence. For example, simply shooting additional shots during principal photography, or even with a second camera crew, will provide additional footage for the designers to work with and guarantee that the look and feel decided on by the director of photography will carry through to the footage used in the title sequence. • How much rough material is available to work with. This could be production still pictures, backstage footage, stills, footage from deleted scenes, or B-roll footage.

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• How much of the budget is assigned to shoot additional footage or to create different assets. If principal photography is already completed, no additional source material is available for the title designer to use, and if the title concept that was pitched requires a video component, the title designer will need to organize a specific video shoot to get the needed footage. But that all depends on whether there is enough money in the budget. • How much creative/editing power the director has already in place. Maybe the director has worked out an opening scene that has already reached the locked picture stage and she wants you to superimpose titles over it. Or maybe a scene has already been cut and the editor left space for you to animate your titles. Or maybe the director knows exactly what he needs in terms of concept, style, and execution. In this case, your creative freedom is limited, yet it's not impossible to achieve a level of quality and success. This doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't pitch different approaches. By sharpening your presentation skills, you might succeed in steering the director's opinion toward the design direction that you think best fits the movie. The following are a few approaches to consider, whether you are thinking of transitions from the title sequence to the movie (and vice versa) or whether you are exploring different styles and creative concepts:

Match Frame A match frame transition consists of a seamless transition from the titles to the film (and vice versa) by matching the visual composition in the frame, regardless of their difference in styles. For example, an animated title sequence could seamlessly transition via match frame into the live action of the movie. In an opening title sequence, the last frames of the title sequence will match the first frames of the film; the opposite happens in a closing title sequence. A match frame transition could be executed a variety of ways, but the most common are dissolving and masking or a combination of the two. This approach requires the designer/animator to be involved at the beginning of the project. If they are working closely with the director and cinematographer, and sometimes the visual effects supervisor on the set, they will have a chance to get some test footage to see if their title sequence concepts will work as planned. Consider the opening title sequence for Bad Education (La Mala Educación; 1994), a film by Pedro Almodóvar. The title cards reveal themselves, one after another, with a simple but

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   11

s­ ophisticated design and artistry. The color palette consists of reds, black, and white; the imagery presents a photographic collage look and feel, using photographs that look like they were ripped from a magazine and photocopied larger to reveal their halftone pattern and further manipulated by handwritten notes and sketches. The look and feel of this title sequence is motivated by the fact that one of the main characters of the movie is a film director who, in search of new stories to tell in his next movie, makes newspaper clippings of odd news. At first, the cast titles are revealed, then the main crew credits. The final title card is similar to the previous ones, but unexpectedly it cross-dissolves into a full-color picture hanging on the wall. We are now gently transposed into the movie as the camera pans to the left to frame the actors in the opening scene. This transition was executed brilliantly in that the title sequence directly flows into the movie and carries the audience with it. The audience is seamlessly transported into the heart of the movie on a gentle ride, without bumps or interruptions. Another notable title sequence is Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla (2008). This outstanding title sequence—designed by Prologue— features stylish title cards presenting each main character in a graphical sepia-and-black color palette. The camera movements are slick and slightly jittery, and they maximize the use of depth of field. At the end of the title sequence the camera zooms in between the last two characters to frame the main character, Archy (played by Mark Strong). The graphic look slowly fades out to reveal the exact match shot of the actual Archy, and the movie begins.

Titles Over Picture Another approach is to have a picture edit (an edited opening or closing sequence) with titles superimposed over the picture (also referred to as being composited). The opening scene might be a key prologue to the movie, so the designer will need to work with the material provided, rather than create a separate title sequence. Typically the director and editor have already worked on an opening scene, and they hire a title designer to create title cards that will be superimposed on the picture. If the picture is not locked, the title designer still might have some input on the picture edit and how it could work (or work better) with the titles. In general, a live-action opening scene that functions as a prologue needs to come across to the audience so that they can further understand the unfolding of the movie. As a result, title cards should be simple and not too elaborate. They should not overcome the content of the footage and become a distraction to the audience.

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This approach can be very elegant and effective in its simplicity. A few issues to keep in mind are readability, title placement (in two-dimensional space but also in temporal space), and the nature and quality of the footage. • Readability. The quality of the footage beneath a title card can affect its readability (for more details, see Chapter 3). For example, do the luminosity or color values change dramatically within one shot? To solve this issue, you can explore a variety of solutions that might enhance the titles' readability. Some effective and quick solutions are as simple as adding a subtle drop shadow, an outline, or even a faint glow to your text (see Chapter 4). • Title placement. The placement of title cards over footage is quite important and deserves adequate time and attention to detail. You should examine the edited footage and determine whether there are any elements in the frame that are key pieces of information or other visual clues that need to come across to the audience. This could be as simple as an object or even the action of a person in the background. If that's the case, plan on placing your title cards so that they don't obscure any relevant visual information. On the other hand, if a focal point is already established in the footage, you'll need to decide how the type articulates on the screen. Is it complementing or contradicting it? If a title complements the focal point, most likely it can be placed close to it. If it is intended to create a tension with the focal point, it can be placed far away from it, so that the audience will have to work a bit harder and longer to decipher all the elements in the shot. How long a title is in place is important to consider as well. If you place a title card over a picture cut, it can be both visually jarring and can distract the audience from the title card, so the title card might require additional screen time. That can also make that picture edit more evident and therefore less invisible and powerful. A good rule of thumb is to keep a title card over a picture shot without overlapping its editing point. It can be shorter than or the same length as a shot but ideally not longer. • Nature and quality of the footage. When you're examining the footage of an opening title sequence, you should pay particular attention to the nature and quality of the footage. Is the footage static, jittery, or a handheld shot? Are there any major camera movements (pan, tilt, boom, dolly, track), or are there any movements in the screen (a person or a car entering or exiting the frame)? If so, you might want to explore embedding the titles in the footage so that they appear to be in sync with

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   13

the picture. If the footage is jittery, the titles will be jittery as well. To achieve this effect you could use a technical technique called two-dimensional motion tracking. You might also separate the titles from the footage, so if the footage is jittery, the titles stay still and the footage shakes. If there are any major camera movements or talent movements, you could attach a title to a particular movement (see motion tracking for a twodimensional match, or match moving for a three-dimensional match) . . . or not! These are all possibilities to explore when you're creating titles. Whatever the case, you might need to work on each title card individually to determine the best placement (without obscuring any relevant visual information), its best typographical form (to enhance its readability, depending on the background luminosity levels, color shifts, or content of the imagery and story), and its duration and movement (to offer an easy read to the ­audience by avoiding keeping a title card over a picture cut, and considering embedding or molding the title into the picture when appropriate).

Alternating Title Cards and Footage Another viable solution is to alternate title cards with the edited picture. In this case the title sequence alternates a liveaction shot, then a cut to a title card, then back to live action, and so on. This approach leaves the footage pristine and unaltered by any design or animation the title designer conceives. Each title card has a blank canvas and its own start and end time in which it can manifest as simple as static white type on black background or as elaborate typographic animations moving in and out of frame. This approach is particularly effective when a musical score is already in place, so the edits can be synced to music. In Requiem for a Dream (2000), the transitions from the opening scene to the main title card and subsequent editing between shots of the movie and the title cards are particularly successful, especially with the amazing soundtrack composed by Kronos Quartet. This is a solution that allows minimal manipulation of the edited picture. In a scenario in which the footage has been shot on film, the titles can be printed directly on the film (in a process called film-out), and once processed, the negative cutter can splice its negative together with the original film negative. When a digital intermediate is used, the titles can be provided digitally to the post-house, which will edit them with the entire sequence and then create a film-out.

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Video-Based Title Sequence If shooting an additional live-action sequence is a possibility, you might as well have a party. Joking aside, this is probably the most desirable situation. This option gives you complete freedom to brainstorm and sketch out a variety of design concepts to propose to your client: footage with superimposed titles, footage and motion graphics . . . the possibilities seem to be endless. In Park Chan Wook's Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005), yU+co directs a wonderful title sequence. After she has spent 13 years in prison for the murder of a boy, the heroine of the movie, Geum-ja Lee, is able to find herself a bakery job and reunite with her daughter while plotting her revenge on the man who is really responsible for the boy's murder. The title sequence visuals alternate shots of growing rose stems and thorns animated onto beautifully photographed white hands, extreme close-ups of serrated knife blades, and close-up shots of baking. While the title cards are composed with elegant text in both Korean and English, the main title card is created on-screen out of a light stream of blood superimposed over an extreme close-up of a hand's palm. The entire title sequence is dominated by white, minimal blacks, and red accents. The reds play a prominent role as the red of the rose flowers, droplets of blood, and red food coloring. The last shot is a close-up of a rose leaf that dissolves into an eye; the eye blinks, revealing red makeup on the eyelid, and the camera pulls out to reveal the close-up of a woman with a stark white face shedding a black tear, which generates the last title card crediting the director. The entire sequence is delightfully complemented by a harpsichord musical theme that is later coupled with a string orchestra. The title sequence creates a dynamic tension between dark and light themes: The first shots that portray images of thorns, red droplets, and knives immediately evoke the feelings of danger and murder that the movie later explores. But these shots are later contradicted by editing shots of a knife blade cutting a soft sponge cake, and the red—once believed to be blood—is revealed to be food coloring. The juxtaposition of the same imagery used in different contexts to evoke different meaning and emotion creates a fantastic dynamic tension—the same one that is later developed in the film itself. For this title sequence, Art Director Synderela Peng of yU+co went as far as creating hand casts of the chosen talents, filming them, and then animating the typography and rose stems in ­postproduction as well as directing her own baking shoot to obtain the footage needed for her title sequence.

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   15

Case Study: Sympathy for Lady Vengeance Motion Graphics Studio: yU+co Art Director: Synderela Peng Preproduction. When we began the storyboarding process, I was very drawn to this image of a rose on a vine tattoo drawn onto the palm of the hand. During our phone call with the director Park Chan Wook (which required a Korean-to-English translator), he mentioned that he wanted to use the colors red and white. So we went forward with that simple design directive and presented two ideas. Director Park liked the vines a lot and asked for us to marry a few of the visuals from the other idea into it. The entire sequence was boarded out in detail, and once approved, we prepared for the shoot. The storyboarding phase was about two weeks (including revisions). Once the idea was signed off on, we had three weeks to shoot, composite, and deliver final. It was a quick turnaround. Production. Sixty percent of the sequence comprised shots of the female body, painted bleach white, with these CG vines crawling and spreading. We had to go through a casting process to find a woman with a delicate hand and (per the director's request) a woman with eyes that matched the lead actress's. We ended up with two actresses. We brought in Scott Tebeau, a friend who won an Emmy for make-up in Six Feet Under, to create the casts and rigs that were needed to support the actor's bodies so they could hold these long poses without trembling and twitching. Since we had to track the CG vines onto the bodies, it was important that there was minimal movement. Obviously, with the knowledge and the technology available to us now, it would have been fine if the bodies moved. But back then we were very restricted by our 10-day postproduction schedule and had to sacrifice some of that fluidity so as to get the job completed. The rigs and casts were crucial for that. The supporting visual for the vines on the body was the cake. Since the movie narrative greatly revolved around the lead's experience out of jail as a pastry chef, the director wanted us to use a white cake as a metaphor for purity and introduce red for passion and vengeance. We asked another baker friend for a favor to help bake the cakes and create the white icing. There were a total of six cakes baked, followed by a lot of icing … the trick was to make sure they were heavy enough that they wouldn't melt under the lights. So none of the baked goods were edible. We did run into a minor challenge with the shooting of the last scene. We asked (a very tall order) our eye model to cry on camera. Most of that footage looked too messy and too natural compared to our highly stylized sequence, so we opted for a clean plate and tracked a digital tear to run down her cheek. I am satisfied with the result we got but still wished we had more time to make that scene work better. Postproduction. Once the shoot was completed, we began doing animation tests on the red vines. We used the paint effects module in Maya to generate the flowers and the crawling vines. While that was going on, the digitized footage (shot in HD with the Sony 900) was given to an editor to cut, to a Baroque trombone piece by Vivaldi. Meanwhile we started creating vine animation in Maya, followed by compositing of the vines in Shake. I still hold this project very close to my heart because it was a labor of love. We had a small budget to work with but managed to make it work. Ultimately, anything that involves creative prop making (cakes, for example) will make for good stories.

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Animation-Based Title Sequence In Cirque du Freak (Paul Weitz, 2009) we enter a journey in perpetual movement. A spider web holds letters by a thread; they transform into a face whose mouth leads us into a graveyard, which reveals the spider that evolves into the hands of a puppeteer (Mr. Tiny, the bad vampire in the movie) controlling two shadow-puppet boys as they become part of a chase scene through circus settings and surreal landscapes sprinkled with ominous trees, bats, and vampires. A tree trunk that becomes a waist and teeth becoming stair steps should be transformations of no surprise. “The journey of the two boys gave us a way to interweave all the characters they pass along the way, such as the Bearded Lady, Octa the Spider, Monkey Girl, and Snake Boy. The features of these characters are used as transitional devices that cleverly transform into other images to keep the action moving along from scene to scene,” says Garson Yu in an interview with Videography. Yu is the Creative Director and founder of yU+co, who directed this title sequence. All along this title sequence the letters are hand-drawn as though they were engraved in wood. The film's credits are artfully woven into the animation of each title card; titles are engraved onto tombstones, they appear on the spider web threads, they are embedded in the marionettes' strings, and they interact with the boy puppets. Moreover, Yu says, “I also wanted to invent a new way of seeing how the credits behave. If you see the credits as actors on stage instead of just titles in the foreground, then we can imagine them to do anything that you want them to do as long as you direct them. They can dance and they can interact with the characters. In this case, they are truly the actor on stage with the puppets.” Black stylized graphics and characters inspired by German Expressionist woodcut prints and paintings dominate the frames, coupled with a color palette of muted blues, oranges, and green accents. Subtle organic textures such as ink splatters are orchestrated throughout the title sequence, while the camera flows ­fluidly from title card to title card. The title sequence is accompanied by a thrilling orchestral soundtrack; minimal sound effects emphasize the tension, dark humor, and ominous mood of the title sequence and the film. Other notable animation-based title sequences include those of Monsoon Wedding (Mira Nair, 2001), designed by Trollbäck+co; Intolerable Cruelty (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2003), created by Big Film Design; Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (Brad Silberling, 2004), created by Jamie Caliri, and The Kite Runner (Mike Forster, 2007), created by MK12.

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   17

Text as Character Panic Room (2002), directed by David Fincher, opens with shots of Manhattan and slowly moves through New York all the way through the Upper West Side of the city, where the movie unfolds. Embedded in the shots of the city's buildings appear the gigantic titles, floating in air. They hover ominously over the city while they match the adjacent building perspectives and lighting, giving the impression that they are not merely “guests” of the scenes; they have actually gained an important role in it. Not only do they look like they belong to the city's architecture, but their prominence and stance in the frame almost suggest that they are treated as talents on-screen. Computer Cafe artist Akira Orikasa explains: “The titles themselves are constructed and fit so that they appear to be real and near but not attached to building façades. It was important to light and composite them so that the light shining on each title matches the lighting in the scene.”□ Because most of the film takes place in a claustrophobic interior location—the house that gets broken into, and its panic room—this opening title sequence, which features these vast exterior cityscape shots coupled with menacing titles, not only creates an interesting contrast but visually introduces the themes of this impenetrable architectural structure where the movie will unfold, while emotionally introducing the tense mood the audience will experience in the film. William Lebeda, Picture Mill's creative director, explains in an interview with DVD talk: “[Fincher's] main concern was to add some scope to the film. It starts outside in the middle of the day, but the bulk of movie takes place in the middle of the night over a short time inside the house. A lot of it takes place inside the panic room. He really wanted to have a sense that it's in New York. It ends outside as well, so he really wanted to bookend the film outside.” Picture Mill and Computer Cafe worked together to create this powerful and elegant title sequence. David Fincher had the idea to use type, maybe floating in air. So, Lebeda digitized some of the production stills, and after importing them into 3D software, he added type in a variety of perspectives and fonts while keeping Fincher's inspiration in mind throughout the process. After the title sequence's concept was approved, Fincher's production crew left for New York to shoot the production plates, and they returned with a variety of high- and low-angle shots. The sequence was edited in a rough cut and the typographical elements had begun to be composited, but Fincher wanted to create some camera movements that didn't exist in the original footage, so the team realized that some of the shots needed to be reconstructed in 3D. Computer Cafe utilized IMAX still pictures of the

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building—which were shot as a reference for the building in the background, in case they needed to be recreated—in a technique called photogrammetry. This method allowed them to reconstruct the geometry of the buildings in 3D and then move the camera around them. The final title sequence resulted in a combination of original film footage and 3D textured objects. After considering a number of typefaces, the chosen font for this title sequence was a modified version of Copperplate because “It looked more like New York. That font fit the buildings better and didn't take away from them. It looked important,” explains David Ebner, president and digital effects supervisor of Computer Cafe.

Figure 1.1  Title Card from "Panic Room" (2002).

Combining Footage and Motion Graphics Gareth Edwards directs a gorgeous title sequence for the BBC series How We Built Britain (2007). As far as the creative process, he proposed eight different concepts, which didn't quite win the client over. By the end of the meeting, with an increased understanding of the scope of the project, Gareth pitched the winning idea: designing the letters of the show's title as buildings spread across Britain's landscapes. The letters would showcase the architectural styles explored in the series that spanned a thousand years of British architecture: medieval castles and churches, Scotland's buildings, Georgian houses, Victorian buildings, and modern skyscrapers.

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   19

Gareth sifted through BBC's aerial video footage and selected some shots that would be appropriate for the concept. He tracked the footage using Boujou and composited on it the modeled and textured giant 3D letters he created with 3D Studio Max.

Figure 1.2a  Title Cards from "How We Built Britain" (2007).

Figure 1.2b

20   Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form

Figure 1.2c

Figure 1.2d

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   21

Figure 1.2e

Figure 1.2f

22   Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form

Figure 1.2g

Figure 1.2h

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   23

Figure 1.2i

Figure 1.2j

24   Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form

Figure 1.2k

Figure 1.2l

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   25

Figure 1.2m

Figure 1.2n

26   Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form

Figure 1.2o

Figure 1.2p

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   27

Figure 1.2q

The sequence begins with a view behind a Jeep starting a journey on a desolate road. As the orchestral score builds and the cuts begin to be synced to music, we see a wide shot of an odd castle. Just to clear any doubts, the camera cuts in to confirm that what we are seeing is indeed the letter B. All other letters, R-I-T-A-I-N, are slowly revealed across the landscape in a variety of architectural styles that increasingly become more modern. Throughout the piece we do not lose touch with our Jeep, which, as a narrator, is guiding us to explore all these landscapes and buildings in first person. The use of point-of-view shots from inside the Jeep reinforces the feeling that it is indeed the viewer who is the hero conducting the journey; this technique projects the audience into the story—not as a spectator but as the story's hero. The final shot reveals the entire title BRITAIN, composed of the individual letters/buildings arranged neatly in a British skyline, while our Jeep crosses the screen, revealing the director's credit. Other notable title sequences that employ video and motion graphics include Run, Lola, Run (Tom Tykwer, 1998) and Stranger Than Fiction (Marc Forster, 2006), created by MK12.

Escamotage: Alternative Transitions A clever example of a nontraditional transition between the title sequence and the movie is the one created by Imaginary Forces for the movie Dead Man on Campus (1998), directed by

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Alan Cohn. This film is a dark comedy that centers on two students who, after learning about a college clause stating that if your college roommate commits suicide, you are awarded A's for the semester, decide to find the most suicidal student on campus to live with them. This title sequence, led by creative director Peter Frankfurt and art director Karin Fong, revolves around a SAT (Suicide Aptitude Test), an exam in which the film's credits are embedded among the multiple-choice questions, diagrams, and illustrations, created by Wayne Coe. The visual imagery and text formatting are without doubt reminiscent of the college test iconography, and the sequence progresses fluidly from one title card to the next, reproducing typical suicidal scenarios coupled with multiple-choice questions, wrapped in a comical veil that preludes the dark comedy themes of the movie. Shots are tightly edited on the beat of a soundtrack by Marilyn Manson, whose lyrics hint at the irony of the title sequence. The color palette consists of the white background of the test paper, black type, and orange text accents and a blue background of the main title card. One of the powerful aspects of this title sequence is its transition. By the end of the test—after the last title card dedicated to the film's director—we see a stop sign coming to full screen, we hear a camera-flash sound, the screen flashes to white, and we see the first shot of the movie, a close-up of a student whose picture is being taken for a library card. This transition has a strong audio and visual component that directly catapults the viewer from this animated title sequence into the live action of the movie, without a blink.

A Story Within a Story In other situations, opening titles need to provide a bridge between the audience and the film. There is nothing more frustrating for an audience than to be distracted, especially during a documentary, because they don't know the background sufficiently to follow the story. Creating an opening sequence that offers the audience a basic historical or cultural background needed to properly enjoy the movie often bridges this gap. Take a look at the title sequence of The Kingdom (2007). This Middle East action thriller directed by Peter Berg needed an opening title sequence to set up the movie and give it a political and historical context. Berg commissioned Pic Agency to handle the task. Creative director Jarik Van Sluijs, art director Stephan Burle, and producer Pamela Green created a 3-minute, 20-­second opening title sequence presenting an audiovisual historical excursus of the controversy between Saudi Arabia and United States over oil during the last 80 years.

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   29

This sequence summarizes the political and historical events that unfolded from 1932 to 2001 by editing archival audio and video footage, by animating motion graphics summarizing key plot points, and by elegantly displaying simple typography onscreen. Nervous upbeat music underlines seamless transitions from video footage to three-dimensional graphic imagery, maps, graphics, timelines, charts, and pull quotes on-screen. The color palette of this title sequence focuses on desaturated reds, greens, and yellows; these muted colors help to not only achieve a historical look but to maintain a uniform look between all the different source video footage sizes and compressions, from VHS to 16 mm. Producing this opening sequence took nine months. Pic Agency wrote their own script and dedicated countless hours to researching archival audio and video footage. Once the 128 shots were selected, it took another long effort to obtain their clearances, from CNN to the Saudi Arabia government. They even performed additional interviews for the sequence's voiceover. It is clear that this opening title sequence contains the essence of motion graphics and filmmaking: storytelling, entertaining, information, and design. “Symbolize and summarize,” as Saul Bass said. By the end, this opening sequence has offered the audience the necessary information in an exciting and compelling way. They are now ready for the film to begin. Other notable “story within a story” title sequences include Catch Me If You Can (Steven Spielberg, 2002) and Lord of War (Andrew Niccol, 2005).

Pulling the Threads The end titles for An Inconvenient Truth (2006) are one-of-akind. This powerful documentary, directed by Davis Guggenheim, deals with the issue of climate change and global warming. Al Gore plays a central character as he reveals necessary information through his traveling public presentations, interviews, and reflection on his life and politics. After watching this emotionally compelling film, most viewers might ask themselves the question: “Yes, but what can I do?” And the answer is provided by the end titles. Elegantly designed by yU+co, the end titles provide practical tips on what to do to start positively affecting climate change on an individual and community level. Suggestions such as “When you can, walk or ride a bicycle” are interspersed with the film's credits, to a soundtrack of Melissa Etheridge singing “I Need to Wake Up.” Transitions from one title card to the next are elegantly executed by leaving a few letters on-screen a bit longer so that they become part of the next title card.

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This end title sequence successfully pulls the threads of the movie. Weaving its functional aspect (crediting cast and crew) with a call to action, this end title sequence complements and enhances the movie's themes in a brilliant way. It encourages the audience to reevaluate their daily behaviors and offers practical solutions to positively impact the future of our planet.

Conclusion Imagine that you've been hired at the last minute to create a title sequence. The picture is locked and there is no additional footage, no still pictures, and no money to shoot additional footage. Even though you might feel that your hands are tied, there is always a solution to a given problem. Sometimes it might not be exactly as you originally imagined if you didn't have these limitations. Don't feel discouraged; when you have a limitation, that's when your survival instinct takes over and, with a bit more effort, you will be able to provide your client with an original solution. Sometimes the solution might come after a few days, sometimes overnight, but it will come to you if you don't give up and if you try all possible ­avenues with the time and resources you have available.

Opening and Closing Titles When you are starting to work on your opening titles, you might want to organize the credit information you receive from the client and begin a rough sketch of how the titles will unfold over time (also called animatics). The following terminology and concepts will help you organize your work and facilitate the communication between you and your client. When we talk about a title card, we refer to a screen that displays the credit information of the cast and/or crew. Titles and title cards can be distinguished as follows: • A single title card contains one name credit. A single title card is typically used in opening titles to display the name of the lead actors and the creative people involved in the movie (director, producers, writer, cinematographer, composer). These are generally referred to as the above-the-line credits. • A double title card contains two name credits. A double title card typically is used to display the names of supporting actors and additional creative people involved in the movie. • A triple title card contains three name credits. A triple title card is typically used to display the names of additional supporting actors. • A multiple title card contains more than three name ­credits. A multiple title card is typically used to name additional ­supporting actors or extras. • A main title card displays the main title of the movie.

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   31

• Scrolling titles are titles that move sequentially in and out of frame, generally used as end titles. End scrolling titles usually repeat the credits of the opening titles (the talent credits of the opening titles are reorganized either in order of appearance or alphabetically) and then display the below-the-line full crew and cast credits: the special effects, props, soundtrack, equipment and location rentals, film stock, and so on. A title designer can create the design and layout of the text blocks, but if digital scrolling titles are needed (as opposed to a film-out), some companies in Hollywood specialize in digital scrolling titles that avoid flickering type and look nice and smooth. • A lower third is a title placed on the lower-third of the screen (although there might be other screen placements you could consider), generally used to display the information—name and title—of a person being interviewed or a location. • Subtitles are titles placed on the lower-third part of the screen (or sometimes on the top of the screen to avoid covering relevant information on-screen or previously existing lower thirds). These are generally used to translate dialogue in another language. • Intertitles are title cards that display the time, place, prologue, or quotes. In silent films, an intertitle is often used to convey minimal dialogue or information that can't be deduced from the talent's body language or the scene's settings. Figure 1.3  Title card examples. SINGLE TITLE CARD




and with:

Mac Guffin




In the center of Metropolis there was a strange house, forgotten by the centuries.

Nick Porter Belinda Stern

SCROLLING TITLES Charlie Ben Seth Cousin Little cousin Aunt Flo Neighbor Neighbor’s daughter Friend #1 Friend#2 Friend#3 Dog

Charlie Gregor Ken Lee Smith Mike Lee Giovanni Stura Nick Porter Belinda Stern Mac Guffin Rosetta Lang Carrie Donovan Melinda Arabes Alexander Shine Pickle

Charlie Gregor Ken Lee Smith Giovanni Stura


Charlie Gregor production coordinator

Charlie Gregor Ken Lee Smith Mike Lee Giovanni Stura Nick Porter Belinda Stern


“We all go a little mad sometimes.”

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Depending on the type of movie you are working with (home movie, independent flick, Hollywood movie, or something else), the order in which the credits in opening and closing titles appear on-screen and their font size, especially in large-budget productions, are greatly determined by the talent's contracts, union contracts, and industry conventions. The designer will have very little (if any) say in that. For example, a clause in a talent's contract might dictate that his credit shouldn't be in a smaller font size than the one of the main title card. A different clause in another talent's contract might dictate that her title card be the first one, regardless of who else acts in the film. Also, depending on the film's domestic and international distribution, you might have to composite different studio logos at the head of your title sequence. Or you might even have to deliver a version of your title sequence without any text so that English titles can be replaced by titles in another language. As you're approaching designing a title sequence, you should obtain any pertinent information about the talent or distribution contracts that might affect the title cards' order or text size.

Avoiding Typos Typos are the one mistake you want to avoid while working on a title sequence. After you worked long and hard on a film or a TV show, would you want your name to be spelled wrong? I don't think so. The following are a series of tips that will help you avoid a number of headaches and keep your clients happy. • Ask the client to give you a digital file containing the typed credits of the movie, with numbered title cards. For example: 1. XYZ logo 2. ABC logo 3. DFG production presents 4. A film by First Name Last Name 5. With First Name Last Name 6. And First Name Last Name … and so on. • Avoid typing anything else; use only the typed information with which you've been provided. • Copy and paste the names from the file the client provided you with into the software you're using to create the title cards. • Check the titles often for accidental letters you might have inserted from using common keyboard shortcuts (for example, in Illustrator, watch out for extra t's from using the Type tool or v's from using the Selection tool). When you are pasting your title card text in your software and then pressing a keyboard shortcut, it's possible that instead of changing to a different tool you are actually typing an unwanted letter in the text box. • When you're ready to show your title cards to your client, send the actual stills of your project file for review. Don't send an early version or alternate versions; simply send the stills taken from the latest version of the actual project you are working on. There are a number of quick ways to accomplish this task. You could take a snapshot of the title cards directly from the software interface or from your rendered QuickTime file, or you could even export a digital still frame from your software and then email or fax it to your client for approval.

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   33

The Video and Film Workflow Depending on whether your movie has been shot on film, video, or CG animation, there are a number of possible workflows though which you will be able to deliver an accurate, foolproof title sequence that will match the client's desired specifications. To make an informed decision on the right workflow, when you're beginning to work on a title sequence you must ask your client these simple questions, the answers to which will better guide you in the creative process: 1. What is the source format? If your title sequence requires the use of previously shot video or film footage, you must find out its source format. 2. What is the deliverable format? Knowing the destination and platform of your title sequence at the inception of your project will determine a variety of factors, including the size and resolution of your project, aspect ratio, and frame rate, to mention a few. If your direct client or contact person doesn't know the answers to these questions, find people working on this project who do. Here are a few tips that will help you through your project: 1. Any assets produced for the title sequence must be created at the adequate frame size. If you need to hire a photographer or videographer to shoot additional assets, you need to communicate to them the resolution at which they need to be shot. If you are planning to do some work that requires panning and scanning in postproduction, you'll need to shoot at a higher frame size than the final output size.

Table 1.1 Common Frame Sizes Width Height (Pixels) (Pixels)

Screen Aspect Ratio

  640   720   720

  480   480   486

  4:3   4:3   4:3




1280 1920 1828 3656 2048

  720 1080 1332 2664 1556

16:9 16:9 1.37 1.37 1.32




Description An early standard for analog-to-digital video editing NTSC DV and DVD image dimensions NTSC SD video dimensions used for professional digital formats such as Digital Betacam, D-1, and D-5 PAL SD video dimensions used for digital formats such as Digital Betacam, D-1, and D-5 as well as DVD and DV HD video format Higher-resolution HD video format Cineon half resolution Cineon full resolution Film 2K resolution, used when printing half resolution onto 35 mm film with a film-out recorder; it offers a more affordable price than 4K resolution Film 4K resolution, used when printing high resolution onto 35 mm film with a film-out recorder

34   Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form

Figure 1.4

NTSC SD 720x486 pixels HD 1280x720 pixels HD 1920x1080 pixels 2K 2048x1556 4K 4096x3112

2. Have your client decide early the exact deliverable (frame size, compression, frame rate). If you need to create graphics and ­animated type that require rasterization, you need to start working at an adequate resolution for the requested deliverable. A common obstacle that you could encounter is when clients—especially ones who are going through this process for the first time—don't make up their minds about what the final output will be. Working with large formats takes time and money; you'll need extra hard drives to store the footage and rendered animation, and you'll need to budget extra time for rendering—so you will want to avoid working at a higher resolution than necessary. For example, if you start working on sketches and creative proposals at an SD (Standard Definition) resolution and the client decides in the middle of the project that they also want an HD (High Definition) version, the SD frame size will be too small and will require you to start working on a larger frame size from scratch. If this situation ever happens to you, keep in mind that the deliverable should be one of the sections in your approved creative brief. So if the client changes their mind during the production of your title sequence, you will most likely be able to negotiate a fee for the additional work. The general rule of thumb is to ask your client to indicate at the beginning of the project the exact format(s) of your final deliverable (DVD, video for Web, film). If the client is unaware of the exact specification, you should absolutely contact the

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   35

film lab, the postproduction company, or the programmer (if working for the Web) and find out that information. 3. Work at the highest resolution required for your project. If your client indicates that the final title sequence will need to be delivered in multiple formats for a variety of platforms (Web, DVD, theatrical release) you must work at the highest resolution needed for any of the deliverables. Similar to the print design world, motion graphics can always be scaled down and maintain their quality; when they are scaled up they lose their sharpness and quality unless you are working with line-art graphics (see Chapter 4). If the multiple formats requested by your client include ­versions with different aspect ratios (e.g., letterboxed HD and 4:3 SD), make sure that you clarify with your client whether the HD version will be cut on its sides to create the SD version or not.

SD 4:3 HD 16:9 (scaled down to match the SD height)

SD 4:3 HD 16:9 (scaled down to match the SD width)

Figure 1.5 High Definition and Standard Definition aspect ratio comparison.

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If so, you will need to clarify with your client whether you need to create two different title sequence versions (one for HD, the other for SD) or if you need to create only one title sequence that will work for both the HD and SD versions; in this case the titles will be designed a bit more centered on-screen, not reaching the right and left margins to avoid being cut off during the HD-to-SD format conversion.

Film Process and Transfer: The Digital Intermediate Process Digital intermediate (DI) is a process that might be necessary while working on your title sequence if your project requires transposing your source footage from one medium to another— from digital video to film, for example, or from film to video and from film to digital, then back to film. A typical digital intermediate workflow consists of three steps: 1. A film scanner scans the original film negative frame by frame. A typical scanner, such as the Arriscan, flashes each frame with a red, green, and blue light, and each frame is captured on a sensor as a “raw” file that is uncorrected. Based on an EDL (edit decision list) provided by the editor, the film scanner is capable of identifying and selecting each original roll of film to find the exact start and end frame of each needed shot. The scanning process varies from facility to facility and might offer a variety of image resolutions (2K, 4K, 6K; the higher the value, the sharper the image) and color bit depths (such as 10 bits per color channel). Each scanned frame is then recorded onto a hard drive and is numbered sequentially. 2. The image sequence is conformed and manipulated. The scanned film frames are delivered to the title designer as an image sequence so that titles can be composited over the footage. This is also the appropriate time to perform any necessary special effects or color corrections. Look-up tables (LUTs) are frequently used to make sure that the footage will match both the digital projector and the print film stock of choice. Once all the manipulation is completed, the image sequence needs to be prepared and exported so that it can be printed back onto film. 3. The image sequence is printed back onto film (film-out). This step involves the use of a film printer, which reads the information of each digital frame and uses a laser to engrave it frame by frame onto a film roll. Depending on the project you are working on, there might be slight variables to this workflow. For example, if you are working on an opening title sequence that requires titles superimposed

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   37

over the picture, a film lab will be requested to scan only the opening sequence (rather than the entire film!) so that once you complete your job, the sequence can be printed back onto film and spliced with the rest of the original negative. Also, depending on the project, the digital intermediate could be performed only through its first part (film scanner scans the original film) or its latter one (film printer prints onto film). Table 1.2 will help you understand the general video and film workflows while working on your titles.

Table 1.2  General Video and Film Workflows Source

Working Format/Process

Final Deliverable

1. Digital video 2. Film 3. Film 4. Digital video

Digital video Digital intermediate Digital intermediate or film Digital video

Digital video Digital video Film Film

1. If your source is digital video and your final deliverable is digital video, your best bet is to work in digital video as well. Before you begin working on your title sequence, you should make sure that the source footage is of equal or higher image resolution than your final deliverable. If your source footage is lower resolution, you must immediately notify your client that higher image resolution footage is needed to avoid the final deliverable being blurry or pixilated—unless your creative plan is to heavily manipulate the source footage so that the low quality of the footage will be unnoticed. 2. If your source footage is film and your final deliverable is digital video, you must go through the first half of the typical digital intermediate workflow. The film will need to be digitized and delivered to you so that you will be able to start working on it at your workstation. When the titles are completed, you can export the final digital deliverable using the requested frame size and codec. 3. If both your source footage and your final deliverable are film, you could either remain in film or go through a digital intermediate workflow. If your client decides to continue to work in film, two options are to (a) create titles with an animation stand, shoot them on film, and then splice them onto the film's

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negative, or to (b) create titles (either handwritten or computer-generated), shoot them on film, and then go through an optical printing process that will allow you to superimpose your titles directly onto the film footage. If, on the other hand, your client has allocated enough budget to go through a digital ­intermediate, the footage needs to be scanned and delivered to you as an image sequence. Once digitized, the titles can be created, animated, and, if needed, composited over the digital footage. On completion, the titles need to be exported again as an image sequence so that each frame can be printed back onto film. 4. If your source footage is digital video and your final deliverable is film, you must go through the second half of the typical digital intermediate workflow. You should make sure that the source digital video footage you are provided with is of a sufficient frame size to print on film without incurring any quality loss (typically either 2K or 4K resolution). Before you begin working on your title sequence, make sure that you contact your client, the postproduction facility, or the film laboratory that will print the image sequence back onto film, to verify the resolution, file format, color bit depth, and any other file specification they require the image sequence to be delivered in. Printing at 2K or 4K resolution will result in a considerable budget difference, so this decision will most likely need to involve the client, the studio, or the distributor. There are many variations of film and video frame size when you begin to add codecs and frame rates, transferring from film to video and vice versa. Conversions could become a bit of a headache, especially when dealing with 3:2 pull-down (when converting 24 fps to 29.97 fps) and its removal or reverse pull-down (when digitizing footage from an NTSC tape at 29.97 fps but you need to work at 24 fps so that you can output to film). The headaches immediately cease when: 1. You work entirely in a digital system. For example, suppose the film was edited in Final Cut Pro and exported to After Effects via the Automatic Duck plug-in. The edits are preserved and there is no need for frame rate conversion. 2. The film has been scanned at a postproduction facility and you receive a 24 fps digital image sequence. You can create titles and then re-export a 24 fps image sequence to be output onto film. For more information on this topic, refer to Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects, by Chris and Trish Meyer (Focal Press, 2007).

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   39

Interview Rock Ross: On Making Film Titles for Independent Filmmakers Rock Ross is a title designer, independent filmmaker, and musician living and working in San Francisco. He has created thousands of titles for independent films, shooting directly on film using his own animation stand, without even touching a computer. He has screened thousands of independent short films in his New Nothing Cinema and scored a number of films with his band, The Goat Family. “It's more satisfaction if it's a hard job and you do it anyway, and quickly deliver those good-looking titles.”

Figure 1.6 Rock Ross. What originally sparked your interest in filmmaking and film titles? I started making films when I was about 12, using my dad's regular 8 mm Bolex, which he was using to shoot home movies. My sister and I started doing scenes ourselves, filming each other for fun, and acting like little hams. And then I started making longer films with my friends, playing reel-to-reel tape recorder soundtracks with them. I went to Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where I received a degree in history with a minor in art, and then I went to the San Francisco Art Institute, to the undergraduate and graduate school of filmmaking, where I received a BFA and an MFA. I was educated by film artists on art film, mainly; it wasn't a vocational school but ended up being my vocation. I started off doing location sound recording, and it was unpleasant because I had to travel to film locations and deal with a lot of stressful people; I didn't enjoy it. I liked sound recording but I didn't enjoy working on crews. I started working on titles because I didn't have to go anywhere; I could sit in a room and work on titles whenever I wanted. How does your life experience influence your work? I get to see lots of work, lots of independent work, since we have a little cinema here in the building, the New Nothing. So I've seen thousands of short experimental works since 1971. That has influenced me: what not to do, what I don't want

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to see, what works really well, when someone overdoes it, when it wears out its welcome, and when it's just right. When that works—when it's just right—it's sublime and transcendent. That's what remains with me—the good stuff. Can you talk about your creative process when working on titles—from the early inspiration through development and to the final deliverable? Usually filmmakers have a pretty good idea of what they want. Very often they direct you, or they will have an art director who will direct you, and I just follow the directions they give me or use the artwork they give me. When they have the artwork for the titles all done, ready to go, they might simply email it to me and tell me: “I want this seven seconds, no fades.” I want them to give me a log, the order they want me to shoot them in, how big they want the titles in the frame, if they want a colored gel, if they want white type on black or red on black, for example. Sometimes some people say, “I just want simple titles, white on black, here they are. Easy to read. I want them to be TV safe.” And that's it. They won't tell me what their film is about; they'll say, “Shoot each title 10 seconds long and I'll cut them and I'll do the fades, and I'll decide how long they are going to be.” Sometimes I don't even meet the filmmaker; it will be over the phone or email. They'll just email the file, their credits and titles, and I get to pick out the typeface, the typesetting, and shoot the titles. But sometimes people give me a lot more creative freedom. They might say: “This is what I want, help me realize it. Here's the theme, here's the mood, here's the music I want for the main titles. You can be creative and make something dynamic, and make something subtle.” And that's always fun to do. For example, I could do multiple passes, like having titles burn in on top of objects that are from the film: a leather jacket, or a bowl of onions, a wall, a knife or a gun, or a tire. That's fun, laying an object down on the animation stand, like a leather jacket, and lighting it creatively with gels, and leaving a spot for the title to burn in and out of. Or to go and shoot something that you know is going to be used for the titles. You go and shoot it with a precise plan in mind, then come back to the studio, and without processing it, you back up the film and burn in the titles on top of the live action that you've shot: that can be incredibly inexpensive and really satisfying. It's great to make something that looks good and satisfying to the filmmaker.

Figure 1.7 Rock Ross examining a 16mm film at his light table.

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   41

Can you elaborate on your creative process when you are given total creative freedom? If a filmmaker wants me to do the creative part of the titles, I'll ask them a lot of questions. I want to see their film's work in progress, so I can study the colors and the mood of the film and try to accentuate that mood, or complement it, expand the mood of the music or of the opening scene. I need to get a feeling for the film, so I can pick a typeface and make the titles look right. Also, I pay attention to the pacing of the film—if it's moody or if it's peppy. If someone is thoughtful, they can save themselves lots and lots of money by giving me a perfect log saying exactly how long the screen should be black, when the titles should pop on, how long they should be up, how long fades should be. If they can give me a log like that, they've saved themselves many hundreds of dollars, instead of saying, “Shoot each one 10 seconds.” They should just ask me to edit the titles in camera and then they're done. And for the end title crawl they should know how long they need them to run. Can you talk about readability when you are working with your title sequences? As a screen time guideline for readability, I generally calculate about a second per word, not including articles—the a's or the's or is's. The most important thing is that the titles can be read. Why have information up there if you can't read it or if it's gone too quick or if it's too tiny to read or if, when they transfer it to video or digital, it starts falling apart? I like simple, clean fonts that are easy to read and big and bold when they are up there on-screen. If they are going to burn through objects, they must burn through well, nothing too delicate or stylized that is hard to read. They shouldn't have elements that are too fragile. If you expose the film stock for the fragile elements of the titles, the big ones become bold and hot, and if you expose for the bold elements, the fragile ones fade out and they are almost indecipherable. Titles have to be clean and neat, I think—nothing too stylized. For the titles of my own films, very often I use a tip and I scratch them directly into the film's emulsion, so they appear to be panning across the frame. I like that look. And it's easy to read, too, it's like scanning down a sentence. Do you work on your titles with the score/ soundtrack already in place? If so, how does that affect your work? If the filmmaker has the music in mind that sets up the mood of the film, I can listen to that music and try to shoot the titles so that they are a complement or a juxtaposition of the music. If there's peppy, wild music, sometimes it's nice to have slow, atmospheric titles. Sometimes it's nice to have a surprise, to have it be a different look. They seem Figure 1.8  A film strip from “Thoughtless”, a 16mm film by Rock Ross made with press-type and hand painted. to complement each other if they are different looking.

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And sometimes the opposite can be very effective, too. Sometimes it's nice to have peppy titles and peppy music. You can do all kinds of nice stuff—popping titles on with a slow fade-off, and you can cut right to the beat. Do you do any preliminary tests before you shoot your titles? I've been designing titles for so long, I don't have to shoot preliminary tests anymore unless it's something I've never done before. I've got tests for all types of situations, both in 35 mm and 16 mm film: top lit and bottom lit, and any combination of top lit and bottom lit titles, burn-throughs, titles on top of all kinds of things. Since I've got all kinds of tests, I can usually get the titles right the first time I shoot them. And almost every time I shoot a job, I shoot a test at the end of the setup, a wedge, half stops all the way through. When I have the finished film titles, I usually get a mid-light workprint, and if it doesn't look right, then at least I'll have a reference to do it again if I have to.

Figure 1.9 Wedge test. Usually, color negative has a wide enough latitude that you can get it right the first time. There's some wiggle room for exposures in color negative. Hi-con film, which a lot of titles are shot in, has pretty much one or two f-stops [of latitude] and that's it. It has to be really hot [in terms of exposure] in order for the black to be rich and dark and the whites to burn though crisp and clean. I did something recently with a bunch of broken windshield glass. A client brought in a big box of windshield glass— they wanted it bottom lit with other little pieces of glass in there, and they wanted the titles to burn through on top of that; top lit and bottom lit. So I had to do a test for that. They came out looking pretty nice. Do you have any recommendation is regard to font size when working with 16 mm or 35 mm film? I'd say nothing smaller than 12 points. And, you know, it could be enormous if the title of the film is Yo, or M … so you can fill a frame. Sometimes people want their titles to look so big that they are going out of the frame but you can still read it, just so it looks kind of ridiculously huge. What's a typical length of a project? Usually the turnaround is one day to shoot the titles. Once I get the name credits, I'll take them to a typesetter, and they'll output them to film negative the same or next day. Then I can bring them back here and do all the artwork, prepare it to make it camera-ready, and shoot it. If the client brings me the film negatives, the codaliths, then I can do it

Chapter 1  Title Sequences: Function with Form   43

that same day. I cut them out; if they are bottom lit I mount them on paper animation cells with black tape, put them on the stand, add colored gels. I can do it in a day, unless it's a subtitled project or a longer and more elaborate project. Then the film will be processed at a film lab. Wait for it to come back—about a week sometimes—and then you can look at it and call the client and tell them to come and get them. The client needs to proofread it because very often I'll shoot something and they'll go: “Oh my God, I misspelled my mother's name! She gave me the money [to do the film],” so I'll have to do it again, and if it's a crawl, I'll have to do the whole thing again.

Figure 1.10 Rock Ross at his animation stand. How do you control the kerning and leading of your titles? It used to be, when I was using press-type—Letraset—you'd have to do it all yourself by eye, but now you don't have to do that much work anymore. Very often the typesetting equipment does a good enough job that doesn't need adjusting too much. Sometimes, though, I will still do some kerning myself. If the main title doesn't look right—if it looks crowded, for example—I'll just cut it up and space the letters using black tape and make it look a little better, not so crammed. Or separate lines a little, just so that looks more balanced and fits in the frame neatly. What are the most challenging aspects of your work? My experience has been that by the time independent filmmakers get to do their titles, they are frustrated, stressed out, broke, and very impatient. So you've got to be patient with them, and you've got to work with a tiny budget. You try to give a

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great production value for very little money. And that requires putting on your thinking cap and using a lot of elbow grease, and making it look as good as you can. It's always a challenge, and it's going to be satisfying if you can take all these discomforts and still come out with a good job. It's more satisfaction if it's a hard job, and you do it anyway and quickly deliver those good-looking titles. And then, of course, the tough part after that is getting paid.

Figure 1.11 Rock Ross at his animation stand. What are the most rewarding parts of your job? Well, if you go to a film's premiere and they have a great reception, they have a good audience, if the film was great and titles look great, that's satisfying. How many movies do you think you have worked on, as a filmmaker and as a title designer? Thousands. I've kept all the invoices that I've sent people, and I thought that maybe one day I'd get all the client's names and put them all together in a title sequence.

A Brief History of Title Sequences


Early Titles The first examples of title sequences can be found in silent films. These consisted of simple, nonanimated title cards that informed the audience of the main film title, crew credits, and talent credits; they were usually placed at the very beginning of a movie. Early title cards—often created by lettering artists employed by major studios—typically presented white type on a black background, but they soon included some minor decorations such as lines, outlines, or small drawings. Some title cards worth mentioning are the ones created by pioneer director D. W. Griffith. These title cards could be considered one of the first examples of branded title cards in that Griffith included his name as a signature at the edges of each card.

Figure 2.1  Intolerance. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00002-7


46   Chapter 2  A Brief History of Title Sequences

Because the early movies were silent, the title cards often had an additional function: They displayed dialogue that was essential to comprehending the story, and they set the time and place for individual scenes. These title cards were first photographed and then edited into the main movie. After synchronized-sound motion pictures, known as talkies, were introduced in the 1920s and color motion pictures were introduced in the 1930s, title sequences began to articulate and develop. Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968) created particularly unique titles. He filmed Anemic Cinema (1926) in collaboration with American Dada artist Man Ray and cinematographer Marc Allegret. On the screen we see alternating spiral designs that rotate, creating the optical illusion of three-dimensionality, the spirals moving toward and away from the viewer. Sentences are written on a spiral, so they become readable while slowly spinning. The letters were pasted one by one on round black discs, which were then glued to phonograph records and changed after each shot. Perfectly in sync with the style of the artist and the styles of the times (Dada, Surrealism, Avant Garde), Duchamp's fascination with language clearly emerges in this seven-minute experimental film, which presents a variety of visual and typographical play from beginning to end. First, the title. Anemic is an anagram for cinema, and Anemic Cinema becomes almost a palindrome. Second, the verbal puns appearing on the title cards are credited to Rose Sélavy, Duchamp's female alter ego. Third, the French sentences present plenty of puns, playful rhymes, and alliterations. In City Lights (1931), Charlie Chaplin opens the film with a number of static title cards. The first one displays the film title and his name, the second one is almost a tagline for the movie and presents his name again (“A comedy romance in pantomime written and directed by Charlie Chaplin”), and the third and fourth title cards display the names of the crew and main cast before fading to black. At this point a night shot of the city fades in with cars rolling back and forth, lights on in the buildings at each side of the street, and a square in the background. After a few seconds, accompanied by music composed by Chaplin, the main title comes onto the screen, superimposed over the street night shot. It consists of the name of the movie (City Lights) in capital letters, which are all created by white circles, reminiscent of Broadway lights or light bulbs. These titles are an impressive demonstration of superimposing techniques done at the film laboratory through an ­optical process—obviously, due to the time period, done without the aid of a computer—but most important, it is one of the first

Chapter 2  A Brief History of Title Sequences   47

­ xamples in history in which a particular amount time and effort e was applied to create a main title card that presents a level of ­symbolism in its simplicity, a unique act at the time. In The Women (1939), directed by George Cukor, we start seeing how title cards became more articulated and detailed. We see, displayed in white type with a drop shadow over a wood texture, the studio credits (Metro Goldwyn Mayer), a triple title card with the main talent credits, then the main movie title card, then a number of multiple title cards displaying crew and secondary cast roles. As soon as this sequence ends with the director credit, we enter into a secondary title sequence, almost as a preamble to the movie. Title cards for the same main talent credited earlier are shown again, but this time they have one title card dedicated to each of them. In addition to their names, we see a shot of an animal, which then dissolves into a shot of the actual talent (Norma Shearer as a baby deer, Joan Crawford as a leopard, Rosalind Russell as a cat, Mary Boland as a monkey, Paulette Goddard as a fox, Joan Fontaine as a sheep, Lucile Watson as an owl, Phyllis Povah as a cow, Marjorie Main as a horse). These talent/animal comparisons intend to give the audience a glimpse of the character or behavioral traits that they will experience watching the movie. Whether successful or not, it was definitely a step forward in the history of movie titles. In addition to film titles for live-action motion pictures, it's worth mentioning an outstanding example in film titles for animation. In Spook Sport (1940), created by Mary Ellen Bute and animated by Norman McLaren, we see an interesting approach. This animated film features the Danse Macabre, composed by the French composer Camille Saint-Saëns, visually interpreted by scratches and painting done directly on the film by Norman McLaren. After a number of intertitle cards display on-screen with green and red type on black background, introducing the type of work the audience is about to experience (“In the following short film novelty, color, music, movement combine to present a new type of Film-Ballet”), the main title cards show the two authors' credits and a “program note” sets the place, time, and mood of the movie (“The story suggested here is that at the bewitching hour of midnight, spooks and ghosts arise from their graves to cavort about and make merry”). We then see something quite unique: the cast of characters. This title card presents on one side the name of the characters (Spook, Ghost, Bat, Bell, Sun) and on the other the corresponding visual representation of that character (a  red checkmark-looking V, a squiggly green S, an outline of a yellow bat, a green bell, and a red circular shape for the sun) which will animate in the film. At the end of the titles, the place (“a deserted graveyard”) and the time (“midnight”) are also indicated. Although this type of title card might not surprise us

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today, it must be analyzed within the context of its time. As a title sequence created in the 1940s, it is quite a remarkable one. It offers the general audience the visual keys—as though they were a map legend—to interpret a piece of abstract animation. After the Second World War, film titles began a new phase. A  Hollywood strike in 1946 led to the foundation of Scenic and Title Artist 816, a union for graphic artists and designers in the film industry; among its members were sign painters and advertising artists. Title sequences tended to become more artistic and personalized, as though the graphic design branding began to bleed over to the motion picture identity. More time, resources, and budgets were dedicated to the creation of original sequences that better integrated with the subject matter and genre of the movies. With Forbidden Games (Jeux Interdits, 1952), the first feature film made by René Clément, the history of title sequences took a turn. This movie follows main characters Paulette, beautifully played by five-year-old Brigitte Fossey, and Michel during the Nazi invasion of France in 1940. Paulette, completely in denial about the death of her parents (caused by an aerial attack at the beginning of the movie), becomes fascinated with death as she starts creating a cemetery for anything dead the children find on their way. This is a film that provokes a powerful reflection on how the atrocities of war and loss affect children. In the original opening title sequence, each title card appears printed on pages of a book, which are masterfully turned one after another while being filmed in one take, giving the audience enough time to read the text. While the titles are on-screen, we hear a gentle and relaxing lute, setting the tone and atmosphere for a relaxing story about to be told. As soon as the last title card appears on-screen, the movie punches you in the stomach with a Nazi aerial attack on e ­ scaping Parisians. What I found most interesting is an alternate version of the opening title sequence, which was not included in the commercially released version of the film. This version portrays the two main characters, Paulette and Michelle, approaching a river, getting comfortably seated on a tree trunk; Michel carries a book, both obviously getting ready for a nice afternoon read. “It's the story of a little girl,” says Michel. “A little girl like who?” says Paulette. “A little girl like you, and a little boy like me.” Then Michel opens the book and begins to flip through the pages, onto which title cards are printed. After the last title card, the title sequence dissolves into the aerial attack. What is particularly remarkable in this title sequence is the new role that it takes on. On one hand, it acts as a frame for the movie, introducing it as though it were a story—in my opinion, hinting at the fact that a story that stark could only be read as a “story” by children and

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not as the atrocious reality of war. On the other hand, this particular opening title sequence creates a meta-movie, a movie within a movie. The two children sitting by the river and beginning to read the book are the same talents who play the protagonists of the movie the audience is about to experience, as though they were extrapolated from the movie itself and given the chance to observe it from a different frame and share their own story with the world.

Saul Bass: North by Northwest and Psycho Saul Bass (1920–1996) was an outstanding graphic designer, title designer, filmmaker, photographer, and illustrator. His expertise masterfully ranged among static two-dimensional ­posters (Carmen Jones, Vertigo, the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games), corporate identities (Continental Airlines, Minolta, United Airlines, AT&T, Girl Scouts of the USA), packaging (Quaker, Wesson, Alcoa), sophisticated animated title sequences (The Man with the Golden Arm, Vertigo, Anatomy of a Murder, Cape Fear, The Age of Innocence, and Casino, just to mention a few), and directing short and feature films (The Searching Eye, Why Man Creates), which respectively earned him a Lion of San Marco from the Venice Film Festival and an Oscar. His title sequences expand from the function of crediting the cast and crew. They complement the movie by piquing the audience's interest while entertaining them with visually stunning motion graphics. In his title sequences, utilizing a variety of techniques such as paper cut-outs, live action, animation, type design, and montages, he exquisitely demonstrates a strong sense of typography, design, rhythm, pace, composition, and color theory. It's not a surprise that his graphic design education was imparted by the Hungarian-born designer, painter, and educator György Kepes, who worked with Lázló Moholy-Nagy in Berlin in the 1930s and was deeply influenced by the Berlin-based Gestalt psychologists, the Bauhaus design theory, and Russian Constructivism typography. Saul Bass created title sequences over more than 40 years for directors such as Otto Preminger (whose film Carmen Jones is the first film in which the designer Saul Bass earns an on-screen credit), Alfred Hitchcock, and Martin Scorsese. Here's how Martin Scorsese describes his work: “Bass was instrumental in redefining the visual language of title sequences. His graphic compositions in movement, coupled with the musical score, function as a prologue to the movie; setting the tone, establishing the mood, and foreshadowing the action. His titles are not simply identification

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tags but pieces that are integral to the work as a whole. When his work comes up on the screen, the movie truly begins” (Meggs, Philip B., ed., 6 Chapters in Design: Saul Bass, Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser, Paul Rand, Ikko Tanaka, Henryk Tomaszewski; San Francisco, California: Chronicle Books, 1997). North by Northwest, directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1959, ­follows advertising executive Roger Thornhill (played by Cary Grant) in a series of intricate adventures during which he is mistaken for a government agent who is supposedly trying to smuggle ­microfilm containing government information. The film opens with Bernard Herrmann's score, the fandango. As the music builds, diagonal and vertical gray lines enter parallel to each other in the screen at an irregular rate. While intersecting, they form a grid over a pale green solid background color. Then type comes onto the screen from the top and bottom frame edges and its baseline comes to rest on one of the diagonal lines. After this first title card, a few more appear (three single title cards for the main talent, then the director's title card), and finally the type comes onto the screen from the top and bottom frame edges to create the main title card: North by Northwest. This sequence is a fantastic example of how a main title, if designed by a skilled hand, can become and be used as a logo. Shortly after the main title card exits the screen and a multiple title card enters frame, the pale green background dissolves to reveal the glass façade of a New York office building. Both the diagonal and vertical lines introduced in the first title cards (and now dissolved into the building shot) exactly match the structural lines of the building that is framed at a slight angle. Its windows reflect the busy streetscape, and the shots that follow portray some of the details of these streets (people exiting buildings, entering the subway, crossing the streets, and one person missing the bus—Hitchcock's cameo!). If you look closely, even at the secondary title cards, you can notice the details of the hands of a skilled designer, such as one title card elegantly and subtly exiting the screen on the right while the camera pans left, giving the impression of the titles being embedded in the scene. Even Alfred Hitchcock's title card exits screen right when he enters screen left, as though his entrance pushes away his own title while he tries to catch the bus. Psycho (1960) opens with a full string orchestra playing music composed yet again by Bernard Herrmann, the New York-born composer who overall in his career collaborated with Hitchcock on nine films. “I felt that I was able to complement the blackand-white photography of the film with a black-and-white sound. I believe this is the only time in films that a purely string orchestra has been used,” Hermann said about that opening (Steiner, Fred,

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“Herrmann's ‘Black and White’ Music for Hitchcock's Psycho,” Filmmusic Notebook, Fall 1994). On a solid gray background, horizontal black lines alternate their entrance in the frame from the right, creating a regular ruled pattern and bringing with them a couple of horizontal sections of a dissected type. With a surprising and subtle play on foreground/background visual illusion, the gray horizontal lines exit screen left, creating a black background and leaving the full stage of the first title card: “Alfred Hitchcock.” Another set of gray lines enter screen right, then exit again to the right, bringing with them and leaving on-screen the dissected pieces of the main title card: Psycho. After a couple of perfectly synced movements of the main title that emphasize their cuts, the type leaves the screen and other lines are introduced, this time vertical. The title sequence further develops with alternating horizontal and vertical lines, first inviting the type on-screen and then pushing it away to clear the way for the next title card. The result is an increasingly ­elaborate articulation of these seemingly innocent, but at the same time very jittery and nervous, lines dominating the screen. While the lines evoke prison bars, cityscapes, order, and structure, their onscreen behavior and movement suggest jitteriness, nervousness, and irregularity. The dissected type in three horizontal rows evokes how something considered one unique, solid, and immovable entity can indeed be split, shattered, and dissected. It seems to allude to the fact that appearances can be misleading; after taking a first look at the movie and going back to watch the title sequence once again, we see that the type is a magnificent symbolic interpretation of the psychological state of the main character, Norman Bates (played by Anthony Perkins): split, shattered, schizophrenic, and incoherent. “In those days,” Bass said about his work, “I liked strong, clear, structural forms against which to do things. I liked giving more zip to Psycho because it was not only the name of the picture but a word that means something. I was trying to make it more frenetic, and I liked the idea of images suggesting clues coming together” (Rebello, Stephen, Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho; New York: St Martin's Griffin, 1998). For this title sequence, Bass worked with Harold Adler, a hand-lettering artist who worked for the National Screen Service and who also worked on the title sequences of Vertigo and North by Northwest; animation director William Hurtz; and cameraman/production man Paul Stoleroff. The lines we see in this title sequence were actually six-foot-long aluminum bars that were sprayed black and animated on a table at different speeds and positions. The camera was rigged on top of the table, looking down.

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Adler described the process: “We worked on a large white painted plywood board with push-pins to guide the bars. The bars had to follow a straight line and couldn't wiggle. Paul [Stoleroff] and I manually pushed in each bar at predetermined distances and speeds. Each bar was precisely timed by numbers of frames per second, called ‘counts.’ Each bar had to be pushed in and shot separately. Once a bar had gone across the screen, it was tied down. There were lots of retakes because they'd come in crooked …” Bass utilized two sets of sans-serif fonts in this title sequence, Venus Bold Extended and News Gothic Bold, all in capital. Each title card was recreated on reverse (white type on black) photostats (early projector photocopier machines that photographed documents and reproduced them onto sensitized photographic paper), which were cut into three horizontal parts. To add motion, Adler said, “I moved the top section [of the title letters] in one direction and shot it at a certain speed, moved the bottom in another direction at another speed, and the middle part at another speed. So you were really getting three images, each one a third of the height of the lettering, coming in at different speeds. For the last frame, we popped on the word Psycho, which was the intact photostat by itself. For the other big titles, like ‘Directed by Alfred Hitchcock,’ I used News Gothic Bold typeface and we did the same three-cut technique as for the title of the movie.”

Dr. Strangelove and Delicatessen For Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), directed by Stanley Kubrick, Pablo Ferro created an outstanding title sequence. The movie opens with an aerial shot coupled with a voiceover giving the political context and setting of the film, followed by a scene of a U.S. Air Force plane being refueled in midair. While the scene's details unfold (with an admittedly oddly sexual hint pervading the scene), the white titles appear superimposed on the black-and-white footage. While this imagery and type unfold on-screen, we hear a very relaxing classical soundtrack. The type is handwritten, with alternating thin and thick strokes, outlines, and a variety of font sizes. It resembles some of the fonts typically used in comic books, giving the title sequence a comedic appeal. It seems that there is no rule that governs the font size. The crew and cast last names are displayed 300% larger than the corresponding first names, or vice versa. Articles are much larger than the following names. Every title card keeps the audience on edge. Where are the names going to be placed? What is going to come next?

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This juxtaposition of the military imagery of a plane being refueled, the airy white handwritten typography, and the classical music all perfectly match the style, content, and emotional reaction that the audience is about to experience on a larger scale when they watch the entire movie: a political dark comedy. For Repulsion (1965), directed by Roman Polanski, the title sequence was created by Maurice Binder—well known not only for his opening title sequences for the James Bond movies such as From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, and Live and Let Die but also for the spectacular opening title sequences of Charade and Arabesque. Accompanied by a minimalistic ominous soundtrack, Repulsion's title sequence opens with an extreme close-up of an eye. The titles appear coming into and out of frame, except that the frame is actually the eye. The titles are masked by the edge of the eye and they have a slight rounded distortion on the edges, as though they are actually scrolling over the surface of the eye's cornea. After the first few title cards, the camera slightly zooms out and the title cards become populated by multiple names. The type is no longer masked by the eye and enters the frame from the bottom, moving across the screen on different diagonal trajectories, and exiting the top of the frame. The interesting aspect of this part of the title sequence is that we start noticing the eye moving and looking in different directions. A careful look shows it is actually following the type moving across the screen. Considering the time (the 1960s), I believe that this title sequence offers an innovative approach in that it involved creating and orchestrating a variety of assets (video and animated type) that interacted with each other. Fantastic Voyage (1966) is a spy sci-fi movie directed by Richard Fleischer. The movie opens with an airplane landing, and Jan Benes, a scientist vital to the scientific formula of miniaturization, is escorted away from it. When the escort is attacked, the scientist suffers a major head injury. Following this opening scene we see the opening titles, created by Richard Kuhn; they present a quick montage of close-ups of Benes's brain, X-rays, numbers, electroencephalograms, jump cuts of the patient in a hospital bed surrounded by doctors, medical machinery, and rolling tape. We hear heartbeats and synthetic sound effects. Title cards are superimposed on the imagery, and they appear as though they were typed in real time on a typewriter. It is a surreal title sequence that gives the audience a taste of the mysterious fantastic adventure on which they are about to embark. As soon as the quick title sequence is over, it dissolves back into the movie with a more sedate pacing. The movie evolves into revealing that an agent will be ­miniaturized and will lead a group of scientists onboard a nuclear-powered submarine on a fantastic scientific expedition into the bloodstream of the scientist to try to save his life.

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Matte Titling When title cards are required to be superimposed over film footage, title designers utilize a technique called matte titling. This technique, which was thriving before the titling process became dominated by a digital workflow, is still utilized today by independent filmmakers whose movies are shot on film and who would like to avoid a digital intermediate process by creating their titles directly on film. This technique requires the creation of two identical title cards, which are used as mattes. The first one consists of a title card with black type on white background, the second with white (or colored) type on black background. Using an optical printer, the first title card is exposed against the background footage, creating a blank area that corresponds to the title card lettering. Subsequently, the film roll is rewound and the second matte is printed over the background footage. This last optical printing pass allows the lettering to be registered over the previously blank areas. The visual result is white (or colored) titles superimposed over the footage.

In Fahrenheit 451 (1966), director Françoise Truffaut gives us an outstanding title sequence. The movie is based on the futuristic novel by Ray Bradbury, which takes place in a state that ­forbids reading. A fireman, Guy Montag, must find people who are hiding books and confiscate and burn the books. The opening title sequence consists of a montage of shots that zoom in from wide to a close-up of a variety of antennae on top of suburban houses, indicating that television has replaced reading in this society. The shots alternate monochromatic orange, blue, green, purple, and red antennae. Similarly to The Magnificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942) and M*A*S*H (Robert Altman, 1970), rather than seeing and reading title cards, the audience actually doesn't get to see the type on-screen but rather hears the opening titles being recited by a voiceover: “An Enterprise Vineyard production. Oskar Werner, Julie Christie … in Fahrenheit 451. Co-starring …” The soundtrack we hear is another brilliant musical composition by Bernard Herrmann. It is indeed a surprising and unexpected opening, which, in a way, poses the question at the core of the movie: “What happens in a world where there is no writing to read?” In the same year, another movie made its impression: Uccellacci e Uccellini (Hawks and Sparrows; 1966), directed by Pier Paolo Pasolini. In this stark opening title sequence, simply designed title cards appear superimposed over a locked-down shot of a cloudy sky, accompanied by music composed by Ennio Morricone. When the title cards appear onscreen, a cheerful Domenico Modugno actually sings them. But he doesn't limit himself to singing the names and titles of the cast and crew—he embellishes the reading with adjectives and fun facts, almost as though the narrator was the modern version of a troubadour who is singing and preparing the stage for a well-narrated story that's

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about to begin. This opening fits perfectly with the movie, which has a deep political theme (the Marxism crisis of the 1950s in Italy), wrapped around a sweet-and-sour fairy tale structure. Broadcast title design began to catch up to the creativity demonstrated by the movie title sequences of the time and definitely made their own mark. A couple of notable title sequences are the ones for ABC Movie of the Week (1969) and The Partridge Family (1970). In the ABC Movie of the Week opening, we see titles that animate toward the viewer three-dimensionally, with exaggerated perspective. The effect was achieved by an optical technique called slit-scan. The technique's look and feel is definitely a precursor of what would later be applied to numerous other applications, including cinematography (the “Star Gate” scene in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968), title sequences (the 1973–1979 Doctor Who opening titles or the crawling text block that opens 1977's Star Wars), and computer motion graphics (a  ­number of software plug-ins are called slit-scan).

Slit Scan Originally utilized in still photography to create blurriness or deformity, the slit-scan technique was achieved through the use of an animation stand. The image or title to be photographed is placed on the glass plate and is generally backlit. A black matte is placed over the image, with a slit in the center. The camera is arranged on a vertical rig framing down on the glass plate and can be moved up and down. When the frame is exposed, the camera moves down, creating an effect similar to a still shot with long exposure, which records the light streaks of fire or car headlights; instead of the object (car) moving, the camera is moved. When the camera reaches its desired end position, the shutter is closed and the film advances to the next frame to be exposed.

The visual result is the illusion of one, two, or even four planes of infinite proportions, moving either toward or away from the viewer. The Partridge Family (1970) was an American sitcom broadcast on ABC from 1970–1974; the story followed a mother and her five children on their quest to seek a musical career. The opening title sequence features the theme song by Wes Farrell, “When We're Singing,” with lyrics by Dianne Hildebrand, and animation by graphic designer Sandy Dvore, who later in his career went on to design more title sequences like the ones for Blacula (1972) and Lipstick (1976). The animation opens with an egg cracking open, from which emerges the main title, then a “mama” partridge emerging from and getting rid of the shell. The title card comes up on-screen, consisting of a monochromatic rendition of a photo of the mother, played by Shirley Jones. Then five ­little

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partridges are introduced, with all five children represented similarly to the first title card. Then the entire family of partridges walks across the screen to reveal the Mondrian-esque pattern of the back of the school bus in which the family travels, and the title sequence dissolves into the sitcom. In the 1970s and 1980s, partly influenced by video art, we began to see computer-assisted title sequences such as Superman (1978), created by Richard and Robert Greenberg. In the early 1990s, Adobe After Effects was released, marking another turning point in the history of title design. Title designers were now able to design, animate, and composite title sequences directly on their computers. Delicatessen (1991), directed by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet, is a dark comedy film set in a post-apocalyptic France in the 1950s, where the food is scarce, animals are quasi-extinct, and a butcher hires helpers that he then butchers and sells as a delicacy to his clientele. The film opens, revealing a sinister building in a rural street. The camera slowly enters an empty butcher shop, revealing a butcher sharpening his knife. The camera enters and continues through an air duct to reveal a man wrapping himself with paper and trash. It's garbage day, and the man makes his way into the trash can. The escape plan seems to be going well, except that right when the trash can is about to be collected, the butcher throws his cigarette into it, burning the man and causing him to yelp, blowing his cover. The butcher opens the trash can and, with a delightful point of view shot from inside the can, we see him raise his knife in the air while smiling sadistically, and as the knife falls to slash the man, the movie cuts to the main title card, Delicatessen, coupled with a brilliant combination of sound effects and a swinging metal pig—the butcher's logo. After the first scene sets the mood and gives a few hints of the dark humor of the film that is about to unfold, the title sequence can truly begin. Lulled by the calm, almost sedate version of circus-like music, the camera gently moves around and pauses to frame title cards embedded in a set composed of broken records, pictures, dirt, a variety of paper (production logs, labels, menus, newspaper articles), a vintage camera, patches, photo booth pictures, and mirrors. The camera wanders as though it is simply moving around to explore the territory, but then it pauses to allow the viewer to read and make out the title cards embedded in the set, as though they were meant to be there all along. This title sequence was artistically and skillfully orchestrated in one take; the set is ­composed of real props, as opposed to a ­computer-generated set.

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Some of the type is handwritten, some is presented in varying qualities; all appears on a variety of surfaces. What is most ­striking is that each title card has a specific place in the set and a particular way of manifesting itself with a meaningful style: a concise summary and symbolic representation of the key people behind the movie. For example, the title card that credits the director of photography, Darius Khondji, is engraved on a vintage camera. The music credit is printed on a vinyl label, the wardrobe credit is embroidered on a patch, and the editor credit is ­handwritten on a set of photo booth pictures that had been hand-ripped and taped back together. Last but not least, the transition from the end of the title sequence back into the movie is truly remarkable. After the last title card that credits both directors, the opening title sequence fades to black. We hear a paper-crumpling noise and we see the hand of the butcher taking a sheet of butcher paper off the lens (as though it was on the shelf in front of him) to wrap some meat for waiting customers. The result is a brilliant transition that throws the audience back into the swing of the movie.

Se7en, Kyle Cooper, and the Modern Title Sequence Named by The New York Times Magazine as “one of the most important innovations of the 1990s,” the opening title sequence of Se7en (1995) presents, without any doubt, one major turning point in the history of title design. Se7en is a psychological thriller directed by David Fincher. In an interview with Thunder Chunky, talking about title sequences, title designer Kyle Cooper states, “Each film is a different problem to solve, so each solution is different.” For Se7en's opening title sequence, Cooper shot some extremely close-up footage, which complements the type scratched directly onto film, a technique seen in early film animation done by people such as Len Lye, Stan Brakhage, and other experimental filmmakers. The edgy soundtrack by Nine Inch Nails perfectly complements, enhances, and interweaves with the imagery. In these titles we see overhead extreme close-up shots of a diary, fingertips cutting and taping, pages filled with handwriting, erasing words and then writing new ones with thick and intense handwriting, collecting hair, erasing eyes from pictures, and sawing pages. The title sequence alternates cross-dissolves, hard cuts, flash frames, and distorted and handwritten type, complemented by one- to two-frame shots with borderline-subliminal imagery of a variety of words, letters, and numbers.

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As an audience watching this for the first time, we definitely feel the intended emotions: what we are about to experience is a piercing, fast, dark movie. We see a lot in this engaging title sequence, but what we never see is a complete picture, a long or medium shot of the setting. The audience doesn't get the ­privilege of understanding where they are, what's going on, and most important, how this montage ties into the movie they are about to experience. In the perfect vein of a thriller, they will have to piece it together, especially after the first viewing of the movie. In the very beginning, the audience is given an important clue about how the killer was able to get away with his actions. He removes the surface of his fingertips with a razor blade so that he won't leave any fingerprints. “David Fincher wanted to set up the film's relationship with evil in a very direct and uncomfortable way,” Cooper notes in an interview with David Geffner. “I think we accomplished that. But in Se7en there's also a structural concern going on. You don't see the killer until nearly 40 minutes in, so the titles need to bridge that gap. You're inside his head straight off, making the tension that much more intense when he does finally show up.” Because of the aesthetical qualities of the title sequence, its superb use of content in the appropriate context and moment, and the trust given to the audience that they will put the pieces together—rather than telegraphing what they are supposed to feel and understand—this title sequence is a successful and ­timeless piece. “That sequence for Se7en is only good because it is the film, because it came out of the film,” Cooper says. “I wanted to get across the idea of the killer, to make something that he would have made. That's how you want it to be. The form should be born out of the content.” It's not a surprise that the style of Se7en has been admired, looked up to, and especially mimicked by a variety of designers. As Cooper mentioned, what is important to understand, what is absolutely relevant, is the concept of a title sequence. How a title sequence articulates itself visually and aurally should be a consequence, dictated by the content. That is why Se7en is such a ­successful piece. It was created for the movie, and it would not work for any other movie other than Se7en. David Lynch directed 1997's Lost Highway, a film that follows the confusing happenings—in which the boundary between reality and hallucination is very thin—of the saxophonist Fred Madison, played by Bill Pullman, when he is accused of ­having murdered his wife. This title sequence seems to have borrowed from an earlier concept of the 1968 title sequence for the movie Girl on a Motorcycle, but inevitably it develops into its own ­well-crafted, effective titles for this film.

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Lost Highway's opening title sequence, designed by Jay Johnson, consists of a driver's point of view of a car speeding on a road in complete darkness. The only point of reference in the darkness is the middle broken yellow line that prevents the speeding car from crashing. The titles, as yellow and broken as the road's middle line, are designed with a stencil-esque font reminiscent of the roadwork imagery. They emerge out of the darkness, they hold for a moment on-screen to allow them to be read, and then they move furiously forward as though they were crashing onto the windshield. The soundtrack of these opening titles consists of a song by David Bowie called “I'm Deranged,” perfectly complementing the feeling of the scene and the emotional rollercoaster that the audience is about to experience watching this dark and surreal movie. The title sequence for Monsoon Wedding (2001), directed by Mira Nair, was designed by Trollbäck+co. This opening title sequence features animated lines and circles over colorful backgrounds, while the title cards appear on-screen. The graphic elements are simple and effective, and they dance and animate in sync to the soundtrack of an upbeat Indian marching band. The lines and circles expand and contract in size, filling up the screen and transforming from a foreground element into a background one, creating seamless and effective transitions from one title card to the next. Right when we begin to expect the next abstract title card unfolding on-screen, we see two lines slowly curling around each other to create two intertwined faces that symbolize the arranged marriage that is at the fulcrum of the film.

Figure 2.2a Still frames from "Monsoon Wedding" title sequence, designed by Trollbäck+co.

Figure 2.2b

Figure 2.2c

Figure 2.2d

Figure 2.2e

Figure 2.2f

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Figure 2.2g

Figure 2.2h

Figure 2.2i

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Figure 2.2l

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Figure 2.2n

Figure 2.2o

In the provocative film Irreversible (Gaspar Noé, 2002), we see a distinctive title sequence. The film employs a nonlinear narrative: the story unfolds in reverse chronological order. The titles literally reflect the structure of the film in that sense. At the beginning of the film—which, chronologically, is the end of the film—instead of seeing the opening titles, we see the end titles; at the end of the film—which, chronologically, is the ­beginning of the film—we see its opening titles. The end titles themselves are stark and simple; first we see a justified block of text, scrolling downward, revealing the very last part of the end credit block and moving up to reveal the earlier credits. The text block begins to tilt slightly, as though the camera is losing balance. We get a glimpse of the main title as we reach the top of the credit block. As the camera starts to spin a bit faster, the credit block exits the screen and we see a quick rotating shot of one of the main characters. Immediately after, accompanied by a minimalist regular drumbeat, enormous typefaces alternate on-screen at a fast pace. Text on black background incessantly alternates onscreen, displaying the main talent's last names in white, their credit roles in red, and the production companies in yellow. Some of the letters are flipped horizontally and vertically, as though to exaggerate and reflect the sense of irreversibility even onto the titles. The main title card appears on-screen in four different flipped-lettering variations; then, after a few title cards crediting the production and key crew roles, the movie begins—or more precisely, ends.

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Case Study: Quantum of Solace, The Kite Runner, and Stranger Than Fiction

Figures 2.3  MK12 Studio in Kansas City. Motion Graphics Studio: MK12 Creative Directors: Ben Radatz, Tim Fisher

Quantum of Solace Can you talk about the creative process while working on the Bond titles, from early inspiration, development and final deliverable? We produced quite a bit of previsualization across a few concepts throughout the entire main title process. We were originally hired to produce all of the onscreen moving graphics seen on PDAs, cell phones, laptops, monitors, etc., in the film. So, we just started to work on ideas on the off-hours, in between the waking moments of working on this other pile of VFX work. We initially pitched one concept that was much more watery based, but in the abstract. The female form was then worked into this, as we knew this was going to be a central image that we wanted in the sequence. If QoS is a direct sequel to Casino Royale, then thematically it would make sense to revisit the woman motif, as it reflects Bond's current character-state; within QoS, he's become that tuxedo-wearing, martini-swilling, dandy spy that Fleming made him to be. He's earned the 0-0-7. Our first pitch consisted of a number of style boards and motion tests that we'd cobbled together in our spare time. Our audience was Marc [Marc Forster, the director] and the EON producers: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson, and Gregg Wilson. They have a huge collective wealth of knowledge; their father was Albert Broccoli, the original producer of the Bond films and cofounder of Danjaq and EON Productions, who still produce the franchise. So they basically grew up with Bond, which gives them not only a great understanding but a unique perspective on the Bond character—where he's been and where he's going. Short of speaking with Fleming himself, this was the crowd to impress, and we did. Sort of. The producers were very skeptical of us at first, understandably. We were there on Marc's voucher, and they'd never worked with a non-U.K. title designer on the main open, and that made them nervous. But we did present a healthy first round, which served more as an icebreaker than anything. They saw that we took the integrity of the franchise seriously and were able to handle both narrative and abstract content in the same breath, which is the foundation of any classic Bond sequence.

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Figure 2.4  MK12 creatives. Through those conversations, we explored various conceptual and thematic elements derived from both Quantum of Solace and Casino Royale. We all liked that the title sequence could be looked at as a visual metaphor of Bond's current mental state, his feelings toward women, relationships, and his isolation in the world, given the death of his love interest, Vesper, at the end of Casino Royale. So we went back to the studio and continued on with more tests, adding different elements, experimenting. We eventually landed on the sand motif, and through a series of test animations, everyone agreed this was the way to go. We found that the desert theme served as a convenient metaphor for Bond's mental state while also referencing specific locations in the film—a perfect parallel that made for a great foundation. We liked how the sand itself worked perfectly as a centric object-element. Its ability to change form from a solid to a viscous substance was an interesting feature to us, which we explored both as a transitional element in the sequence and as a substance we could mold into whatever form we wanted. One moment it would act as an environment, the next, a field of stars. The female forms—hidden within desert environments—could be looked at as a representation of Bond's current relationship toward women and love, after enduring the loss of Vesper. They act as the accelerant that jarringly alters the barren landscape, i.e., Bond's mind folding in on itself. Other visual cues subtly parallel elements, moments, and visual motifs in QoS, finding a synergy with Marc's ideas and the beautiful cinematography of Roberto Schaffer. There are also instances within the film that pay homage to past Bond title work by Binder, Brownjohn, and Kleinman. For the majority of this previz [previsualization], everyone within the studio participated by means of animated tests, mood and style boards, and conceptual storylines and themes to adhere to the sequence. We shot various tests on our stage for the various pitches we created throughout the process. We had a small shoot with a model friend-of-a-friend and borrowed a small workshop in London that we shot in for an afternoon. We also built a sandbox on our own stage and shot multiple sand and environment tests over multiple test animations. All in all,

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we had a wealth of visual thought and experimentation that really helped us find a voice and a clear visual dialogue for the final product. What was the length of this project? From start to finish, our involvement with Quantum of Solace for both VFX and the direction and animation of the film titles was a little under a year's time. How large was your production/postproduction team and what were their roles? Our postproduction team consisted of our core studio artists, totaling nine at the time. We also worked with four freelance artists, three compositors, and one roto artist. We also had a senior producer working from NYC and a production manager that was with us in Kansas City. We also tracked down a particle animator in India who is literally one of the few people in the world who can do what he does. For perspective, the live-action shoot team was at least 30+ people strong. We work in a very organic way. Everyone wears different hats and can adapt pretty easily to whatever task is coming next down the pipeline. Of course, everybody has their strengths, which we play toward, but ultimately, we work as one giant brain, moving materials back and forth between artists within the studio. Can you elaborate on the client dynamic? The client dynamic, both in terms of our working relationship with the director Marc Forster and EON Productions, the owners of the Bond franchise, was a fantastic and an enjoyable experience. With Marc, it felt like any of the other projects we've collaborated on with him and his team in the past few years. We have a good time with those guys, and they're a group of brilliant minds that makes the creation process exciting and challenging. EON was also fantastic to work with. They are a bunch of great people who are really dedicated to their jobs and really believe in the character and universe that Fleming has created. They have such a vast knowledge of the Bond world. It was definitely an educational experience, to say the least. What was your involvement in the live-action footage for the opening sequence? MK12 directed the live shoot. We secured one of the stages at Pinewood Studios in London and sent two of us to direct one day of sand FX, two days of sandboxes and our female talent, and the remaining day with Daniel Craig. Simon Chaudoir was our DP, and our crew were mostly holdovers from the feature Bond shoot, which had just wrapped. It was pretty fantastic; these are the guys and girls who had been living Bond for the past year and a half (many of them since the Roger Moore days), so their insights were very valuable to us franchise newbies. These were also the same folks who fabricated sienna in a warehouse, so it was always amusing to brainstorm some weird contraption and then see it built five minutes later, only better. Toby, who was in the props department on QoS, became one with the sand on set, to the point of obsession. By the end of the shoot, he'd be able to make it do exactly what you wanted it to do—again, only better. And he's just one in a long list of truly talented and dedicated crew. It was our biggest shoot by far, but those guys also made it our easiest. We had a working animatic that incorporated the major shots that we'd be shooting passes of with the motion control rig: the Cyclops. We were using these scenes as foundational areas within the title sequence to build everything else around. It was imperative to use the motion control rig for this because of the complex scaling and speed issues that are inherent in taking a plate of a human—at human size—and compositing said plate into a world of human thighs, shoulders, faces, hips, and torsos that are meant to be viewed as mega-structures within a desert expanse. We never make it easy for ourselves. On the female talent days, the motion control rig was situated in front of a 12 × 12 sandbox on one side of the stage. On the other side of the stage was a matching 12 × 12 sandbox. We had a jib arm on a dolly and track for nonmotion control shots. The Art Department would sculpt various environments that centered around one of our female talent half-

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buried in sand, and we'd spend time finding interesting angles and passes and basically collected an archive of really amazing shots that we'd work into the sequence during editorial. With Daniel Craig, we had a shot list that consisted of various scenes of Bond walking and searching, as well as a number of stunt shots using various rigs to pull off some really cool and dynamic movements of Bond within this surrealistic desert environment. Craig is just a goddamn natural when it comes to being Bond, [so] it made for a really solid day of shooting and an overall unforgettable experience. We'd describe what we were looking for, and he'd get it on the first take. He is the authority on his character, after all—it's not like you can tell him that he's not being Bond enough. What about the special effects you did throughout the movie? Marc tasked us with the creation of all graphics related to the MI6 computer system. Conceptually, we ultimately decided that MI6 would use some sort of hi-tech proprietary software that was node-based and was built off the theory of mind mapping and radial thinking, rather than the traditional tree hierarchy that is outfitted on most personal computers today. With these types of projects, we like to come up with complete toolboxes that showcase the full extent of data graphics that could exist, even if we don't utilize everything. More than anything, it just helps us get our heads around the thinking behind a fictitious OS, which makes it easier for us to blueprint how the system might “act” in a given situation. So, instead of reinventing the wheel every time the OS is called for in Quantum, we'd simply refer back to our “manual” and apply the appropriate graphics and procedures. We basically had three areas in the film with heavy kinetic graphic sequences: One was in M's office showcasing the node-based MI6 proprietary software we designed. The next scene was in the Forensics room at MI6 HQ, which showcased a giant touch-screen forensics media table—not dissimilar to Microsoft's tablet design—also connected with the same proprietary graphics set that we had implemented in M's office. The third was live-tracking some baddies at an opera house through the use of Bond's camera phone and Tanner, M's assistant, manning computers back at the office, decoding the data in real time. We were on set for these sequences to offer input and blocking direction so that our post-graphics materials would line up and look correct in the final output. During the shoot in M's office, we had markers placed on this glass wall, to eventually become a giant semitransparent monitor. Everything was voice-automated, so our main challenge on set was orchestrating eyelines so that the actors were looking at the correct area of the screen as the system did its thing. For the forensic table sequence, we printed out markers on a big sheet of acetate that was 1:1 with the practical on-set table. We worked out blocking points with the actors, and they moved around smaller pieces of acetate that represented digital data from the table. This gave us a tactile performance from the actors, since they had something tangible to pass around and interact with. This was one of our more challenging composites in that the table was a huge, glowing white surface, which cast a believable data-light on their hands, but the final table design called for a black surface, so we had to invert the table and invent reflections to sell the composite. We went to Bregenz, Austria, where they were filming the opera scene, where Bond is collecting photos of the baddies in the crowd. We shot all the material that eventually became Bond's camera footage—a composite of images built on the fly from simultaneous thermal, infrared, z-depth, and true-light sources. We were often annoyed by ­post-filters passing as the real thing—fake scan lines on film footage comes to mind—so we tracked down a military-grade thermal camera and operator in Germany and dragged them along on the shoot. We took all this footage home and worked with Matt Chesse, one of two editors on the film, who would pass us new edits that we'd then work graphics into. Once we hit a good graphic pass, we'd set about rotoscoping and compositing the graphic material here at MK12.

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Can you elaborate on the motion graphics and film transfer workflow? As editorial progressed, we'd receive raw live shots as DPX sequences to work with. Originally, we were working at 2k but ultimately had to move to 4k territory once we started to notice some of our finer kinetic graphic details breaking up once they hit the emulsion. That was quite taxing to our off-the-shelf Mac array. We had around 65 shots throughout the film. We handled both the graphics and compositing on most. We were working on the main title sequence concurrently, and so all our internal resources went to use on the project in some shape or fashion. We think we single-handedly kept FedEx alive for a good year's period, passing hard drives of 2k frame data back and forth to London. QoS's production HQ was based in Soho, London, which was great for our FX supervisor Kevin Tod Haug and our VFX Producer Leslie McMinn because they could walk a block in any direction and check up on any of the VFX vendors that were on the show, save for us. We were the only non-London-based VFX crew on the film, if memory serves correctly. We went over a few times to present work face to face, but otherwise, it was pretty much a series of viewable QuickTimes in low res and HD, color-corrected here and eventually replaced with DPX image strings that were too massive for either of our FTPs. Thank you, FedEx. Did you have an available soundtrack when you were working on these titles? If so, how did that influence or inform your work? No, we didn't. We received the demo of the track on the last day of the main title sequence shoot. We had tried to cover all bases in terms of preproduction and the shoot, knowing that we had no idea what the track would consist of—whether it was a ballad or a faster-paced track. This is why we focused on our mini-narrative and the conceptual thematic elements within the sequence and would rely on the editorial process to really suss out the overall pacing and movement of the sequence. Did any challenging aspects arise while you were working on this project? Oh, yeah. In just about every direction. We never make it easy on ourselves. There were a lot of brains that melted during the post-process. We really pushed ourselves conceptually and technically, in such a short amount of production time. And motion control shots are always a challenge. There are always surprises that come out of nowhere, usually far down in the pipeline. Working with practical sand FX was also challenging in that we wanted to push that material even further, and so on top of everything else we signed up for a crash course in advanced particle dynamics.

The Kite Runner What was the main concept and inspiration for this title sequence? Most of the film is set in Afghanistan, and while we didn't want to create a sequence that felt stereotypically Middle Eastern, tradition and heritage are strong themes in the film, as is a very organic, earthy palette, so we began studying Arabic script to find a good angle. There is a strong calligraphic tradition in Arabic cultures, so there was plenty of material to look through. In addition, the film's core analogy—obviously—is kites, and there is a certain craft and aesthetic to Afghan kites that is unique to the region. The production department had sent us a few of the kites to photograph, and those patterns and colors inspired many of our early tests. The final product ended up being a combination of animated color and texture inspired by the kites, complimented with a custom Arabic-esque typeface we designed and animated. Can you talk about the creative process while you were working on the Kite Runner titles, from early inspiration through development and final deliverable?

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We weren't exactly sure what we were after at first, and we hadn't seen the film yet, so we made a lot of animated tests and mood boards solely as conversation starters with Marc [director Marc Forster]. We did a fair amount of homework before presenting ideas to him, but having already been invested in the project for several years, Marc was able to give us very constructive and informed feedback, which we'd then digest and work into our next round. There was no specific message that needed to be conveyed in the titles. The Kite Runner had been a beloved book in many circles long before the film was greenlit, and the film itself is a very faithful adaptation of the source, so the titles themselves only needed to help set the tone of the film, not necessarily address the content. Knowing that, we first eliminated a list of things we knew the sequence didn't need to be: a micronarrative, a roller coaster ride, a backstory, and so on, and instead focused on what we believed it ought to be: a display of craftsmanship. Craft is an interesting subtext in the film, from how Afghani kites are constructed to how they are competitively flown, to the intricacies in the relationships between the characters and their convictions in life. And specific to our influences for the titles themselves, Arabic calligraphy is an incredibly precise and symbolic craft; some argue that it can never actually be mastered. We had a deadline, but we were still very meticulous in our design of the sequence, giving special consideration to typeface development and animation, color interaction, and camera movement. Some of the more expressionistic Arabic calligraphy uses unexpected colors and overlapping words and phrases to create new meanings and very intricate, dramatic compositions. We thought it would be interesting to take that a step further and introduce z-depth, so that the type compositions would change dynamically as the camera moved about. Because we were working with delicate color combinations, we had to go through several rounds of film-outs (watching the sequence on film in a theater) and subsequent adjustments in order to get them right, but it really did pay off in the final piece. Another consideration was the soundtrack. Alberto Iglesias composed a haunting piece using a traditional Arabic structure, with an aggressive drumbeat and notes that slid through the scales. We used that as our pacing cue as we moved from title card to title card, giving the camera a slight weight and drowsiness that really grabbed into the notes, as though tethered by a spring. What was the length of this project, from the initial commission to the final deliverable? From the time we got the call to delivery, just under six months. How large was your production/postproduction team and what were their roles? In total, there were seven of us on the creative side, but not always at the same time. The sequence called for a lot of specialization, i.e., understanding the basic rules behind Arabic script, animating that script, orchestrating the camera to compliment the layouts, etc., so we'd break off into smaller teams to tackle one issue at a time and come back together further down the pipe as “experts” in those areas. We'd then blend our efforts together to create the final. Can you elaborate on the client dynamic? We went through about a dozen rounds of internal design and revision before presenting anything to Marc. Of those, about half contained bits and pieces that we “Frankensteined” into our first official presentation; the others we mostly discarded. We formally presented only one direction, because we felt strongly about it and didn't feel the need to contextualize it. But after that we still went through another dozen or so rounds of tweaks to that core direction, only now with Marc's feedback. One of Marc's strengths as a director is his ability to surround himself with the people he's able to trust with his vision. He has a knack for reading chemistry, so chances are if you're in his circle, you're already preapproved. With that

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said, presentations with Marc weren't an uphill battle because we didn't have to sell our work; we were able to focus on what we felt was the best direction, knowing that our discussions with him (even when he disagreed with us, which was often) would be a creative dialogue, not a one-way discussion. Do you have any anecdotes related to this project that you would like to share? If you're in Kansas City and insist on seeing a DreamWorks film in order to start work on it, 24 hours later a DreamWorks rep with a briefcase will be at your door. He will remove a screener from the briefcase and play it for you, never leaving the room. He won't talk much, but he'll apologize for the formality when he asks you disclose any hidden recording devices in the room, if any. He won't actually let you touch the disc and will insist on ejecting it himself (politely, of course). He will then thank you and immediately fly back to L.A. DreamWorks is way cooler than the CIA.

Stranger Than Fiction What was the main concept and inspiration for the motion graphics and main-on-end title sequence in Stranger Than Fiction? Initially, we were given a scrapbook, which was basically a personality guide to Harold Crick, Will Ferrell's character in the film. It was put together by Zach Helm, the screenwriter. From this, we knew we were working with an obsessive/ compulsive type who is also an IRS agent and math aficionado. We also were given a basic knowledge of the premise of the film: that he is being followed around by an all-knowing voice, narrating and predicting his every move. He eventually discovers that the voice is that of a famous novelist, in which whose in-progress book he is a character and who plans to kill him off at the end of the book. From this, we distilled two directions: exploiting the cluttered, disheveled stereotype of a writer, or the anal, antiseptic nature of an IRS agent with OCD. Like a schizophrenic, we started to play with both. Can you talk about the creative process while working on the Stranger Than Fiction graphics and mainon-end titles, from early inspiration through development and final deliverable? Our first pitch was based purely on some initial concepts and a general understanding of what Marc [director Marc Forster] was looking for. We didn't realize that the initial sequence had already been shot and was moving along in editorial, so we went out and filmed Timmy as Harold Crick and created this minute-long experimental short/pitch that was accompanied by a pile of style frames and mood boards. Marc and the team really liked what they saw. We were awarded the job and were passed a more or less final cut of the opening sequence. From there, we created two concepts. The first concept was more of a collaged experimental animation style that was conceptually tied to the author character's perspective. It consisted of visual tropes that were related back to the author/narrator, such as calendars, notes, various kinds of paper, coffee stains, etc. The typography was a typewriter derivative, which we complemented with real-time typos, corrections, and notations. Little editorial notes would appear as the story progressed. We created another set of style boards as well as a minute-long animated sketch that incorporated moving footage from the opening sequence and was cut to the spoken narration by Emma Thompson. The second concept came from the mind of Harold Crick, which we interpreted as a stark, white graphical world that played with all sorts of infographics, data tidbits, and formulas. We felt that a clean, stylized, very orderly visual language would parallel his personality and be a perfect visual expression to depict all these other ideas and thoughts in his mind. Style boards were created, and from those a test animation was completed, showcasing the early attempts at animating and compositing this infographical world into the live-action cut. Originally, the titles were to be integrated into the opening, but Marc liked what we were doing with the graphical overlays, so he decided to have an entirely separate title sequence at the end of the film, which we realized as a moving

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photo album of sorts, mashing together B-roll footage of Chicago settings with kinetic title cards. The footage was shot by Marc and DOP Roberto Schaefer. We worked on the title sequence concurrent with the opening sequence. Was the opening sequence at a locked-picture stage when it reached you, or did you have any editing input? The opening sequence was around 90% locked when we started to work with it. Some of the graphics had a hand in the storytelling, but ultimately, we worked within the cut given to us by Matt Chesse, the editor. The main input we had editorially was the implementation of a Fibonacci-like golden-spiral editing transitional device, which we employed several times in the sequence. This was a technique that we had developed early on, and we were happy that it made its way into the final. Conceptually, it speaks to the mathematical mind of Crick, and it's just a really neat visual storytelling device. Can you elaborate on the motion graphics and film transfer workflow? We were supplied with the opening sequence, and our other 30-ish shots were peppered throughout the film as 2K DPX file sequences. We did all the compositing ourselves, passing back full DPX sequences to the studio. We'd order film-outs consistently during the postproduction schedule, which we'd take over to a small, privately run theater in town for reviews. We were looking at graphic consistency, legibility, and overall color space compatibility. For the main-on-end titles, we ultimately had to move into 4k plates because some of our graphic line work was just too thin for the emulsion. They would start to dance at 2K, and upping the resolution fixed the issue. Can you elaborate on the rotoscoping and motion tracking work you did? Oh, my God, we did so much rotoscoping during that project. It was insane. It ate up so much time but was well worth it for the final output. All roto work was done in After Effects. We did a bit of 3D tracking in Boujou but mostly utilized the built-in motion tracker in After Effects. What was the length of this project? We had about six months to complete the opening sequence and main-on-end titles. Half of that was conceptualizing, research, and development and the other half production. How large was your production/postproduction team and what were their roles? At the time, our studio was nine strong. We had seven creatives on the job and two producers on our side. The team had fluid roles, from graphical build and layout to rotoscoping and compositing. Can you elaborate on the client dynamic? The client dynamic was great. This was our first time working with Marc and his team. We immediately got along with everybody. There was great communication and they all were very patient and extremely helpful, as this was our first foray into the film world. It was quite educational, and they're really good teachers. What about the type treatment? We started with the Carson font Thaitrade, which is a very clean sans-serif. We felt it was the best typeface to parallel Crick's equally organized thought process. We then developed a “Swiss Army” animation technique in which all the type springs out from around him when called for. We extended this technique to the type treatments in the mainon-end sequence as well, though because they were superimposed over more ambient footage and disassociated with the character, we gave them some supporting graphic flourishes. How about color and camera use in the main-on-end title sequence? We thought of the sequence as a pile of photos, with an unseen hand sorting through them. Marc really wanted something energetic and bright to close the film out with, so we opted for a four-tone primary color palette and unpredictable, raw movement, both with the camera and with how the “photos” were tossed around. Instead of a f­ ront-lit light source, we chose to backlight the photos, creating interesting secondary/tertiary colors when they overlapped.

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Interview: Synderela Peng on Designing Title Sequences Motion Graphics Studio: yU+co Art Director: Synderela Peng Can you talk about yourself and your background? I was born in Indonesia and came to the U.S. to attend college in 1991. I went to Art Center for my undergraduate and received a degree in illustration in 1996. I then worked for a number of years, mostly in designrelated jobs because work as an illustrator was hard to find and simply didn't pay a lot. In 1999 I applied for CalArts, for a masters in graphic design, with the idea that I could do more if I knew more. CalArts was great, opened my mind up to a lot of new ideas that didn't necessarily feed into the commercial endeavors but were invaluable nonetheless. And after I graduated in 2001 I started working at yU+co doing motion graphics and have been there since. How did you get to specialize on motion graphics and, in particular, film titles? How does your life experience influence your work? I knew Garson (yu) from my time working prior to CalArts. And when I got done with school I applied for work at yU+co. Much of the work produced Figure 2.5 Synderela Peng, Art at yU+co was film titles at the time, and I've always enjoyed the process Director, yU+co. of creating intros, like a mini story before the movie begins. If you are in a creative field of any kind, your life experience is inseparable from your work. I love to read, particularly short stories and nonfiction, and very often the literature in my life evokes a tone and a visual. Whenever it is possible I try to bring that into my commercial work. Not a lot of that makes it into the final product, but it's a great starting point to feed the imagination. What are your guidelines and preferences in regard to font size and readability for theatrical releases, broadcast, and smaller screens? Film is generally more forgiving than broadcast, for obvious reasons. So for film projects, type sizes can be a bit smaller. Occasionally we have to watch for typefaces that are too thin because as the reels get duplicated the quality deteriorates, and so will the thin type. Broadcast, general rule of thumb is to not have very thin serifs; they become muddled once pull-down is applied. Those nuances are lost. What kind of guidelines do you usually receive from the client/studios in regard to title card order, font size, or size distinction between executives, main film title, main talent, and supporting roles? Film companies usually send us a legal sheet that states the size relationship between the actors. Often we request waivers to unify the sizes between the actors; it makes our life as designers a little easier and gives a sense of visual unity. Can you talk about the relevance of editing in the work you do? Editing is integral to the process. In the case of film titles, we need the help of an editor to piece a story together. Having a good editor will make your life so much better! And in broadcast, an editor will determine the visual and audio

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rhythm, very important to our media-saturated world, since capturing that excitement and the eye of people with ­one-minute attentions spans is crucial. Do you generally work on your titles while having the score already in place? If so, how does that affect your work? Very often we work without the final score. About 40% of the time we get the final score when our design process begins. But the clients usually have a direction for where they want to take the piece. So we temp in music that simulates the rhythm and tone to help us along. It can be difficult to not have the music in place when you start production, but that never stops the process. As an art director, can you elaborate on the dynamics of your team of designers, 3D artists, and illustrators? I work with a team of rotating artists. There is a core staff of six or seven people, and we hire freelancers as required by the amount of projects. Most of the time the design process is very open and democratic. Garson puts everyone on board to contribute ideas. If the boards selected are not mine, I still get brought in to art direct, mainly to be a creative point person to interact with clients and to organize and manage. Is there a typical length of time you are given (or a minimum amount of time you request) when you work on a title sequence project? What are the shortest and longest projects you have worked on? Film titles, about two to three months. Shortest film title project: three weeks. Longest, I don't really remember. Those are hard for me to work on, so I must have shut them out of my memory. Can you elaborate on the research you do in your projects and it affects your work? I start with words, sentences. Which very often leads to visual explorations. Sometimes random pictures inform the concept. But lately, the instincts seem to have become more honed. So I am spending less time playing around with things that may not necessarily feed into the project. It may sound less spontaneous, but it really isn't. You just get better at narrowing your ideas down and finding fun things to explore within the constraints. What are your main goals/objectives when you are working on a title sequence? What is your own measure of success? First and foremost, how well we have complemented the film and how well it leads into the main body of the narrative. I don't perceive that statement to be driven by the Bauhaus modernist notion of problem solving but more by the idea of creating the appropriate context. Film titles are kind of unique in motion design in that stylistically they can be standalone pieces, but ultimately they have to contribute well to a larger narrative in order for them to work. What are the most challenging aspects of your work? Communication during crunch time! I find that my sentence structure becomes very short and reductive when deadlines are impending. Almost like your mind wants to work faster than your verbal motor skills can handle. It's a constant reminder to slow down and learn to explain things well. So, in essence I would say the communication component in production. What are your favorite parts or aspects of the work you do? My favorite is still design to start. And then the next high point is when you realize that the methodology you thought would work in your head actually is coming alive in previz. How does technology affect your work? Well, we have to embrace some of it in order to keep up. But ultimately it's still the creative process that holds the key. Every decade people talk about how cool it is that we are “going back to the analog process” in this or that other way. The truth is, we never lost that. That human element, the tacit way of understanding is integral to any creative process, and in that sense we never need to worry about losing ourselves in techy updates. But I am an optimist in that regard.

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Throughout your career, approximately how many titles (or type-oriented motion graphics) have you worked on? I actually don't remember … 30? What are your favorite titles you worked on? Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, W, Hulk, Enchanted. What are your favorite titles (if different from the ones you worked on)? Favorite graphic designers, type designers, or motion designers? Favorite font? I love the introduction to Goddard's Contempt, that long panning shot following the cinematographer. Imaginary Forces' Donnie Darko, that title sequence has such a strange hold over me that I cannot explain. Also the titles to Michael Haneke's Funny Games (original German version), where the calming classical music is interjected by screaming death metal. Finally, Zombieland, ironic and dark, and visually so clever and good to look at. I always enjoyed reading about Eric Gill, his was a colorful life. Big and flawed personalities are so fun. There are too many designers I respect and love. One of the people on the top of my list is Karel Martens. And also my teacher Ed Fella; his work is so idiosyncratic. I don't actually have a favorite font, I'm not so much of a type geek. Who inspires you? What is your biggest influence? I draw from the same pool that most of my friends get their inspiration from: artists, filmmakers, and writers. A lot of painters, not for any direct influences, but that visual exposure always puts me in the right state of mind to explore new ideas. And traveling does that too, it zaps me out of the jaded mode and puts a fresh spin on my perception of the world—an antidote to so many things. What are you working on now? Two title sequences: a main-on-end for Shrek 4 and another one for Hot Tub Time Machine, a total dude flick.

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The Essentials of Typography and Time


Typography allows designers and communicators to convey their ideas through the form of each letter. Each font has its own personality that manifests itself through weight, proportion, and detail. Furthermore, the way each font is articulated onscreen creates an additional “voice” and character. There is no set rule about what is the “right” font. Using the appropriate font for the appropriate project is an acquired skill that comes with time and practice. Before we look into the kinds of type we utilize today, let's first dive into a bit of history.

Writing Systems and the Roman Capital Writing is an organized symbolic system that can be: 1. Logographic. A system in which visual symbols represent words. This system includes ideographic scripts (graphemes are used as a graphic symbol to represent an idea or concept, such as Chinese characters) and pictographic scripts (each grapheme conveys its meaning through its visual resemblance to the physical object, such as Egyptians hieroglyphics). 2. Syllabic. A writing system that utilizes syllables. The sum of multiple adjacent syllables represents a word. 3. Alphabetic. A writing system that utilizes consonants and ­vowels—the alphabet. The sum of multiple adjacent letters represents a word. The alphabet we use today is the Latin alphabet—different, of course, from the Latin language. The Latin alphabet is an alphabetic system originally derived from the Phoenicians that has reached us through a long process of geographical and linguistical transmutation. One pioneer, the “mother” of all fonts used today, is called the Roman Capital (referred to as Capitale Romana in Italian). This font was historically used particularly in epigraphs. If you happen to take a walk in the center of Rome, you can see this font in epigraphs next to squares, buildings, or churches, and you can try to comprehend its meaning (unless you know Latin, it might © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00003-9


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be quite a hard task!). Even better, you should take a walk in the Roman Forum and take a close look at Trajan's Column (built in 113 AD). The letters engraved in the epigraph by the column's base are considered a point of reference in typography because of their beauty and character. The Roman Capital was primarily used as an official public communication form; it was engraved in stone, using a V-shaped chisel. The Ordinator (from Latin, meaning the organizer) was the graphic designer responsible for creating the layout of the text and hand-drawing the letters, which were then engraved with a hammer and chisel by the Lapicida. The Ordinator would use a brush to draw the letters, which explains the differences in the widths of letter strokes in the Roman Capital.

Form Follows Function: A Roman Exercise Let's pretend for a moment that you are a designer who has been assigned the job of designing a font that, when engraved in stone, has to: • Outlast time and weather conditions • Be capable of being painted once the color fades, without re-engraving the stone • Have depth Put your thinking cap on and come up with a solution. Done? Now let's lake a look at what the Romans did: By using a flat brush to draw the Roman Capital, they created thick and thin stroke weights. When these lines—used as guidelines—were engraved using a V-shaped chisel, they created enough depth that, when lit, they created the perception of depth (because of the shadows), and when the stone's surface was repainted, the letters remained readable so they didn't need to be re-engraved. This was a perfect solution that satisfied both function and form.

Types of Type: The Anatomy of a Typeface Typefaces have different emotional qualities, depending on their form. Let's start by defining some of the common type styles: • Serif. These generally include a little stroke at the edges of each letter. In The Origin of the Serif: Brush Writing and Roman Letters (Saint Ambrose University Catich Gallery, 1991), Edward Catich demonstrates how utilizing a brush gave birth to the serif. Even though their origin is still discussed today, the truth is that serifs facilitate the letters' alignment perception, and with it, the type's readability. Classic serifs include Times New Roman, Garamond, and Baskerville. Serifs can also be thin and straight (like Bodoni), or thicker, also called slab serif (Rockwell, Clarendon).

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• Sans serif. These are typefaces without serifs, and the stroke Font Styles weight is generally uniform. Typical sans-serif typefaces include Futura, Helvetica, and Gill Sans. • Script. These typefaces resemble calligraphy made with a brush or quill. Their stroke weight varies from thin to thick. • Display. These are typefaces that, for best appearance and readability, are better displayed at a larger point size. Nowadays display is used as a synonym for decorative or ­articulated fonts that are appropriate for a header or title. • Bitmap. These are screen fonts; therefore they are at 72 dpi resolution and are designed to be used at a particular font size. Zooming in on or scaling up these fonts reveals that they are composed of pixels. These fonts are displayed correctly when used on Web sites or screen-based interface designs, but they are not appropriate for printing or motion-based work that requires a resolution output higher than 72 dpi (such as titles to be printed on film) unless you want their pixilation to be a Figure 3.1  conscious stylistic choice. • Monospaced or fixed-width. These fonts are designed similarly to the way a typewriter works; each letter occupies the same exact amount of space, regardless of the adjacent letter. A typeface could articulate itself in a variety of weights. When that happens, it is referred to as a font family. A font family can include some or all the following individual fonts, which range in weight from lighter to heavier: • Ultra light • Light • Roman • Italic • Semi-bold Font Weights • Bold • Extra bold Gill Sans • Black • Small caps Light Each of these font weights might have additional variations: condensed, compressed, or wide. Light Italic The following terminology will help you obtain a better understanding of typeface properties so that you can better Regular articulate your title sequence type: • X-height. The height of the body of a lowercase letter such Italic as x or a. Different typefaces are designed with different x-heights, depending on their use (newspaper fonts, for Bold example, are designed with a taller x-height to make them easier to read). Keep in mind that different fonts displayed Bold Italic at the same size might actually look smaller or bigger, Figure 3.2 Font weights examples. depending on their x-height.

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X-Height News Gothic

Figure 3.3  X-Height example. Notice the different x-height of these three fonts displayed at the same font size.

Times Garamond

• • • • • • • •

Understanding this small detail could help you argue with your client for the use of a particular font. Let's say that when working on your end titles, you have a problem with screen space, like the credit roles or names are longer than usual. In this situation you might opt for a font that has a taller x-height so that you can reduce the font size and still maintain legibility. Stroke weight. The variance between the thin and thick strokes of a font. Type size. The size of a font is measured in points, depending on their output and destination. A general rule of thumb in designing titles is to start at 24 points. Uppercase. Capital letters, also called majuscules. Lowercase. Smaller letters, also called minuscule. Mixed case. Words or sentences that alternate upper and lower case. Small caps. Smaller capital letters, generally designed to be as high as the x-height. Ligatures. Special characters that are combined to create a single glyph—the most common ligature being f+i or f+l. Do's and don'ts. If there is one set of rules you should follow from this very moment, it is the following: • Smart quotes. If you want to avoid being bashed by the design community, when you use quotation marks do not use the straight ones (also called the prime symbol) but instead use the smart (or curly) quotes that have been designed as part of the font you are using. A typical use of primes is in indicating values of length or time; for example, if you typed 5′10″, it could mean 5 feet 10 inches or 5 minutes and 10 seconds. Smart quotation marks generally are either open or closed and should be used at the opening and closing of the quotation, respectively; they are often curled toward the center of the quote. They can be single or double. Apostrophes fall into the category of smart quotes; when you're using apostrophes in your title cards, make sure that they display correctly, as though they were a single closed smart quote. • Faux italic or bold. Some software programs allow the user to create a faux (or fake) bold or italic. For example, if you

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select your text and activate the faux bold option, your text instantly looks fat, but unhappy; the software created a Frankenstein's monster version of what your font should have looked like if you had actually used the correctly designed bold variant of your font. Sometimes the bold variant of a font doesn't exist or you don't have it available. In this case I'd simply recommend you either purchase that font weight or find another font to use. • Handwritten fonts. Do not underestimate the character and uniqueness of handwritten fonts. Although hand-drawing each title card might seem like an enormous amount of work, the results can be spectacular. Take, for example, the titles created for Where the Wild Things Are or for Juno. What does this all mean? Well, now you have an arsenal of options. You should never leave these options to chance. Never design your title cards with the default font settings of your software. Always make a conscious decision about font usage. To get started, ask yourself the following questions: • Are my title cards going to be uppercase, lowercase, or mixed case? • Does the typeface offer the option of using ligatures? • Which font weight should I use, Roman or bold? • How am I planning to display the difference between the talent's names and their roles? Every decision on how you shape and articulate your type on your title cards should be a conscious decision, motivated by the project, the audience, and your strategy.

Kerning, Tracking, and Leading In addition to font families, there are additional parameters that allow you to personalize the text that you should take into consideration. Let's define a few more terms: • Baseline. The invisible horizontal line that all letters rest on. This is the line across the bottom of the x-height. The curves of some letters, descenders, and punctuation marks often go below the boundaries of the baseline. • Kerning. Kern is the measure of space between two characters. Kerning is the process of reducing or increasing the space between specific pairs of characters. Although it might seem appropriate to check the kerning throughout your titles, it could quickly become a time-consuming activity, especially when you're under a tight timeline. While you could be forgiven for not checking your end titles, you should absolutely check your main title card and single/double title cards for any necessary kerning adjustments. When doing so, pay attention to how each

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Figure 3.4 Example of bad (top) and good (bottom) kerning.

Figure 3.5 Selecting a kerning option.

letter looks adjacent to the previous or the following one and try to make spacing consistent between each letter. Depending on the letters, the space should be reduced or increased. Common characters that require some kerning adjustments include uppercase letters that have a diagonal shape followed by a curved one or another diagonal one. To get more accustomed to this thought process, consider looking at the negative (white) space between each letter and try the following: • Manipulate it to make it of an equal mass within similarly shaped letters (e.g., straight/round, straight/straight, round/round letters). • Once you've established your point of reference, keep the negative space consistent throughout your title cards. • Avoid letting serifs touch each other. Some typefaces require more attention than others. Generally, well-designed typefaces from a well-established font foundry require minimal kerning adjustments. Kerning requires practice, time, and attention to detail. Keep in mind that well-kerned type generally goes unnoticed, but to a trained graphic designer's eye, badly kerned type jumps off the screen immediately. Depending on the software you use to create your title cards—such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or After Effects—you might be able to ­control your kerning via the following options: • Metric kerning (or auto kerning). This adjusts the kerning based on settings originally designed by the type foundry. Metric kerning refers to the font's built-in kern pair tables and is generally the default setting. • Optical kerning. This involves adjusting the kerning based on the actual shape of each letter. This option helps you save time while initially creating the layout of your text, but this should not be a substitute for your own judgment. You should still consider doing manual tweaks after you've applied optical kerning. • Manual kerning. This involves adjusting the kerning manually, allowing you to choose a preset kern value or type in your preferred one. • Tracking (spacing). The process of reducing or ­increasing the space between letters in words or blocks of text. Tracking can be tight or loose. Tightening or loosening the tracking decreases or increases the overall spacing throughout the selected words or block of text by the same proportional amount. When text is tracked too tightly, the words appear crowded and touch each other, and as a result it is difficult to read. On the other hand, when the text is tracked too loosely, it presents too much white space between the words, which makes it hard to read as well. Similarly to ­kerning, appropriate

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tracking comes with practice and experience. Appropriately tracked text should go ­unnoticed by viewers. In tracking, follow these guidelines: • Condensed or compressed typefaces generally require less tracking than wider typefaces. • Smaller font sizes generally require more tracking than larger font sizes. • Ascender. The part of a lowercase letter that stems up from its body, such as in the letters l or b. • Descender. The part of a lowercase letter that stems down from its body, such as in the ­letters p or q. • Leading (pronounced ledding). The distance between the baselines of a type that spans two or more lines of text. When you're setting the leading for your titles, especially when you're designing a double card or scrolling titles, pay particular attention to the ascenders and descenders and make sure they don't touch.




Shoulder Bowl



Leading BASELINE Ascender Eye Descender



Figure 3.6 Examples of a typeface's properties.

Exercise: A Typographic Narrative Objective: Animate one quote from a song, poem, or movie excerpt in a way that enhances its meaning. Process: Pick a meaningful quote (don't forget to include the quote's author!), and focus on color(s), typeface, and camera movement to visually represent each quote in the animation. Think of each word as individual characters. Are there any lead actors? Who are the supporting actors? How do they relate to each other? Do they interact with each other or do they stand alone? Consider these elements in your composition: depth, scale, repetition, characters' relationships, readability, and screen time. Arrange your composition so that you direct the viewer's attention to a particular word when you plan it to be read, especially when multiple words appear on your screen at the same time. Allowed assets: • Type • Colors • Shapes • Illustrations • Video • Audio

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Technical requirements/specs: • 720 × 540 square pixel composition • At least 15 seconds of animation • Motivated color • Motivated type • Motivated camera movement Restrictions: • Maximum of two font families

Which “Type” Are You? • Type 1 (or PostScript). Originally developed by Adobe in the 1980s, Type 1 fonts include two components: an outline font and a metrics font, both necessary to print the font. This type of font is particularly preferred by Mac users because of the multitude of quality typefaces available, and also by print facilities because it allows a detailed and high-quality print of the font at any size and creates less technical trouble, since most of them use the same computer language (PostScript) to output their files. • TrueType. Developed by Apple and Microsoft working together, TrueType fonts include only one file necessary to both display and print them. This type of font is particularly preferred by Windows users in that certain standard TrueType fonts, which are included in most operating systems, offer the user digital “hints” to improve the font's clarity, especially when they are used in small point sizes. • OpenType. Developed by Adobe and Microsoft together, OpenType fonts are cross-platform compatible (the same font files work on both Mac and Windows computers) and support an expanded character set—a typical Type 1 set contains 256 characters; OpenType can contain up to 65,000 characters, including ligatures, dingbats, and alternate glyphs.

On the Web Take a look at the following Web sites to see what's out there. Useful type Web sites: • • Type ID forum: •

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Useful type foundries' Web sites: • • • • • •

Design Blocks: Choosing a Layout Using a Grid System

Figure 3.7

It is quite popular to use a grid system in graphic design. Grid systems are most often used on Web pages, newspapers, and magazines, but we as film title designers can still take advantage of putting a grid system in place. It boils down to how you divide up a page before you start placing elements on it. Grid systems begin by carving out blocks. This can be done using a number of approaches. In Adobe programs you can start by creating guides, as we've demonstrated. Often these are divided into a group of columns or rows. The spaces are usually divided into evenly sized pieces.

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Figure 3.9

Establishing and Occupying Your Grid

Figure 3.8

For a long time, Adobe After Effects did not have the rulers and guides that Photoshop and Illustrator have, but now we're able to use them in the same manner as graphic design and layout software. From the View menu, choose Show Rulers, or from the keyboard press Control-R (or Command-R). From the ruler, simply drag out a guide by clicking it and moving the mouse to where you'd like to place the guide. Now, if you are preparing a Photoshop file for use in After Effects, AE will maintain your guides, but for some odd reason, it will not do this with Illustrator files. See figures 3.8 and 3.9.

Figure 3.10

Now that we know what a grid system is, let's discuss how to implement it. In the frame in the figure above we have a shot that was created for the purpose of adding a title. Remember that when a shot is being created for the purpose of being a plate for a title, the director of photography must design the shot with the idea that a title will occupy a space in the frame. Now, when it comes down to what will be an appealing design, it's typically some configuration of thirds. You'll note in the image that there are three horizontal rows, and although there are two columns, the line is placed roughly two-thirds of the way through the frame. Why thirds? Design divisions of thirds have been popular since the ancient Greeks, but let's avoid philosophical ­mathematics for the duration of this text.

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Figure 3.11

Now that a title has been added, you can see how the division of the space has brought us to an aesthetically pleasing spot fairly quickly. Now, the location I've chosen is not the only spot in the frame where the title will work, but the grid helps you narrow down and disqualify locations within the frame that are not going to work.

Breaking the Grid

If you'd like to know a bit more about why thirds have been so appealing to the human aesthetic mind for millennia, do a quick Google search of the phrase golden ratio. You will either become fascinated or bored.

Figure 3.12

Now that the grid has been established and occupied, we could easily leave it at that. However, grids will lead you to a very rigid design. To maximize the effectiveness and the appeal of your design, it's time to break from the grid. You can move

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and rearrange items to exceed above and below the grid lines to take advantage of their shapes and achieve a better design. Press Control-; (or Command-;) to hide and show your guides, and experiment by pushing design elements into and out of shapes.

Readability: Titles at the Movies, Online, and on Your Cell Phone Now that we've explored some type flavors, we need to address a key component of successful typographical use: readability. Often overlooked and viewed as a secondary and less-relevant value compared to the coolness of a font or a particular layout, readability is an aspect of design that absolutely should not be overlooked. If the titles are unreadable, the information and messages don't come across, and that can obviously cause frustration for the viewer—or even cause you to lose a client. Readability depends on a variety of factors. The audience is sitting still, but their head and eye movements, the type's animation, and the screen time often affect the way the audience ­identifies words and processes them. For example, titles that face the viewer, displayed in 2D (as opposed to 3D) characters, allow for quick readability. In using 3D typefaces, especially if they are embedded in a 3D ­environment, give them slightly more screen time than 2D fonts. What is important to understand is that there are no set-in-stone rules about readability. You will have to test each of your project's font sizes and screen times; use your common sense, experience, judgment, and client requirements; and know how your project will be distributed (online only, in theaters, or via some other method).

Cone of Vision and Screen Dimension While designing title cards, designers should keep in mind the viewer's cone of vision. The screen's dimensions and the distance from the viewer to the screen are also relevant factors. A ­typical cone of vision for a spectator in a movie theater or screening room is between 30 and 60 degrees total view angle. In a 30-degree cone of vision, a viewer sees 15 degrees from the right eye and 15 degrees from the left eye, for a total of 30 degrees view angle. A viewer sitting in the front row will have to use a wider cone of vision to detect the entire surface of the screen; eye and head movements will be necessary to follow the action and type on the screen, and the close proximity to the screen will result in image distortion. A viewer sitting in the last row will have to employ a narrower cone of vision; head movements are minimal, giving the eyes the entire job of deciphering the information onscreen.

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Font Size and Distance Screen readability is determined by the font size, color, contrast between the font color and its background color, and the typeface. The United States Sign Council (USSC), through extensive research, has developed a Legibility Index (LI). In Table 3.2, you can find a reference for a sans-serif font (Helvetica) and a slab-serif font (Clarendon). A title card with an LI of 29 means that the font—when its capitals are 1-inch high—should be legible at a distance of 29 feet. For example, according to this chart, when we use black Helvetica on a white background, its capitals set at 1 inch, it should be legible from 29 feet (if it's uppercase and lowercase) or 25 feet (if it's all capitals). If the font is displayed at 10 inches, it will be visible from 290 feet and 250 feet, if uppercase and lowercase or all caps, respectively.

Table 3.2 Legibility Index Chart Letter Style Helvetica Helvetica Helvetica Clarendon Clarendon Clarendon

Letter Color Black Yellow White Black Yellow White

Background Color

Legibility Index Uppercase and Lowercase

All Caps

29 26 26 28 31 24

25 22 22 24 26 20

White Green Black White Green Black

You might wonder why there is a difference between using uppercase and lowercase and using all caps when it comes to legibility. When using uppercase and lowercase, which use ascenders and descenders, the words' shapes are more distinctive and recognizable; therefore, this is considered more readable than using only capital letters. Some research, though, contradicts this view. Research ­conducted by Tinker in 1963 found that even when a font with a great x-height was used, an uppercase font is more readable at greater distances than a mix of uppercase and lowercase. Further findings by Arditi and Cho in 2007 found that when text is very small, uppercase fonts are more legible in terms of reading speed, both for normally sighted readers and for readers with reduced ­sighting due to visual impairments. What does this all mean to your titles? You don't necessarily need to use the 30-feet LI rule in your title sequence, but it is a good place to start.

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In applying this information to title design, consider that signage is different from title design. Print design works with inches or a metric system; type is still measured in points, whether in print or digital format. Our main variable in working with a digital title sequence is the frame size. Let's take, for example, a digital title sequence for a movie, which will be output to film at 2K resolution (2048 pixels wide by 1556 pixels high at 72 pixels/inch). Its correspondent dimensions in inches are 28.44 inches wide by 21.61 inches high. To create a font size that will be 1-inch high, you will have to set your font to approximately 100–104 points. This font will be legible from 30 feet away. Table 3.3 shows how the USSC Legibility Index translates into our screen size world.

Table 3.3  Format

Frame Size

Point Size (Equivalent to 1 Inch Height and Legible from 30 Feet Away)

Film 4K Film 2K HD/HDTV 720p DV NTSC

2048 × 1556 4096 × 3112 1280 × 720   720 × 480

208 pts. 104 pts   65 pts.   35 pts.

The Department of Computer Science and Communication of the University of Milan, Italy, has developed FontReader, a program that allows a user to calculate the dimension a typeface should be based on the minimum distance from which someone would see it, to guarantee its legibility. This application was created primarily for outdoor advertising (billboard, bus ads), but it could certainly apply to designing title cards that would be readable even by viewers sitting in the front rows of movie theaters.

Are Your Titles Safe? To guarantee your titles' legibility—especially when you're working in broadcast title design—they should be placed within a title safe boundary box. With the exception of plasma and LCD screens, most television sets scale up the video signal received and cut off some of its content by the edge of the screen. Because this cropping, also called overscan, is not consistent among the various TV brands and models, titles should be placed within a title safe boundary box, and relevant live-action or animation content should be placed within an Action Safe boundary box. A title safe box is typically 80% of its frame size. An Action Safe grid is typically 90% of its frame size.

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Figure 3.14 Figure 3.13 Most software programs provide options to display a Title Safe boundary box. In After Effects, you can display the Action and Title Safe boxes by clicking the Choose grid and guide option (Figure 3.14) icon on the bottom left of your Composition window. In Photoshop and Illustrator you can view the Action and Title Safe grids or overlay when you create a new file from one of the Video & Film presets.

Titles Online and On Your Cell Phone How does a small screen compare to a large screen in a movie theater? For one thing, in a theater you are immersed in the dark, with nothing else to distract you. You empathize with the characters of your movie; the titles are readable, exciting, and entertaining. The size of the screen is wrapping around your perception, and the sound (whether stereo or Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound) is wrapping around you, immersing you in the reality of the movie. You are breathing, fighting, suffering, and loving with your characters. Compare that experience with viewing the same movie on an airplane, when you are interrupted by the passenger sitting in the window seat who needs to get up, or the hostess serving coffee, or even with looking at the same movie while in line or waiting for the next bus or train. Regardless of the drastic dissimilarities in experiencing ­movies in various environments, the filmmakers' and designers' ­challenge is to create a product that will stand the technological limits and challenges posed by the new distribution channels.

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There is relatively minimal concern when designing title sequences for the Web. As far as screen size, most Web sites are now designed for a screen size of 1280 × 1024 pixels, which allows movies to be embedded in the Web page at least at SD resolution. The one variable to keep an eye out for is the video codec. Depending on the film's compression, the typographical elements of a title sequence might become unpleasantly unreadable; the font's antialiasing could be deteriorated, and the serifs might become too thin or even disappear completely. Some Web sites might even require a maximum file weight for a video upload, and that's when the testing begins to try to find an appropriate compression that allows for quick video streaming while maintaining the title sequence's quality. There are no set-in-stone rules; the compression depends on the nature and source quality of the title sequences—whether they include 3D elements, colors and textures, live action, heavy or light typographical elements, or the like. To determine the best video codec for your title sequence you should export a short segment using a variety of video codecs and then scrub through the video file to verify its result. To start off, you should try compressing your title sequence as H.264, Motion JPEG, or Apple ProRes. If you'd like to explore more compression flavors, you should import your title sequence into Apple Compressor and try a few of its presets. When designing a title sequence for smaller screens such as mobile devices it is important to understand that there are a variety of screen sizes and resolutions, depending on the make and model. Although you are not expected to design for each and every one of these devices, at least one version of a title sequence, redesigned to be readable on smaller screens, might be required by your client. Table 3.4 will help you understand the frame sizes and aspect ratios of common mobile devices. When designing title sequences for smaller screens, you can still use the USSC Legibility Index as a guideline. A black Helvetica

Table 3.4 Screen aspect ratio of common mobile devices Brand/Model LG, Samsung PSP Go Apple iPhone Nokia Tube Sony Ericsson Xperia iPad

Aspect Ratio

Pixel Size

Inch Size (Diagonal)

   1.67:1    1.47:1     3:2   16:9    2:1     4:3

  400 × 240   400 × 272   480 × 320   640 × 360   800 × 400 1024 × 768

3″ 3.8″ 3.5″ 3.2″ 3″ 9.7″

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displayed on white background at 0.1 inch high—equivalent to a 10-point typeface—will be readable from 2.9 feet (uppercase and lowercase) and 2.5 feet (all caps).

Tutorial: Modifying Text with Adobe Illustrator One of the major strengths of Adobe's Illustrator software is its ability to apply an artist's touch to existing fonts. Illustrator allows users to “break” a font from the appearance it has and allow users to apply vector image editing tools to LG, SAMSUNG 400x240 pixels customize its appearance. This powerful feature PSP GO 400x272 pixels alone often justifies a trip over to Illustrator. APPLE IPHONE 480x320 pixels Adobe Illustrator NOKIA TUBE 640x360 pixels is the industry SONY ERICCSON EXPERIA 800x400 pixels standard for ­vector APPLE IPAD 1024x768 pixels image editing. It Figure 3.15 allows you to use Bezier tools to Figure 3.16  The same letter change the shapes of the objects you in its normal presentation and are editing by adjusting points. In the after Create Outlines has been following tutorial we'll use Illustrator applied. to bring a boring title to life.


Before we start changing the shapes of the letters involved, we should resolve any issues we need to address while the material is still being treated as text layers by the software. Make sure you are happy with the font you've chosen as well as the leading and kerning. We can change the leading and kerning later, but it is more difficult.


When you are ready to proceed, with your text layer selected, select Type | Create Outlines. Now we can begin editing the shapes of the letters.

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I'm going to use the descender from the g as an underline for the rest of the word. Use the Eraser tool and create a break on the g where we can extend the line.


Use the Lasso tool and draw a circle around the left side of the g's descender and drag it over to the left. We will connect it to the v, which will create this nice vine effect.

Done-Now take some time to experiment with changing the shapes of your letters and see how they look. It becomes very interesting and engaging when two letter forms are combined. Be careful to avoid making your type too difficult to read, but also think about how you can make a distinct look and appearance for the title graphic you are working on.

Creating Your Own Font Figure 3.17  Trajan Pro has become ubiquitous, from Titanic to Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events to Columbia University (and my own Web site from 2002–2008). You know a font's over-used when the highest-grossing film of all time and the ivy league are both using it.

Let's say that you are about to begin working on a title sequence for a new thriller with some big stars and a whopping paycheck. Take a breather and recall some of the great graphic design campaigns associated with this genre. Se7en, Psycho, and Jaws (1975) immediately come to my mind. What did these three movies all have in common? A memorable, unique type face designed specifically for those films. So, let's march over to our font folder, trash Trajan Pro, and discuss creating our own typefaces. To begin making your typeface, you will need some specialized software for creating a new font. You have a number of options when it comes to font creation software. First there is the professional application Fontlab Studio, which has been the dominant software in this area of the industry for some time. There's also the freeware package called FontForge, which is not nearly as robust as Fontlab Studio, but is also free.

Figure 3.18 Fontlab's Fontlab Studio is the most popular font development application available right now.

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Tutorial: Creating a Custom Typeface with Fontlab


I began my typeface by scanning a drawing I made of a letter. Have fun and be creative with your original source material; it can be as loose or as casual as you want it to be.


To get the cleanest possible appearance from the letters, we will create a vector image from the scan. Open the drawing in Adobe Illustrator and apply Live Trace to the raster image. Since color will not really be an issue, I used the Black and White Logo preset. Click Expand. While we have it here in Illustrator, take a few minutes to make any changes to paths that make up the type here. Leave Illustrator open; we will come back to it in a few minutes.

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Launch Fontlab Studio and click File | New. This will open a new font window, which will show you a grid with all the glyphs in a font. Highlight the capital A. Go to the Glyphs menu and click Create Glyphs If Empty. Now double-click the capital A and its glyph window will open.

A glyph, by definition, is any element of writing. In Fontlab Studio and most computer software, it simply means an individual character in a font.


Go back to Illustrator and select the path and Edit | Copy it. Go back over to Fontlab and Edit | Paste it into the glyph window for the capital A. Now repeat this action for each letter. You don't have to individually scan each letter; you can draw them out on one page and Live Trace them as a group. I just demonstrated one letter for the purpose of clarity. In fact, you could build the other letters using Illustrator if you want, though that could take a while.

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Done - When you have finished supplying the glyphs for all the characters, go to File | Generate Font. This will essentially export what you've done in Fontlab as a font that you can then install on your computer, like any other font.

Moving Type for the Web with Adobe Flash It used to be that very few people watched video content on the Web, but those days are over. Title design has become an important part of new media content, and the new size issues and constraints are important issues to address. There's also been a significant boost for Flash's capability now that it's an Adobe application; it has some great features that make pairing it with After Effects a powerful suite of tools.

Considerations for Web Viewing and Mobile Devices Watching something on the Web, or a mobile phone, is a much different experience than watching on TV or the big screen. It's not the comfortable, dedicated experience of home or theatrical viewing. Title designers must also take design considerations into account. First, the standard size of Web video is different than TV or film. Obviously we are talking about smaller images. The problem is that the type size cannot be shrunk down relatively and still achieve maximum readability. We have to err on the side of displaying type at a larger relative size on the smaller Web/mobile device image. In addition to the size concern, we also have to keep in mind that Web video displays the entire image. It's still a good idea to keep our titles within title safety so their distance from the edge is still comfortable for viewers to read. In case you've gotten into the bad habit of leaving elements in the image area just past the domestic cutoff edge, you can't do that when working on video for the Web.

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Also, we should consider using tools that are optimized for the Web for our design work here. After Effects has some settings for working with Web-based content, but Flash is optimized for Web work.

The Differences Between After Effects and Flash

Figure 3.19

Figure 3.20 Although they might seem to do similar things, Flash (above) and After Effects (Figure 3.19) are two very different programs ideally suited for different purposes.

If you are very new to all this, the major differences between Flash and After Effects might not be immediately apparent. They are both keyframe animators, with tools that kind of resemble each other. However, they are very different software packages, and each one is meant to be a professional solution for its specific task. Though both software packages have great capability when it comes to animation, they both are intended for different media formats. Flash began as a tool for developing high-end dynamic Web sites, and over time, it has become a development platform with its own programming language. Flash has become popular among animators because of its close resemblence to the classic “cel” process, making it the choice tool for many Web cartoonists and 2D animators.

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However, Flash is not as strong a motion graphics tool as After Effects. It doesn't have the sophisticated type animation tools that After Effects possesses, and its output settings are best designed for Web output and minimal for any other formats. The most commonly output file type from Flash is the .swf (sometimes called swish or swiff), which is a little bit like a QuickTime movie except that it is vector-based, making it easy to resize without any lost quality. Luckily, as new versions are released, there are more ways of quickly jumping between AE and Flash. After Effects was designed for creating 2D motion graphics, but over time it has become an excellent type animation tool, a solid compositor, and a widely used VFX software package. It is designed to work with other video software and is geared toward outputting raster-formatted video. Since it's designed for video output, AE's exports and engine are raster-based, limiting it to set scale but photographic in its quality.

Choosing Between the Two When to Use Flash If the type you are animating will be part of a Web site in its final presentation, Flash's vector output is superior. However, keep in mind that you will be extremely limited by the animation tools ­available for type in Flash. Often, if you are working with Flash Video, you can have the vector-animated type come before the actual video content. This will help you avoid overly compressing the titles if they are married to the video. So, within a Flash .swf file, you can have vector-animated type precede Flash Video formatted video content.

When to Use After Effects In most cases, for any form of video, you'll need the wide range of video output settings that a dedicated piece of software such as After Effects provides. Furthermore, After Effects boasts robust tools for type animation that few software packages can rival. Now we'll take a look at how you can take advantage of After Effects' excellent type tools and export to Flash using the XFL format.

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Tutorial: Basic Type Animation in Adobe Flash


At the beginning of any Flash project, it is worth viewing the Modify | Document window and setting up your document accordingly. If it is your plan to add animated type to a Web site, it's important to match the dimensions of the final site or, if it's going to be a specified section of a page, to match the dimensions of the area that is already blocked out. If it's going to be added to a Flash Video presentation, it should match the setting of the Flash Video piece.


Typically when I am using Flash I will move the Tools panel to the left-hand side (call me a traditionalist if you want, but having a toolbar on the right feels wrong to me). Select the familiar Type tool and lay out your text.

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Our next step is to go to the Modify menu and choose Convert to Symbol (or press F8 on the keyboard). Select Movie Clip from Type. Name it title. In most cases you will need to use Convert to Symbol to create any animation.



Cont'd In Flash you adjust

parameters to the elements you create with the Properties panel. Type controls are in the Character section. Auto kern has a switch. Tracking will be controlled by the oddly labeled Letter spacing number value. Also, you'll find leading below the Paragraph heading under Spacing.

For the Web savvy, you can use the Dynamic Text feature to bring your credit information from a Web page. Mac users will notice that Flash makes use of the F keys, which may interfere with OSX features such as Expose. You can change or turn off these keyboard commands for Expose by going to System Preferences, under Expose and Spaces.

Now, unlike After Effects, every frame in Flash is represented by an individual box. Highlight the box below the 10-frame mark. Now go to Insert | Timeline | Keyframe (or press F6).


At the 10-frame mark, use the Free Transform Tool (or press Q) and scale up our text.


Done-To execute any kind of animation in Flash, you have to tell Flash to Tween. Highlight the frames, and go to Insert | Classic Tween. Now an arrow will appear linking your first and last keyframes. Press Enter to view your animation.

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Tutorial: Moving a Type Animation from After Effects to Flash with the XFL Format Now that Flash and After Effects are both published by Adobe, we can take advantage of the strengths of both programs. In this tutorial, we'll see how to start a project with After Effects and then export it to Flash.


In After Effects I created a quick animation of a title, and I have applied the Whirl In preset to the type layer (Effects and Presets | Animation Presets | Type Animation | Curves and Spins | Whirl In).


Choose File | Export | Adobe Flash Professional (XFL). The XFL format works similarly to Flash's FLA files, so after we export, you can open the XFL file as though it were a FLA.

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Flash's engine is vector-based and AE's is raster, so since they “speak different languages,” we have to adjust our export settings so that we preserve the appearance of our timeline. After you choose File | Export | Adobe Flash Professional (XFL), you will have to choose some export settings. Since the type animation work we are doing in After Effects would be an unsupported feature in Flash, under the heading Layers with Unsupported Features, turn on Rasterize to: and, from the pull-down menu, choose a Format. The FLV format will give you a compressed video layer in Flash, and PNG Sequence will give you a series of images. Either will support transparency.


Done - Grab the XFL file and open it with Flash. Now you can you use it as a part of your Flash project.

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There are opposing accounts of what happened next, but soon it was obvious that this subsonic Trojan horse wasn't a daughter of nature; indeed, the scientists at VRL had stumbled on a massive linguistic conspiracy, the depths of which are only now being excavated. It was an outright hijacking of our language from the inside out. But to what end? And by whom? This colorful, geometric televideo is an accurate account of the known facts, including several minutes of neverbefore-seen footage accompanied by helpful diagrams and charts. It proposes new theories and offers supporting historical and scientific context and is two minutes and forty-nine seconds long. It is most likely both entertaining and informative. Please discuss this film on completion. ///

Figure 3.21a Still frames from "The Alphabet Conspiracy" by MK12.

Figure 3.21b

Figure 3.21c

Figure 3.21d

Figure 3.21e

Figure 3.21g

Figure 3.21f

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The Alphabet Conspiracy is a hybrid live-action/animated piece about the language working as a double agent, carrying a hidden meaning with it for reasons yet unknown. The short came about after finding an educational film from the 1960s, also titled The Alphabet Conspiracy (we like to think of ours as a sequel of sorts). In the original, a young girl named Alice boycotts her homework and falls asleep, traveling to an enchanted world where she conspires with a Mad Hatter type to eliminate books and words (thus no homework). They're intercepted by a kind-hearted linguist who eventually convinces Alice that the alphabet really does matter. She then wakes up.

Figure 3.21h Still frames from "The Alphabet Conspiracy" by MK12, continued.

Figure 3.21i

Figure 3.21j

Figure 3.21k

Figure 3.21l

Figure 3.21m

We'd already been scripting a type-based short that was eerily close to this one, and so we figured that instead of reinventing the wheel, we'd simply add our own spin to the original. We cut up the soundtrack and remixed it into a slightly darker version of itself, and that became the foundation for the piece. From there we developed an animatic and began working in the key elements (though with nonnarrative pieces, we always treat the animatic as a general guide, since the tangents we follow while animating and designing usually end up becoming the piece). The short takes other cues from the film as well as other educational films from days past, inspired by the awkward editing and absurd premises that often defined the genre. The color palette is simple and deliberate, and we worked with a technique in which all the elements were split out into their respective red, green, and blue channels, which usually remain superimposed to form a complete image but sometimes move independently of one another to create interesting transitional and graphic effects.

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Figure 3.21n Still frames from "The Alphabet Conspiracy" by MK12, continued.

Figure 3.21o

Figure 3.21p

Figure 3.21q

Figure 3.21r

Figure 3.21s

We like to design custom typefaces for our film projects, and since this piece is about the alphabet from a scientific perspective, we spent a good deal of time developing a typeface that was theoretically perfect and balanced. We were less concerned with making an aesthetically pleasing font because we were ensuring that every measurement was a reciprocal of another. We also developed a pretty rigid set of rules for how the type was to be laid out and presented on-screen, making sure that exponents and weights were always considered. It's not something that's necessarily meant to be picked up on; it was more a starting point for our compositions, and it felt appropriate to the subject matter.

Figure 3.22

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Interview: Stacy Nimmo on Title Design Motion Graphics Studio: Gunshop Creative Director: Stacy Nimmo One of the wonderful things about broadcast design and kinetic typography is that there are so many different things that you can put into any piece you do. You have music, cinematography, 2D or 3D graphics, and typography, which stand on their own as a communication tool. Finding the right mixture of what to use for the message that you're sending is the real challenge. You have to find out what your client needs, what they need to communicate, and how it needs to be. Generally, on the emotional side you tend to have things that are much more ephemeral, and then on the very clear and concise side, you have “50% off” and giant “For Sale” signs. So, between those two extremes you need to find out what your client needs to communicate and what the consumer wants to hear. Can you talk a little about yourself and your background in graphic design? I studied design at the University of Florida in a very, very traditional sort of program, at a time just before computers became more popular. So, not to sound like a Luddite, but I think that there were some really positive things that can be learned in design before you get on a computer. And I think at some point, especially in the foundation time, it's actually helpful to stay away from a computer so that you deal with very basic compositions. You know, if you have After Effects or if you have Photoshop, you're immediately capable of layering 100 layers on there, and that's just not the case when you got a copy machine and you're blowing up some typography; you're physically limited to the number of things that you can do there. I think that that's really good because it helps you focus on saying the most with the fewest number of parts. And I think that is the essence of typography: say the most with the fewest number of parts. I still urge schools and students coming into broadcast design for the first time to not do everything with the computer, to try to do things offline and in your head and in the sketchbook as much as possible. And one of the key pieces of that is learning to understand and work with typography, getting to know the cropping, and the scale, and the kerning, and the subtle sort of things that are really helpful to have. To look at it offline, as in printmaking and using stenciling, for example, where you have a physically engaging process and you have a feel for the physical weight and positioning of the letters. It's almost the difference between reading a book on a computer and reading an actual book. It has a different feel and weight to it, and I think you become much more familiar with typography when it's reflective versus when it's on a computer screen.

Figure 3.23a  Client: Symantec; Project Title: Higher Level; Duration: 00:30.

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Figure 3.23d

Figure 32.23e

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Figure 3.23g

Figure 3.23h

Figure 3.23i

Figure 3.23j

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Figure 3.23n 

From studying graphic design, how did you end up specializing in motion graphics? I went from studying design, which was primarily print design in college, to working on movie posters for Miramax in New York City in the early 1990s, when they were starting. When you look at a movie poster you have the actors, and you have them composited usually in some vague world, and then you have the title. And the title really speaks volumes about what it is that you're going to see; it especially has the capability of doing that, of setting the tone of the movie outside the particular image of the people. It's about the people and about the title design. In fact, the title is so relevant to these posters that it's actually written in contracts that certain people's names have to be a certain relative size compared to the title: “If a title is X size, my name has to be 20% of X size.” And that's how movie posters end up with very skinny, very tall typography, because it is a legal requirement that people's names be the same size as the title.

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I went back to film school to study traditional film production, and there's still a lot of things that I draw on from that experience that have nothing to do with being on a live-action set but have everything to do with the way a camera moves through a 3D scene or the way drama or motion is carried through camera movement. I think that that is a very important step in the progress in anybody's broadcast design growth. When and how did you start Gunshop? We started Gunshop in 2000. We're now 10 years old, which is pretty exciting, and pretty old in this business, too, but we have a lot of benefits of having that experience. The main reason we started Gunshop was because in the late '90s the main places that were doing sophisticated broadcast design had some very, very expensive equipment. We had started doing more and more work on the desktop with After Effects and realized that we didn't need all these expensive tape decks, we didn't need the Inferno, and just really began to produce jobs soup-to-nuts on the desktop. We opened up our shop as a sort of desktop solution for broadcast design. It was one of the first in the city, and it was very popular, and we ended up doing a lot of work with HBO and all their family of channels, like Cinemax, as well as Viacom and their family, like MTV and VH1. How do your life experience, interests, and passions influence your work? And what are your interests and passions? If someone asks me, I generally don't refer to myself as a commercial artist, though at essence that's what I am. I'm an artist who is working in a commercial atmosphere, in a commercial manner, basically creating commissioned works of art for the client. So, for me, there's a lot of creativity that goes into all these pieces. It's very fulfilling to create, as I call them, tiny worlds. We create these tiny, very special, very specific, very branded worlds for our clients so that they can communicate whatever they need to about their product. And I think that as an artist it's very fulfilling, I think it's very challenging as well as it is very commercial, and you have a client that's paying for it, so there's a lot of negotiation, sacrifice, and changes that are involved in the process. And if you have the right team together both internally in your design company as well as with your advertising or theatrical partners, you can have some great stuff coming out of it. I think that you basically expand your team to work with the team of the client. And that's when projects really take on a life of their own that no individual is capable of doing. Do you have any guidelines or preferences in regard to font size and readability, whether for theatrical release, broadcast, or smaller screens? You know, its kind of funny, but in general we have a really crappy TV here in the office, and after we do some type design we want to make sure it looks good on that crappy TV. I mean, you could do stuff in HD that will look fantastic on an HD monitor, but you also have a lot of people who have different, older, and smaller TVs, and you always want to make sure it works on the lowest common denominator, especially when half the stuff we're doing is still in SD. So as far as specific specs of how many point sizes, we don't have anything that is that specific because sometimes you have a headline that's a certain size and it's only one word, but if it's three words then it's going to change that rule all together. So, it's a little bit more about what works than our rules.

Figure 3.24a  Client: Arts and Entertainment Networks; Project Title: Jacked Auto Theft Task Force; Duration: 00:16.

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Figure 3.24d

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Figure 3.24h 

How about screen time? It kind of follows the same rules as our typographic size rule, which is, you want to make sure it feels right and looks right. Just like with type size, we use a bad monitor, with type timing and also sometimes with scale we'll do a lot of those things in the edit room, which I think is a very important place to say, “Is this on long enough?” So, we may work on the files in 3D or After Effects, but at some point, or often throughout the process, we'll bring it into the edit room and we'll do small adjustments to scale or timing there, because you can get into a level of finesse there that is really where you want to be. You can adjust it so it's just a little bit faster and the other piece is just a little bit slower and it's just a little bit bigger. And you play it down and you make these micro adjustments very quickly, and I think that's where the real magic and poetry really is, when you can make those small finesse changes very quickly. Then we take that information back into 3D or After Effects and implement that information so it's of better quality. It's almost like directing a piece of music. You want to have everything just in the right place, and the only way you can get to that level of finesse is if you have real-time interaction with it. Do you design while keeping in mind the title safe boundaries? We still adhere to title safe. I mean, granted, the monitors now don't have such strict or massive amount of title space required, but I think it's much easier to sort of read the typography if it doesn't veer toward the edge of the piece. As long as you didn't put the type up there, you don't want to hide it. So it's helpful to keep it in the general area. So, I think we do follow title safe. Since we do work in a tremendous range of media, we never know where it's going to end up, so if we do a piece that's originally going to be shown on a digital monitor at a conference and is also going to be broadcast in SD later, we want to make sure that we don't create too much work for ourselves by doing something that's specific to one of those mediums. We try to be a little bit more open ended so our client can use it in as many different mediums as possible. When it gets to Web and online in 320 by 240, that becomes very challenging because generally typography, even in SD typography, doesn't work online and generally it has to be redone for small-size Web applications. But more and more clients are going to larger-size Web applications, so it's not so much of an issue.

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Can you address any of the motivations behind camera movement or even transition between one shot and another, whether it's hard cuts or dissolves or just general relevance of the use of camera in the work that you do? When we build tiny worlds for our clients that are very specific, we may have some that are very bare-bones, very clean, very simple, very elegant solutions, and they generally are very hard cuts. And then we have things that are meant to have a feeling of futuristic excitement, and they tend to be much more complicated, so it really depends on what is more appropriate for the project that we're working on. I think that camera moves in general are pretty distracting unless they're tied into some motivating action. Or your palette is so simplified that there's really not that much else. If you look at some really great title design that's out there, there's just a slight amount of atmosphere and the typography and the camera, and that's all that really exists in the animation of the main title sequences. Can you elaborate on the relevance of editing in the work that you do? How can you tell a story through editing? Editing for us has two real major uses. There's one, which is the finessing. It's really hard, even if you have your story and you know that those are the camera angles and those are the shots you want to use. The timing and certain subtle things like scale and color correction that you can address really quickly in Final Cut are essential. I've seen artists work on shots for hours that end up being cut in duration in half because when you get the final piece together it really doesn't need or justify the length of the shot. We create very tight animatics and very specific sort of durations in these things, and we trim it by a frame here or a frame there, but I think you really want to have that ability to go in and interactively work with your piece, which is just not easy to do in After Effects. There are so many layers in there, it makes it so hard to do those finessing adjustments, so people just don't. So, its almost like you got to get the shot out, you got to get it rendered, you got to get it into Final Cut and you got to finesse it, otherwise it's going to come out clunky. If you cut a few frames out of someone's reaction, it could go from happy to sad, depending on where you end the cut. In more postproduction-oriented places, it seems like it's more about timing and making the piece feel like a great music composition and flow from scene to scene. I don't think there's that much opportunity to change how the story is told in the edit suite; it's more a matter of finessing it. Because everyone knows that the scene needs to look like this and it's unlikely that you'll discover it in the edit suite, well, you could drop entire shots, but it's unlikely that you'll create an entire shot to fill a gap in the edit suite.

Figure 3.25a  Client: Symantec; Project Title: Vision 08; Duration: 00:30.

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Figure 3.25d

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Figure 3.25h

Figure 3.25i 

Do you generally work when you have a score or soundtrack and sound effects already in place? If so, how does it affect your work? In general, unfortunately, the soundtracks are not done until later on in the project, and we usually work with temp tracks. As soon as we find a piece, we'll start working on the style frames and immediately start working on what we feel is a good piece of music to cut with and to lend personality to the piece. A lot of times the animation will become overly complex just because there's no music associated with it. That's the natural tendency; people think, “Hey, it needs to keep doing stuff,” if you don't put a soundtrack next to it. If you put a soundtrack next to it, you realize the design or the style of the frame carries on its own with that music. It's kind of like saying, “Hey, I'm going to paint this painting without red and put the red in later.” It's sort of impossible to do because it's such a critical element. From the beginning we work with those tracks, and it's amazing how often those tracks, once you swap them out with the actual track, the cuts and the beats and the timing still work, because basically a lot of the cuts and motion tend to be more open, more languid, when working with the soundtrack. And as long as it's on 4/4 time, most of the stuff just cuts right to a variety of different tracks if you're close to the same beats. I highly recommend working with a temp track as soon as possible and then swapping it when you get the final tracks. Voiceovers are a different story. When we get the script and we have a piece that's being written to or being created around a voiceover, we'll generally do a scratch voiceover track here and time it out to that, then get the real voiceover and do some finessing there. I guess it's not that different, you're still working with a scratch track, but you never want to have nothing under there. You certainly never want to present anything to your client with nothing or no soundtrack, because they'll pull it apart.

Chapter 3  The Essentials of Typography and Time   109

Can you talk about the use of color and lighting in your work? How is that useful in regard to the emotion you want to convey for a particular client or a particular work? I think having a controlled color palette is always very helpful, and usually the controlled color palette leads back toward a very specific look of the brand. Let's say you're working with a company whose logo is red or the main title of the movie is red. Chances are you're going to work within a palette of reds and some other colors just so it doesn't get too flat. I think that controlling the color palette is a challenge for a lot of people. Getting the color palette that is relatively controlled and very brand specific is a great asset toward the piece and making sure that it fits within the larger format of the client's needs. It doesn't speak to movie titles, but it does speak to, “Hey, if I'm going to do this piece for this person and I'm doing it in CG and everything else they did was in Flash or something like that, and I'm doing it in 3D, I can make it match the rest of the body of work and their brand image, just by keeping within the color palette.” Tools like Adobe's Kuler are great for establishing nice harmonies of colors within a narrow palette, but for some odd reason a lot of people don't use it. I think it's a great tool. Another thing that you can do is pull a photograph that may be dominant in reds or something like that, and then pull the colors from the photograph, because one of the things that make a color palette so pleasant is its reflection of nature. I think that if you're on a computer just picking colors randomly you would never find those in a real environment. Whereas if you pull your colors from a photograph, they all seem to work together, because they all came from the same color temperature, lighting, they're all about as saturated, and stuff like that. Can you talk about the creative process? Going back to my background in studying design, the first step that I would make in coming up with a new design is sketching—you know, coming up with the basic idea. Sometimes before I'm sketching the composition of a frame, I'm just writing a bunch of words, saying, “Hey, what if we did this, what if we did this, what if we did this?” You can throw out a tremendous number of ideas, you're not on the computer, you just write lines and lines of different ideas, and then you start doodling little compositions and little stories. A lot of people, when they start just jumping forward and diving into Photoshop or After Effects, basically they'll start down a path and they'll continue down that path. They'll continue to try and make it work even though maybe the idea wasn't so good. Instead, by sketching out all these ideas, you can immediately weed off all these bad ideas and then begin pursuing something that's fairly well defined. You don't want to be defining something in Photoshop; if you have a bad idea there, you can try to make it better, but it's an uphill battle. In coming up with a good idea, coming up with the basic framework of what that idea is going to look like, it's great to work offline and then begin to go into Photoshop. Even then, once you work in Photoshop and start beginning to add the color and add the nuance and add the detail, I also find it good to go ahead and do a whole bunch of frames and sometimes even start in Illustrator to just figure out the composition with 40 specific frames of how an idea can be arranged, with black and white and really rudimentary shapes representing people or type. Once that's done, move on a little more into Photoshop; once you're in Photoshop it's really about the details. You know exactly what you're going to do and you just need to go in and get the details. If you start in Photoshop and look for all those different things, you'll never get there, because once you're in Photoshop you expect the frame to have a finish and a polish, and there's no way you're going to come up with 30 ideas or 300 ideas the way you would in a sketch. You're going to come up with two ideas, at most. I'm always

110   Chapter 3  The Essentials of Typography and Time

encouraging people to spit out as many ideas as quickly as possible and stay out of Photoshop until they really feel strongly about a couple of them, and then work on finessing them there. What are the most challenging aspects of your work? The most challenging aspect is integrating client feedback. It's challenging sometimes because you feel it contradicts your idea, and the real challenge is finding ways to incorporate it while improving your idea. How about your favorite parts? The favorite part is the unbridled creativity that happens at the very beginning when you're sketching through all these ideas and possibilities, and beginning to shape this world out of nothing. That's just an awesome, great, idealistic part of the creative process.

Figure 3.26a  Client: MTV; Project Title: The Word; Duration: 00:15.

Figure 3.26b

Figure 3.26c

Figure 3.26d

Figure 3.26e

Figure 3.26f

Figure 3.26g

Figure 3.26h

Figure 3.26i 

How does technology affect your work? It's funny, as computers get faster, the software seems to get slower at exactly the same rate. Technology allows us to do better and better things, but it's certainly not getting us out of this office any earlier. There are some amazing tools that you can work with right now, but everyone, lots of teams, are working with them at the same time. Motion tracking is now pretty accessible, so getting motion tracking into your project is almost expected if you've got live action. On one hand it's adding possibilities, on the other hand it's adding complexities.

Chapter 3  The Essentials of Typography and Time   111

What are your favorite graphic designers, type designers, or motion designers? I'm a huge fan of someone named Tibor Kalman, who has a great book that I recommend to everybody. It's a little bit about the advertising world and commercial design and keeping your sense of humor. Who or what inspires you? What is your biggest influence in general? There are a lot of fantastic Web sites and portals and books and so many great things that influence me in terms of design, but I think that in terms of a specific project it's going to be the client that has a great deal of inspiration in terms of helping us understand their needs. You have lots of stuff out there, but is it relevant to the project you're doing? What are you working on right now? Right now we're working on a project for Sprint. And to me it's a really great combination of all the things that are in design. We have live action, there's CG and title design and editing, and all the stuff that makes a project fun. What we're moving toward is really in the live-action vein and mixing it in with the motion graphics, because I think that creates sort of a bridge. If you look at half the humorous commercials out there, half the products could be swapped. But if you take a story that's humorous or a bunch of live action and create a world that's very, very, very unique, you could tell that same story, or you could tell a better story that's just so specific it's just nontransferrable. For the consumer who's trying to figure out, “Oh, I saw a funny bank commercial, I like the personality of the bank but I can't remember what the product is,” if you dial in the design and the look of that world more closely than your average live-action 30-second spot and include something that's very chromatically specific, and very design specific, and very typographically specific, the consumer will tie in that stuff to whatever brand you're working with.

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Color and lighting are essential components to your titles. Choosing the correct color scheme and lighting setup will help you obtain the level of style you want, create the mood you seek, and provoke the desired emotional response from your title sequence. In this chapter we explore the fundamentals of color theory and lighting and begin to explore some text styles you might want to use to increase the clarity of your titles.

Understanding Color Human beings recognize a visible spectrum of seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, cyan, blue, and violet. The visible spectrum is the portion of the optical electromagnetic spectrum that is visible to the human eye. The other portions, which are invisible to the eye, include radio waves, microwaves, terahertz waves, infrared, ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma rays. Each of these waves carries unique ranges of wavelength, frequency, and energy. The wavelength of the light is measured in nanometers (nm) and affects the color perceived by the eye. On one side of the spectrum is violet, with a lower wavelength value that presents a higher frequency; the wave cycles fast with a short distance between the wave's peaks. On the opposite side is red, with a higher wavelength value and lower frequency. We perceive color when light hits objects that surround our environment, and these objects absorb or subtract the unwanted wavelengths of the visible spectrum and bounce back only the ones that pertain to the surface of the object itself. For example, a red apple will reflect only the red wavelengths. The eye perceives these wavelengths and sends the message to the brain. Other species recognize wavelengths outside the visible spectrum that humans see. For example, bees and insects can detect ultraviolet patterns on flowers, which help them find nectar. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00004-0



The Visible Light Spectrum Infrared Radiation

Ultraviolet Radiation

Red 625 - 740

Figure 4.1

Yellow 565 - 590

Orange 590 - 625

Cyan 500 - 520

Green 520 - 565

Violet 380 - 435

Blue 435 - 500

It is important to understand which color you should be using in your titles and credits because we experience a psychological and emotional response to colors. When utilized appropriately, colors can evoke moods and emotions that enhance the meaning of the images, whether they are on a movie screen, a TV, or a computer monitor. For centuries, artists have used the psychology of color to convey an emotional response and mood they wanted to evoke. Think of the use of color in the works of Van Gogh, Chagall, and Degas and the use of color and light in Caravaggio, Rembrandt, and Whistler's works. Whether you use a color palette because of a personal like or dislike for other colors or with a particular color motivation in mind, you want to make sure that the color choices you make do not conflict with the message you are trying to convey. Or, if the medium and the message conflict, it should be an intentional choice. Understanding a bit of color history, the basics of color theory, and color symbolism will help you find a logical and dependable way to utilize color in your title sequences.

A Bit of History Aristotle (384 B.C.–322 B.C.) In De Coloribus (translation: On Color), possibly attributable to Aristotle's disciples, Aristotle theorizes that colors are derived from following natural phenomena: sunlight, firelight, air, and water. These four elements, mixed with darkness (black) and light (white), create color. Additionally, in the text On Sense and Sensibilia, written around 350 B.C., Aristotle identifies a linear sequence of color he deducted from observing the changes in the light during the course of a day, from white to yellow, orange, and red. After sunset, the light becomes purple, sometimes green,


then dark blue and black. From his observations, he theorized a linear color system. This color theory was accepted for about 17 centuries.

Leon Battista Alberti (1404–1472) In De Pictura (On Painting, 1436), a treatise intended to define the rules of visual arts, Alberti states, “Through the mixing of colors infinite other colors are born, but there are only four true colors—as there are four elements—from which more and more other kinds of colors may be thus created. Red is the color of fire, blue of the air, green of the water, and of the earth gray and ash . . . Therefore there are four genera of colors, and these make their species according to the addition of dark and light, black or white.” Alberti builds on Aristotle's color theory with the exception of white and black, which are demoted to noncolors.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1529) As a true Renaissance man, da Vinci investigated the topic of color. In his Trattato della Pittura (Treatise on Painting), published posthumously in 1651, he identifies six primary colors: white, yellow, green, blue, red and black. Each color had a direct physical manifestation of the natural world: white for light, yellow for earth, green for water, red for fire, blue for air, and black for night. He also wrote about what would later be referred to as simultaneous contrast: “Of different colors equally perfect, that will appear most excellent which is seen near its direct contrary blue near yellow, green near red: because each color is more distinctly seen when opposed to its contrary than to any other similar to it.”

Isaac Newton (1642–1726) Newton was the first person to analyze color and view it as a result of light hitting objects and reflecting colors that are perceived by our eyes. In 1666, he conducted the famous prism experiment in which he demonstrated how light is responsible for color. A prism, when placed next to a window and hit by the sunlight, casts a seven-color spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. In 1704, Newton published Opticks, a “treatise of the reflections, refractions, inflexions, and colours of light.” Newton rearranged the linear color system into a circular one in which the circular color diagram shows the relationship between primary colors and secondary colors. White is in the center of the diagram, to signify that the sum of all colors results in white light.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) Geothe, in addition to being an outstanding poet and novelist, wrote Zur Farbenlehre (Theory of Colors) in 1810. He disagrees with


Newton and theorizes that the way we see color is affected not only by the light and the object but also by our perception. Color has “sensual qualities within the content of consciousness,” he says. Goethe clearly moved beyond Newton's study of color as physical matter and entered the realm of psychology. He developed a symmetric six-color wheel in which he arranged the colors on a circle to support his color theory. He divided colors into two main categories. The plus-side colors (yellow, orange, red) provoke warm, exciting, lively, and comfortable feelings, whereas the minus-side colors (green, blue, violet) provoke unsettling, weak, and cold feelings. Goethe also furthered the study of complementary contrasts.

Michel Chevreul (1786–1889) Chevreul furthered the knowledge of color theory by advancing the concepts of simultaneous contrast, the optical illusion that appears to darken or lighten the hues of two bold colors placed in close proximity of each other, and optical mixing, the blending of two colors to create a third one.

Symbolism and the Psychology of Color Color influences our mood and even the way we taste food. Color is deeply rooted in cultural, political, and sociological connotations. These associations are constantly changing throughout cultures, years, and generations. One common emotional response, originally theorized by Goethe, is provoked by cool or warm colors. Cool colors are the ones close to the green/purple spectrum and evoke distance and coldness. Warm colors, on the other hand, are the ones close to the yellow/red spectrum and evoke urgency, action, and closeness. Cool colors tend to recede in the background of a screen or Web page, whereas warm colors tend to pop to the front.

Table 4.1 Color's Emotional Response and Screen Depth Emotional response Screen depth

Cool Colors (Purple/Green)

Warm Colors (Yellow/Red)

Coldness, distance Recede

Action, urgency, closeness Jump forward

When deciding the color palette for your title sequence, cultural connotations are another factor. Certain colors can acquire a particular significance, depending on the cultural background and codex. Red, for example, is often interpreted as danger, as exemplified by stop signs.


The following are some of the scientific, symbolic, and emotional connotations to keep in mind while you work with color: • Color affects our mood. In a study conducted by Shashi Caan Collective, called Spatial Color—Live Experiment, color affected physical activity. The Collective built three identical but differently colored rooms and held a cocktail party in each one. In the red and yellow rooms, people were dynamically interacting, gesturing, and moving around. In the blue room there was little social interaction and the people were more still and calm. • Color has cultural and sociological connotations. • White is associated with mourning in Japan. • Red signifies good luck in China but mourning in South Africa. • Black is associated with mourning in Western countries but signifies honor in Japan. • Purple is associated with mourning in Thailand but signifies royalty in Europe. • Color has political connotations. • Red: Labor, left wing, communism, socialism • Green: Green Party • White: Pacifism, surrender • Black: Anarchism • Color has a religious connotation. • Blue: Hinduism • Green: Islam • Color can influence other senses. A survey conducted by researchers at the Institute of Psychology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany found that colored lighting has an influence on how we taste wine. Wine that was drunk in an ambiance illuminated by red or blue lighting received a higher taste rating than the same wine which was drunk in an ambiance illuminated by green or white lights. • Color palettes can evoke places, memories, and personal associations. Think of colors that evoke a particular childhood memory, season, or place where you spent time. Memory can influence the perception of color; studies indicate that we recall colors as more saturated than they actually were, as though we replaced the original memory of the image with something different. These memory colors do not affect our perception of reality, but they do affect our color preferences. In research published by the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Karl Gegenfurtner stated, “It appears as if our memory system is tuned to the color structure found in the world. If stimuli are too strange, the system simply doesn't engage as well, or deems them unimportant.” Co-author Felix Wichmann said, “In order to engage or grab one's attention,


bright colors might well be most suitable . . . If, on the other hand, the aim is more to have an image stick in the viewer’s memory, unnatural colors may not be suitable.” Based on these studies, while you are working on your title sequence, if you wish to make a particular element endure in the audience's memory, you could try to enhance it with color (for example, the lipstick’s vivid red in the True Blood title sequence). • Color as therapy. In chromotherapy, an alternative medical treatment, color and light exposure is used to heal and restore a physical or emotional imbalance. • Color preference is affected by culture and geographical location. In the book Eidetic Imagery, E. R. Jaensch explains that human beings living in hot climates have to adapt to the long waves of light because of the increased amount of sunlight, which could create a different pigmentation in the retina. People affected in this way are referred to as red-sighted and their color preference is warm, vivid hues. On the other hand, green-sighted people have adapted to a shorter amount of sunlight and have developed a preference for blues and greens. Another study, conducted by Marc H. Bornstein, resulted in evidence that people living closer to the Equator do not distinguish blue from green. • Color preference is affected by age. In the book Color Psychology and Color Therapy, color expert and industry consultant Faber Birren states that yellow is the color of preference for children, but their preference for it declines as they grow into adulthood, at which point blue becomes more popular. He says, “With maturity comes a greater liking for hues of shorter wave length (blue, green) than for hues of longer wave length (red, orange, and yellow).” Take a glance at the following table to see some of the most common emotional, political, and cultural connotations generally associated with colors. Keep in mind that these associations are only a starting point; before you embark on a project you should do research to ensure that you have the most up-to-date information on what colors represent to changing attitudes, generations, and cultures. For example, even though white has traditionally been associated with mourning in China, brides have started to wear white gowns in addition to traditional red dresses, mimicking Western brides. Or consider the use of violet in Thai Airways' branding. Even though the color violet is culturally associated with mourning in Thailand, the airline's decision to use violet in its branding is most likely dictated by the fact that the target audience for Thai Airways is foreigners who often associate the color purple with luxury.


Table 4.2 Common Emotional and Cultural Color Connotations Color

Possible Psychological Responses

Possible Cultural Connotations

Warm colors Red (preferred by younger audiences) Orange

Violence, war, aggression, heat, love, excitement, passion, danger (Western cultures)


Warmth, joy, happiness, excitement, irritation, optimism, wealth Coldness, coolness, calmness, sadness, somber, clinical, scientific Calmness, quietness, coolness, envy, growth

Raised heartbeat, increased Celebration and fortune (China, adrenaline, increased North Africa), purity (Japan), blood pressure, raised integrity and purity (India), temperature; orange and mourning (South Africa) Royalty (Netherlands), yellow have similar but Protestantism (Ireland), less intensive effects Hinduism than red Mourning (Egypt), courage (Japan), royalty (China)

Cool colors (preferred by older audiences)




Warmth, light, happiness, nostalgia, energy, enthusiasm

Intrigue, luxury, darkness, power

Possible Physiological Responses

Slower heartbeat, decreased temperature, relaxed muscles Rebirth and fertility (Celtic myths), sacred (Islam), environmentalism, capitalism Royalty (United Kingdom, Medieval Europe), mourning (Thailand), clergy (Western churches)

Color Systems Now that you’ve learned about color’s history and cultural and psychological connotations, let's dig into the nuts and bolts of color theory. A number of color systems are used today; most can be The RGB Color System found in common computer applications. The most common color systems are: • RGB. An additive color system that applies to devices using light, such as computer monitors, TV sets, and digital proR jections. The concept behind RGB is that its primary colors (R = red, G = green, B = blue), when combined, create all other hues. An equal amount of red, green, and blue creates a white light. G B • RYB. A color subtractive color system most commonly used in visual arts. Its primary colors are red, yellow, and blue, and its secondary colors are VOG—violet, orange and Figure 4.2 green.


• CMYK. A subtractive color system used in print design, which can be found when using dyes, inks, and pigments. Its primary colors (C = cyan, M = magenta, Y = yellow, K = black), when combined, create all other hues. An equal amount of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black creates gray. • Pantone (PMS). A color system that utilizes a proprietary system, the Pantone Matching System, or PMS, that allows control over and color matching of its unique color formulas. Historically it has been an industry standard in print design, offering designers tools such as the Formula guides, color chips, and Process guides, but recently, with the introduction of Pantone Goe, designers are able to match solid Pantone colors with their respective RGB valFigure 4.3 ues, allowing a precise rendition of Pantone's colors to use in web and broadcast design. The CMYK Color System • HSL (or HSI). A color system that measures the values of hue (H), saturation (S), and luminosity (L), which is sometimes also called intensity (I), of a color. The hue is measured by the position in a circle. The saturation and luminance are measured on a scale of 100 units and are determined by the Y color's position on the radial line drawn from the center to the perimeter of the color circle. • HSV (or HSB). A color system that measures the values of M hue (H), saturation (S), and value (V), which is sometimes C also called brightness (B), of a color. • YUV. A color system initially developed in the 1950s to allow black-and-white analog televisions to still receive a signal. It Figure 4.4 is used in NTSC, PAL, and SECAM video standards. It utilizes one luminosity channel (Y) and two chroma channels: blue minus luma (U) and red minus luma (V). Each color value in a system can generHSB Color System ally be translated into another color system, Hue although that might create some differences in the richness of colors. For example, when Saturation converting CMYK colors directly to RGB, the colors might look a bit washed out. Brightness When working with computer software, a Figure 4.5 new document can be created utilizing a specific color mode (e.g., RGB), but you can create design or typographical elements that contain colors picked from a different color system and apply them to the color system in use. This particular case applies when, for example, you are given a style guide, which includes instructions on how to appropriately use the logo, typeface, and color palette of a specific project. If a print designer created the style guide to follow their work done on the The Color Wheel


logo of a movie or the movie poster, the color palette will most likely display color values in the form of CMYK and/or Pantone colors. The task of a title designer is to find the corresponding colors in the RGB system. An easy solution is to identify the CMYK or Pantone color in the color picker of your software, using the color system indicated in the style guide provided, and then convert it to RGB. Some color palettes, such as the ones in Adobe Photoshop, simultaneously display the corresponding values in HSB, RGB, LAB, and CMYK, so you could simply enter your value in CMYK and you'll automatically have the corresponding RGB value.

Figure 4.6  Photoshop's Color Picker.

Adobe Illustrator has a similar color picker palette that simultaneously displays the HSB, RGB, and CMYK color values. If you are creating a new swatch color or working in the Edit Color palette, you simply click the pull-down menu to select the CMYK color, enter the known values, and then switch the pull-down back to RGB to know its corresponding values and to use the color in your project. Figure 4.7  Illustrator's Color Palette.


Figure 4.8  Illustrator's New Swatch window.

Figure 4.9  Illustrator's Color Picker.

In both Illustrator and Photoshop, you can add a variety of palettes called swatch libraries (in Illustrator) or swatches (in Photoshop). You can find anything from default swatches (which include CMYK and RGB) all the way to a variety of Pantone palettes. When deciding which color system to use on your project, it depends on what you are working on. When you are working on film titles, the answer is simple: RGB. It is the color system used when working with video. When working on a movie poster (or any material that will be printed), you should use CMYK.


Color motion picture film uses a color system that was originally introduced by Kodak in 1934. It employs a single-strip multilayer emulsion (as opposed to multiple strips of film, which included a variety of in-camera recording techniques devised to achieve color in film). In this system, three thin layers of emulsion are applied to the film's base, and each one of them is sensitive to specific colors of light. A typical color filmstrip contains a blue, a green, and a red emulsion layer. You could say that film records its information in the RGB color system, but when the film gets processed at a film lab—through chemical processes in which the oxidized developer is formed and silver halide crystals are removed from the film strip—dye couplers will produce a colored dye. The topmost blue layer creates a yellow dye, the middle green layer creates a magenta dye, and the bottom red layer releases a cyan dye. The sum of CMY creates the full color picture.

Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary; Hue, Brightness, and Saturation The basic color wheel is composed of col- Figure 4.10  Adding a new Swatch Library in Illustrator. ors grouped into three main categories: • Primary colors. The color system's main colors, from which all other colors are generated. Primary colors differ depending on the color system in use. A popular color wheel is the RYB, and its primaries are red, yellow, and blue. • Secondary colors. The colors located opposite the primary colors in the color wheel. In an RGB system, the secondary colors are yellow, cyan, and magenta. In an RYB system, the secondary colors are purple, orange, and green. Secondary colors are also called complementary colors, since they complement the primary color. Also note that the primary color's secondary color is created by mixing the other two primary colors. For example, purple, the secondary of yellow, is created by mixing red and blue. • Tertiary colors. Colors that are created by mixing a secondary color with its adjacent primary. In an RGB system, tertiary colors are red-magenta, red-yellow, green-yellow, green-cyan, blue-cyan, and blue-magenta. In an RYB system, the tertiary colors are yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, red-purple, and red-orange.


Color has three basic properties: • Hue. The property that distinguishes a color from others in the visible spectrum. The words hue and color are often used interchangeably. • Value/brightness. A property determined by the amount of black and white added to a color, generally identified as the lightness or darkness of a hue. You create a darker value by adding black, and you create a lighter value by adding white. The following terminology is used when talking about value: • Tints. Colors mixed with white. These colors, also referred to as pastel, tend to produce lighter, softer hues, such as baby blue or peach. • Tones. Colors mixed with neutral gray. • Shades. Colors mixed with black. These colors are bolder, richer, and darker, such as navy blue or burgundy. • Saturation/intensity. A property determined by the dominance of its hue. Highly saturated colors are bright and vivid. Less saturated colors are muted. Pure saturated colors are located on the outside perimeter of the color wheel, and less saturated colors are closer to the center of the wheel, where the hue dominates less. Tints, Tones & Shades Tints



Figure 4.11

Color Harmonies

As in music, where you can experience consonant and dissonant chords, colors can intensify or create tension with each other, depending on the characteristics we've explored so far. Color harmonies are groups of harmonious colors that you will want to keep consistent when you are designing your title sequences and collateral designs such as posters, postcards, and other materials. Simple color harmonies might be based on one color, and more complex ones can be based on mathematical rules. The following describe a number of techniques available to create color harmonies, also called schemes: • Achromatic. Literally meaning without color, these color harmonies present very low values of saturation; therefore they utilize white, gray, and black. Warm and cool achromatic harmonies can be created by adding yellow or blue. • Monochromatic. Literally meaning one color, these color harmonies are based only on one hue and its related tints and shades.


• Analogous. Literally meaning similar, analogous color harmony consists of three colors adjacent to each other in the color wheel. The middle color is generally the dominant color, the second one a supporting color, and the third one is used as an accent. • Complementary. These are colors that are, in the color wheel, directly opposite of one other, such as green and red, purple and yellow, and blue and orange in the RYB color system. Elements designed using pure complementary colors create a visual noise generally called simultaneous contrast (see “Color Contrasts: Color and Type Combinations That Work”). Complementary colors are vibrant and they complete each other. In fact, if you mixed two complementary colors, you would create gray. Complementary color schemes can be obtained using pure hues or their corresponding shades or tints. • Split complementary. A variation of the complementary color scheme, split complementary creates a more subtle effect. It uses the main color and, instead of its complement, uses its two adjacent colors. Split complementary color schemes can be obtained using pure hues or their corresponding shades or tints. • Triadic. Composed of three colors located equidistant from each other in the color wheel. Again, they can be obtained using pure hues or shades or tints. • Tetradic (rectangle). Composed of four colors, which are two complementary pairs. If you connected the colors with lines in the color wheel, you'd draw a rectangle.

Analogous Colors

Figure 4.12 Monochrome Colors

Figure 4.13

Complementary Colors

Figure 4.14

Triadic Colors

Split Complementary Colors

Figure 4.15

Figure 4.16


• Square. Composed of four colors equidistant from each other in the color wheel. • Cool. Composed of colors that belong to the cool colors from the color wheel. • Warm. Composed of colors that belong to the warm colors from the color wheel.

Square Colors

Tetradic Colors

Warm & Cool Colors

Warm Cool

Figure 4.17

Figure 4.18 Figure 4.19

Online Resources If you'd like to explore more about color, take a look at these fantastic online resources: • A Web site for exploring, creating and sharing color themes. You can save color themes to show privately to your clients, or extract and create themes from an uploaded image. • Lets you quickly create mono, complement, triad, or tetrad color schemes and export them for use in your project. • A place to discuss and share color palettes and patterns, color talks, trends, and more.

Color Deficiency As designers we must understand that our work will be experienced by a variety of people with a variety of characteristics. Generally the creative brief will take into account some of them; the target audience and how the work will be viewed might affect the type size that you will use.


When dealing with color, though, keep in mind that a considerable number of people have various levels of color deficiency (also sometimes referred to as color blindness or Daltonism, because of John Dalton’s studies). This section should be taken as information that may or may not influence the design direction and color choices of your work. Color deficiency prevents people from distinguishing certain shades of color or perceiving certain colors at all. There are several levels of color deficiency, from subtle anomalies to full deficiency, in which a person can only see in black and white or shades of gray. Most people affected by this color deficiency have difficulty discriminating reds and greens (approximately 8–10% of the male population) or blues and yellows (approximately 1–2% of the male population). If your target audience includes any color-deficient users or if you want to play it safe, you should: • Avoid picking colors of similar hues, since they are harder to distinguish from one another. • Avoid using red characters on a dark background. Since red could be perceived as a dark brown or black, it would be hard to distinguish any lettering from the background. • Avoid conveying relevant information in couples of green and red, especially when used as foreground or background design elements. Deteuranopes—the most common form of color deficiency, in which people have difficulty discriminating red and green hues—wouldn't be able to read anything. • Use saturated colors, since they are easier to distinguish than less saturated colors. • Alternate brightness levels in the designed elements, since colors with similar brightness are more difficult to tell apart. For example, a very dark red and a light green might be easier to distinguish than a red and a green of similar brightness. A quick-and-dirty test is to convert your image to black and white and verify that the brightness levels are actually substantially different.

Color Contrasts: Color and Type Combinations That Work It is common knowledge that black type on a light background is very readable. In filmmaking, we often see the opposite: white type on a black background, especially dealing with end title credits. In this section we'll explore how the readability of text changes depending on the background color. First, let's identify two main elements: foreground (text) and background elements. We talked about type in the previous chapter. Now we'll explore possible backgrounds.

If you are interested in seeing how your title sequence looks to people affected by color blindness, visit www. and run the online simulator by either uploading a still picture or the URL of your Web site.


The background elements can consist of: Solid color Patterns, gradients Live-action footage Animation Motion graphics Think of color combinations that you experience every day: street and highway signs. These signs need to be readable by a variety of people who are moving at different speeds. The most common street or highway sign color combinations are black on white, white on blue, white on green, white on red, and yellow on black. In the case of title sequences, the reader will most likely be still while the type is animating on-screen. The following are some considerations to keep in mind when you're making your color choices for your foreground and background: • Contrast. When using a color palette that utilizes colors with similar values and saturation, the contrast between foreground type and background color diminishes, causing the type to be less legible.    When you use two or more colors that have greater contrast, you create some dimensionality. Keep in mind that darker and cooler colors tend to recede into the background, as opposed to brighter and warmer colors, which tend to pop forward. • Size. If you increase the font size of a hard-to-read text/colored background combination, the readability obviously improves. • Complementary. Complementary colors as text and background make reading a challenge. On one hand, it intensifies the colors and can definitely get the audience's attention. On the other hand, putting the two colors adjacent to each other creates a vibrating or pulsating effect, making them uncomfortable • • • • •

Figure 4.20  Lower-contrast colors used as text and background decrease readability.

Figure 4.21  When using lowercontrast color combinations, a larger font size increases readability.

Figure 4.22  Complementary colors used as text and background decrease readability.


to look at and tiring the reader's eyes. They create an effect called color simultaneous contrast. An interesting workaround if you'd like to utilize complementary colors without discomforting viewers is to outline each color with a white, gray, or black line. • Black. If your title sequence will be played primarily in a movie theater, a black background helps blend the dark environment of the theater with your title sequence. The edge of the screen will not be immediately discernable, and you might fully immerse viewers in the movie. This can be particularly effective at the beginning of the movie, when the viewer has not yet fallen into the typical suspension of ­disbelief on which all movies rely.

Figure 4.23  When using complementary color as text and background, adding a stroke increases readability.

Afterimage An afterimage is an image created by the brain that persists momentarily in your retina, even after you are no longer looking at the original image. Try this experiment: Stare at the red square for 20 to 30 seconds from about 10 inches away. Close your eyes and wait 10 to 15 seconds until you see a green square. Notice that when you focus on a strong stimulus such as the red square, your eyes and brain absorb the color you observed, and the photoreceptors in the eye become overstimulated. The eye contains two types of photoreceptor cells: rods (sensitive to light and dark) and cones (sensitive to red, green, and blue light). These photoreceptors adapt to the image's overstimulation (in regard to both its darkness and its color) and become less responsive to it. If, after staring at the stimulus, you move your eyes to stare at a white surface or even close your eyes, you will experience an afterimage of the inverse or complement of the image. That's because the photoreceptors that are least Figure 4.24 depleted produce a stronger signal than the overstimulated ones. Why don't we experience this phenomenon every day? Generally the eye moves rapidly when we're observing images. This phenomenon is particularly evident when we stare at a strong stimulus for a number of seconds. How long does an after image last? Afterimages last for a few seconds to up to a minute. Photoreceptors are relatively quick to adapt to and readjust to the absence of the stimulus. Does this phenomenon work only with red? This experiment can be done with any colors of the visible spectrum and any shape.

Understanding Light Through lighting you can manipulate images and typographical elements so that you better produce the desired emotions in the audience.


Understanding lighting and its correct use is important for directors of photography, color timers, and lighting directors. You need to understand lighting when you're working on a title sequence so that you can: • Create a CG environment for titles that is different from the look and feel of the movie. • Create a live-action environment for titles that matches the look and feel of the movie or opening scene. • Composite titles over existing footage. You could start thinking about lighting as early as the moment you receive an idea or a directorial instruction, when you receive a frame or scene sample of the animation being produced, or when you receive the background plates that were shot on the green screen that the director wants you to use to introduce each character. In any case, your job is to both collect information about lighting schemes utilized in the footage (when footage is provided) and research the lighting environment you will either have to create or in which your title sequence will have to be composited. You should pay extreme attention to samples or plates you receive and determine what kind of lighting has been used, depending on whether you need to match it or not. If you are working with live-action footage that's already been shot, a useful tool is a sketch of the lighting setup that was used on the set so that you can try to mimic it with CG. The gaffer or the director of photography generally creates a sketch of the lighting setup. If you have been involved early in the process, you might want to ask the director if you can visit the set so you can sketch the lighting setup yourself, take a few pictures, or at least talk with the director of photography about it. If that is not possible, you will need to determine what the setup was based on the quality of light in the footage, references received, or your best guess. Take a look at the shadows and see whether are they hard or soft. Where is the light source? Is it straight on, coming from the side, bottom, or top, and from what height? On the other hand, if you need to create your own plates, you will need to perform accurate research and collect as much visual reference material as possible about the environment you want to recreate. You could start with a simple online search and further your research by visiting a library, bookstore, or newsstand and even doing a field trip to snap some reference pictures. To better help you in this process, you need to understand how light works and the various sources of light.


Color Temperature Light is energy transformed into the visible spectrum. Depending on their temperatures, different objects or lights (flames, fireworks, lava, auroras) have different ranges of colors. Color temperature is the scale used to relate to the different hues given off by various temperatures of light. The temperature is measured on the Kelvin scale, abbreviated with a K after the numerical value. A high color temperature of 5,000K or more, such as direct sunlight, produces bluer hues. A lower temperature of 3,000K, such as a tungsten light bulb or candlelight, produces orange hues. Figure 4.25

The Color Temperature Chart Warm Tones 1000



Tungsten Bulbs 2500-2900 K

Candlelight 1850- 1930 K


Cool Tones 5000



Direct Sunlight 5000-5400 K

Tungsten Lamp - 5k 3380 K





Outdoor Shade Areas 7000 - 8000 K

Daylight 5500 - 6500 K

In film and video production there are two main color temperature light fixtures (or light fixtures with exchangeable light bulbs): tungsten and daylight. • Tungsten light fixtures' color temperatures range between 3,200K and 3,400K, giving the light a warm, orange hue. Their name derives from their inner tungsten filament, which is made incandescent by an electric current. These lights are appropriate to use indoors, and they will match the color temperature of most general household light bulbs. To create perfectly matching color temperatures, household light bulbs can be replaced by Photoflood bulbs, which are designed to output a specific Kelvin temperature. These lights are generally used indoors and will match the color temperature of a fire (fireplace or campfire), candlelight, lantern, some flashlights, lighthouses, and some car headlights. • Daylight light fixtures' color temperatures range between 5,600K and 6,000K, giving the light a cool, blue hue. Daylight lamps can be direct current arcs (such as carbon arcs) or

Cloudy Sky 8000 - 10000 K


­ lternating current arc such as hydrargyum medium arca length iodide, or HMI. These lights are generally used outdoors because they will match the color temperature of sunlight and moonlight. The director of photography usually plans which lights to use in different situations, whether the scenes are outdoors or indoors. If a scene is being shot indoors but next to a real or fake window, the director of photography might decide to use all daylight lamps in order to match or recreate the color temperature of the light coming from outdoors. In the opposite situation, if a scene is being shot outdoors but next to a shop, telephone booth, or street lamp, the director of photography might decide to use tungsten lamps to match or recreate the color temperature of indoor lighting. Sometimes light bulbs can be mixed and matched to create a more subtle variation in the color temperature. For example, the versatile four-banks Kino-Flo lamps (which present four light bulbs) can be swapped to include three daylight bulbs and one tungsten bulb. The result would be still be a dominant blue hue but with a hint of orange to warm it up a bit. Something else to keep in mind is that when people refer to a light being cool, as in its hue, it is not to be confused with blue light being a cool temperature. A light that produces bluish hues is actually a higher temperature, around 5,600K, than a light that produces orange hues, which is around 3,200K.

Color-Balancing Film and Video Cameras Our visual perception adapts to the different lighting color. We perceive a white T-shirt as white whether we are indoors and using warm artificial lighting or outdoors in sunlight. Our eyes and brain recalibrate what we read as white, based on our own experience and points of reference. On the other hand, film and video cameras need to be guided in recording with the correct color temperature setting. If they are not, they will read that T-shirt as orange under candlelight and blue under sunlight. • Film cameras. Color film stocks have a color temperature rated for tungsten or daylight. With a tungsten-balanced film stock utilizing tungsten lights as illumination, the whites will be reproduced as white. With a tungsten film stock used with daylight lights, the whites will be reproduced with a blue color cast. Similarly, with daylight-balanced film stock and daylight lights, the whites will be reproduced as white. With daylight film stock used with tungsten lights, the whites will be reproduced with an orange color cast.


Sometimes the color casts are an aesthetic choice, and sometimes they might be a choice driven by necessity (for example, if the production client has budgeted only for daylight film stock). In either case, with the aid of camera filters or colored gels on lights, you can correct unwanted color casts. When shooting with daylight film and tungsten lighting, adding an 80A blue filter in front of the film camera lens will correct the unwanted orange color cast. The filter raises the color temperature from 3,200K to approximately 5,600K so that the tungsten-lit scene appears to be now lit for daylight. Alternatively, when shooting with tungsten film and daylight lighting, adding an 85 orange filter in front of the film camera lens will correct the unwanted blue color cast. The filter drops the color temperature from 5,600K to approximately 3,200K so that the daylight-lit scene appears to be now tungsten-lit. The same principles can be applied to lighting gels. Clipping a full value of a color temperature Blue (CTB) gel in front of a light fixture will change the color temperature of tungsten lights into daylight. Clipping a full value of a color temperature orange (CTO) gel in front of a light fixture will change the color temperature of daylight into tungsten. This could be a useful tip to apply when color-correcting camera filters might not be available or when you don't have the desired color temperature light fixture at your disposal. • Video cameras. As opposed to recording on film stock, video cameras use tape or digital-based media, which can't be rated for daylight or tungsten. You will need to identify the correct color temperature in the camera settings. Most cameras offer presets that allow the user to select one of two main color temperatures: exterior (6,500K) or interior (3,400K). Sometimes you can even enter the exact number of Kelvin degrees. Depending on the location, set, and lighting, picking the appropriate preset allows the whites to be recorded as white without recording an unwanted color cast. In addition to the presets, most video cameras allow the user to sample a white element in the frame as a point of reference so that the camera can determine the appropriate color temperature intended for the recorded footage. This feature is called the white balance. Refer to your camera manual to accurately perform a white balance. The ideal place and time to perform a white balance is after the entire set's lighting (including light gels) is in place. Typically a person with a white card will stand at a place in the set where most of the scene's action is performed, so that the person is adequately lit, the camera zooms into the white cards, and the white balance is performed. As long as ­lighting


fixtures are not changed nor gels or filters added between shots, the whites will be read as whites. Just as with film cameras, camera filters can be added in front of the video camera's lenses to change their color temperature or even modify the set's lighting color temperature. Something that can be done with a video camera, but not with a film camera, is purposefully faking the white balance to create an intentional color cast, such as the “day-for-night” look, when you are shooting in daylight but you'd like to make your footage look like nighttime. There are two situations in which you could alter the classic use of white balance with a video camera: • Add gels in front of light fixtures after the white balance. If color temperature gels are added in front of the lights after performing a simple white balance, they will create color casts. If you add colored gels before you white balance, most likely the white balance itself will neutralize the color you intend to keep in the lighting. • Add gels or filters in front of the camera lens before the white balance. If a color temperature gel is added in front of the camera lens before performing a simple white balance, it will create a color cast. For example, if you placed a full CTO gel in front of the lens, the camera will read the orange as the true white and will correct its color temperature. The camera is thinking that it is reading an awful lot of orange in that white and that it needs to correct its color temperature by adding some blue. As soon as you remove the orange gel from the front of the lens, your entire scene will have a blue color cast. This technique is typically useful when you want to create a dramatic effect or even a very subtle effect. You could add a half or quarter CTB gel if you simply need to warm up some people's skin tones or remove a slight unwanted blue color cast.

Qualities of Light: Size, Distance, Angle, and Color One of the most immediate and dramatic differences in different light sources is the light's hardness or softness. In coming to understand the qualities of a light, a good starting point is to figure out the light's make and model and train your eye to distinguish the quality of the shadow the light fixture produces. Are the shadows dark with sharp edges? Then it's a hard light. Are the shadows gray with soft edges? That's a soft light. Typical hard light sources are the sun, a clear glass light bulb, a candle, or light fixtures like spotlights. Hard lights are used in film and video production to create a strong statement. Because a hard light casts such sharp and defined shadows, most threedimensional details, such as textures or engravings in an object


or even skin imperfections, all become much more noticeable. When overused, hard lights could create an extreme, full-contrast look, almost as though the image is a duotone comic book with lots of dimensionality in the frame. On the other hand, soft light sources include an overcast day, a light that bounces off any reflective or light-colored surfaces, a Chinese lantern, or light fixtures such as zip lights. Soft lights are used in film and video production to light large areas of a set, allowing the actors to move more freely across it. They create a natural look and more subtle statement than hard lights. Because soft lights cast gentle and soft shadows, most three-dimensional details become less noticeable. The light wraps around the three-dimensional object, creating a soft, even, and less dramatic look. The drawback to soft lights is that they are harder to control than hard lights. That's why they are often used in conjunction with flags, which keep light off areas where it's not wanted. When overused, soft lights can create a flat, even look, without much dimensionality in the frame. On a set, the quality of a light depends on the following: • The lamps' size and output. Light sizes could be as little as 100 watts, all the way up to 5,000 or 10,000 watts (also referred to as 5K or 10K). A small light fixture, such as a 100 watt, will generally create a harder light and sharper shadows than a larger diffused light fixture, such as a 5K. • The lamps' model and settings, parameters, or accessories. There are a number of models within each brand. Some of the most common brands are Arri, Kino-Flo, Mole-Richardson, Dedo, Source 4 Leko, and Light Panels. There are two main distinctions regarding the light's casing: Fresnel and open face. • Fresnel lights have a built-in lens in front of the light, which helps create a more even light by containing and controlling its beam. They also create sharper shadows and are focusable, meaning you can change the distance between the filament and the lens. Fresnel lights have a knob that can be turned to select two different settings: a flood mode (when the filament is closest to the lens and produces a wider spread of light, creating softer shadows) and a spot mode (when the filament is farthest from the lens and produces a narrower and focused light beam, creating sharper shadows). • Open face lights provide a larger light beam, which is useful for creating a soft lighting look. They don't contain a built-in lens, and not all of them are focusable. Some open face lights have lenses that can be placed in front of the light's face, which can further control the quality of light; some lenses are flat or frosted, wide or narrow. The open face lights include the family of soft lights. Some are created by a lighting manufacturer, and some might be created by gaffers.


One kind of soft light that lends itself to be hung over a stage to create an even, soft light across the set is a space light. This circular light creates a soft pool light beam and is controlled on its sides by skirts, which can be solid (made out of black solid duvatine, keeping the light focused downward) or silk (creating a silky diffused lighting on the edges), and gels can be added to it. • Larger and increasingly popular lights include balloon lights, which are typically used to create a soft, even light on large sets, whether interior or exterior, day or night, and can be easily installed without heavy rigging or cranes because they are incredibly light. Most models are selfsupporting, with the space light suspended in the middle of a balloon filled with helium. After the balloon is inflated, it can be elevated as high as the model goes and can be further elevated by a weight-assisted cable. • The intensity of light. The film and video production world uses the word intensity instead of brightness. The most common tool used to measure the intensity of light is a light meter, which measures incidental light (light that falls on a subject) or reflective values (light that is bounced off the illuminated subject). See Chapter 6 for more on this subject. Keep in mind that the intensity of light falling onto an object or subject depends on the angle from which you are looking at it. This is particularly important when you're taking a reading with an incidental light meter. The intensity of light is measured in a couple of units: • Lumen. A light fixture's output is measured in lumens, which is the luminous energy created by a source. The light output of other items such as light bulbs and projectors is also measured in lumens. • Footcandle. When light falls on surfaces, the correct unit of measure is footcandles (or lux). This international unit of illumination measures the density of light on a given point on a surface. Its measurement is often accomplished with the aid of a light meter positioned on that given point and pointed toward the light source. You can manipulate the light's intensity if you modify the following: • Distance. One instantly gratifying modification you can apply to a light fixture—especially when it's mounted on a light stand—is to change its distance from the subject you are illuminating. The farther you move it, the lower the light's intensity. The closer you move it, the higher its intensity. • Scrims. When a light fixture cannot be moved, a quick solution is to slide a scrim in front of the light fixture, in the slot


between the front of the light and its barndoors. A scrim is a metal wire mesh that, when placed in front of a light fixture, reduces its intensity. A single scrim has a single layer of wire mesh and a green border and reduces the exposure of approximately ½ f-stop. A double scrim has a double layer of metal mesh and a red border and reduces the exposure of approximately 1 f-stop. • Gels. To manipulate the light's intensity, you could use neutral density (ND) gels and diffusion gels. Neutral density gels do not affect the color temperature of the light fixture; they look gray and they decrease the intensity of light, as though you were putting a pair of sunglasses on. They can be found in a variety of weights, from ND2, which reduces the exposure of 1 f-stop, to ND64, which reduces the exposure of 6 f-stops. In addition to ND gels, you have at your disposal a range of diffusion gels. These gels are translucent and they do not affect the color temperature of the light. They can be found in a variety of densities, from light diffusion such as opal gels, which add a slight soft touch to your light without compromising its intensity, to heavier diffusion such as 250. The primary function of these gels is to diffuse lights, but heavier-density gels, which are thicker, reduce the lights' intensity more. • Dimmers. These are external controllers that you can add to lights so that you can control their output. They generally work with the aid of a knob, which you can mark and turn to reduce or increase the light's intensity. Dimmers generally do affect the color temperature by shifting it to warmer hues. • The angle of light. The angle at which you place a light will affect its quality. Imagine a camera and a subject. Place a light right beside the camera and start moving it horizontally around the subject. When your light is in the front, you will benefit from the full intensity of the light. The more you rotate it around the subject, the intensity lowers, but you also create more dimensional light. When you position the light behind the subject, you create a back light; only the rim around the subject is visible. Now go back to the first position of the light next to the camera, facing the subject. Instead of moving it horizontally, raise the light higher or lower and tilt it up or down to keep illuminating the subject. High- and low-angle lighting creates more dramatic effects and deeper shadows than a light that is placed at the subject's eye level or slightly higher.

Functions of Lights When lighting a set, lights (regardless of their make and model) have a designated name based on their function. One


classic lighting scheme is three-point lighting. It consists of a key light, a fill light, and a backlight: • Key light. The main light source of the set or the main source that lights the subject. Its angle and ratio with the fill light determine the mood of the lighting. When placed at an angle from the camera's position, it adds dimensionality to the shot. For a classical three-point lighting setup, the key light is generally positioned at a 45-degree angle from the camera and with roughly a 30–45 degree down-tilt. • Fill light. A soft and lower-intensity light generally used to fill in some of the shadows created by the key light. It is generally positioned at a 90-degree angle, opposite the key light. • Kicker. A backlight, generally a very hard light, that is positioned above and behind the subject, pointing down at them. It creates a hard edge, which helps detach the subject from the background, creating dimensionality. This light is sometimes also called a backlight or hair light when it is aimed specifically at the subject's hair. A kicker is usually positioned directly opposite the key light, almost as though it were aimed toward the camera but pointed down. • Eyelight. A tiny light that is placed slightly above the camera, generally at a similar angle line to the key light, that helps create dimensionality and create a sparkle in a subject's eyes. • Background. Lights that illuminate the background and further create some distinction and detachment between the subject and background. You will definitely need focus background lights if you are shooting on a green screen, so that the screen will be evenly lit.

Tips for Lighting a Set When you are lighting a set to shoot footage for your title sequence, whether on a green screen, a stop-motion set, or on location, you should start by doing the following: 1. Staging/blocking. Understand the main positions of your characters (whether they are actors, letters, or props) and identify their movements and/or camera movements. 2. Roughing-in. Roughly set up position, height, and intensity of the lighting along with the camera(s). Quickly run through the shot with stand-ins and verify that the lights are in their correct positions and that the right lights are being used. 3. One at a time. Turn off all the lights and turn on each light, one at a time, to verify their effectiveness. Start from the key, then go to the fill, kicker, and any other additional lighting you have. Make changes if necessary, then slowly turn on the lights again, and again make any necessary changes. 4. Fine-tuning. Add colored or diffusion gels, move the light stands' positions if they are in the middle of a shot, and refine the angles of the lights. 5. Rehearsal. Perform a full rehearsal with the talent and any necessary camera movements. 6. Shoot!


Emotive Lighting By orchestrating a set of light fixtures, which fill particular functions and possess specific qualities, we obtain a lighting style. Lighting styles are inevitably responsible for suggesting moods and evoking emotions and psychological states dictated by the content of a scene. Two common lighting styles are high key and low key. These styles are not to be confused with hard and soft lights, although they play fundamental roles. A low-key lighting scheme is dominated by deep shadows, and the few illuminated areas are well exposed or sometimes overexposed. To achieve this lighting scheme, hard light sources are often used in conjunction with minimal or no soft lights. The contrast ratio between bright and dark areas of the scene is high; sometimes parts of the talent's faces or parts of the set are obscured and dark. Visually, high contrast ratios add depth and dimensionality to the frame. Emotionally, they evoke urgency and high stakes. It's no surprise that low-key lighting was used at the beginning of the century in German Expressionist films, then later adopted and heavily utilized for the film noir of the 1940s and 1950s. Today, low-key lighting is usually associated with crime, horror, mystery, and psychological films. A high-key lighting scheme is characterized by an overall brightness. The majority of the frame is well (sometimes overly) lit, with very few shadows. This lighting scheme presents a low contrast ratio between the key and fill lights. The fill light's intensity, in fact, is raised to one similar to the key light so that it creates an overall bright, flat, and even look, without casting any major shadows on the characters or on the set. This low-contrast look evokes upbeat moods and focuses on nuances rather than making a hard statement. High-key lighting is usually associated with the look and feel of musicals and comedies. Similarly to the mise-en-scene decisions of what you'd like to compose in the frame or not, deciding what to light and what not to light can have a profound effect on and evoke different emotions in the audience. A good exercise that will quickly train your eye to lighting is to observe and analyze paintings and even photographs. Try to pay attention to the light source(s), the effect of light on skin tones and objects, and the kind of shadows they cast. Can you identify the position and angle of the key light and even the fill, kicker, or background light? Are they a soft or a hard source? Does the composition present low-key or high-key lighting? Being able to recognize at a glance the effects produced by different lighting setups will inform and educate the way you approach lighting in your own title sequence.


Computer-Generated Lighting Now that you know about film lighting in the real world, understanding how most of the industry-standard software programs deal with lighting will be easy. Similar to real-world lights, CG lights need a bit of artistry in their arrangements. In a way, you have fewer limitations and less setup time. You don't have to put lights on stands or rig them to an overhead grid. You can simply place any light wherever you'd like in your composition, using 3D coordinates and manipulating a few parameters. On the other hand, adding lights to your project might increase your render time and sometimes even your screen preview. As with real-world lighting, a good way to start is to add one light at a time, find its desired type of light, position, and point of interest (where the light is aimed), and then add all the additional lights. If you think you have overdone it, turn all the lights off, then turn them on one at a time. Verify that each one is effective, see how they work together, and modify them if necessary. One major difference to keep in mind when working with CG lights is that their position in the 3D environment does not affect the lights' intensity as it does in the real world. In CG, you can move a light closer or farther away from the subject, but the intensity will remain the same. If you want to affect the intensity of CG lights, you need to change their intensity value (as we discuss shortly). Just as with lighting in the real world, start by roughing in a key light, then a fill light, and then you can further articulate the set by adding a backlight. Depending on the software you are using, you might need to explore and modify the light's properties to obtain the lighting style you want. In Adobe After Effects you can add a light to your composition by selecting Layer | New | Light. A pop-up window displays the light's options. To begin with, you can pick one of four types of lights: • Spot. Your typical spotlight resembles the realworld spotlights used in theatrical lighting. In your composition, the wireframe outline of a cone visually represents the spotlight's position—the point being the apex of the light, which can be modified through its own properties. The base of the cone represents the direction and wideness of the light beam. Figure 4.26  After Effect's Spot Light.


• Parallel. A directional light that emits a parallel light beam that mimics the effect of the sun's light. Its distance from the subject it is illuminating doesn't actually affect the range of influence of the light (as happens with the spotlight; when you move a spotlight closer to the subject, the cone of light shrinks, and when you move it away from the subject, the cone of light widens). To manipulate the parallel light effectively, you can change its point of interest and its intensity.

Figure 4.27  After Effect's Parallel Light.

• Point. This lights creates an omnidirectional illumination in the 3D space, like a bare light bulb. • Ambient. This light creates a flat, overall illumination in all directions and doesn't have an actual source point in the composition. In fact, this light doesn't even have transform properties, so you cannot even move it. When you want to create an even lighting across your composition, maybe in addition to your key, fill, or a color cast, this is the light of choice.

Figure 4.28  After Effect's Point Light.


Figure 4.29   After Effect's Ambient Light.

Figure 4.30  After Effect's 3D Layer Icon.

Figure 4.31  After Effect's Light Options.

To see your lighting setup in action, you might want to import or create other elements in your composition. You might start with a simple solid. Make sure that you turn any elements that you want to illuminate with a light into a 3D layer by clicking its 3D layer icon (the one that looks like a cube). Each light has a variety of options to modify according to your own taste or project necessity: • Intensity. Similar to a light fixture's wattage, this option regulates the intensity of light. There is no direct measurement of the light's intensity other than your own judgment. Move your mouse pointer over the canvas to read the RGB value of your light through the Info palette, and avoid reaching an ­overexposed true white light (R = 255, G = 255, B = 255) to keep within the ranges of broadcast-safe color. • Color. This is like adding a colored gel in front of the light fixture. You can click on the color well to dynamically select your color, or click on the color picker and select a color from another element of your composition.


• Cone angle. A wide cone produces a wide spotlight, and a narrow cone produces a narrow spotlight. The light's cone angle can range between 0 degrees (invisible) and 180 degrees (very wide cone angle). This feature is similar to, but with wider ranges than, the flood/spot setting of a real-world light. • Cone feather. If you'd like to add a soft edge to your spotlight, this is the place to do it. A cone feather of 0% creates a very sharp edge, as opposed to a 100% one, which creates very soft and blurry edges. Keep in mind that when you increase the cone's feather value, you will visually decrease the cone angle at the same time, to make up for the pixels it needs to blur the edges. To compensate for it, you might want to consider readjusting the cone angle after you have reached your desired cone feather setting. Do not confuse this feature with soft lights in the real world. A cone feather will soften only the edges of the light beam, not the light itself. • Cast shadows. This option can be on or off, and it cannot be keyframed. If you want the light to cast shadows on layers stacked below (in z-space), the ones you are illuminating, keep it on. If you don't want this light to cast any shadows, keep it off. Remember that if you're not getting the result you're looking for, you might need to do some troubleshooting. In After Effects, if you are trying to recreate a spotlight illuminating an object, which casts a shadow onto another object, but you are having trouble achieving that effect, check the following parameters: 1. First, check to see whether the material options of the layer you are lighting has the Cast Shadows property on. 2. Reduce its light transmission to 0%. 3. Check to see whether the material option of the layer you are trying to cast a shadow onto has the Accept shadows property on. That should do the trick. Now you should have a proper working light and shadow. • Shadow darkness. This regulates how dark you'd like the light's shadow to be. Make sure that this property is set to at least 50% so that you can visualize the shadow on your composition. This property could be somewhat compared to the properties of hard and softlights in the real world. If you'd like your CG light to have a softer shadow, then set its Shadow darkness to a lower percentage. If you'd like to recreate the impression of a hard light, then increase the percentage. • Shadow diffusion. This regulates how you'd like the shadow to be diffused. It is particularly noticeable around the edges of the cast shadow. It is advisable to start with a lower setting (even at 0 pixels) and then fine-tune it as necessary.


A few notes of advice: • Lights add up in intensity. The more lights you add to your composition, the more you increase the intensity of light or brightness level of your composition. • Layer stacking is not relevant. Regardless of the light's layer stacking (whether they are on the top or at the bottom of the layer stack), they will equally affect your other layers, but only if they are 3D layers. • Lights in AE use the RGB additive color system. For example, if you overlap a green and a red light, they create a yellow intersection. • To change the type of light, you simply double-click the light's layer or change the pull-down in Light options.

Figure 4.32  Lights in After Effects use the RGB additive color system.

In Apple Motion there are four types of lights, very similar to the ones in After Effects but with different parameters. In Motion you can add a light to your composition by selecting Object | New Light (or by the keyboard shortcut Shift + Command + L). A new light is automatically created and added to your canvas. If you currently don't have any 3D group in your project, a dialog window will be displayed, asking you whether you want to keep your groups as 2D or change them to 3D. Lights only affect 3D groups. The default light is spot, but in the heads-up display (HUD) you can change it to ambient, directional (similar to the parallel light in After Effects), or point.


Figure 4.33  Motion's Spot Light.

Figure 4.34  Motion's Directional Light.


Figure 4.35  Motion's Point Light.

Figure 4.36  Motion's Ambient Light.

Each light has different properties than the ones in After Effects. In Motion, all lights can be modified by changing their color and intensity. Point lights and spotlights can be changed by modifying their: • Falloff start (point and spot) • Falloff (point and spot) • Cone angle (spot only) • Soft edge (spot only)


Figure 4.37  Motion's Spot Light's HUD (Heads-Up Display).

Using Photoshop Layer Styles with Type With the variety of potential colors and shapes in a background, whether animated, footage, or even a solid color, you will need to employ a number of additional effects on type to keep it readable. Additionally, type effects will help add that level of professional slickness necessary to help your titles stand out and be memorable. Photoshop's live-editable layer styles are useful on a number of levels. First, as a design effect, they are quite useful in easily recreating a wide variety of light, shadow, glow, texture, and depth effects that come from the real world. Second, layer styles now comfortably integrate with Adobe After Effects to make integrating them in animation much easier than before.

Adding and Adjusting Layer Styles To add a layer style, highlight the layer you want to apply it to and click the icon. You'll choose an effect, and now below your layer you'll see a heading for Effects, and then below that you can find the name of the effect applied. If you want to delete it, you can drag it to the Trash like a layer. To duplicate the effect with the same setting on another later, Option-click and drag it to the layer that you'd like Figure 4.38 to apply it to.


Figure 4.39

Whenever you apply a layer style, the dialog box specific to that layer style will open.

The Layer Styles Now let's go through what each layer style does and the options for each. • Drop Shadow. Creates a shadow behind the layer based on the shape of the layer. • Inner Shadow. Creates a shadow that falls inside the contents of the layer. • Outer Glow. Creates a glow that extends out from the contents of the layer. • Inner Glow. Adds a glow from the edge of the layer inward. • Bevel and Emboss. Creates a false depth based on highlights and shadows. • Satin. Adds interior shading to create a glossy surface on the layer. • Color Overlay. Lays a color over the layer contents. • Gradient Overlay. Places a gradient over the layer contents. • Stroke. Creates an outline along the edge of the layer.


Using Global Light

Figure 4.40

Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, and Bevel and Emboss use an artificial light source that can be synced across all the layer styles that use a light source. It's called Use Global Light, and you'll see a checkbox to the left of it to turn it on. Below you'll see the three effects we've mentioned, with a synced Global Light and the same effect. In this example the layer styles' light sources are synced with Use Global Light.

Figure 4.41

In this example the layer styles' light sources are switched off and at varying angles.

Figure 4.42

Contour Drop Shadow, Inner Shadow, Outer and Inner Glow, Bevel and Emboss, and Satin all have Contour settings controlling the shape of the shading. Each of these is controlled with a Bezier curve. You have 12 contour presets, as

Figure 4.43

Figure 4.44


pictured, and you can click on the contour and create a custom shape. Click directly on the line to create a breakpoint and then drag it where you want. The following show the Bevel and Emboss effect with the same settings and two different contour curves. This title has a standard linear contour.

Figure 4.45

Figure 4.46

Here's the same layer with a custom contour.

Figure 4.47

Figure 4.48


Figure 4.49

Drop Shadow A drop shadow takes the content of the layer and creates a fake shadow based on the shape of the layer behind it. Drop shadows are a common effect throughout the history of graphic design; they are highly useful for title sequences because they can take a title that is over a background and create a sense of depth and distance from the image below it. There's a Blend Mode control to adjust how the layer style blends with the background, an Opacity setting, an Angle control for the light source, Distance that will control the offset of the shadow, Spread that will control the size of that mask being cut for the shadow from the layer content (the higher you set it, the softer the mask's edge will be), and Size that is the how large the shadow is. There's also the Contour control, as discussed previously, and a Noise setting that will introduce a random distribution of static to the shadow.

Inner Shadow

Figure 4.50

Inner Shadow will basically take the effect of a drop shadow and turn it inward. It creates an inner texture and impression of depth. You will encounter many of the same controls for drop shadow in an inner shadow with a notable exception: Instead of a Spread setting, there's a Choke setting for controlling the mask being generated, which will control how the mask moves inward instead of outward.

Outer Glow Outer Glow will still use the shape of the layer to create an effect, but rather than create a shadow, Outer Glow creates a light that will emanate from the layer. In the Structure section, you have controls for the way the glow will interact with the background, so there's Blend Mode, Opacity, and Noise settings as well as a choice for the color of your glow, or you can choose a gradient.

Figure 4.51


Figure 4.52

In the Elements section, you can choose a Technique (your choices are between a sharper Precise mask or a feathered edge Softer technique) and slider settings for Spread and Size. Spread and Size have the same functionality as they did for Drop Shadow. Finally, under Quality, you have Contour controls, with an additional Range control that will adjust the amount of effect that the Contour will have on the glow, and a Jitter control for adding a natural randomness to the gradient in a glow.

Inner Glow

Figure 4.53

At first, it might be unclear what the difference is between Inner Glow and Inner Shadow, but as you go through the controls, you'll see that this effect has a more additive lighting effect, which is easier to use with subtlety than an Inner Shadow. The controls will almost exactly resemble Outer Glow, with the exception of the Spread being replaced by a Choke control, for the same reasons as mentioned earlier, when we were comparing the controls of Drop and Inner Shadow.


Bevel and Emboss Although many of the layer styles are used to add a bit of depth to layers, Bevel and Emboss does an excellent job recreating many effects of sculptural type you have seen in countless places. A bevel adds shading to the edges of the layer to either push it forward or back; an Figure 4.54 emboss will do the same thing by adding shading from the outside of the layer to push it forward or back. The first setting you choose is the Style; the bevels will work along the edge of the layer, and the embosses will work from the area immediately around the letters.

Figure 4.55

Outer Bevel  Inner Bevel  Emboss  Pillow Emboss

A Stroke Emboss, Figure 4.56, will require that the Stroke layer style be activated, Figure 4.57.

Figure 4.56

Figure 4.57

After you have chosen a style, the next setting is for Technique, which gives you choices (Chisel Hard, Chisel Soft, or Smooth) of varying strength for how the chosen style will be achieved. You have a slider for the amount of depth, which will control the strength of the shading; a choice of direction (up or down); a slider for size, which controls the strength of the bevel; and a slider for softness, to add fine control of the Technique choice.


Figure 4.58

Figure 4.59

Since this is a depth effect, you have Angle and Altitude controls for the light source in the Shading section. There's a Gloss Contour control for adjusting the curve of the shading. Finally you have the ability to control the blend for the Highlight Mode and Shadow Mode as well as the opacity of each. Bevel and Emboss is quite possibly the most complex layer style, because it has two substyles (I'm not sure what Adobe would call them, but I think substyle is applicable) to add a contour and a texture to the bevel. The Contour controls are familiar by now, so let's address the Texture controls. With Texture, you first choose a Pattern tile with an image that will be used to set the look of the texture of the bevel. Scale will allow you to adjust the size of the tile; the lower the scale, the more the tile will be repeated. Depth is the strength of the visibility of the texture. The texture here is used only with the bevel; to get a texture throughout the layer, you should use the Pattern Overlay layer style.


Figure 4.60

Satin will feel similar to Inner Shadow by adding interior shading to the layer. Satin is designed to have a glossy effect. Unlike the Inner Shadow style, it won't use the shape of the layer; instead it relies more heavily on the Contour setting. The settings for Blend Mode, Color, Opacity, Angle, Distance, Size, and Contour will all work in the same ways, as discussed in the previous layer styles.

Color Overlay

Figure 4.61

Fairly simply, the Color Overlay style will change the color of the layer. It gives you Blend Mode, Color, and Opacity, for adding an additional color over the existing layer content. The best argument for using this effect over the idea of simply changing the base color is when it is used as a subtle blend or in addition to the layer, rather just using it to change the color overall.


Gradient Overlay Just like the Color Overlay, a Gradient Overlay will place a gradient over the existing color of the layer. The controls for this layer style are very similar to Satin, with the addition of a picker for the gradient, where you may choose from the preset gradients or set your own. The controls here are the same as for the Figure 4.62 Gradient tool. The Style section will give you control over which of Photoshop's five different gradient styles you'd like to use (Linear, Radial, Reflected, Angle, or Diamond).

Pattern Overlay The Pattern Overlay layer style is for adding an overlaying tiled texture to the layer content. You'll notice that the controls are almost exactly the same as the Texture substyle for Bevel and Emboss. Your first two choices are the familiar Blend Mode and Opacity settings. Most important, however, is the following section, where you choose Pattern, a tile with an image that will be used to set the look of the overlying pattern. Next is a Scale setting that will allow you to adjust the size of the tile; the lower the scale, the more the tile will be repeated. Figure 4.63

Stroke The final layer style, Stroke, is extremely useful to movie title designers. Stroke will add an outline to the inside, outside, or center of your layer. You begin by setting the size, position, Blend Mode, and opacity of your layer style. The section below that is where you will choose a fill type, though in most cases you will want to stick with Color (Gradient and Texture are rarely desirable when using Stroke). The last setting will change based on the choice you made for the fill type, with familiar settings for each. Figure 4.64

Choosing Between Raster and Vector for Motion Titles When you're planning a title sequence that involves computer graphics, inevitably you come to kind of crossroads: raster or vector? First, we'll review the difference between raster and vector. Second, we'll address the criteria for deciding which to use.


What Is a Raster Image?

Figure 4.65

Figure 4.66

The reason we can avoid permanent rasterization of our type in After Effects is that After Effects’ effects are nondestructive, meaning that they can be applied and removed without permanently being applied to the graphics. Photoshop's Smart Filters and Layer Styles are the only “live” effects.

A raster image is a digital image in which the pixels are specifically assigned to exact locations in a grid. Since each pixel can be any of millions of colors, having the pixels specifically assigned to exact locations in a grid means that they are capable of a photographic image quality. However, it has a major limitation in that it will become distorted with enlargement, so when you use raster images, knowing the sizing is crucial. Film and video are media that rely on photographic images; therefore, in most cases we should be working with raster engines and raster files. The same is true for type. Since type in most cases only needs to be graphic and not photographic, it is optimal for us to have type in a vector format, where size changes will not reduce quality. Photoshop and After Effects use continuous rasterization for type, so the type is sourced to the software as vector imagery and continuously rasterized to maintain maximum quality. Photoshop is the world's most popular raster image editor. However, the type engine is vector information that is continuously updated and referenced by the software, so there is no quality loss from resizing. Unfortunately, if you want to use many of Photoshop's effects, you will have to go ahead and perform a full rasterizing of type layers, thus converting them to standard graphics layers and limiting your text's size. Throughout this book I'll demonstrate ways you can take advantage of After Effects to avoid ever having to rasterize the type in Photoshop. When using raster effects with type, you can get photographic textures and effects to work with your type. But nearly every raster effect can be achieved without having to rasterize the type graphics permanently.


Figure 4.67

What Is a Vector Image? A vector image avoids the entire issue of quality loss by not specifically assigning pixels to their locations; rather, vector images use Bezier paths to map out the shape of the image and reassign pixels as the path size changes. This leads to cleaner edges, and though they will never look like photographs, in most cases for type we either won't need photographic-styled imagery or we can find a workaround using masks, or some other combination of effects. In short, it's totally acceptable to perform the typesetting part of your title work in animation software such as After Effects or Motion. If you need to typeset using Photoshop, you can, but avoid using Photoshop's effects, since there's likely an equivalent in After Effects that will not detract from the quality of your image.

Tutorial: Using Stencil Alpha to Cut Out a Texture


One issue that often comes up is wanting to do a photographic texture for type. The problem is, of course, our recurring issue of needing to avoid rasterizing, and the way we can do that here is to use a blend mode called Stencil Alpha. In After Effects, create a new composition, import the texture you'd like to use, and place a type layer above it.

Figure 4.68



With our text layer highlighted, go to the Modes column and choose Stencil Alpha. If you see the Switches view, you might have to go to the Toggle Switches/Modes button at the bottom of the timeline.


Now your type is cutting out your texture. The next thing to do is make it ready to be part of another scene. Highlight both layers and go to Layer | Pre-compose. Since the two layers rely on each other to make our effect, any more layers could create confusion or conflict, so it's a good time to consolidate them.

In After Effects, Collapse Transformations tells the software not to render the contents and effects within the precomp until it has applied the effects that are applied to the pre-comp as a whole first. This helps it to maintain its resolution when the size is changed, and layers within the precomp that have Continuous Rasterize switched on will be continuously rasterized.


Highlight the pre-comp and apply Effects | Perspective | Bevel Alpha. This will give it a very pleasing false depth and help it stand out from the background.


On your pre-comp layer, turn on the switch for Collapse Transformations. It's the same switch as Continuous Rasterization except that when it's applied to a precomp it's called Collapse Transformations.



Done-To finish up this title card, I've added a background image. On the title pre-comp, I've added Effect | Perspective | Drop Shadow to it, to help make it easy to read over the background image. Now try adding in a Scale animation on the movie title pre-comp layer.

The Main Title Card Becomes the Movie Logo If you think about your movies or the movies that have had the most cultural impact, you will often imagine the main title as you conjure up the movie name. Movies such as Pulp Fiction (1994), Jaws, Casablanca (1942), The Godfather (1972), Psycho, and Star Wars have movie logos as memorable as the movies themselves. But how did these logos come to matter so much? Essentially it's because the use of graphic design and the ability to stylize type to capture something that connects the title to the content of the film is what helps make for a memorable logo. Consider The Godfather, for example. The gothic appearance of the letters combined with the illustrative marionette element essentially sum up the feel and narrative of the film. Here we will examine some suggestions for how you can add illustrative elements to your movie title logo. I can't promise you'll be able to make a movie title logo as great as the ones I've mentioned, but it's definitely worth a try.

Tutorial: Animating Layer Styles with After Effects One method commonly used to slick up a title is to add Photoshop layer styles to your type. When you're making a title sequence, the main title should have a special distinction; one way we can add that is through animating Photoshop layer styles. After Effects can add keyframe animation to the Photoshop layer styles. Here's how you can take advantage of layer styles to add some animation.



Open the document deadringer.psd in Photoshop. You will see that the type layer has the Inner Shadow and Gradient Overlay styles applied.


Import the document into After Effects as a Composition Cropped Layers. When you come to the Photoshop Import window, select Editable Layer Styles and click OK.


Open the twirly arrow for the type layer, and you'll see Transform and Layer Styles. Open Layer Styles and you'll see the same layer styles we set up in Photoshop. Let's open Gradient Overlay.



You will find keyframe tools for animating the same parameters that we initially set up in Photoshop. For a quick example, let's set a stopwatch for Angle. Go to the 2 second mark and give the Angle three revolutions.


Done-You'll get this ceiling fan-styled shadow movement throughout the type. Take a few minutes and try animating several different layer style parameters with After Effects.

Tutorial: Adding Animated Illustrative Elements to a Main Title Card Using a simple, animated illustrative element can make the difference between the movie logos that people remember and ones they will forget. In the following tutorial, we'll animate an organic plant element as part of a movie logo.


This scene was designed with Illustrator. Let's begin by locking the background layer. Let's add a new Shape layer to extend the e into a growing and ominous plant leaf.


We'll use the Pen tool to create the leaf. Press G on the keyboard and then look at the new buttons that arrive on the screen. You'll see a star icon next to a half-circle icon; choose the star, which tells After Effects that we are creating a shape and not a mask. Set the Fill to match the green of the e, which you can do by clicking on Fill and using the eyedropper from the color picker. Set the stroke to No Stroke by clicking Stroke and choosing the square with the red slash.

After Effects' new Shape layer function allows users to create Bezier shapes that can be animated over time. However, it sounds very similar to Masks, which are also Bezier shapes that can be animated. So what's the difference? Think of Shape layers as being like a Mask over a Solid layer, with the addition of Animators dedicated to them. Masks are designed to cut out layer content; Shapes are designed to create content.


It is difficult to see the shape we are making with the background we have because by default AE uses a lavender color for Shape layers. We can change this by clicking on the color chip next to where it says Shape Layer in the timeline. I chose Red.


Use the Pen tool to design your shape.


Though it might seem a little weird, I am going to set a keyframe for the Path at the 4 second mark, where I want it to complete growing. Why? Because it is a growth animation, I know what the end should look like and I don't know what the beginning will look like, so I start my first keyframe where I know what I want. I'll then bring the playhead to the 0 mark.


At the zero mark I reshape the stem into being a believable part of the e. Notice that there is a new keyframe in the timeline.



Done-Shape layers make it easier to add attractive illustrative elements as part of a type layer. Now, to complete our animation add Effects | Perspective | Drop Shadow to match the effect on the original layer.

Title Sequence Workflows To keep your title sequence projects from becoming overlong processes, it's key that you have a solid understanding of what constitutes a good workflow. So here are some highly useful workflow techniques.

Figure 4.69

Project Management A well-organized project is key to keeping deadlines. Project management is basically your workflow for keeping your files well organized and avoiding things like files going “offline” or missing. Here I will demonstrate the project management method that has worked extremely well for me for a long time. I learned it working at a professional postproduction house and have stuck to it, refined it, and used it for years. Start by creating a master folder for your project, open it, and create four more folders: Original Art, Photoshop, AE Project, and AE Renders.

I am demonstrating this technique for project management on a Mac, but it can easily be recreated in Windows.


If you would like to use the same project management system for a project where you will use Motion instead of After Effects, you can still apply it in the same way, though you might want to name the folders Motion Project and Motion Renders.

In OSX, to give a file a color-coded label highlight the filename, go to the File menu from the Finder, scroll to the bottom, and choose the color you want, Figure 4.70.

• Original Art. In this folder we will keep any elements that are provided from the client side or any research elements such as images you found on the Web. We will not import any of these files into our actual project; we keep only provided or reference material here. For example, in a moment I'll demonstrate how to convert a movie poster file into a graphic for our title sequence, so I'd keep the original file in this folder and the converted file in the Photoshop folder. • Photoshop. In this folder we will keep all of the .psd documents we plan to import into After Effects. If you plan to work with Illustrator, you should name this folder Illustrator instead or, if you are going to use both, make a Photoshop folder and an Illustrator folder. • AE Project. When you save an After Effects project, it will ­create an .aep file. Keep all your .aep files for this project in here. You should use the Increment and Save function in AE periodically so that you have an archive of files to look back through. Increment and Save does a Save As function except that it skips the part where it asks you to name the file and simply adds a number at the end of the file name. You might want to label your files so that you know which one is current. • AE Renders. When you render a file in After Effects, send it to this folder. You can purge the content of this folder when you are ready to archive your project.

Figure 4.70


Working with the Graphic Design Department The titles in your movie will often reflect the same look as the posters, invitational cards, and other print material that will be used to promote the film. In the old days, when titles were not as valued a marketing commodity as they are today, the print ­materials would sometimes follow the titles by some period of time, to the point where they wouldn't match at all. Now, since these two elements can happen simultaneously, it makes it much easier to keep them in sync.

300 dpi Becomes 72 ppi

Figure 4.71

When a motion graphics artist receives material from the print department, several things will need to be changed. If the print material comes first, it must have its resolution reduced. Print usually uses 300 dots per inch (dpi) or higher. However, screens have the advantage of needing much lower resolution, 72 pixels per inch (ppi). When lowering resolution in software Figure 4.72 such as Photoshop, we must be very careful to avoid destructive processes. The standard When you are adjusting the scale of image in Photoshop you movie poster is should be quite careful about the three check boxes above. Let's referred to as a say that we are going to shrink down a movie title logo from a one-sheet. Since the poster. 1980s the size of the onesheet is usually 27 × 40 inches.


Resizing a Movie Poster Logo


To downsize our poster logo, first go to Image | Image Size and turn off Resample Image. Resample Image allows the software to warp the image into whatever dimensions we give it (which is something we will rarely want at this point). Leave Scale Styles and Constrain Proportions on. In most cases we will want Constrain Proportions on because that will preserve our dimensions.


Now, under Resolution, change it to 72. Notice that the width and height of the document have become huge. That's because we have Constrain Proportions on but Resample Image off. Leave Constrain Proportions on, and turn on Resample Image.

The difference between Image Size and Canvas Size is that Canvas Size only addresses the size of the workspace (or canvas), not the contents. Image Size affects both.


Now you have unlocked the ability to enter in Pixel Dimensions. Under Width, enter 720. Hit OK.



Done-Now go to Image | Canvas Size. Change the Height to 480. You will be warned that this will crop the image, but in this case there's nothing I want below the 480 mark so it is okay (if there was something below I would have to do some resizing). Since the logo in my example comes from the top of our document, I moved the Anchor to top center.

Setting Up in After Effects Composition Settings

The world of film has become so much more diverse in the past decade and movies can be projected in so many different formats now that your setting could range from standard small DV to 4K and higher sizes.

Figure 4.73


At the beginning of any motion graphics project, particularly a title sequence, it is very important for the designer to have a meeting with the producer, director, and editor to discuss what the final output will be. Ideally, you will be able to work in the format that matches the final output, but that might not always be possible. Working with 4K footage and animated type will cripple even some fairly high-end systems, and on the ones it won't cripple, it could make After Effects or Motion run so slowly that the movie's production could grind to a halt. So, you can work with lower resolutions until the clients approve the piece and then output the high-resolution footage. How? First, remember that if your type is vector, you can resize it at any point nondestructively. If you are animating elements as part of your title sequence, if they are vector, again, resizing is not a issue. With raster elements there's room for more concern.

Figure 4.74

With the image being prepped, you will notice that the resolution is set to 180, which is more than double 72 ppi. Since video will be 72 ppi, After Effects will read the document purely from the number of pixel dimensions, and this image is 2592 × 1944, making it large enough to be part of a 2K film document later. But if we put it into a 720 × 480 document, we have to bring the Scale way down to make it work well in our lower-resolution document, but by doing this we have freed ourselves to make it larger later.


Tutorial: Making a Preset In creating a title sequence with After Effects, there are a number of ways to do the same things, and we can take advantage of some workflow accelerators to save serious time. One of these is to make a preset for your animation so that we don't get stuck in repetitive tasks.


When I am beginning a title sequence, I will usually experiment with the first title until I find something I like. In this case, I've settled on using CC Burn to make the text appear and a Scale that begins at 50 percent and ends at 70 percent.

Figure 4.75


A standard fade up and fade down are used often on titles. There are numerous Transition effects in After Effects, but the Opacity tool also does the trick. When doing a fade up/ fade down, you need four keyframes. The first one set to 0, the second set to the max opacity. The third should repeat the maximum opacity, which will pause the opacity effect for the length of time between the two keyframes, and the fourth should return it to 0, Figure 4.75.

The Add/ Remove Keyframe button will add a keyframe that repeats the last value entered, if there are no other later keyframes for that parameter. So this is a quick way to add a keyframe that will pause an animation, Figure 4.76.

Figure 4.76

Figure 4.77


Press the U key on the keyboard, which will bring up your animation parameters. Highlight the CC Burn and Scale tools. Drag and drop them into the Effects and Presets menu. You will be prompted to enter a name. I called it Augustus_TS.


Done-Now we can apply the settings throughout. So, put in your next title and drag and drop our Augustus_TS preset on it and it'll match the previous title. What's also pretty great about this is that if the title needs tweaking, you can change the keyframe values after they are applied. In the case of the next title in this sequence, I had to lower the Scale to between 30 and 50 percent to keep the larger title between the two columns.

Open in Editor One of the most useful commands for working with Photoshop and Illustrator sourced documents in After Effects is Ctrl-E (or Command-E). This will open the layer in its editor, which is the program that was used to create it. So, your computer will then launch Photoshop or Illustrator, you can make your changes, and save. Jump back to After Effects, and voilà! It's updated to accept your change.


If it hasn't updated—and sometimes it won't because After Effects stores a lot in your RAM and will only return to the source files if it needs to—highlight the update information in the Project window and go to File | Reload Footage.

Figure 4.78

TED 2009: A Case Study Motion Graphics Studio: Trollbäck + Company Creative Director: Jacob Trollbäck The content, sound effects and motion graphics in this piece achieve a sense of unison I've rarely seen. Can you elaborate on the creative process while you were working on this opening? Many years ago I did a three-dimensional type animation for TED8. Many people have told me that it is their favorite of my TED openings. Since the 2009 conference was a jubilee of sorts—the 25th year since the first conference—I thought it would be fun to go back to the roots, as all the early conferences were explorations in moving type, and also give the type geeks something to enjoy. The conference had 12 themes that we wanted to feature. The goal in all our work is to find clever ways to make an emotional connection, so here we wanted to load the type with meaning according to the themes. For example, Discover is a DNA spiral Figure 4.79  Jacob Trollback. swooping upward, and Engage interacts with it in a choreographed dance. Invent forms a curious shape—later to be found to be a T —and See, Predict and Dare merge into the word Reconnect. After that, Reconnect splits into several strands of Grow that form an organically spreading shape, only to be intercepted by the word Dream that brings us into a 2001-inspired white space. More themes enter and line up in a kind of large meta-type that spell out The Great. But these letters turn out to have yet another dimension. As they rotate around their own axis, we see that they are three-dimensional objects that read differently from another angle. I have worked with Michael Montes for 15 years, and we have an innate understanding of how music and motion can and should support each other. We create the pieces with a strong idea of what the thrust should be, and Michael finds a way to put this into sound.


Everything in this piece works elegantly, efficiently, and poignantly, from the Mac booting-up sound effects, the Discover DNA, the white flash frame after the dream sequence, until the reveal of the conference's title. How much preparation and testing went into this project? What was the decision factor that led to the type treatment in 3D? I came up with the rotating three-dimensional type for a title sequence for the movie True Lies many years ago. Ironically, Peter, one of our 3D designers, had made a similar discovery by himself and actually advanced the idea with type that you can read from three directions. The playful surprise seemed perfect to reveal the word Unveiling.

Figure 4.80a  Still frames from TED 2009, created by Trollbäck + Company.

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Le Tourment Vert: A Case Study Motion Graphics Studio: Energi Design Creative Director: Steve Holmes Le Tourment Vert is owned by Vinet Ege © Energi Design What was the main concept and inspiration for this project? We came up with three different concepts. There was a colorful version, a lighter one, and then I came up with a third, darker one, where everything was offset, cracked, and broken. There is a sense of life and new growth with a sort of clean feel that transpires from it, but there's also a sort of a grungy, dark, and slightly twisted feel to it. I really, really liked this concept, but unfortunately it didn't go through.

Figure 4.81  Steve Holmes.

Figure 4.82a  Preliminary concept for Le Tourment Vert, created by Energi Design.


Figure 4.82b

Figure 4.82c

The finished design was very clean. What I tried to do with the launch of the product was to take it away from the historical visual that people associate with absinthe, which is the backstreets of Paris and the late 1800s and early 1900s. The product appeared very modern, and I think it needed to be approached from a slightly more historical view, and that's where the textured paper came in. I was inspired to form a mixture of clean graphic elements and oldfashioned backgrounds and then just blend the two together to create something different.


I like the idea of a clean graphic element being used to actually spill the design elements out onto the page, which in this case blended with the general scene remarkably, almost as if the liquid was dripped onto the paper. We went through ideas of making this almost like real liquid, having it shine or glisten. That flow became pretty much the standard for the rest of it. We followed it through on the type and everything else. Trying to keep things as connected, so like putting in maps in the background, as if you were watching the reflections and refractions in the background imagery through a glass. It really was that challenge to take new imagery and make it old; I think that's really where it started. There's a nice flow to the piece, almost as if it was a script. How much has your research influenced the piece? Well, oddly enough I had to go to Paris shortly after this brief came in. I ended up going to the Museé D'Orsay and actually viewing the unique pieces that are in there, which was perfect. There was a series of artists who had already been featured in some of the advertising for the launch of this product, some pieces had already been put out there, but they were all really modern. Ideas like “It worked for Degas, it works for whoever.” I decided to take a look at the work of 1,800 artists such as Degas and the textures they used in their works, and I took a few pictures whilst I was there. And that's where my ideas for the artwork came into play, because I was able to see their work and almost imagine this green flow of liquid forming their art, 'cause that's what they said, really; absinthe was their muse. It was good to be able to mix elements together in terms of color and historically. What was your approach in regard to type? I didn't want something that was too modern, so I did a little bit of research on serif typefaces, old-fashioned typefaces, block typefaces. It also worked nicely that the thickness of the serifs lent itself very nicely to the thickness of the swirls that would come from it. With Clarendon, our second-best choice, the slabs were so thick that the swirls coming out of them would have been too heavy, and I think this would have overwhelmed the rest. The messaging was kind of simple and I think the typeface we used just fit it very easily, because it was condensed. It works in a good mixture of large and small, and that was the nice thing about it. I wanted all the messaging to be stacked on top of each other, keeping similar widths and just growing heights. With a condensed typeface you have a lot more flexibility in that respect. I just like the form it's got; it has a slight Western feel to it as well. That was probably my third choice, and the client went for it. To what extent were you allowed creative freedom by your client? There was a lot of creative freedom, which was really good. There were three concepts provided, 30 frames for each concept, presenting an entire story and laying the basis of the messaging right. They liked all three initially, and I believe they wanted to use all three, which was great. But they boiled it down to the fact that the one they've picked was a lot cleaner and a lot sharper. And so, from this I then developed it into a texture, and as the texture got darker, that was the only time really, that they pulled back and said, “Let's just keep it on the light side.” But really that was the only major feedback. We changed some of the elements, as there were a lot more graphic elements originally. They wanted paintbrushes when it was all about the artist, they wanted this script in the background when it was about the poets, and that actually became a little busy. The whole thing was only 30 seconds, there was only so much distraction you could have there, so I went back to them and exposed the problem, and they were okay with that. So it was good in that respect, it was one of those projects that flowed fairly well.


What did the project timeline look like, from beginning of the project to the deliverable? I think we spent about two weeks on concept, and then about another week refining the final concept when it was chosen, and production was about two weeks. It was fast turnaround. And that probably affected the lack of changes and the direction the client was going in. Since the spot was going to be used at the Sundance Festival between each of the film sections—as they were promoting the drink there—and was also going to be played in flight in Virgin America—as they became the first airline to take this drink on board—they had to have the commercial in a very short time. That's why the timeline was kind of fast and furious. It gave it a kind of definite “We have to have it done by this time to have it by this time.” How does the use of camera move the story forward? The camera movement on this commercial was defined by the concept: a drink or a bottle spilled over onto a napkin or a piece of paper. So you are following all of these trails no matter how far they go across this infinite-sized piece of paper. We wanted the camera moves to be flexible enough to rotate: not just follow a line but actually spin around 180 degrees, over the z-axis and the y-axis, but also to have a little bit of movement, a slightly handheld effect, but not too much. The distance of the 3D camera from the paper stays essentially the same. The individual objects have a different z-space value which gives them a slight offset when things move, like having textures moving separate from the background. By pulling those elements off separately by 100, 200 pixels each, we had the capability to use a little bit more flow with the camera. That then revealed more of the differences between those 3D layers. If we kept all the elements flat, then the camera moves would have pretty much just made it all, and I think that would have been boring. I think we took a good decision because to randomly move the camera would have been the easy choice. We would have ended up with a more lazy, storytelling kind of view, instead of a distinctive drunken feel to it. The only forced camera move that had to be done was right at the very end when we come in on the logo. The design element of the devil's face here in the background bleeds in. But it is barely there, and as it gets darker toward the end of the commercial, you can see it actually becoming quite heavy, which is nice I think, it has got a nice imposing feel to it. The end frame is actually my favorite of the piece because of its dark texture and because it gets a little more foreboding. I now have this image in my head that I can't get rid of. The camera move on this last shot was actually a trick: It resulted from a two-dimensional rotoscope. This was because coming from 3D and revealing the two-dimensional bottle got a little too complicated. So inside essentially there's another composition, and I just rotoscoped five or six frames to reveal it. And in the new composition there's just another 3D camera that's just slightly moving in. So that was really the only twist. The French background of Paris, that was really quite nice. Was it done by a designer of yours? No, actually a designer called iStockphoto! We found some fantastic high-res illustrations of Paris landmarks and we just acquired them, layered them, and repositioned them so they would fit the HD and the SD versions. We then filled them with texture, which I originally intended to do in paper form with the text on it, kind of like the dark design. But in the end it was a little too dark overall, and you couldn't see much of the detail because the texture was taking over. But they worked really well and they took a little while to render, especially the Eiffel Tower, there's so much detail in that. Everything else was provided.


Figure 4.83a  Still frames from Le Tourment Vert, designed by Energi Design.

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Importing Text and Other Files into After Effects Adobe After Effects was designed for working with information that was created in other software packages, even though over the years Adobe has added more generative capabilities within After Effects. Creating type in After Effects is a completely acceptable way of working, but many designers choose to bring the type in from other software such as its sister programs, Photoshop and Illustrator. There are a few workflow considerations to take into account when you're importing layers into After Effects.

Workflow Considerations Importing Files into After Effects After Effects has four different import types. They are listed here, with explanations of what each one is meant for.

Footage Importing layers as footage is used for bringing in items one at a time. Basically, you use footage when you either don't want multilayer information or you want a single layer of a multilayer document. The following list gives you an idea of what I mean: • Video files, since video files are not in a multilayered format • Audio files • Photoshop or Illustrator files when you want to flatten them as you bring them into After Effects • Photoshop or Illustrator files when you only want one layer of a multilayer document • Image files that don't have separate layers • Motion Timelines (.motn files)

Figure 5.1

Composition There are two import types for Composition: the standard Composition and Composition Cropped Layers. When you want © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00005-2


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to bring a Photoshop or Illustrator file into After Effects and have the separate layers treated as separate clips in After Effects, the Composition setting is the correct way to go. When you use Composition, the Anchor Points are set in the center of the document.

Figure 5.2 Notice that the Anchor Point for every layer is set to the center of the document when you import with Composition.

This is useful for documents where you have rotation animations that will rotate around the same orbit. Also, Composition is a good choice for when you want to use an effect such as Shatter, where the effect will take elements of the layer beyond its immediate area.

Composition Cropped Layers In most cases, for title sequences you will want to choose this setting for multilayer Photoshop and Illustrator files. It will set the anchor points to the center of each layer.

Figure 5.3 Notice how when you use Composition Cropped Layers, it places the anchor points where the center of each layer lies.

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Project After Effects can import projects, which is used for the purpose of bringing elements from one After Effects document into another. It will place the files inside a folder, and those elements can be accessed in the current project.

Special Considerations for Text Layers If you are importing a Photoshop document, and you'd like to make changes to the type, you can use the Convert to Editable Text option from the Layer menu. This takes a Photoshop type layer and makes it type that you can edit in After Effects. This option is not available to you if you make your type layer with Illustrator. But of course there is a way around that.

Tutorial: Editing Type from an Illustrator Document


Let's say that I want to change this title so that the S lines up with the T. Here's how we can fix that. From After Effects, press Ctrl-E (or Command-E), and your OS will open Illustrator.

Figure 5.4

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In Illustrator, open the Appearance panel. Click the eye icon for the 3D Extrude and Bevel effect to temporarily turn it off. Open the Character panel.


 Highlight It Was. Change the Tracking to 115. Now check to make sure that we have lined up our T and S. Make the 3D Extrude and Bevel visible again and save.

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Done-Return to AE and you might see your type updated, but you might not. If not, select the type in the Project window and either right-click or Control-click on the layer and choose Reload Footage. This forces AE to refresh the connection to the layer and update.

Creating Title Cards The term title card (or intertitle) comes from the old days when a literal card would be stationed in front of a camera and photographed. These were the dominant devices used to convey dialogue between characters during the silent era. How far we have come! This practice is no longer the method used, but intertitles themselves are still very much in use for artistic effect. Title cards typically are not placed over footage that is part of the main narrative. Titles that are placed over the footage that are part of the actual film are usually referred to as supers or supertitles, referring to the title being superimposed over the image. Creating a non-moving title card is fairly easy, a simple matter of using the text tool of your chosen software to place type on the screen. However, using After Effects opens up a world of opportunities for adding animation to a title card.

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Tutorial: Animated Title Cards In this example, we'll make an animated title to tell the audience the location of our story.


If you are making the title as a card and not a super, you can set the timeline to the exact length needed for the film. Depending on the length of the title, you need to be sure that the composition will be long enough for the audience to read. So, for our title, which will say Glasgow, Scotland, let's make it 6 seconds long.

After Effects has tons of menus; rather than sift through them every time you need to bring up a new one, use the Workspace for Text. Look at the upper-right corner of the screen, open the dropdown menu for Workspace, and select Text (see Figure 5.5).

Figure 5.5


Type your title. Set the appearance you want using the Character panel. Set the chart above for how to adjust your type in After Effects. What we decide to use here is the foundation that will be animated when we animate this title later.


When you are happy with the appearance of the title, open the text layer. You will see a button for Animate, which adds ­ type-specific animation tools to your word. Choose Tracking.

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You will notice that Position, Scale, Anchor Point, Rotation, and Opacity are repeated in the Animate menu. In the Animate menu, these tools affect the individual letters (Figure 5.6). The tools of the same names in the Transform menu will move the entire body of type (Figure 5.7).

Figure 5.6 Type animated with Transform | Rotation.

Figure 5.7 Type animated with Text | Animate | Rotation.


When you add an animator to your type layer, it will add Animator 1 and Range Selector 1 to your layer. Below Range Selector 1 are the keyframe tools for the Tracking animator we've just added. Set a keyframe at the 0 mark with the Tracking Amount set to 0, and then at the 6 second mark, set the Tracking Amount to 6.


To the right of Animator 1 you will have a button called Add. Click there and choose Property. The Property list will open. Choose Scale.


Done-From 0–1:00, animate the Scale from 0 to 100 percent. At the 5 second mark, create a new keyframe, set it to 100 percent; at the 6 second mark, make it 0. Now you've got a pretty slick title card.

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Tutorial: Title Card-Based Title Sequence Title sequences based on cards can be made quickly with After Effects.


Set up the composition to match the length you need for your title sequence. In this case let's set it to 60 seconds. Import the background footage and place it at the bottom of the layer order in our timeline.


Use the Type tool to create your title. Modify your text with the tools in the Character panel.

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Trim the title down to the length we need it to be; in this case, trim it to 5 seconds.

Go to Animate and choose Blur. Set keyframes to go from a blur set to 26 at 0, and at the 1 second mark, bring the blur down to 0. At the 4 second mark, insert a blank keyframe, and at the 5 second mark, increase the blur back to 26.

Go to Add and choose Property | Scale.

Click the chain-link icon to unlock the Scale. Highlight the first 100 value and make it –100. The type should now be facing the opposite direction. Don't start the stopwatch for Scale.

Use the Range Selectors to make an effect appear on letters one at a time.


Open Range Selector 1. Start the stopwatch for End, and set it to 0 percent. At the 1 second mark increase it to 100 percent. At the 4 second mark set a new keyframe, and reduce End to 0 at the 5 second mark. We will now use this animation template for the rest of the title sequence.


Done-Now we can duplicate our first title for the remaining titles. Press Ctrl-D (or Command-D) and it will duplicate your layer. Move it down so that it begins after the first title ends. Double-click the text, and type the next title. Repeat this process for the rest of your title sequence.

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Tutorial: Creating a Lower Third Title Lower third titles are very commonplace and are reasonably quick to create with After Effects or Motion. The term lower third comes from the location where the title is positioned on the screen: the bottom third. The reason for this is that the lower third is designed not to interfere with what is being shown onscreen but to supplement it. Originally, on TV and in film lower thirds were only used as a way to supply absolutely necessary information; now they have become a way of implementing some creative design as well as branding.


Begin by making a new composition that matches the size of the footage over which it will be placed. Often the designer is not the same person who edits the project, so the designer will have to set it up to be easily integrated into an editing project. Turn on your Title/Action Safes and the Transparency Grid. Since in this lesson we will go over how to prepare this title for use in a project being edited on Final Cut Pro or Avid Media Composer, it is important to keep our eyes on what our alpha channel will be doing.


Next, let's create a background. Create a new Shape layer by selecting the Rectangle tool, and place your background in the bottom third along the Title Safe line. I used a gradient for the fill, and a stroke set to black.

If you are relatively new to After Effects, you might not be familiar with alpha channels. Alpha channels are extra channels added to the RGB channels that will keep track of blank or semitransparent pixels. Even if you are importing a multilayer document from Photoshop into AE, you are using alpha channels; any blank space needs an alpha channel. In the case of importing a Photoshop document, the software uses the alpha channel without necessarily making you aware of it.

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This is an optional step, but often lower-third titles can feel like they cover too much area, and one way around that is use a lower opacity as part of the gradient. Open the Gradient editor and choose one of the top markers. You'll see a percentage for Opacity, so you can go ahead and lower it.


Shape layers have the ability to add parameters similarly to the way you can do so with text layers. Open the Shape layer, and click Add. Use Round Corners.


My favorite TV lower thirds are the ones that build rather than do something like a Fade Up/Fade Down. Now, keep in mind that you don't want this to be cheesy or to feel overly animated. Avoid the Effects | Transitions in most cases. In this case, I put the rectangle in 3D Mode by activating the 3D switch (it looks like a cube) and for the first 15 frames I use Position keyframes to animate it from being completely off-screen to its center frame spot.

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Now add in a keyframe animation of the X Rotation. At the 15-frame mark I placed my first keyframe with X Rotation set to 90 degrees. At the 1 second mark, I changed the X Rotation to 0 degrees.


Turn on Motion Blur (via the Motion Blur switch, which is the series of overlaid circles). You have to turn on the large switch to enable it in the entire composition, and the smaller one to activate it for specific layers.


Now add the text layer for the title. I have the name of the person speaking in a larger point size than his description. Now turn on the 3D switch and the Motion Blur switch.

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My playhead is on the 1 second mark, and now we will use the Parenting function to link the text to the background. Make sure you have the Parenting column visible, and then drag from the swirl-icon (it's called the pick whip) on the text layer to the background layer.



Now the text is paired with the background. Next, we have to have it animate off.

So, at the 4 second mark, copy and paste the X Rotation keyframes. Things won't look right yet. With the new X Rotation keyframes still highlighted, go to Animation | Keyframe Assistant | Time Reverse Keyframes. Now it will reverse the keyframes and your animation should look correct. Do the same with the Position to have the title move off-screen.

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Done-To use our title in our editing software with the transparency preserves, we will use a special render setting. Press Ctrl-M (or Command-M) to put our timeline in the Render Queue, and then open the drop-down menu next to Output Module. Choose Lossless with Alpha. That will preserve our transparency in other software packages.

Tutorial: Working with Large Blocks of Type In general, people who want to read won't be at the theaters when they can simply enjoy a leather-bound tome by a fireplace. However, there are times when you do need to make titles that will employ the use of large bodies of type, and here's some help with how.


First, set your type in a dedicated word processing software package such as Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, or Open Office. After Effects, Motion, Photoshop, and Illustrator are really not designed to be convenient tools for word processing. It'll make your life a whole lot easier to use a word processing program for this task.

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In Photoshop, begin a new document (in this case I'm using the preset for NTSC DV) and create a new Rectangle with the Shape tool.

Copy the text from your word processor and select the Text tool in Photoshop. Place the cursor over your rectangle path; you'll notice that the edges of the icon become rounded, meaning that when you start typing, what you type will be contained by the path. Resize the word large and you will see that your path is acting as a text box.

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Before leaving Photoshop, let's add a paper background texture. First save the document.

Import our type document into After Effects and use the Composition Cropped Layers import setting. Set the duration of the new composition to 30 seconds. Now highlight the type layer, and go to Layer | Convert to Editable Text.



Now we can animate our type. When you animate large blocks of type, it is very helpful to an audience if the style of animation you choose also helps them read the type. Go to the Effects and Presets menu and search for Typewriter. Drag and drop it on our type layer.

The Typewriter preset, by default, will get through our type block pretty quickly, so we will need to extend it. Highlight the text layer and press U. You'll see the keyframes for our effect. Drag the keyframes to be about 25 seconds apart.

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Done-Once you are happy with the pace of the Typewriter effect, try adding in Position and Scale transform animations to follow the Typewriter effect through the type. You might need to slow the Typewriter effect further.

Tutorial: Creating a Ticker, TV News-Type Crawl Some people hate them, but we are seeing them more and more. It's called a ticker, it works like the endless scroll of stock quotes, and TV news adopted the side-scroll to put headlines that roll across the bottom of the screen while something else is going on in the main image. It's not common for TV news outfits to use After Effects or Motion or common text animation software to create this effect; they usually use some kind of automated system for this. But over the years I've had several clients who've wanted tickers or crawls for either a TV news-style shot or infomercial clients that want to add support information during the main content. It's a fairly easy thing to recreate using After Effects or Motion. Let's see how.


Create a new composition in After Effects. Turn on Title/Action Safe from the Composition window.



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Choose the Rectangle tool from the toolbar and go to the Fill setting. Choose the Linear Gradient setting and click OK.

Click the color swatch next to Fill. I set my linear gradient to go from a dark blue on the left side to a light blue on the right.


Click and drag out your rectangle, making sure you cover up a comfortable distance above the Title Safe mark. Now we have to fix that gradient.


Adjust the number values for Start Point and End Point until you like the way the colors transition. Also, you can click Edit Gradient to bring up the sliders for your gradient. The following is what I have settled on.


Now we will carefully set our type. You'll want to choose something bold and large enough to read on your screen size. For optimal clarity, use a sans serif typeface with a bold style. Remember, people must be able to read this or else you will just annoy them. Unlike our previous example, you might even be giving them very important information.


This is optional: I added Effect | Perspective | Bevel Alpha, with a very slight setting to help the type read better. It's very subtle, but we want our type to be as legible as possible.

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Set keyframes for Position to have the type scroll from right to left. Make sure the sentence goes from being completely off the screen on the right side to being completely off the screen on the left side. Now, it is important that it move incredibly slowly to be easily read. My sentence had 13 words with 55 characters, so my keyframes were set at the 0 second mark and 30 seconds.


Check the graph editor to see the speed, which you can find by enabling the graph editor switch at the top, and then activate the graph editor switch next to the Position tool. My title is traveling at approximately 50 pixels per second.


To avoid your title's movement behaving in odd ways, make sure that you have the correct keyframe interpolation. Highlight your Position keyframes and go to Animation | Keyframe Interpolation. Make sure that both Temporal Interpolation and Spatial Interpolation are set to Linear.

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Done-Now, to add the next sentence, duplicate your type layer, double-click the layer name to highlight the characters, and type your next sentence. Then move your new layer down until the beginning of the next sentence comfortably follows the end of the previous sentence. You can repeat this process as much as you need to complete the effect.

Title Sequences in Production: The Camera and the Edit


Real-World Cameras vs. CG Cameras Whether real or computer generated (CG), cameras play a fundamental role in the creation of title sequences. In this chapter we explore the essential properties and applications of both real-world and CG cameras. By mastering their features, you will be able to swiftly achieve the look and feel you are seeking with greater precision. First and foremost, real-world cameras fit into two basic categories: film cameras and video cameras: • Film cameras record film frames on film stock—film strips of celluloid with a light-sensitive emulsion that is developed through a process similar to developing negatives from a roll of still-picture film. Film stock sizes include 8mm and Super 8mm, 16mm and Super 16mm, 35mm, and 70mm. If you or your client shoot footage for a title sequence using a film camera, you should take into account the time needed to manage film stocks and film-to-tape transfer (see Chapter 1). • Video cameras record frames on a variety of recording media such as miniDV tapes, tapeless media such as P2 solid-state cards used with some Panasonic models, the XDCAM optical discs used by some Sony models, and Compact Flash cards used by RED cameras. Computer-generated cameras allow you to animate your title sequence in virtual worlds by flying through and framing your elements, utilizing similar properties and parameters to realworld cameras. When you begin a project, both After Effects and Motion have a default invisible camera embedded in the project. This camera is invisible in the layers and it behaves almost like a fixed two-dimensional camera. You can move your graphical elements right and left to simulate a camera pan, but you can't move the camera itself. If you create a custom camera, you can manipulate that camera like real-world cameras, changing its position, rotation, focus, and other properties. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00006-4

Note: Although the introduction of HD in the production and postproduction workflow has led to a considerable drop in the use of film cameras in recent years, they are still widely used for shooting commercials, title sequences, and music videos, in addition to mainstream feature films. Aspiring movie title designers should still be aware of and able to support translation from film to digital formats for postproduction.


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In After Effects you can create a camera by choosing from the menu Layer | New | Camera (or by pressing the shortcut keys Option+Command+Shift+C). Make sure that you have already created a composition; otherwise you won't be able to create a camera!

Figure 6.1 In After Effects you can create a new camera by choosing from the menu Layer | New | Camera.

In Motion you can create a camera by selecting Object | New | Camera or by clicking the New Camera icon on the toolbar.

Figure 6.2 In Motion you can create a camera by selecting Object | New | Camera. 

Figure 6.3 In Motion you can also create a camera by clicking the New Camera icon on the toolbar.

Although a camera has been added to the project, it has no effect on 2D groups (in Motion) or 2D layers (in After Effects). This is how you can fix this issue: In Motion, after a camera is added to a project, you have the option to switch your groups to 3D mode or to remain in 2D mode. When you add a camera to a 2D project, a dialog box appears, asking if you want to convert your 2D groups to 3D groups. Regardless of your immediate answer, you can later toggle your groups from 2D to 3D (or vice versa) by clicking the icon on the status column in your layer tab (see Figure 6.4). The first icon (three flat boxes viewed from above) signifies a 2D group. The second icon (three boxes viewed with perspective) signifies a 3D group.

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Figure 6.4 In Motion you can toggle your groups from 2D to 3D (or vice versa) by clicking the icon on the status column in your layer tab.

Et voilà! Once you have converted your layers or groups into 3D elements, they will respond to your camera movement, focus, and other changes. In the next sections we will take a close look at formats, speed, lenses, focus, f-stops, focal length, aperture, and shutter speed for both real and computer-generated cameras.

Figure 6.5 In After Effects you can toggle-switch your layers from 2D to 3D by clicking the corresponding 3D layer icon in your timeline.

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Formats and Aspect Ratios Before you start working on your project, you need to determine which format you are going to deliver your final video render in. If you are creating a title sequence for a client, the client will make the decision. But if you are creating a title sequence for a friend or for your own demo reel, you'll need to choose the best format to suit your needs. This decision will not only affect the graphic elements you create, it will also affect the format you shoot in, your camera decisions, and the aspect ratio for your frame. 4:3 or 1.33:1 The aspect ratio is the relationship between the 1.66:1 (scaled down to match the SD height) height and the width of your frame and is impor16:9 (scaled down to match the SD height) tant to know before shooting footage or creating 1.85:1 (scaled down to match the SD height) graphics for your title sequence. 2.35:1 (scaled down to match the SD height) In film cameras, each film format utilizes a difFigure 6.6 ferent aspect ratio. The aspect ratios for 8mm, Super 8mm, and 16mm film are 1.33:1 (or 4:3). Super 16mm aspect ratio is 1.66:1, and 35mm aspect ratios are 1.33:1, 1.85:1, or 2.35:1, depending on the lenses, camera mattes, and cinema projectors. When you are working with video cameras or in digital postproduction, the horizontal and vertical pixel dimensions of your project and frame format determine your frame size and aspect ratio. For example, SD NTSC video is 720 pixels wide and 480 pixels tall and its aspect ratio is 4:3. HD video dimensions are either 1280 × 720 or 1920 × 1080 pixels, and the aspect ratio is 16:9. Common video frame sizes are shown in Table 6.1.

Table 6.1 Common Video Frame Sizes Width


Screen Aspect Ratio

640 720 720

  480   480   486

  4:3   4:3   4:3




1280 1920

  720 1080

16:9 16:9

Description An early standard for analog-to-digital video editing NTSC DV and DVD image dimensions NTSC SD video dimensions used for professional digital formats such as Digital Betacam, D-1, and D-5 PAL SD video dimensions used for digital formats such as Digital Betacam, D-1, and D-5 as well as DVD and DV HD video format Higher resolution HD video format

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In After Effects you can create a new composition by choosing Composition | New Composition. Pick your composition settings from the Presets pull-down menu, and pick your custom frame size.

Figure 6.7 In After Effects you can pick your custom frame size from the presets pull-down menu in your New Composition window.

In Motion you can create a new project by choosing File | New and either picking one of the project Presets from the pull-down menu or setting your own custom frame size.

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Figure 6.8 In Motion you can create a new project by choosing File | New and picking one of the project Presets from the pull-down menu.

Note: An intervalometer is often used for time-lapse shots. It can shoot at extreme intervals such as one frame per second or one frame per hour, allowing you to shoot and view in a compressed amount of time a natural phenomenon that would otherwise take a long time to unfold if shot and played in real time (for example, a flower blooming or a sunset). On the other hand, a speed control device is used to change the camera recording frame rate, usually between 5 and 70 fps, even during a shot. It allows you to slow down (and then eventually speed up) a shot to bring attention to a detail that it would be otherwise too fast to perceive (such as an athlete jumping an obstacle and grazing over it by a hair).

Speed and Frames Per Second To better understand the concept of speed, imagine that your film or video camera is a still camera that takes a specific number of pictures every second. The number of images photographed each second is referred to as the frame rate and is measured in frames per second (fps). You'll need to determine the fps whether you use a video or film camera (where the fps of your camera determines the speed at which the camera advances and records each frame) or whether you start a project in After Effects or Motion (where the frame rate of your project determines how quickly frames are played back). A film camera's default recording speed is 24 fps, but internal or external devices, such as intervalometers or speed controls, allow recording at different frame rates. A video camera's default recording speed is 29.97 fps in NTSC (the video standard defined by the National Television Standards Committee) systems and 25 fps in PAL (Phase Alternating Line, the interlaced video format used by many European countries) systems. Also note that an increasing number of camera models offer the user the option to record at variable frame rates (for example, the Panasonic HVX-200 can record between 12 fps and 60 fps).

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CG cameras don't generally have a frame rate property. To change the frame rate, you'll need to change the frame rate of your project. In After Effects you can set or change the frame rate of your project by choosing Composition | Composition Settings.

In Motion you can set your project's frame rate by choosing File | New and selecting Custom from the project preset ­pull-down. Common frame rates are shown in Table 6.2.

Figure 6.9 In After Effects you can set or change the frame rate of your project by choosing Composition | Composition Settings and change your Frame Rate value.

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Figure 6.10 In Motion you can set your project's frame rate by choosing File | New and selecting Custom from the project preset pull-down.

Table 6.2 Common Frame Rates 24 fps 25 fps 29.97 fps 59.94 fps

Film, certain HD formats, and certain SD formats use this frame rate; this can also be 23.98 fps for compatibility with NTSC video SD PAL SD NTSC 720p HD video frame rate; this can also be 60 fps

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Compressing and Expanding Time Recording at speeds other than the default speed creates a temporal effect that changes how the moving image is perceived. The following are two common situations in which you will ­perceive a time compression or expansion: • Slower frame rates (e.g., 9, 12, 16 fps) produce fast-motion shots. In fact, if the playback frame rate is higher than the recording frame rate, the action will appear to move faster. For example, images recorded at 12 fps (low frame rate) and played back at 24 fps will create a fast-motion effect. In this case it will take 1 second to play back 2 seconds of recorded material. Think of the early silent films, which were shot at 18 fps and played back at 24 fps, creating that typical fast-walking movement á la Charlie Chaplin. • Faster frame rates (e.g., 36, 48, 60 fps) produce slow-motion shots. If the playback frame rate is lower than the recording frame rate, the action will appear to move slower. For example, images recorded at 48 fps (high frame rate) and played back at 24 fps will create a slow-motion effect. In this case it will take 2 seconds to play back 1 second of recorded material.

Figure 6.11  Slow-motion and fast-motion shots. SHOOTING 48 FPS




1 second = 48 frames

24 frames = 1 second

1 second = 12 frames

1 second = 12 frames

24 frames = 1 second

24 frames = 1 second

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Time Remapping and Variable Frame Rates

Note: Variable frame rates are widely used today. By expanding and contracting time, you can reveal and underline details in your actions that would otherwise be subtle and that can play a key role in the unfolding of your story. Next time you see a music video, title sequence, or commercial, pay close attention and see whether you notice the application of variable frame rates.

In shooting footage for your title sequence, it's important to identify the shots that might need to be recorded at higher frame rates well ahead of time, ideally during the preproduction of your project. Unfortunately, that doesn't happen as often as one would like it to. At the editing table, when someone might ask, “Wouldn't it be great if we had a slow-motion (or a time-lapse) here?” Wouldn't it be great if you could say, “Sure! Let's do it?” Here are three common scenarios and ways of changing frame rates in postproduction: • If you speed up a shot or create a time lapse in postproduction, you won't really lose any image quality or ­information. For example, if you shot a hummingbird at 24 fps and you decide to speed it up to 12 fps, you would just have to cut one frame from every two and wouldn't actually have any picture playback quality loss. Luckily, tools such After Effects allow you to conform the current frame rate of a video to a lower one (see the following figures). • On the other hand, if you tried to create a slow-motion effect after you recorded the images at a default frame rate (e.g., you shot your hummingbird at 24 fps and you decide to slow it down to 48 fps), you'll have to duplicate (rather than cut) your frames, which could potentially be problematic and create some stutters in the playback. Once again, After Effects comes to your aid by allowing you to conform the current frame rate of a video to a higher one (see the ­following figures). • Finally, if you want to play your video at your recorded frame rate, then create a slow-motion effect, and then return to normal playback speed (e.g., you play back your hummingbird at normal speed and right when it's reaching the flower's nectar, you create a slow-motion effect, and then return to the regular frame rate playback), you can do so using variable frame rates in postproduction with After Effects' and Motion's Time Remap features (see the ­following figures).

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Figure 6.12 In After Effects you can conform your video clip to a higher or lower frame rate by choosing File | Interpret Footage | Main from the menu.

Figure 6.13  To access the Time Remap feature in After Effects, first select your video layer, then choose Layer | Time | Enable Time Remapping. Click on the Graph Editor icon in your Timeline to display the Graph Editor and modify the velocity curves and keyframes.

Figure 6.14 In Motion you can access the Time Remap feature through Inspector | Properties tab | Timing, where you can select Constant speed from the Time Remap pull-down.

Figure 6.15 In Motion you can access the Variable Speed Time Remap feature from the Inspector | Properties tab, were you can also pick the powerful Frame Blending option called Optical Flow. Different from a motion-blur frame-blending algorithm, Motion's optical flow algorithm determines the application of the blur on the extra frames created by the slow-motion effect by analyzing the clip's directional movement of the pixels. The result is a significant increase in the image quality of the slow motion.

Figure 6.16 In Motion the velocity curves and keyframes can be modified in the Keyframe Editor tab in the timing pane.

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Lenses Whether you use a real or a computer-generated camera, one of the first decisions to make is what lens to use. By deeply understanding how to use and modify your lenses' parameters, you'll be able to master the look and feel of your final title sequence. Camera lenses have three main features that you'll want to take close note of: focus, f-stop, and focal length. These three features respectively allow you to modify your image sharpness, exposure (whether it appears darker or lighter, underexposed or overexposed), and framing.

Focus Adjusting the focus of your camera lens allows you to control whether your frame is sharp (in focus) or soft (out of focus). Both film and video camera lenses have focus rings, which allow you to focus on objects at different distances from the camera. Keep in mind that you can focus only on one distance at a time (exceptions are wide-angle lenses, where most of the frame appears in focus; see the subsection called “Focal Length” later in the "Lenses" section). In film cameras, lenses' focus rings are often labeled in meters and/or feet. They display intervals from the closest point where the lens is able to focus to the farthest. If, for instance, the focus ring is set to 8 feet, the plane of critical focus will be 8 feet away; all objects 8 feet away from the camera will be in focus, and objects in front of or behind the plane of critical focus will appear out of focus. The farther something is from the plane of critical focus, the more it will be out of focus. This is referred to as depth of field (see the section, “Depth of Field”). Video camera lenses often have an unmarked focus ring. Focus measurements generally appear on the camera's viewfinder or LCD screen and are measured by arbitrary values (e.g., 0–99), which do not correspond to feet or meters but can be used as a point of reference to record the focus at a given time during the shot or to perform a focus pull during a particular shot (see the section, “Camera Movement”). After Effects and Motion cameras do not have focus rings. Instead they have a focus parameter, which you can adjust manually to achieve the look you are seeking. In After Effects you can change the Focus Distance parameter, located under the camera options in your timeline; it is also accessible from the main camera settings window, which can be opened by double-clicking the camera layer in the Timeline panel or selecting the layer and then choosing Layer | Camera Settings. Similar to most of the parameters in After Effects, you can keyframe the focus distance so that within a given shot you can manipulate when and how quickly your image shifts from soft to sharp focus, or vice versa.

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Figure 6.17 In After Effects you can change the Focus Distance parameter from the main camera settings window.

Figure 6.18 In Motion you can change your Near Plane and Far Plane parameters in the camera's Inspector tab.

Motion doesn't have a focus parameter per se. If you select your camera (either in the layers tab or in your timeline tab) and then take a look at the Inspector | Camera tab, the Near Plane and Far Plane parameters allow you to set the pixel limit of the layers you want to display in front of the camera (Near Plane) or far away from the camera (Far Plane). For example, increasing the Near Plane parameter to 100 pixels will avoid layers positioned 100 pixels in front of the camera to be visible. The Near Fade and Far Fade parameters will allow you to fade the object's visibility based on the Near Plane and Far Plane pixel values, resulting in a smoother transition.

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Aperture and F-Stops F-stops are numerical values used to control the amount of light that each lens allows into the camera, therefore affecting the exposure of your shot. Think of your eyes when they react to a bright environment; the pupil reduces its diameter to allow less light to reach the retina so that you are able to see a correctly exposed image. The opposite happens when you enter a darker environment; your pupil expands in diameter to allow as much light in as is necessary or possible. A camera lens is constructed in similar fashion. Located in the back of film lenses you can find the iris, a metal diaphragm that closes and opens depending on the f-stop values that you select on the f-stop ring. This aperture regulates the amount of light reaching the film plane. If the f-stop is not set properly, it will cause your shot to be overexposed (the image will be overly bright) or underexposed (the image will be overly dark). You can find an f-stop ring on film cameras, but video cameras don't have one. Depending on the model of your video camera, you might find a wheel, commonly identified as the iris, which allows you to change the f-stop value of your exposure. Generally the f-stop value is indicated in the viewfinder or LCD screen of your video camera. Depending on the film lenses and video cameras, f-stop numerical values can range from 1 (or “open” in video cameras) to 22 (or “close” in video cameras), 1 corresponding to a larger diaphragm opening (allowing more light in, as for filming in darker areas), and 22 corresponding to a smaller opening (allowing less light in, as for filming in bright sunlight). Lower f-stops allow more light in; higher f-stops allow less light in.


f 1.4


f 2.8


f 5.6


f 11

f 16

f 22

To determine the correct exposure, and therefore the f-stop, a cinematographer uses a light meter, an instrument that measures incident light (light that falls on a subject) or reflective light (light that is bounced off the illuminated subject). Most light meters have a parameter to set before taking a light reading: the Exposure Index (EI), also called ASA (American Standards Association) or film speed, which rates how sensitive a film stock is to light.

Figure 6.19

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Figure 6.20 In After Effects, in the Camera Setting window, make sure that you check the Enable Depth of Field box so that you can access and modify the F-Stop, Aperture, and Blur Level parameters.

For video cameras you need to check the manual or online resources to find out at the ASA at which your camera has been rated and the equivalent EI if your camera uses film stock. In After Effects you can set or change your exposure by changing the f-stop parameter in the Camera Settings window. Make sure that you check the Enable Depth of Field box so that you can access and modify the f-stop. When you modify the f-stop, the Aperture parameter changes to match it. As opposed to real-world cameras, After Effects' f-stop values range from 0 (changing the Aperture to 504400, creating a darker exposure of your composition) to 1,429,795 (changing the Aperture to 0, creating a brighter exposure of your composition).

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Focal Length The focal length is the measurement from the center of the lens to the film plane. (In film cameras it corresponds to the point where the light entering the lens reaches and exposes the emulsion of the film.) It is usually expressed in millimeters (mm). For example, if a lens is a 25mm lens, it will be physically shorter than a 50mm lens. Visually, it translates into how wide or narrow a view the lens provides; a lower value such as 10mm provides a wider angle of view, and a higher value such as 70mm gives a narrower angle of view.

Angle of View LONG LENSES (50mm and above)



Figure 6.21

Lenses fall into two main categories: zoom and prime. Zoom lenses, most commonly found in video cameras, have a variable focal length and they are identified in terms of their range (for example, a zoom lens ranging from 70–300mm is referred to as a 70–300 lens). Prime lenses, most commonly found in film cameras, have a fixed focal length and can be grouped into three main categories: • Short lenses (or wide-angle), ranging between 10mm and 25mm • Normal lenses (or medium), ranging between 25mm and 50mm • Long lenses (or telephoto), ranging from 50mm and up In After Effects you can decide which lens you want to use by selecting one of the presets from the preset pull-down in the Camera Settings window, or you can select your own by changing the Focal Length parameter on the lower left part of the window.

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Figure 6.22 In After Effects you can select the lens you want to use by changing the Focal Length parameter in the Camera Settings window.

In After Effects, the Focal Length parameter can range between 7mm (wider lens) and 206264mm (an extremely long lens). The focal length of any given camera can't be keyframed. To achieve a visual result similar to that of a zoom lens, you need to keyframe the Zoom parameter, accessible from both the Camera Settings window and the Camera Options in your timeline (see the section, “Camera Movement”). If you want to achieve the effect of a cut between two different shots using different focal lengths (such as a cut between a medium lens to a wide-angle lens), it might be convenient to use two different cameras in your composition. Simply create a new camera or duplicate your existing camera and change its settings, then edit it in your timeline. Just remember that if you have multiple cameras overlapping in your timeline, After Effects gives priority to the one on the uppermost layer.

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Figure 6.23 In After Effects you can use two different cameras in your composition to cut between two different shots using different focal lengths.

Figure 6.24 In Motion you can change the camera's lens by modifying the Angle of View parameter in the camera's Inspector tab.

Depth of Field Depth of field is the range in which objects appear in focus. Great depth of field (or long depth of field) signifies a longer range in which objects appear in focus, and it visually translates to more elements in your picture being in sharp focus. For example, when you want to achieve a look of everything being exposed and available for the viewer to look at, as in the title sequence in Intolerable Cruelty, you want to use greater depth of field. Less depth of field (or shallow depth of field) signifies a shorter range in which objects appear in focus, and it visually translates into very few elements in your frame being in focus. You would use this

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technique when you want to achieve a look of mystery and gradually reveal parts of the frame, as in the title sequence in Gattaca (1997). The depth of field varies depending on the exposure (f-stop), focal length (wide angle or long lenses), focus, and film format (8mm, 35mm). Table 6.3 will help you choose your camera and lens settings to achieve the desired depth of field.

Table 6.3  Ways to Control Depth of Field Great Depth of Field

Less Depth of Field

Short lenses (e.g., wide-angle) High f-stop (e.g., f22, to allow less light in) Far focus (subject far away from camera) Smaller film format (e.g., 8mm)

Long lenses (e.g., telephoto) Low f-stop (e.g., f1, to allow more light in) Close focus (subject close to camera) Larger film format (e.g., 70mm)

In After Effects you can easily control your depth of field. In the Camera Settings window you need to make sure that the box by Depth of Field is checked, and additional parameters will become available: Focus Distance, Aperture, F-Stop, Blur Level, and Film Size: • Focus Distance is the distance from the camera to the plane that is in perfect focus. • Aperture is the size of the lens opening; increasing the aperture increases the depth-of-field blur. • F-Stop values are linked to the Aperture ones; when you modify the F-Stop, the values for the Aperture change to match it, and vice versa. • Blur Level is the amount of depth-of-field blur in your project. Higher values increase the blur; lower values reduce the blur. A setting of 100% creates a natural blur, depending on your other camera settings. • Film Size is the image size of the film, which is directly related to the composition size.

Shutter Speed and Angle Shutter Speed The shutter speed refers to how long each frame is exposed to the light entering the lens. In film cameras, the shutter is a rotating disk that covers the aperture when the next frame moves into position to be exposed. While each frame is exposed, the shutter rotates 360 degrees and the next frame advances. Typical shutter speeds range from 1/24 to 1/500 of a second. A shutter speed of 1/500 means that each frame is exposed for 1/500 of a second. Shutter speed values directly affect the exposure and motion blur of your image. Lower, meaning slower, shutter speeds

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such as 1/24 require less light coming into the lens and require a higher f-stop, such as f22. Higher, or faster, values such as 1/1000 will require more light coming into the lens and a lower f-stop like f1. Slower shutter speeds used in combination with camera movement or a moving object create more motion blur. Because the shutter rotates more slowly, it exposes each frame to light longer. The frame will look blurry because the camera has captured a longer fraction of the object's movement. The faster the object is moving, or the faster the camera movement, the blurrier it will look. If you are not able to easily see whether a shot has motion blur or not, stop the playback and advance the footage frame by frame; if you notice that each frame appears a bit blurry, the footage was shot with a low shutter speed. Using slower shutter speeds such as 1/24 is a typical choice when you want a film-quality look. Using even lower values such as 1/12 produces even blurrier, almost dream-like images. Higher shutter speeds used in combination with camera movement or a moving object create sharper images and sometimes a strobe-like effect. The shutter rotates faster, exposing each frame to light for shorter periods of time. Even if an object is moving, it will look sharp because the camera has captured only a very small fraction of its movement. Action movies generally use high shutter speeds to keep all the action in sharp focus. Keep this in mind while you are filming footage for your title sequence, since this simple parameter can have a huge impact on the ­emotional value of your project.

Shutter Angle In film cameras, the shutter (rotating disc) is cut at an angle to allow the frame to be exposed; this is referred to as the shutter angle and it is measured in degrees. A typical film camera's shutter angle is 180 degrees, also referred to as a half-moon shutter because of the circle being cut in half. The shutter angle also affects motion blur and the exposure of the frame. Lower angle values such as 90 degrees allow in half as much light as a 180-degree shutter angle and create less motion blur.

Shutter Angle and Motion-Blur Options in After Effects In After Effects, if you want to make the movement of your graphical elements appear smoother and more natural, you need to purposefully add a motion blur. First, you want to click on the Enable Motion Blur composition switch at the top of the Timeline panel to enable or disable motion-blur rendering for previews. Then you can enable motion blur for each layer individually by clicking the Motion Blur icon on the corresponding layer. Keep in mind that adding motion blur, depending on your workstation, slows your preview and rendering time. A typical workaround is to disable motion blur while working on your project, then enable it later when you need to preview portions of your work.

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Figure 6.25 In After Effects click on the Enable Motion Blur composition switch at the top of the Timeline panel to enable or disable motion-blur rendering for previews. Then you can enable motion blur for each layer individually by clicking the Motion Blur icon on the corresponding layer.

Remember that you can modify the render settings in the Render Queue panel to enable or disable motion-blur rendering for your final output.

Figure 6.26 In After Effects you can enable or disable the Motion Blur from your Render Settings window.

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In addition to the Enable Motion Blur switch, After Effects offers you the option to change the composition's shutter angle. You can affect the shutter angle by choosing Composition | Composition Settings (or typing the shortcut Command+K) and selecting the Advanced tab. As with film cameras, the Shutter Angle setting in After Effects is measured in degrees, but its ­values range from 0 to 720° (rather than 360°). A value of 1° creates almost no motion blur and results in a sharp image, as opposed to a value of 720°, which creates a large amount of motion blur. Explore the different settings to see how they change the look and feel of your title sequence.

Figure 6.27 In After Effects you can change the composition's shutter angle by choosing Composition | Composition Settings and selecting the Advanced tab.

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Composing a Shot: Camera Framing and Movement Composing a shot is the way you position, arrange, and move your camera to frame the graphic elements or subjects of your shots. In this section we explore the options you will face when you have to frame a shot and move your camera.

Camera Framing When you're deciding your framing, you have a variety of options to consider: the image size, the angle, and the height of your camera.

Image Size The position of the camera affects the framing of your shot and therefore your subject's size in the frame; the closer you move your camera to the subject or your graphical elements, the bigger they will appear. There are three basic camera positions: • Long shot (LS). A long shot frames the full human body or the entire graphical element. Long shots convey a general sense of the space and environment. The subjects of your composition are prominent, but the background definitely dominates the frame. • Medium shot (MS). A medium shot includes, for example, a person from the waist up, providing more detail than the long shot. • Close-up (CU). A close-up could include just a person's head, creating a tight and confined frame. The subject matter you are shooting, or the subject of the film you are shooting for, will determine which shots to use and when to change or not change them within the title sequence. If the movie is a cold and terrifying one, and you want the audience to have that impression from the very beginning of your title sequence, you should probably pick a long shot or even an extreme long shot and leave it frighteningly still (see the opening title sequence of Alien). If your movie is a thriller that unfolds over many faceted points of view and you want to convey this feeling, you might decide to edit in multiple close-ups and medium shots (see the opening titles for the movie In the Cut). In creating your scene by editing and articulating shot by shot, keep in mind that one of the most common editing structure starting points is LS-MS-CU, which represents a natural and logical progression of moving closer to your subject while guiding the audience's attention to your storytelling (see “Editing Footage for a Title Sequence” later in this chapter).

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Other common shots include: • Extreme close-up (ECU). A shot framed tighter than the closeup to frame a very specific detail of someone or something. • Medium close-up (MCU). A shot framed somewhere between a medium shot and a close-up. • Medium long shot (MLS). A shot framed somewhere between a medium shot and a long shot. • Extreme long shot (ELS). A shot framed wider than a long shot, where a subject occupies a very small portion of the frame. • Wide shot (WS). A shot framed even wider than an extreme long shot, in which a subject occupies an incredibly small portion of the frame or is not even visible. In After Effects and Motion you can determine your image size by moving your camera's position, Z (depth value), to a positive or negative number. In After Effects a negative Z value will move the camera's position back so that it creates a long shot or extreme long shot, and a positive Z value will move the camera forward so that it creates a medium or close-up shot. In Motion it is exactly the opposite.

Level and Angle of Framing When a camera is referred to as low-level, it is usually placed close to the ground. A high-level framing refers to a camera that is higher than the eye level of a character. Changing the camera level can create visually interesting compositions, but it can also affect how the audience views and empathizes with the subjects being portrayed. For example, if a shot is positioned at a low level to frame a close-up of a child (rather than a high-angle shot looking down at the child), the emotional empathy shifts toward the child. For a real-world camera, you change the level simply by raising or lowering the tripod, without tilting the camera. In After Effects you can modify your camera's level by increasing (moving the camera level higher) or decreasing (moving the camera level lower) the Y value of both the position and the point of interest. In Motion, simply modify your camera's Y position value. For the angle used in framing, there are two typical angle categories: low-angle and high-angle shots. A low angle is when the camera position is low and the camera is tilted up; it is used, for example, when you are on the beach and you tilt the camera up to frame a pelican flying above your head. A high angle is when the camera position is high and the camera is tilted down. This is used when, for example, when you tilt the camera down to frame the beach, to convey the pelican's point of view. Be aware of how the camera angle can affect a viewer's feelings and connection to certain subjects. A high-angle shot can evoke

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Figure 6.28 In After Effects you can change the angle of your camera by modifying the Rotation parameters of your camera's Transform properties.

Figure 6.29 In Motion, before you change the angle of your camera, make sure that your Camera Type in your HUD is set to Viewpoint.

vulnerability, smallness, and dependence, whereas a ­low-angle shot can evoke power, subjugation, and grandiosity. In After Effects you can change the angle of your camera by modifying the X Rotation, Y Rotation, and Z Rotation parameters of your camera's Transform properties (see Figure 6.28). These values produce results similar to a camera mounted on a tripod.

When you change your camera's X Rotation value, a positive value will tilt your camera up, and a negative value will tilt your camera down. When you change your camera's Y Rotation value, a positive value will pan your camera right, and a negative value will pan your camera left. Finally, when you change your camera's Z Rotation value, a positive value will rotate your camera right, and a negative value will rotate your camera left. In Motion, you change the settings similarly by changing the Rotation X, Y, and Z values in the Inspector's Properties tab. Make sure that your Camera Type in your HUD or in your Inspector's Camera tab is set to Viewpoint. When you change your camera's X Rotation value, a positive value will tilt your camera up, and a negative value will tilt your camera down. When you change your camera's Y Rotation value, a positive value will pan your camera left, and a negative value will pan your camera right. When you change your camera's Z Rotation value, a positive value will rotate your camera left, and a negative value will rotate your ­camera right.

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Figure 6.30 In Motion, you change the angle of your camera by changing the Rotation X, Y, and Z values in the camera's Properties tab.

If you already framed your object and you want to rotate your camera around it rather than tilting or panning away from it, there is a simple solution. In After Effects, select the Orbit Camera tool from the Tools panel (or press C to toggle between all 3D ­camera tools). When you select this tool and you click and drag in your Active Camera view panel, your camera rotates around the point of interest.

Figure 6.31 In After Effects you can toggle between 4 camera tools by pressing C.

In Motion you first need to locate either your HUD or your Inspector's Camera tab and change your Camera Type to Framing.

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Then, in the Inspector's Properties tab, change the Rotation X, Y, and Z values. Now your camera rotates around your object rather than pivoting on its own body. Another option is to click and drag the Orbit tool in the 3D view tools of your Active Camera view (see the following figures), or click and drag your Rotate XYZ tool in the 3D Transform HUD control.

Figure 6.32 In Motion, if you want to rotate your camera around an object, you first need change your Camera Type to Framing.

Figure 6.33  You can now click and drag the Orbit tool in the 3D view tools of your Active Camera view to rotate your camera around your object.

Figure 6.34  You can also click and drag your Rotate XYZ tool in the Camera's HUD.

Camera Movement So, now that we have talked about choosing your framing and the angle you want to use, it's finally time to move the camera! Moving a camera allows you to approach an object, retreat from it, rotate around it, or fly through it; moving the camera can profoundly affect how the audience perceives the

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space on-screen and off. Let's analyze some of the most common movements: • Pan. The camera looks from right to left, or vice versa. The camera body itself does not move, but it pivots, as though set on a tripod, to horizontally scan the environment or to follow a particular action. • Tilt. The camera looks up and down. Similar to panning, the camera body does not move; it simply pivots to vertically scan up and down. • Zoom. The camera lens is adjusted to frame an object farther or closer. Once again, the camera itself does not move its position. A zoom in narrows the field of view, whereas a zoom out expands it. • Dolly or tracking/trucking. The entire camera body moves horizontally in any direction: forward, backward, side to side, or even in a circular or diagonal movement. A dolly in moves the camera closer to a subject; a dolly out moves it away. A dolly shot changes the camera's perspective. • Rack focus (or pull focus). The focus of the camera lens changes within a shot, so that objects positioned at different distances from the camera fall in or out of focus. For example, within one shot you change the camera's focus from a person in the ­distance to someone right in front of the camera. A rack focus can be very useful if performed in combination with a dolly move. • Handheld. Camera operators use their bodies, as opposed to a tripod or a dolly, as the support for the camera. The camera is aimed at the subjects more freely and generally results in a shaky image, often giving the viewer a sense of participating in the action. • Steadicam. A handheld camera shot without the shakiness. The Steadicam is a device that mounts on the camera operator's body and provides balance and fluidity for a shot. • Pedestal. A pedestal up or pedestal down (ped up/ped down) vertically raises or lowers the camera. This camera movement can also be referred to as booming up or down. A jib arm or a crane are commonly used for pedestal shots. • Aerial. A very elevated shot, typically filmed from planes and helicopters. This gives the viewer a strong sense of place and is commonly used as a background or a transitional shot.

Note: A crane is a mechanical elevating arm mounted on a rolling vehicle. A crane arm moves horizontally and vertically in any direction; a crane is most commonly used to move from above to below a subject (and vice versa), a movement that is impossible to achieve with a dolly. A jib arm is a smaller and simpler version of a crane; its arm is not mechanical and it is generally operated manually. Its smaller models can be mounted on a tripod.

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Figure 6.35

Motivations for Camera Movements Camera movements are powerful yet can be distracting and unnecessary if not chosen carefully. Before you decide on camera movements, you should ask yourself, “How does this camera movement benefit this shot?” If there's no answer to that question, don't do it! The most effective camera movements are the ones that are motivated by an event or an action in the story. Here are some common motivational applications of camera movements: • Dolly or pan the camera to follow the action of a subject or a graphical element moving in space. • Pan or dolly around to increase tension and curiosity, to explore a new environment, or to simply to add visual interest to a shot. • Move the camera to achieve a point of view (POV) shot of a moving subject or to change a particular established viewpoint. • Slowly dolly into a subject or graphical element for a dramatic effect.

CG Camera Movements Most of the camera movements explored in the previous section can be replicated in CG cameras. Here's a quick reference:

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• Pan. In After Effects, keyframe the X value of the ­camera's point of interest. In Motion, set your Camera Type to Viewpoint and keyframe the Y Rotation value in the Inspector's Properties tab. Alternatively you can enable the Record Animation button and use the Rotate XYZ icon in the HUD. • Tilt. In After Effects, keyframe the Y value of the camera's point of interest. In Motion, set your Camera Type to Viewpoint and keyframe the X Rotation value in the Inspector's Properties tab, or use the Rotate XYZ icon in the HUD. • Zoom. In After Effects, keyframe the Zoom parameter in the timeline's Camera Options. In Motion, select the camera, then click on the Add Behavior icon on the toolbar and select Camera | Zoom In/Out. In the HUD change the Zoom value of this behavior.

Figure 6.36  Zoom In/Out behavior as it appears in the HUD.

Figure 6.37 In Motion, select the camera, then click on the Add Behavior icon on the toolbar and select Camera | Dolly.

Figure 6.38 Dolly behavior as it appears in the HUD.

• Dolly. In After Effects, keyframe the Z value of the camera's position in the timeline, or use the Track Z Camera tool. In Motion, either keyframe the Z Position value in the Inspector's Properties tab or apply a dolly behavior. To apply a behavior, select the camera, then click on the Add Behavior icon on the toolbar and select Camera | Dolly. Change the

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Figure 6.39  To simulate a handheld effect in After Effects, apply a Wiggle expression to the camera's Position values.

Distance parameter in the HUD; a positive value creates a dolly in and a negative value creates a dolly out. • Rack focus. In After Effects, keyframe the Focus Distance in the timeline's Camera Options. In Motion, a rack focus is not possible at this time, but you could mimic it by keyframing the blurriness of your objects. • Handheld. In After Effects, apply a Wiggle expression to the camera's Position values.

Figure 6.40  To simulate a handheld effect in Motion, click on the Add Behavior icon on the toolbar, select Simulations | Random Motion, and change its parameters in the HUD.

• Steadjcam. In After Effects and Motion, use a combination of the pan, tilt, dolly, and zoom techniques indicated previously. • Ped. In After Effects, keyframe the Y value of the camera's position, or use the Orbit Camera tool. In Motion, set your Camera Type to Framing and keyframe the X Rotation value in the Inspector's Properties tab. If you want to create the same camera movement without keyframes, select the camera, then click on the Add Behavior icon on the toolbar and select Camera | Sweep. In the HUD, select a Start and an End degree value and set your Axis to Tilt X.

Figure 6.41

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Understanding Green-Screen Production There are a number of factors to take in consideration when you're embarking on a green-screen production shoot. First, if you've never attempted it before, I'd highly recommend giving it a test run. Grab your camera, a flat-colored background (it doesn't necessarily have to be green, but at the very least it should be a color that is not present in your props or the skin tone or wardrobe of your talent), and shoot a few seconds of footage, capture it, and key it. Following are some of the issues that might arise in this process and how to deal with them: • Light the green screen evenly. The green screen should be lit evenly across its entire surface. This is such an important task that you should plan on dedicating a sufficient number of hours to getting it right. Depending on the size and quality of the screen (some green screens in sound stages are already pre-lit, have a grid above them to hang lights, or don't have a grid; some greenscreen sets have a fabric background that needs to be elevated and set up with rolling stands), and depending on how many crew members you have and their experience, this is a task that could take anywhere from one or two hours to up to five or six. One tool that will be particularly helpful is a waveform monitor, a visual representation of the levels of luminosity in the frame. If the green screen is lit correctly, when you point your camera at it, you should see a flat horizontal line. This means that the screen is lit evenly, from left and right. In fact, the left part of the waveform monitor corresponds to the left part of your frame and the right part corresponds to the right portion of your frame. When a person stands in the middle of the frame, you will see their luminosity visually represented in the waveform, breaking the flat horizontal line of your green background. There are a number of tools that allow you to display a waveform interpretation of your frame, from the old-school analog waveform monitors, which connect directly to the output of your camera, to the digital ones in the form of software that can be used when you connect the output of your camera to a laptop or computer that runs the waveform software. In addition to waveform monitors, you could use a light meter (by taking light readings of different areas of the green screen and making sure that they are consistent throughout) or, if none of these tools are available to you, as a last resort you can use the zebras in your camera. By enabling the zebras in your camera and changing the iris values, you can see if the zebras are expanding evenly throughout the green screen. • Pay attention to the green spill. Having the green color of the screen spill onto your talent or set is something to avoid like the plague. Avoiding it in the first place will save time in ­postproduction that would have been spent on removing

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unwanted green color casts. Why does green spill happen? Remember that surfaces have different amounts of reflectivity, whether shiny or dull. Take, for instance, the useful bounce board used in production. A simple, white foam core, placed appropriately, can pick up light and bounce it onto the desired subject or area. When shooting in a green-screen environment, inevitably the green walls, lit with the stage lights, will bounce green all around them. There are a number of solutions to either avoid or at least reduce the amount of green spill: • Leave plenty of distance between the talent and the lit green screen. This distance really depends on the size of the screen and on the framing of your shot. A good rule of thumb is to have your talent walk as much away from the green wall so that:  The lighting aimed at the green screen wall doesn't illuminate them.  They are still surrounded by green screen while they perform their take (for example, if they need to walk forward or right to left). • Use magenta (minus green) gels. Using magenta gel over lights that illuminate your talent reduces the amount of green spill on their bodies. • Use Duvatine. When you are shooting a frame that doesn't include their feet, you could place a piece of Duvatine—a solid black cloth—by the foot of your talent so that you can avoid green spill coming from the floor. • Pay attention to shadows. In shooting your footage, keep an eye out for accidental shadows on the green screen. Some shadows might be created by the lighting illuminating the talent; others might be created by lights hitting other grip or props on the edge of the set. Shadows on a green screen prevent the screen from being lit evenly and will cause some delay when you're attempting to key in postproduction. As mentioned above, increasing the distance of the talent from the back screen is a simple solution, but when that is not possible (such as when the screen is too small and the talent can't move far from it), you might have to resort to other solutions, such as flooding the light so that the shadows won't be too prominent or even adding a diffusion gel. • Use different lighting setups for foreground/background. When setting up for a green-screen shoot, you should plan to have enough lamps available so that you can have two different lighting setups: one for the background and another for the talent or sets. The reason for this is that you want to be able to control the lighting for the green screen on its own. Let's say that you're shooting a medium shot of five people that you will use for their respective title cards. The talent will

• •

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most likely have different skin tones, hair color, or wardrobe that will require different lighting. If the lighting setup that is illuminating the talent also affects the green screen, when you make slight adjustments in the lighting position or intensity, that will affect the background. As a result, your green screen won't be evenly lit anymore. Keeping the lighting setups separate will give you more freedom with quickly changing scenes and talent without affecting the green screen lighting and, ultimately, the overall quality of the key in postproduction. Use green light bulbs. If possible, when lighting your green screen, use green light bulbs so that your green screen will be more vibrant and easier to key. There are a number of options available, one of them being the Kino-Flo green bulbs. Avoid using shiny objects, props, or even green wardrobe for the talent. It goes without saying that shiny objects will reflect green, and green wardrobe will be keyed out in postproduction, leaving a hole instead of the talent's clothes. Control your lighting sources. Depending on the location of your set, you might have to spend some time controlling additional lighting sources such as windows (if you shoot for a prolonged amount of time, the outdoor lighting will change throughout the day and cause a variation in the color temperature of your footage; this is not particularly evident while shooting, but it will definitely jump out when you're editing shots together in postproduction). There might also be overhead lights or light spilling around from an adjacent area. Before you start shooting, take a look around you and verify that you don't have any external light sources that might affect the way you control the light on your set. Check your camera settings. Your camera settings have a profound influence on the quality of your keyed footage. Other than deciding your frame size and recording setup, you should make a conscious decision about what shutter speed to use. A lower shutter speed will result in the movements of your talent being smooth, and the footage will have more motion blur, which will be harder to key. A higher shutter speed will result in the movements of your talent being a bit more choppy, and the footage will have less motion blur, which will be easier to key. Camera movement. If you are planning to execute some camera movements, you are entering a higher level of difficulty, which requires knowledge in 3D motion tracking. Instant gratification. If time permits, and if you will need to match live footage with some motion graphics or still pictures created in postproduction, a very useful tool to have on set is Conduit Live, a stand-alone nodal capture tool designed for live, real-time video compositing. When you connect your camera to a laptop or computer, this software will allow you

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to create a quick key of the source image coming from the camera and upload an image on top of it to verify whether it ­creates the look you are seeking. • Less green, more talent: Maximize the screen area. Always keep in mind that when you are shooting on a green screen, you are going to key out all the green background and use only the talent or props you shot. This is why, when framing a shot, you should frame it as tightly as possible, to maximize the use of your frame and resolution. For example, when you're framing a person in a long shot you shouldn't leave any unnecessary head or feet room. Still, you'll have so much green on the talent's right and left that it is a waste of resolution and screen space. Most cinematographers, when dealing with these types of shots, rotate the camera 90 degrees so that they can shoot more of the talent and less green screen. This trick will allow the editor to have better resolution in post, which will allow for a better key.

Editing Footage for a Title Sequence The role of the title designer on a title sequence can vary greatly. For example, in many cases, the designer will be called on to create a title sequence completely from nothing. Basically, the designer is given the opportunity to create all the elements involved. This model is exemplified by Kyle Cooper's role in the title sequence for Se7en, in which Cooper was given the task of generating the sequence largely under his own direction. The Se7en title sequence is not only famous for being crafted by Cooper's individual style; it's more because Cooper captured the entire story the film tells in his title sequence. Not everyone is Kyle Cooper; most designers don't end up being in control of the footage they work with. It can be a situation in which the film's editor will cut the sequence and then provide it to the title designer. The title designer might also be tasked with editing the footage that was given to him or her and then adding the titles to that. Editors are one of the three people on a film, alongside the screenwriter and the director, who have the greatest impact on the final product. Choosing the shots that comprise the final film can completely change an actor's performance, and the twists and turns of a director of photography's camera work, all by deciding what stays and what goes.

Three Kinds of Edits The most crucial decision an editor makes is when to ­transition from one shot to another. The most common and

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­ bvious transition between shots is a cut. o Cuts are the very simple ­switching from one shot to the next. If a cut is done correctly, it should not be noticed by the audience (unless of course the audience is a bunch of editors!). Cuts should be smooth and logical. The next kind of transition, a dissolve or mix, is done for the purpose of being noticed by the audience. New editors sometimes dissolve way too often missing the purpose of dissolving, which is to demonstrate to the audience that time has passed. The most obvious example of this is when the camera is close up on a clock showing that the time is 11:30 a.m., then it dissolves from 11:30 to the clock showing that it is noon. It demonstrates that a half hour has passed, whereas cutting would probably just confuse an audience. The third and final form of an edit is a fade. A fade takes one shot and dissolves it to either black or sometimes white. (White is rarely used, but it is quite effective when a character is consumed by light or acquiring a superpower.) Typically, the fade to black indicates that a major chapter of the film or the film itself has ended.

The Rules and Art of the Edit Editing a film is both a technical necessity and an art. Walter Murch's famous book, In the Blink of an Eye, (Silman-James Press, August 2001) discusses the art of editing on a philosophical level. However, there are some standard rules from which to start. There are criteria that will definitely indicate when it is a good time to transition. Roy Thompson's book, The Grammar of the Edit (Focal Press, March 2009), is a great book to read in conjunction with Murch's book; Thompson's reveals the foundational film editing rules, whereas Murch's delves more into conceptual territory. The foundation of every edit is motivation. Motivation can be somewhat elusive, but it's generally an indicator to the audience that something they don't see in the frame right now deserves their attention. So, it can be as obvious as an actor in the frame going, “What is that?” and pointing, and then we cut to an incoming meteor. Not every motivation is this obvious; they can be extremely subtle, but rule number one in editing is that if there is no reason to cut from one shot to another, then don't! This could be cutting when a character glances in a direction, adding a sound effect such as a phone ring or a knock at a door. In Murch's book, he discusses how often he finds that he cuts when an actor blinks, and that blink alone could be a motivation to cut. Unmotivated edits will make the audience feel lost in a film.

Figure 6.42 Dissolves are meant to show the passage of time.

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One of my favorite examples of this scenario is in Ed Wood's infamously awful classic, Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959), when inexplicably, in the middle of a two-person dialogue, the editor cuts to a shot of the radiator. The two characters were not discussing the radiator; if they were, the edit would have been motivated. Sometimes motivation is inherent in a scene; other times the editor will be forced to create a motivation to change shots. The one most people are familiar with is what Thompson calls an action edit, where a character's actions are followed, such as a person coming to a door and there's a cut to a close-up of their hand turning the doorknob. Also quite common is the screen position edit, where the viewer's attention is directed by what's going on onscreen to another location, as in the preceding meteor example. Motivations can be a visual abstraction; for example, let's say that we have a scene where people are having an evening dinner. A cut from a plate to the full moon can be motivated by the similarity of the two shapes. This is called a form edit. Similar to form edit is a concept edit, the difference being in a concept edit you cut from two shots that have a similar meaning rather than a similar visual composition. So, as a character falls to her death, there's a cut to another character dropping an egg that cracks. In Thompson's book he discusses five kinds of edits; the fifth is the combined edit, in which all of the preceding forms are rolled into one cut. This type of cut is extremely uncommon and will require much planning.

Three Kinds of Edits for Title Designers When editing the footage elements of a title sequence, there are extra considerations to take into account. Let's begin by establishing the three most common situations you will run into. The first situation is that the title designer is given the freedom to run a complete production (much like a short film). The title designer may in some cases be building the title sequence on his own. Typically this is when a title designer has some prestige and the producers put their trust in this artist. Now, this places a great deal of control over the situation in the hands of the designer. For example, since Saul Bass did the title sequence for the film The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), it has not been uncommon for the title sequence to be a completely animated or created sequence, without any shot footage. This allows the title designer to construct each frame; therefore, title designers can set up the frame so that the title is part of the animation. Each frame is designed with ample room for the title to sit comfortably. The second situation is when the title designer is not given a finished edit of the background footage for the title sequence; rather the title designer is given shots to assemble as she basically pleases,

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in order to tweak it so that the footage times well with the titles. This also allows the title designer the opportunity to choose the shots with the composition that lends itself to having titles placed over it. The third situation is the most dangerous: The designer is provided an already edited sequence to use as a background plate for the title sequence. So, if the work is already done, why is this the most dangerous situation? First, background footage that has been shot for the purpose of being a background for the title sequence should be fantastic, but this is not always the case. Also, if the footage was assembled before a color scheme and design style for the title sequence have been decided on, that means that the editor did not know whether the chosen shots would work with type over them! Another issue that can pop up in this scenario is that when the first title list is given to a designer, that is rarely the final list. There's always someone who got left out, or a new injection of money into the small indie project means that new executive producers have to be added to the list. Meaning that the whole ­timing of the edit may have to change. So, this is clearly not the ideal situation, but often as a designer you are not in an ideal situation. As with everything on a film production, planning is key. Just because footage is going to be used as background for a title sequence, that doesn't mean that it should be removed from the storyboarding process. In fact, storyboarding is fairly crucial. Think of it like this: If it's not storyboarded, the production team may go to the shot without being aware that they need to leave room in the frame for titles! So, before the cut begins, it is absolutely crucial that everyone knows what the plan is. Does the editor know the narrative being told in the title sequence? Does the editor know the text size, color, position, and amount of time the titles will need? The following tutorial takes you through a variety of techniques for efficiently editing a title sequence.

How to Edit Footage for a Title Sequence Editing footage for the purpose of integration with animated text as part of a title sequence will draw on a number of your abilities. You will be completing the frame of shots that were designed for the purpose of adding text. So, proceeding carefully is very important.

Software Setup Working in an integrated environment is highly appealing for a project like this, where motion graphics meet editing. Unfortunately for most users, Apple's Final Cut Pro (the choice of most film and TV editors today) and Adobe After Effects (the industry standard for

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basic compositing and motion graphics) don't “talk” to one another without third-party software. This software is Automatic Duck's Pro Import AE, which will allow you to open FCP timelines in AE. However, this product will set you back around $495. Another solution is that if you have After Effects, you likely have Premiere Pro, or if you have Final Cut Pro, you will likely have Motion. Premiere Pro's got kind of a bad rap; it's actually a very useful piece of editing software, of equal strength to FCP. Motion, Apple's motion graphics software, though not quite After Effects, will be up to the task. For this tutorial I'll use Final Cut and Motion.

Music Depending on how they like to work, one of the first things many editors decide on is music, even if it's temporary, to get a feeling for the right mood and pace of the edit. Since this tutorial will be demonstrating a noir-esque, suspenseful title sequence, the supplied music follows that style. Now, with these considerations made, we can begin.

Tutorial: Editing Footage for a Title Sequence


Import shots 1–4 into Final Cut and open our shot 1 in the Viewer. So that we have time to fade the shot up and put up our first title, I set my In and Out points so that the shot is roughly 6 seconds long. Now, the first half of the shot is less interesting than the second half, where the burning of the paper is more obvious, so I decided to use the last 6 seconds. After I was happy with the edit, I placed the first shot in the Sequence. I added a fade in/fade out transition to have our title fade up from black in the first second.


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To keep the established mood, I added a 1-second Dip to Black Transition from shots 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and 3 to 4. Remember, transitions have meaning, so we now imply that the events we are observing as audience members are occurring over a long period of time.



Once we are happy with the basic edit, it's now time to add in our titles, so go to File | Send To | Motion Project.

In Motion, create a title using the Text tool. Place the title in the frame in an appropriate place. Keep in mind that these shots were framed knowing that there would be titles added later, so there are plenty of great spots in each frame for a title.

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Done-Now we can add in our text animation. For this title I used Opacity going from 1–100 and I added the Bloom effect (Library | Image Units | Stylize | Bloom) to give it a backlit glow. For the Bloom effect I animated the Intensity parameter. Once you have one title that you like the animation of, you can duplicate it several times and then go in and change the source text so that you don't have to set up the keyframing for each title individually.

Tutorial: Creating a Title Sequence with a Virtual Camera Virtual cameras work pretty closely to the way you would expect a real camera to work. In the following tutorial we animate a title sequence in which a camera flies through a sky scene with clouds.




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Import the bluesky.psd document into After Effects as a Composition Cropped Layers.

Go to each cloud layer and turn on the 3D Switch.

Switch to the Top camera view and move the clouds so that they are spread out in Z space.

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Next we will create our virtual camera. Create a new camera layer by going to Layer | New | Camera. Use the preset for 20mm. This will give us more options for taking advantage of the virtual camera's Depth of Field effects.


Now that we have our camera layer, add your first text layer. Flip on its 3D Switch. Place it behind the first cloud in Z space.

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Animate the camera traveling through the scene, using both the Point of Interest and Position to move the camera to each cloud. Have the camera pause for 3 seconds at each cloud to allow for the animation of each title.


With your clouds and text layers highlighted, go to Layer | Transform | Auto-Orient and Orient Towards Point of Interest. This basically means that the clouds and text layers will turn to face the camera wherever you place or turn the camera.


Done - In that 3-second window, during the first second animate the cloud's Opacity from 100–0 while you animate the text's Opacity from 0–100. This will give the impression that the cloud goes away to reveal the title. Hold the animation for 1 second, then have the cloud reappear by animating the Opacity from 0–100 (also fade out the title at this point by setting the Opacity to 0%).

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Pop!Tech 2008: A Case Study Motion Graphics Studio: Trollbäck + Company Creative Director: Jacob Trollbäck What was the main concept and inspiration for this conference's opening titles? We were discussing scarcity and abundance and they felt like very organic concepts to us, so we spent a lot of time looking at nature references, and that led to thoughts on different organic ways to construct the type. Were there any challenges that came up when you were combining live action and motion graphics? We shot all ink, powder pigment, and ferrofluid, which is a really cool oily, magnetic liquid, with the RED camera. We also created and shot some plastic letters that we poured ink into. There actually weren't any huge issues with combining the live action with the type in After Effects. We do it all the time. Don't get me wrong, it took time and was a pain. Christina Ruegg and Stina Smith, two extremely talented designers and animators, did all that hard work. The choice of imagery that creates (Abundance) and destroys (Scarcity) the type is very effective. How were you able to balance and integrate visual imagery and typography in such a manner? Well, the idea that the word Scarcity would dry out and disappear was central to the idea, and that is setting the stage for Abundance to come in with a bang. We discussed color a lot, and while we ended up with a mostly monochromatic piece, we really liked how the red exploded onto the scene, like a flower bursting into life. The seamless integration of type and imagery, storytelling, and editing in this piece definitely provokes an emotional reaction in the audience. Can you elaborate on that? In all our work, we are trying to make people feel something. All our inspiration comes from insightful moments and experiences. We try to distill all that emotional power into small injections of pure emotion. The [sound]track, once again by Michael Montes, definitely helps. Anything else you would like to add? Like all good communication, the piece is strictly curated and choreographed, but the goal must always be to make it look effortless.

Figure 6.43a  Still frames from "Pop!Tech 2008", created by Trollbäck + Company.

Figure 6.43b

Figure 6.43c

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Interview: Ben Radatz on Title Design Motion Graphics Studio: MK12 Creative Director: Ben Radatz

Figure 6.44  Ben Radatz. Can you talk a bit about yourself and your background? I'm a pretty easy read; work is also my hobby, so I spend an unhealthy amount of time behind my desk. I have a great wife, a couple of dogs. Solid roof. No complaints. I moved to Kansas City in '94 to attend KCAI in the hopes of becoming a Disney animator, but it wasn't long before I'd forgotten about that and was off tinkering with early versions of Premiere and After Effects, making experimental type and collage animations. I was usually more interested in seeing how far I could push the software than I was the actual content of the work itself, but that gave me a good library of techniques and ideas that I was then able to apply to more substantial work. As a senior I was awarded the Princess Grace Foundation's Young Filmmaker Award, which afforded me a full year to work on my senior thesis project—this pretentious, confusing, 20-minute-long abstract live-action/animation hybrid thing. But it went over well on the festival circuit, and that gave me the post-grad encouragement I needed to continue making my own work. How did MK12 start out? MK12 started out as something entirely different than what it is now. While I working part-time at my first animation job, I got a call from an investor who had been referred to me by a professor at KCAI. He'd been following the success of Napster and other media portals and wanted to build something similar, and he hired me to design it. Not knowing anything about Web design, I recruited several of my KCAI friends/fellow filmmakers-turned-Web-designers. We'd work

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on the site by day, and at night we'd come back in and work on short film projects, a few of which became the work we're still best known for. A year later, the investor wasn't seeing a profit and bailed out, leaving us jobless. He was kind enough to let us keep our machines, though, and we took our small reputation, set up shop in my old apartment, and gave it a go. Our exposure in film festivals eventually lead to calls from networks and agents, and we gained momentum from there. Commercial work has always been a means to an ends for us; we're all filmmakers and artists at heart, and the work we're paid to do affords us the ability to continue on with our own projects. Not that we're any less proud of our commercial work, though; we're fortunate to have worked on some great jobs with some very talented people. But it's usually only because of our in-house work that we're able to work on jobs we like. How did you get to specialize in motion graphics, and in particular, film titles? As with most things we do here, by accident. When we got started, the term motion graphics wasn't all that prevalent, and it hadn't occurred to us that we'd be able to make a living at it. We figured that we'd be doing the same as before, more or less, only now with clients instead of a boss. But festivals like ResFest and Conduit—along with cheap workstations and an abundance of bored ex-rave-flyer designers—gave motion graphics some momentum. Add to that an army of jobless animators and title designers displaced by the closing of the bigger title companies, and overnight, boutiques with ironic names became the new agency go-to. Much of the early work we did got swept up in all of that, and though we'll argue when called motionographers, it's where we found our core audience. A lot of our in-house work is type-driven and experimental in nature, and that's gotten us some attention from feature directors wanting title sequences or animated vignettes in their films, and we're often afforded a lot of trust in our interpretation and execution of the job, which usually leads to a better piece overall, leading to more calls, etc. We love creative collaborations with like-minded people, and we really feel at home working on films. And if you look back at our work, it's not hard to spot our love for title sequences. It's an art form for which we have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration, the pioneers of which aren't credited nearly enough in the pages of pop-art history. How do your life experience, interests, and passions influence your work? We don't like to think that we have a “house style”; almost every piece that we make is the result of some new tangent or meme bouncing around the studio at the time. And we acknowledge that the best work often comes from personal experience and interpretation, so we try to create an environment in which everyone is welcome to pursue their own tangents and influence the creative direction of the studio. And many of our influences are defined by our geography: The Midwest is a treasure trove of flea markets and obscure mythology. Summer months spawn road trips down unmapped service roads, uncovering lost ephemera and absorbing the nuances between county lines. And being in Kansas City itself is a source of inspiration. It's a cornerstone of American folklore, but for more obtuse reasons: cabaret, jazz, the Mob, Jesse James, Disney, Pollack, Benton, Burroughs. The list goes on. It's good energy to plug into. What are your guidelines/preferences in regard to font size and readability for theatrical releases, broadcast, and/or smaller screens? There really aren't set guidelines for designing on-screen type anymore; any game you play these days, for example, uses type that challenges legibility, even on the biggest HDTVs. We usually just use common sense: design it as we wish, throw it on a couple of TVs or a screen, and adjust as needed. In film, font size is almost always dictated by lawyers and agents; every name is assigned a percentage of the main title based on his or her role in the film. So it is a bit more restrictive than television in that regard, but we just work around it.

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What kind of guidelines (if any) do you receive from the studios in regard to title card order, font size, or size distinction between executives, main title, and primary and secondary talent? The title card order is always dictated by the studio, and there's definitely a science to it that we'll probably never understand. And that's fine with us; our concerns are compositional and narrative; names are just text at that point. What are your general guidelines to determine the duration of each title card? Again, that's usually dictated by the studio. Most single cards run for 3–5 seconds, with gang cards up for 7 or 8 seconds. Do you have any preferences and/or motivations in regard to transitions (dissolves, camera movements, hard cuts, etc.) from the titles to the film (or vice versa) and from one title card to another? It all depends on the type of film we're working on. Some call for choppier, more staccato pacing, others for graceful camera moves and a softer tone. We usually go out of our way to avoid cuts, though; we just feel that there are far more interesting ways to get from A to B. But we're certainly no strangers to hard cuts—they have their purpose also. It's usually up to us to propose a transition from the titles into the film, and we'll work back and forth with the editor until we have something that everyone's happy with. Can you talk about the use of color and lighting in the work you do? Most of the work that we do inhabits a hybrid live-action/graphic/2½D world, and we're always testing new recipes for getting those elements to work together. When we shoot we have a pretty good idea of how we'll be working the footage into the overall mix, and we'll usually light accordingly. But we don't have a set technique that we take from one project to another; unless we've hit oil, we'll usually shelf a technique after having done it once. It just helps keep the work fresh and us entertained. Can you talk about the relevance of editing in the work you do? We usually replace the word editing with pacing when we work on a project; as I mentioned, we generally prefer continuous camera moves and graphic transitions over hard cuts. I suppose the only reason behind that is to do something different and unpredictable. But as a viewer, it's also nice to feel as though you're immersed in a larger world, of which you're only seeing a fraction. More so than with edits, continuous action implies this well. Do you generally work on your titles with the score already in place? If so, how does that affect your work? There's no real standard here, and our jobs are pretty evenly split between having music up front and adding it on at the end. If we don't have music to work with, we'll speak with the composer (or to whomever will be licensing the music, if that's the route) to get a feel for what the mood and tempo of the score will be. We don't work with a temp track, because that has a tendency to influence the work, even when you're mindful of it. So instead we'll work on goodsized chunks and then tie them together once we're able to. If we had it our way, we'd have the track from the start. Music (and audio in general) is such a big character in any animated piece, and it gives us an opportunity to really play up the relationship between the visuals and the track. But it seems to work equally well the other way; since we're not able to exploit the nuances of the track, we'll put our efforts elsewhere. It just comes out differently—not bad, just different. At what point in the production/postproduction process of a film do you generally get involved? Most of the title work we've done has been with Marc Forster (The Kite Runner, Stranger than Fiction, Quantum of Solace), and he likes to lock in his team as early as possible, so we usually have plenty of time to knock around ideas. In terms of actual work, though, that comes at the end of the production, not only because we often need yet-unshot footage to work with but also because it is important to us that the director feels involved in the process and pleased with our direction, which is usually impossible during production. We're the least of his/her concerns when shooting.

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As a creative director, can you elaborate on the dynamics with your team of designers, 3D artists, and illustrators? We're a fairly democratic studio in that anyone here with a good idea has the opportunity to influence the course of a project, and we've mastered the art of passing projects around the studio so that everyone can add to them. Most of us are generalists and are able to develop full shots (or in some cases full projects) on our own, so our pipeline can stay fluid, and we don't keep a set blueprint for working through a job. That spontaneity helps us approach each project from a different perspective, which almost always translates well in the final work. Narrative pieces are the exception, though, as it's important to establish a solid pipeline to ensure narrative and visual continuity. In either case, we'll either make sure that everyone is privy to the same thoughts and information, or we'll appoint a creative lead, the responsibilities of which are to filter and interpret the collective thoughts of the studio, not necessarily dictate the aesthetics of a project singlehandedly. Is there a typical length of time you are given (or a minimum amount of time you request) when you work on a title sequence project? We'll usually know about a title sequence project long before we start working on it, so at least we can get some ideas going, but in terms of actual production, it's usually a two- to three-month affair. Can you elaborate on the research you do in your projects, and how it affects your work? Our ideal working scenario is to develop projects from the ground up, which gives us an opportunity to inject our own interests and influences without competing with an existing idea or style. In cases like these, our research is probably already done, or at least well under way. We have a cache of ideas and techniques on the back burner, waiting for the right project. And more often than not those are informed by our own personal interests and experiments. If research is required, we do try to limit ourselves to nonvisual (or at least nondesigned) material so as not to influence our general direction. On Stranger Than Fiction, for example—in which Will Ferrell plays an auditor with OCD—we did a lot of research into what actually constitutes compulsive behavior and used that to inform our designs. And because he does work for the IRS, we dug up our old tax returns for further inspiration. What are your main goals/objectives when you are working on a title sequence? Most important is that the director is happy with our work, because at the end of the day, it's their film, and while we do make films of our own, a title sequence is not the right venue for our personal tangents, unless called for. And it matters that the sequence is an accurate reflection of the film itself; perhaps not so much in content or texture, but more in spirit. A title sequence usually sets the tone of the film, so it's important that we communicate that clearly. We'd hope that the sequence is progressive, novel, and poignant. And then, of course, we'd hope that it's our best work to date. What are the most challenging aspects of your work? We try to avoid doing the same thing twice, so the biggest challenge is probably developing new techniques, especially given the turnaround of most commercial work. What are your favorite parts or aspects of the work you do? Meeting and working with like-minded people and learning from them. Finding the right aesthetic or technique for a project. Brainstorming good ideas. How does technology affect your work? We're a small studio in a midsize town; we wouldn't be here if not for affordable technology and the means to work with people on the coasts or overseas. We try not to let technology describe our work, but it certainly enables it.

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Throughout your career, approximately how many titles (or type-oriented motion graphics) have you worked on? Not counting our own films, we've produced three title sequences and contributed graphic animation to four features. What are your favorite titles you've worked on? Not to speak for everyone here, but I'm sure we'd agree that Quantum of Solace was at least the most memorable, in that it was more of an experience than a job. We shut down the studio for months, learned new software, produced some fantastic early designs, stayed out in London, talked gun safety with Daniel Craig, ran a three-day shoot on one of the most famous stages in the world, and met the Princes at the premiere. And Marc Forster is about as genuine and inspired as they come, so it's always great to work with him. We shot the sequence with Simon Chaudoir, whose work we'd been drooling over years before. In all, a very deep and immersive project, all of which really informed the outcome of the piece. What are your favorite titles (if different from the ones you worked on)? Favorite graphic designers, type designers, or motion designers? Favorite font (either from a font foundry or custom-made)? Not surprisingly, the Bond titles will always be favorites around here, as with all the work of Binder, Ferro, Bass. A fairly predictable list, truth be told, but is so for good reason. David Carson designed a font called Thaitrade, which was our house font for almost seven years. It has a great presence and honesty … a very stable font. But we've now side-graded to Univers, just to switch things up. Do you have any advice that you'd like to give to novice title designers? Don't think of yourself as a title designer. Good title sequences really are works of art, and that should be your focus. The screen should only be the outlet, not the medium. What are you working on now? We're currently working on a new short film to be released sometime in the spring of 2010, and we just wrapped up a cinematic for Harmonix's next iteration of Rock Band. And we'll be doing some in-film animation on a currently ­ top-secret feature, which will probably be in theaters early next year.

Sound in Movie Titles


Characteristics of Sound Before we get into using sound as part of title sequences, there's something to be gained from getting a little background on sound itself. Every sound possesses three main characteristics: pitch, tone, and amplitude. We can distinguish one sound from another based on these three characteristics.

Pitch Pitch is dependent on frequency. Frequencies are basically a number of cycles and repetitions over the course of a period of time. A high frequency will have a wave that represents more repetitions in the same period of time than a lower frequency.

Figure 7.1  This frequency was set to 440 Hz.

Figure 7.2  This frequency was set to 1 Hz. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00007-6


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Frequencies are measured in Hertz (Hz). A 1 Hz frequency is one repetition per second. The range of human hearing is 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz (this varies from person to person and can diminish over the course of your lifetime, especially in the high­frequency range). Ultrasonic frequencies are above the human hearing range and subsonic are below it. Typically a bass guitar's frequency range is between 30 Hz and 350 Hz, but a violin's frequency range is 195 Hz to 3500hz. The length and size of a stringed instrument changes its frequency range. A classic tactic of sound designers is to work with human response to a frequency range. Sounds that hover near the edge of the subsonic range will disturb people. Thunder has a very low frequency. Often animals will appear to be disturbed by an oncoming storm before people notice it. This can be due to animals having a greater range of frequencies that they can detect; they could be hearing subsonic sounds from a storm that's farther away than the human ear can tell. Sound designers will often use low and subsonic sounds as part of the soundtrack or sound effects to help create a disturbing atmosphere. As you approach the 20 Hz and below mark, you are approaching the area where people can't distinctly hear a sound, but they can detect it. These are sometimes referred to as low-frequency effects.

Tone The second major characteristic of sound is the tone, or the quality of the sound. So, let's say that you have a very experienced musician playing a simple, single note, and then you have a very inexperienced player playing that exact same note. Why does the experienced player sound better that the novice? Since they are playing the same pitch, wouldn't it be exactly the same? Well, it has to do with all the other sounds you're hearing aside from the base pitch. You aren't hearing a single sound wave; you are ­actually hearing many. Most sounds do not generate a single wave at once. The base pitch of a sound is the fundamental, and then the other sounds that instrument is making are called overtones. Some sound waves will be a frequency that is a multiple of the fundamental, which are collectively called harmonics. So the reason that the experienced player sounds better playing the same pitch is that she has better control over the overtones and harmonics. Some sounds do not have a fundamental that can be detected. These are characterized as noise. Many percussive sounds don't have a pitch, so musical notation for drums is rhythmic but does not have pitch information.

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Amplitude Amplitude is essentially the loudness of a sound. A sound's volume is measured in decibels. The standard decibel level of a rock concert is almost twice that of a conversation. Our ears don't hear all frequencies at the same decibel level. The human ear is more sensitive to higher pitches than lower pitches, so a lower pitch will need a higher decibel level to match the higher pitch's decibel level.

Reflection, Absorption, Refraction, and Propagation When a sound is created, the cycles of the frequency begin, slow, and then eventually stop. Sounds are shaped and often change based on their container. So, a sound's reflection is based on the changes to the shape of the wave from its contact with the shape of the surface of the container. In a large room with four walls, you'll hear echoes because your voice is bouncing back and forth off the walls. Some surfaces will affect the frequency differently. Absorption will occur best in shapes such as the egg crates that are commonly used in recording studios because they act like small containers that contain the sound wave bouncing quickly in the small holes until its energy is gone. However, in other cases, high and low frequencies can be absorbed at different rates, resulting in a high- or low-pass filter. Sounds change based on their interaction with different surfaces. Some surfaces will change the frequencies. When the surface or medium changes the sound, refraction occurs, changing the sound wave. The way in which a sound wave will travel is called propagation. Think about the difference between hearing someone speak in an open field and trying to speak to your friend when you are both underwater.

Walter Murch's Synesthesia The term synesthesia refers to when one human sense is triggered by stimulus of another sense. When you hear a liquid trickling sound, you will think of water. You might even imagine a creek or river. Ever hear a sound that makes you think of the color red? It's more difficult but not impossible to come up with a mental image. If the image and sound gel and feel as though they belong together, we feel more comfort and we believe the scene more readily. Synesthesia can also work in reverse. Say that you see an image on a movie screen where actors sound like they are in a tiny room, but they are supposed to be in a cavern. You will probably

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feel some unease, as though something in the scene is not right, meaning that the suspension of disbelief may become fractured. Famous film editor Walter Murch, author of one of the great books on filmmaking, In the Blink of an Eye, is also known for developing classic sound design and audio production techniques. One of his famous techniques involved creating the correct audio environment for a scene. In the 1970s Murch developed a technique whereby he would take a sound recording device and a playback device and bring them both, with the sound from a film, to a location that matched the one that the film was trying to recreate. He'd play the original sound back, allowing the space to have the effect it would have on the sound if it had been recorded originally in that environment. He'd take the two recordings and decide between how much of the effected sound should be heard in the scene and how much of the original sound should remain. Today we have all kinds of audio plug-ins to develop the exact kind of sound we want. However, the audience must believe the sound when they hear it. When you work on a title sequence, you are creating a reality. What does the moving type sound like? Are the words heavy? Do they clink or bang when they land on-screen? Because we are dealing in a very abstract realm, where large letters appear, that doesn't mean that we can ignore synesthesia. The environment we build must engage the audience and make them feel as though there is some level of reality present. If a title zips by the front of the camera, it should whoosh, right?

Sound in Postproduction Postproduction is the final stage of the filmmaking process before the film is released. In this phase, the film is edited, the visual effects are generated, and the sound is finalized. There are numerous stages to finalizing the sound as part of the ­postproduction process.

The Sound Edit While an editor is editing a film, he or she is also cutting, arranging, and adding various sound elements. For example, if a character's face is not actually facing the camera when she is speaking, the editor can go to a different take of the actor saying the same line or something different. Sometimes the original recordings will be flawed, and it might be necessary to perform additional dialogue recording (ADR). If needed, ADR is used to replaced flawed recording or performance from an actor. Also

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during the edit phase, sound effects are recorded. Sometimes a process known as foley is used, whereby an engineer will record sound effects while watching a movie, to sync the sound effects to what he sees on-screen. So, for footsteps, the engineer will wear shoes that are similar to the actors' shoes and walk across a ­surface that is similar to the surface that was in the shot. The editor might also have a sound editor or sound effects editor who will supervise this part of the process so the editor can remain focused on the more major issue of editing the film.

The Score A score is an original piece of music composed to work directly with what happens on-screen. A score is quite different from a soundtrack, which is where popular music is played during parts of the movie. The score is meant to highlight narrative moments; it is sometimes meant to sit behind what is happening and at other points drive the narrative forward.

The Mix Film editors are usually capable mixers, but they will take the audio mix to a mix professional to finalize it. All the sounds have to be mixed together to create a completely believable audio environment. Also, the mixer is responsible for processing every element so that narration, music, dialogue, and sound effects all sit correctly together.

Audio Integration with After Effects Though After Effects was not exactly designed as a software package for purposes of mixing and editing audio, it's still quite friendly toward a variety of audio formats. Music or sound effects can be easily imported and integrated into your timeline. After Effects supports the audio file formats listed here: • ASND – Adobe Sound Document. • AAC/M4A – Advanced Audio Coding. • AIF – Audio Interchange File Format. • MP3, MPEG, MPG, MPA, MPE – Moving Picture Experts Group formats. • AVI, WMA – Windows formats. • WAV – Waveform. When you are working with an audio file, it can only be imported as footage. Files will keep their native duration. There are a number of places where you can activate and deactivate the audio. You will only hear the audio through your speakers during a RAM Preview.

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Figure 7.3  The Preview window has a speaker icon switch to enable/disable audio as part of the RAM Preview. This will affect the entire composition. Basically, use it when you want to turn on and off the audio during RAM Preview playback.

Figure 7.4

In addition, you have the Audio panel, which has a VU meter to keep track of your levels; faders for the left and right channels; and a middle fader for both channels.

Figure 7.5

Imported audio files can either be dragged and dropped into an existing timeline or placed onto the new composition icon that will create a new composition that matches the length of the audio file. If you drag an audio file into the timeline, it doesn't really matter where you place it, since it has no visual element. With either an audio or a video layer in your timeline, you will see a speaker switch in the far left column that allows you to turn on and turn off audio for each layer. If you are working with multiple video layers, each with audio, you will want to be sure to only leave the speaker icons on for the layers that have the audio you need. When you open the twirly arrow for the audio layer, you have an Audio heading to which you'll have the ability to add keyframes for audio levels. If you have experience with Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software, it's almost the exact same process as automating your decibel level. You will also have a tab for the waveform, which will give you a visual of the audio amplitude.

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Figure 7.6 Looking here and in Figure 7.7 you can see that you will most likely not hear a thing until about 3 seconds into your timeline. If you double-click your audio layer, it will open it like a clip in Layer Edit mode.

Figure 7.7

Place the playhead at the beginning of the rise in your waveform, and click the Set IN Point icon. It looks like a parenthesis. This makes the point that the playhead is sitting on the beginning of the clip. Just as with our ability to keyframe our decibel level, AE has a brief menu of audio effects that can be found at Effects | Audio. Each effect has keyframe parameters, allowing you a little bit of sound design capability.

Figure 7.8

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Figure 7.9

Finally, Adobe realizes that After Effects is not often used with final audio. So, by default when you render, your audio is switched off. If you want the audio embedded in the video file, you would have to open the Output Module Settings dialog and, at the bottom of the list, make sure that there's a check on Audio Output.

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Adding Sound Effects and Music to Your Title Sequence I'm not trying to plug my previous textbook here or anything, but it does present an opportunity to demonstrate adding music and sound effects to a title animation. For the supplemental videos for that book, I created an opener with type animation and sound design. In the following tutorial I'll take you through the full process of adding music and sound design to a type animation. For a quick sound design lesson, let's start by downloading the free audio editing application Audacity from sourceforge ­

Tutorial: Introduction to Sound Design: Making a “Whoosh”



Launch Audacity. We are going to create a classic whoosh for the titles to fly with.

Go to Generate | White Noise. White Noise is basically static, a random signal. Think of it as a block of marble from which we can sculpt our sound. A window will pop up asking you to specify the length. Set it to 0.5 seconds.

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Highlight the first 0.15 milliseconds and apply Effect | Fade In and then apply Effect | Fade Out for the last 0.15 milliseconds.

Now, for the fun part, we get to apply some effects. Go to Effects | Phaser and set the Stages to around 2. Raise the Depth and experiment with the other settings until the piece sounds appropriately airy.


Done-Add Effects | High Pass Filter. Set the Cutoff Frequency to 5000. Go to File | Export .WAV and give your piece a name. Now we'll bring it into our animation.

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Tutorial: Adding Music and Sound Effects in After Effects


Import the opening.aif file and place it at the bottom of the layer order, making sure its speaker switch is active. Also check your VU meter in the Audio panel to make sure it doesn't go into the red. Red means that it's peaking and getting distorted.


Import the woosh.wav file and place it in the timeline right below the layer that THE is on. It's slightly shorter than the distance between the first two keyframes. That's okay; it'll do what we need it to.


Add Effects | Audio | Reverb and set the parameters to about what is shown above.


Apply Effects | Audio | Stereo Mixer. Set keyframes for Left Pan and Right Pan. Right Pan should have the higher value first since the word begins in the lower right. Here I've set it to 70%, and Left Pan is set to –30%. I set another two keyframes at the end, reversing the numbers; Left Pan is now set to 70% and Right Pan is set to –30%. Now the "woosh" will follow the type's animation on screen.

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Done-Lower the level of our “woosh” sound effect until it sits nicely with the music. Try adding it to the other words as they fly on screen. Adjust the Stereo Mixer effect accordingly, based on the direction in which the words come on screen.

Synching Sound with Type Using After Effects Expressions Typically with After Effects, when you want to make one parameter dependent on another, you'll use layer parenting, but parenting has its limitations. For example, if you want to use an effect instead of Position, Scale, or Rotation, you'd have to use an expression. Expressions use a code language to give you a whole lot of versatility where you give your layers special instructions or hook just about any parameter to any other parameters. Many professional After Effects designers don't take enough advantage of what an expression can do for them. Now, to sync our audio to animation, we will first convert our waveform into keyframes and then employ an expression to get better control of them.

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Tutorial: Synching Sound with Type


Set up your After Effects composition and set your type layer. I'm going for a 1980s style here, so I wanted a big-sounding action movie.


Import your audio and place it in your timeline. Open its twirly arrow to see the Waveform parameter. You'll have to click the waveform's twirly arrow to make it appear on screen.

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Highlight the audio layer and go to the Animation menu at the top of the screen. Open it and go to Keyframe Assistant | Convert Audio to Keyframes.


You now have a new Audio Amplitude layer. It's actually a null object that has our keyframes that were gathered from our audio file stored in it. There's three keyframe parameters, one for the Left Channel, another for the Right Channel, and finally, one for Both Channels. These are the keyframes we will use to animate our type.


Add the CC Light Rays effect from Effect | Generate | CC Light Rays, to the type layer. Animate the Center parameter to send the light all throughout the type layer.

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Open the CC Light Rays effect in the timeline, hold down Alt/Option, and click on the stopwatch for the Intensity parameter. Your numerical value will turn red and you will have the field open to type out an expression.


Highlight the pick whip and drag it to the Audio Amplitude's Both Sliders parameter to connect the expression from Intensity to the value of Both Sliders. Take a look at your animation, and yes, it's not so thrilling.


Done-Go back to your expression. Right after you see (“Slider”), add *5. Now it will take the value from the Both Sliders number and multiply it by 5. The effect is now clearly growing in its intensity with the sound. Experiment with this technique. Once you have it down, it adds a great deal of versatility to your ability to integrate sound into After Effects.

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Urbanicity: A Case Study Motion Graphics Studio: Energi Design Creative Director: Steve Holmes © Energi Design What was the main concept and inspiration for Urbanicity–Air? Urbanicity is still a work in progress. It regards the pitch for a documentary on urban issues. There were a series of titles that we were going to come up with for the different stages of the show. One was on energy resources and damage to the planet, others about urban destruction, graffiti, or damage to property. Lots of different ideas. I wanted to create them with the utmost flexibility and later on add a lot more depth to them. That's really where these two titles came out because they both stand alone very, very well and display very unique techniques, especially the 3D one. The first one is more on the nature side of things, a story telling about clean air, essentially, going from bad to good, pointing out how we can change the world as it is at the moment. It is a transition done with interesting time remapping. It relied a lot on stock footage suitable for time remapping, which was great. The clouds moving in the background, the grass growing in the foreground, the wind turbines were all stock footage elements. In fact that dust is as well, but I didn't time-remap that. I just wanted to build this sort of journey, from bad to good essentially, and make the color reflect that. You have this very dark and angry, almost fire-looking start to it, where the clouds are obviously just filthy. There's no good there; when you look at that and think about breathing, you want to cough. A lot of the line art imagery actually came from a book called Neubau Welt, which is an entire library of phenomenal vector art all on one CD. It's an incredible library; I love it. This was a good starting point because it really gave us a good artwork to play with, and that's where the crane idea came from, by the way. I thought: “What's going to stand against the background of that much dirt?” and I figured that something digging or pulling or mining would have been really cool. It got the job done quickly because the stock art was adding a certain amount of detail to it, which I think worked really well. The dust was added over the top, just to give that choking feeling to things. And then the scene goes from mining and fossil fuels to electricity, which is a healthier form of power but has a visual impact on the countryside, with these massive towers and wires. We wanted to take it on from there so you get to the wind-powered section, where you have turbines that pull the power in. They look a little more like trees and can be a little bit more hidden in some respects, and blend a little bit more into the environment. They stand alone without being connected to other items. As we move from there to now, the grass is starting to grow again, the colors change, we've got water that's falling, and a general clean feeling to it. We've animated the swirls on the logo to reflect the growing of the grass. We've also duplicated the grass clip four or five times, just to add a little depth to it. There were some really nice elements that ended up working. For instance, the water that goes behind the grass in the foreground; I think it's kind of cool. I think the end result in this journey from dark to light just worked. The concept and the timing of it all didn't take too much as it was a very linear process. Each episode is going to have its own title based on the theme of the content. So if this takes off, we would have to figure out different ways to approach those. To maintain a similar feel of vector and vectorized footage and the same thematic approach, we have to think how that might work.

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Figure 7.10a  Still frames from Urbanicity–Air, created by Energi Design.

Figure 7.10b

Figure 7.10c

Figure 7.10d

Figure 7.10e

Figure 7.10f

Can you talk a little bit about the use of colors? There was a lot of color to start with, and when you got to the end point, because of these textures, you couldn't see that much difference between start and finish. So, I took a step back. I was trying to get as simple as possible and make the end look very, very clean and make the beginning look the complete opposite. The posterization of the clouds in the background, for example, had many levels, and I added more colors in each of those, so it became harder to differentiate between the changes in the air as there were too many colors. It was a very detailed, very gradual shift. So, I took everything back a few steps and went right back to two colors, then I went up to four and I think we ended up with six, to give it a bit more impact. There's a lot of black on the foreground, while all the graphics in the back are essentially white or very light. These are the main colors, and everything else in between had to sit quite happily in the middle, either in front of it or behind it, in terms of good versus bad. The fact that the hillside covers the fire effect, which almost had a forest fire feel to it, as if there's burning going on there—I wanted to cover that up as we move forward in time. That's now hidden, so we get more to the blue, which is good. Having drastically changed the now hidden color, the fire, we slightly introduced that fire color here in the turbines. But then as the 3D angle changes they slightly change as well—there's actually one gradient over the top of the whole piece here—and because of the way the camera moves, certain elements appear in one color and as they move they become the other color. I think that was the kind of feeling we wanted to achieve here. We thought much on how to give a different impression from when you first see the object to when you last see it. That is a lot healthier, if you like, because it has changed its own color space. In the end it's all very simple, really: It is mostly blue and there's just a little bit of detail in the grass; everything else is very clean. It was quite a simple process, all about marking the difference between start and finish, when you can really see clean versus not, and everything is in the same color space. Would you agree with the statement that basically you're a storyteller? I think this word defines a lot of our work. I don't know if that's something we tend to do a lot or we get a lot, but it's mostly a process of beginning, middle, and end, and what's the story in between. I guess most commercial pieces

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are like that. I enjoy taking my art for that journey, if you like, and figuring out the best way to approach a story. I think sometimes it is best to present something with a story. This piece is only 15 seconds long, but you get that sense of history and evolution, people caring about the environment, and visually, at the end you might want to say: “I want to live there.” It's all very beautiful there, it's green and lush, while in the beginning you realize how the different things work. Even in such a short space of time, if you could tell a good story or figure out the best way to represent that change, it massively helps the piece to get done. You end up with a good resolve rather than focusing on one element and saying: “Here's the title, here's a few turbines, here's some clouds, how do we make that last 15 seconds?” which is what we see a lot of people do. Too many artists try to take a series of elements and make them last as long as possible. If you try to go a little bit deeper and add some narratives, I believe it helps hugely, and I would say a lot of our projects are based around that idea. I think it's good to start and finish with a transition. Can you talk about the other Urbanicity titles—Derelict? This one's a little bit more surreal. It was as much a technical challenge as anything. I was trying a technique that finally worked very well, and while this is great, I spent much time seeing how far things could be pushed and tested. I think with part of this project the technology was driving the concept. I knew what I wanted to see and I wondered if I could get there.

Figure 7.11a  Still frames from Urbanicity– Figure 7.11b Derelict, created by Energi Design.

Figure 7.11c

Figure 7.11d

Figure 7.11e

Figure 7.11f

Figure 7.11g

Figure 7.11h

Figure 7.11i

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Figure 7.11j

Figure 7.11k

Figure 7.11l

I started by adding the glowing swirls onto the floor and they blended in so nicely. The end was more about freedom and imprisonment and the feeling of it. Hence, the dove and the shadows. The thing I really liked about this is the original shot that just had a small beam of light in the corner. When I added the glow effect to it, the look was then very golden. I wanted to take the whole room and move it into the same color space but also take all the elements and just blend them completely in, so that they would look like they're shiny and they're gold, as if there is some value in them. Not material value, but more the feeling of success, like there's light at the end of the tunnel. There's a golden highlight to this dark feeling, there [are] things [that are] bright and shiny. There's a positive feeling to the elements that are being animated here. The swirls could have been black and grungy, and so everything else. Just by introducing this light, which almost illuminates the room, I think we just really added a very nice element to it; it made it stand out. The fireflies at the end of the room are actually just periods: that's animated type. They're not particles or anything else, they're just text. And that was again a technical challenge. Looking in hindsight now I could have used a particle emitter to add more of them and give them some blur, but initially it was just: “Let's figure out an easy way to do this.” By having them glow, and given the text animation properties of After Effects, the blurs could be keyframed very quickly and apply random opacity levels, so they do tend to flicker. You can catch them occasionally; they fade in and out just as real fireflies would. This was a nice effect, it's almost like they're adding the color to the end of the room. It's not just them trying to blend in, it's almost like they are actually lighting the space. Without those the project needed something, it needed something like dust, so they might be fireflies, they might be just dust particles if we'd have added more. Things that slowly move in the 3D space, just to add some depth to it. It was more of a technical concept challenge as well as a graphical playground, if you like. If I'd have gone back and revisited this piece, I probably would have made it a bit darker on the start, leading into the light as it progressed, like the end of the tunnel, where the light is. The shadows from the window at the end of the room would also be darker, and the logo would stand out a little bit more. In this piece the camera movement is simulating a person exploring the space, with sort of handheld moves. How does that fit in your piece? And about the use of depth of field, as it is a little more evident in this piece, why have you decided to maximize its use here? On the previous piece the depth of field was consistent and mathematically coherent. That piece was created so that the camera moves and its focal point were exactly positioned. The camera moves were sort of fast, and then they would slow down, and then fast and then slow; during those slow periods of about 200 pixels the point of focus was pretty much dead in the middle, so that the item that was coming into focus was always in focus during the slow move, and then the zoom would go to the next object, which would come into focus just at the right time. Everything was laid out to the pixel. The camera just moved backward and everything worked. This project, like you say, was very human, and that was what I wanted. It was almost like someone was picking himself up off the floor. It's the first time they stood up for a while, and they lean to one side, and then they come across

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it to the other side, then turn and realize there's hope here. Something is growing and it's bright, there's life and it's almost like walking out the door, knowing that around the corner things are going to be better. This is always something I like doing—not just thinking in terms of slow movements, or handheld feel to it - this was even actually adding a person into the mix, which I thought was kind of cool, and having him start low down. All this was just done with a series of keyframes for both the position and the focal point of the camera, which do shift independently of each other. I might have used the [After Effects] null. I'm not sure, but I believe they were just keyframed independently. I then applied random values to both of those parameters in order to get this sort of swaying effect, where they appear to be independent from each other. The result is that the front might be doing the same movement, but the position would change accordingly, so there's a wonderful realization that a camera is always mostly fixed pointing in a certain place, whereas with the human head, you always have so many angles of choice; plus you've got the eyes, added to that which is another 180 degrees in each direction. There's so many points of rotation there that sometimes handheld camera moves in the computer can't really achieve that feeling. It's harder to make that work and be believable than maybe moving it as you're seeing through someone's eyes, as in this case. And that's why here and there there's an occasional shift, because it's not just the head moving but maybe a flick of the eye. This was cool, actually—a very good challenge. I like the moves at the end, but again, just going back to it, once the positions were done, I would measure the distance from the camera to the logo and then adjust the depth of field when it comes into it, and make sure that everything else moved accordingly. I did want that feeling of realization that someone's holding onto this door and reads the sign; it worked nicely. I'd love to develop this one a little longer and try to have the person move in and go through that door. And as they do, the brightness would have marked the transition to the intro of the documentary. When you are working on a variety of projects like these, how do you keep your creative juices flowing? Well, obviously going out on the bike and clearing my head up in the mountains is great. It helps. Sometimes it feels like your creative pipeline has a block, and it is building up. You know it's there, so sometimes you just need to blow that pipeline out, and I think a good bike ride and some sunshine is always a big help for me. I like to go and see a film; I'll just take an afternoon off, drive into the city, which in itself is kind of different, because you are taken from the environment of a studio, with a small number of people, and a small town feel kind of thing, and then you get into the city. All of a sudden you are surrounded by a lot more visual information, and that in itself gives me a lot of ideas. I see the way colors are in storefronts, or what people are wearing, or what kind of bag someone bought from a store and how that is colored, or something like that. I sometimes get the most inspiration from bizarre things, so I'll go and sit somewhere and have coffee and watch people as they walk by, and see color or shape or something that catches my eye. I would then sketch that or take a note. It's quite bizarre sometimes, people and their color: their clothing color, their fashion choices, what they're holding, what they're riding or walking, or what shoes they're wearing, stuff like that can sometimes just tweak the senses enough for you to say, “Oh, that's interesting.” On the other side of things, going to movies and watching titles. The color and framing, the camera and the angles that they used. Occasionally I'll see a single shot and say, “That's just the angle I was thinking of, or the way that that color shows up at that angle,” or something like that. And then you have the titles and they always give you some sort of inspiration. It's not that I go to the movies to get that inspiration, but it's more that I find some inspiration in most movies.

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When I'm abroad, I will bring back from every trip probably four or five design books, every single time I go away. And sometimes the books are so big and heavy I have them shipped over, because they're too expensive to put in the suitcase. There are a few stores off the back of Covent Garden in London where I could spend all day. They tweak the senses very, very well. The color of them, the book covers themselves, the subject matter; I get a lot of joy from that. I like those stores because books are all around you and there's books seven or eight shelves up that you have no hope of even getting to, and you look at them and go, “I want that one!” It's beautiful; I love it. Some of my favorite books I got them from there. How does the inspiration that you get from outside influence your work? I think it gives me the ability to look at the project from a different angle. I sometimes find myself as if I'm in a oneway street and the project is blocking the way. I then realize I'm only going at it from one side. Sometimes if you step away from it and come back later with some sort of inspiration, which changes your thinking or your approach, you find yourself in the same place, but it's like with floating. You are able to move around and look at the same thing from a slightly different angle: from the other side, or climb up a ladder and look at it from here. And that's how it actually feels when I come back to a project; I've got that new sense of how to look at it. And that is really cool. It doesn't happen a lot, but sometimes you reach the same block so many times that you need that. I really enjoy projects when you end up taking a different step, and thinking, “I never thought of that before.” All of a sudden it clicks, and that's how a lot of projects have done well, by the way. Like with the absinthe one; I was in France and got a chance to see some of the history of this particular product, and some of the artists associated with it, and to go into the area where it was consumed back in that time. To get a geographical feel for it helped much as well. To just come back and say, “Okay, we have a texture, we have a logo, we have a bottle” —that is so easy to do. How does research affect your work? I think a lot of problem solving goes through agencies these days. A lot of the work that we get is quite specific in terms of the project and has a more direct vision. The product is already established or there's a general feeling for what it is going to look like. It's very rare that I have to do massive amounts of research, and absinthe again is a classic one. The research was enjoyable mainly because it was a subject matter in which I was interested and was geographically somewhere I was interested in. It drew me into a desire to actually research it myself and to look at what I could add to the project in doing so. But a lot of projects that we get are more straightforward in that respect. I don't want to disrespect anybody in any way by saying that, but a lot of them are predefined. I would like to have projects that do require more research so I could learn more about them and offer more to the project. But the budgets are never there for that kind of work. And that's why that sort of stuff tends to go through an agency, because they will set aside $10,000 or $15,000 just for research and then do the work. And only after that they will come to someone like me and say, “Hey, can you do the work? We've done the research.” Occasionally, research-wise, I will look into how things had been done previously. I maybe ask myself how a design was done—in case I'm doing a redesign, for example—or how it looked in the past, why it looked that way in the past, if it feels dated, what do I need to change, what is the sort of feel of typography that would go with that particular design, is that an historical choice as opposed to a personal choice. These are all possible questions I might ask.

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Essential Techniques



Figure 8.1  How can we set up an average speed title with enough time for animating in and out and audience read time?

It's crucial that we allow for the right amount of time for each title. I have a formula that I apply to every title sequence I do. First, for an audience member to have enough time read one title (that's average in length), they will need roughly 3 seconds. However, that's only the time it requires to be legible to the audience. Looking at Figure 8.1, in order to time it so that we have enough time to do an animated arrival and departure from the screen, we need to add 1 second at the beginning and at the end to allow for this, which puts us at 5 seconds. Now, this is true only, of course, if the title is not legible ­during the animate in and out. If it is, then as long as the audience has 3 seconds or close to 3 seconds to read the title, you are safe. Now, with these considerations in mind, we can begin.

© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00008-8


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Fade Up and Fade Down The single most common title sequence animation is the classic fade up and fade down. After Effects (in addition to most editing packages) gives you several ways to do this simple move. We'll go through a couple variations.

Tutorial: The Basic Move


Even your most complex type animations will usually integrate this move as part of their effect, so this is more of a building block technique. With text layers in After Effects we can achieve our effect with either the standard Transform | Opacity or Text | Animate | Opacity. Remember that the Text | Animate versions of the Transform effects go by character, not the entire word. But with Opacity it will look the same.

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Place the playhead at the point where you'd like your type to fade up. Start the stopwatch for Opacity and set it to 0%.

Go to the 1 second mark. Set the Opacity to 100%.


With keyframe animation software, the computer is calculating all the frames between keyframes for you, but when you want the value of something to remain the same, you need a keyframe that repeats the previous value so that the software knows how long to keep the value the same. So, for our Opacity, from 1 second to 4 seconds we need to keep it at 100%. So, at the 4 second mark, click the Add or Remove Keyframe button in the far left column.


Done-To complete our animation of Opacity, at the 5 second mark, return the percentage to 0.

Fade Up and Down by Character Whenever you use a text animation effect that needs to address a single character at a time, the most efficient way to approach that is via the Text | Animate menu. Every one of these effects creates an animator. The animator will contain the added effect as well as range selectors. Range selectors are brackets that allow you to animate which letter or letters has an effect applied to it at one time.

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Figure 8.2 In this example, you can see that the O has a lower opacity effect. It is surrounded by the two range selector brackets to isolate the effect to the single letter.

Figure 8.3

If you open Range Selector 1 for the Opacity animator, you will see you can keyframe the percentage for Start and End. In addition, you can use Offset, which will take the difference between Start and End and move it through the word. If you want to have it reveal one letter at a time, you will have to use the Text | Animate effect. Here's how you can do that.

Tutorial: Fading Up and Down by Character


With your text layer highlighted, open the twirly arrow for your type layer and go to Text | Animate | Opacity.


Lower the Opacity to 0%.

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Opacity can be a little confusing here. Start the stopwatch for Start. Set it to 0%. Why are we doing it this way? Well, to reveal the letters one at a time from left to right, we must gradually hide the effect of the 0% Opacity. So, as the Start bracket passes a letter, it reveals it.


At the 1 second mark set Start to 100%. The word will be completely revealed. Notice that the two brackets are both at the end of the word, basically making the Opacity effect completely hidden.


At the 4 second mark, click the Add or Remove Keyframe button for Start. This will keep the Start range selector at 100% for that time period.


Done-Return the percent for Start to 0% at the 5 second mark. It will now go back through the word and remove it from the screen.

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Tutorial: Shaped Fade Up and Fade Down In this next tutorial we'll approach this task again, this time doing a reveal that shows how the fade up and fade down move from the middle of the word in and out, in a radial shape.





From the Mask Shape tool, choose Ellipse Tool.

Make a tiny elliptical mask between the two words. On other titles, choose the space that is closest to the center without being over a letter.

Press MM on your keyboard. At the 0 mark, start the stopwatch for Mask Expansion.

As we did in the previous two tutorials on this topic, we'll keyframe to reveal the title from 0–1 seconds, hold from 1–4, and fade out from 4–5 seconds. At the 1 second mark, increase the value of Mask Expansion to reveal the whole title. Click Add or Remove Keyframe 4 seconds to hold the value, and at 5 drop it to 0.

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Note: When we added the Mask Feather value, we did not start stopwatches. In After Effects only start a stopwatch if you plan to animate the value. If you don't just apply the effect and give it a number, you will see it, but it won't move on you.


Done-To really finish off this effect in a handsome way, we should soften the edge of our revealing shape. On Mask Feather, increase the value to 40 pixels. That will nicely soften the edge.

Tracking Perhaps second in popularity to a fade up and fade down, animation of tracking is very common. A tracking animation involves adjusting the spaces between letters. Here's how to do it.

Tutorial: Tracks


Alright, I know this example is a pun, but aren't textbooks supposed to have lame puns? Anyway, highlight the type layer and open its twirly arrow.

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Make sure that you have chosen center-justification from the Paragraph panel.


From the Animate menu, choose Tracking. Start a stopwatch for Tracking Amount.


Go to the 5 second mark and increase Tracking Amount to 25. You will see the spaces between the letters grow gradually over time.

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Done-A tracking animation will work very well with a fade up and fade down. Try adding that to our tracking animation.

Spotlight Reveal Even though After Effects' light and camera layers only work with layers in 3D mode, we can still take advantage of them for 2D projects. Here we'll use an After Effects light to reveal a title.

Tutorial: Creating a Spotlight Reveal


To begin, I've set up a two-layer project with the title against a brick wall. It's nothing special, but we'll make it look a whole lot better.

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Put both layers into 3D Mode.

Go to Layers | New | Light.


The light's interface is similar to that of a camera layer. It is controlled by the devices above. The Point of Interest controls the direction the light faces. The Cone controls how far out the light will spread. The anchor point controls the position of the actual light. For right now adjust the Point of Interest setting to turn the light away from the title.


Open the twirly arrow for the Light layer. Under Transform, start the stopwatch for Point of Interest. Also, under Light Options start the stopwatch for Intensity. Lower the Intensity to 0%.

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Done-Go to the 1 second mark. Move the Point of Interest to face the title. Also increase the Intensity to 100%. Now you'll see the title revealed.

Text Bounce This next tutorial is based on one of the very first techniques I learned for text animation. Although it is nothing mind-blowing anymore, I think that it helps new users think “outside the box” when it comes to what you can do with type. No fancy text menu stuff here; rather, just scale and opacity.

Tutorial: Make Your Text Bounce


Highlight the type layer and make sure that the center of the layer is the center of the word; the quickest way to do that on a type layer is to center-justify it with the Paragraph panel.

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Duplicate the layer by pressing Ctrl-D (or Command-D). You now have two of the same type layer in your timeline. Turn on the lock on the lower one right now. Highlight the copy or Bounce 2.


Open up Scale for our Bounce 2 layer by pressing S on the keyboard. At the 1 second mark, start the stopwatch. At the 4 second mark, make it 250%.


To see our Scale keyframes at the same time as the Opacity tool, press Shift-T. Now set a stopwatch for Opacity, at the 1 second mark make it 100%, and at the 4 second mark make it 0%. The effect has the type coming toward the camera at the same time it fades out, which has a nice pulse-style effect to it.

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Done-I'm not usually happy until I can put my own spin on an effect, and this case is no different. Add Effect | Blur & Sharpen | Radial Blur. Sync its keyframes for Amount to the other animation tools, having it start at 0 and reach 65. Switch it from Spin to Zoom. A nice end touch to a handy effect.

Title Wipes A title wipe occurs when a title is gradually revealed in a similar way to how we did the per-character fade up and fade down. However, with wipe we can have more control of the shape that reveals the title.

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Tutorial: Wiping Your Title


First a basic mask wipe. Highlight the Rectangle tool and put a mask over the text layer.


Adjust the mask so that the right side has an angle. You can use the Selection tool to move points. At the 1 second mark, start a stopwatch for Mask Shape. Set Mask Feather to 20 pixels, and start the stopwatch for this parameter as well.


Using the Selection tool, highlight the two points on the right side. Go to the 0 mark in the timeline.

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Drag the two points to the left, and pass the points that are already there. Also, you'll see that there's some of the C left over. To remove it, drop Mask Feather to 0.


Done-There you have it, a simple wiping effect. Adjust the size of your mask if you need to.

In-Scene Wipes I've seen this effect quite often lately, where objects within the scene are used as part of a wipe, so here's a basic version of that effect.

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Tutorial: Creating In-Scene Wipes


Let's begin by pressing Ctrl-D (or Command-D) to duplicate the footage layer.


Create a mask over the building on the top footage layer. It can be a garbage matte; the only thing we need to be careful of is the right side of the building.


Move the building layer with the cutout above the title.

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Move the title over to the left side. It will end up behind the building.


Now set keyframes for Position on our two building footage layers at the 1 second mark.


Done-Now, at the 1:10 mark, move both layers to the left and it will reveal the title. We'll discuss a number of techniques in this book in regard to integrating type into scene elements.

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Extreme Zoom-In Effect Type layers being vector can be a real advantage. In this tutorial we'll do a huge zoom-in effect.

Tutorial: Creating a Zoom-In Effect



Start a stopwatch for Scale at 100% at the 0 mark. Set another to keep it at 100% until the 2 second mark. Also at the 2 second mark, start a stopwatch for Position.

At the 4 second mark, increase the Scale to 3000%. Adjust Position so it appears that the O is coming toward the camera.



We can use this as a transition to a scene. Create an elliptical mask over the footage layer inside the O.

Start the stopwatch in the Mask tools for Mask Expansion at the 2 second mark. Start the stopwatch for Mask Opacity and set it to 0%.

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Go to the 3 second mark, make Mask Opacity 100%, and make Mask Expansion 500 pixels.

Done-You might want to add a Mask Feather to soften the edge of the mask. This versatile effect is very useful for thrillers and adventure-themed movies.

Falling into Place Effects where type falls into place are fairly easy to achieve. We begin with our fade-up and fade-down technique.

Tutorial: Falling into Place


For this effect I am starting from an existing animation that we did for the tutorial previously in this chapter, "Fade Up and Fade Down by Character." That lesson focused on using a range selector with Opacity. We animated the Start bracket to reveal our letters.

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Whenever you have already animated one parameter with a range selector, we can easily add in another parameter using the same range selectors. Start by going to Add | Property and choose Position.


Now with Position still highlighted, drag upward any letter that is within the brackets. Here I decided on the A, but it doesn't matter which letter you choose as long as you do it to a letter that is on the inside of the range selector brackets.

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Done-Add on Motion Blur to give the effect some high-end veneer.

Exploding Type Sooner or later everyone will need to blow up some type. Here's one method for approaching this task.

Tutorial: Exploding Type


One secret to animating anything that explodes is to start from the ending. In a moment you will see why. In this timeline the video in the background has an explosion that we are synching to, so we will need to keep that in mind.

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On your timeline, leave the playhead at the mark where the explosion in the background has finished (about the 5 second mark). Open the type layer, and click the option for Enable Per-character 3D. This gives us the 2.5D options for the characters in our type layers.



From the Animate menu, choose Position.

When you are using the Per-character 3D, you have three number values for Position instead of two. The third number value here is Z Position. Adjust this number until it is so high that the type comes toward the camera and then passes it.


Start the stopwatch for End in the range selector for Position. Make it 100% at the 6 second mark, and at the 4 second mark reduce it to 0%.



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Go to Add | Property | Rotation. Give it three revolutions on each axis. Now this will work from our existing keyframes for End in the range selector for Position.

Done-Now, for one last touch, go to Add | Property | Blur and set it to about 3, and it'll add a nice blurring effect as the letters come toward the camera. Feel free to experiment with adding other effects to augment this exploding type effect. As you might have predicted, give it a shot with Motion Blur. All you have to lose is more time spent rendering.

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Stop-Motion Titles With the success and recognition of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, there's been more interest than ever in stop-motion animation. Stop motion is the effect of taking still images of the same subject, shot one frame at a time, with subtle movements of the object occurring between shots. When these shots are played back as video, the object appears to move on its own. In this tutorial I'll go through a couple of techniques that use stop motion and ­stop-motion-related techniques.

Tutorial: Classic Stop Motion with Modern Equipment


You'll need a digital camera and a tripod or table pod to do a stop-motion technique like this. For this title, I wanted to create the effect that the letters were dispersed and then come together. For that technique, I arranged the letters for the last frame of the title assembled first and then worked backward.


So, using a standard digital still camera, I shot frames at three per setup at first, to create slower movement, and then toward the end I switched to one per setup, to speed it up.

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Use your favorite means of importing photos into your computer, and put them in an accessible folder. Import the first image of the sequence into After Effects (as Footage) and check JPEG Sequence. This is the beauty of this effect: digital cameras number the images, and AE can read a sequence of numbered images as footage.


Create a new composition using the NTSC DV preset. Put the image sequence in this new timeline. You'll have to Scale it down to about 22%.

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Now, we have to reverse our footage so that it moves in the intended direction. rightclick or Ctrl-click the layer and choose Time | Time Reverse Layer.


Our image sequence is about 1 second and 22 frames long, so we'll have to manipulate its time setting by enabling Time Remap. right-click or Ctrl-click the layer, and go to Time | Enable Time Remapping.


The Time Remap effect allows you to set keyframes for the frame that is showing at a specific point in the timeline, and between keyframes it will adjust the speed accordingly—faster or slower to match the instruction of your keyframe. Have a keyframe set to 1:21 at the beginning of the timeline. Set a second keyframe to 0:00 at the 3 second mark.


Done-To finish the effect, I've set another keyframe at 4 to keep the title up for a second, and then a final keyframe set at 1:22 at the 5 second mark.

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Fine-Art Techniques Rather than stick to the most obvious techniques, a little inventiveness goes a long way. In this section I'll demonstrate a few ways in which fine-arts techniques such as sketching and painting can be used in a title sequence.

Tutorial: Painting or Writing Text on Screen


To create this horror-film-style handwritten or scrawled effect, I started with a pencil texture brush in Illustrator, and I put every brush stroke on its own layer. Note that this is one of many ways to get a write-on effect; we will address several in this book.


Import the file into After Effects as a Composition Cropped Layers.

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Arrange the document so that every 10 frames another brush stroke comes up.

Though few, there are some gems in the Effects | Transition menu. Apply CC Radial Scale Wipe to your strokes.

This next step will be somewhat time consuming but worthwhile in the end. Turn on Reverse Transition. Place the Center point where you'd like the stroke to begin. Set the Completion percentage to 100%. Go to where the next brush stroke begins and decrease to 0%. Now it'll look like your letter's stroke is being drawn on.

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Done-Though the last few steps were tedious, it's looking great. In the end it will have a totally authentic feel. Skip the O and the bulb part of the P, which won't look great with the CC Radial Scale Wipe transition effect on it, so it'll work just fine popping on.

Tutorial: Write-On Effect with a Font If you prefer not to draw your letters but still want a ­ andwritten effect, you can still use After Effect's Eraser to do the h job.


Start by using a font that looks somewhat handwritten, to keep the effect believable.


You can't apply the Eraser to the text layer right away, so we’ll need to pre-compose the layer. Go to Layer | Pre-compose, with the text layer highlighted.

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Now you can apply the Eraser tool.


right-click or Ctrl-click your precomp and choose Open Layer. The Eraser tool can only be used in Layer Edit mode.



Choose a brush that will be thick enough to erase the entire stroke of the letter in simple motion. Every case will be different, but for this one I am using a 45 pixel soft-edged brush. Switch over to the Paint panel, and choose Write on under Duration.

Use two Eraser strokes to erase the T.


The Eraser tool defaults to making your strokes simultaneous, but you can press the U key to reveal the keyframes. Next, arrange the keyframes so that they come in the order you want.


Highlight keyframes for the Eraser Stroke Options and go to Animation | Keyframe Assistant | Time-Reverse Keyframes. Repeat this process throughout the whole title.

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Done-So, though complicated, there are numerous approaches for a ­write-on effect.

Tutorial: Painterly Effects Similar to the rather lovely titles that visual artist Jeremy Blake created for the film Punch Drunk Love, I wanted to demonstrate how effective simple color use can be. This lesson shows how we can use paint splatters to reveal something that is hidden by negative space.


In Illustrator I have created a document in which large watercolor brush strokes are separated onto different layers.

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Import this document into After Effects as a Composition Cropped Layers.


Stretch the paint splatters to be very long and reach off the screen, and then apply Effects | Blur | Fast Blur selectively at different amounts for each paint splatter. At the 1 second mark, start the stopwatch for Position.

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Go to the Type tool and create your type layer. Make sure you set the color of the type to be the same color as the background. When the paint splatters move in below the type layer, they will make it visible.


Go back to the 0 mark, and move all your paint splatters off the screen.

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Done-The truly exciting part of this effect is how revealing the negative space creates the letter forms. Experiment with different amounts of blurs and glow effects to get the most out of this effect.

End Scroll End scrolls with huge lists of names slowly scrolling might seem like an easy proposition in After Effects, but it can be surprisingly difficult, especially when you're dealing with video. Here's a tutorial with some basic tips up front.

Why Are End Scrolls Harder with Video? The main reason end scrolls are more difficult with video has to do with separate field rendering. Every still image on video shows a half image, which is designed to smooth out the motion. However, with text scrolls this can lead to an incredibly ugly and somewhat disagreeable strobing effect. Editing software such as Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere have text tools in place to compensate for this issue.

Typefaces Thin-stroked, serif typefaces will not work well for end scrolls. Keep it simple with a bold, sans serif typeface to get a nice clean result.

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Effects Motion Blur and Continuous Rasterize can either help or hinder. Experiment with these and see what has the best effect.

Processing and Setting Title designers who end up typing the credits should charge more per hour. Most situations should have the producer or assistant producer sending you a Word file with the titles in it. Normally I don't recommend that title designers be pushy, but in this case, insist that the end credits get sent to you after they have been checked and double-checked for spelling and to make sure every name is included. It is much easier to fix mistakes before you start than after. Then I recommend moving the titles over to Illustrator. When you're done, import that document into After Effects.

Tutorial: Animating an End Scroll


Do your typesetting in Adobe Illustrator; it's much easier to manage than trying to do it in After Effects. Open the sample document to check it out.

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Import our sample document as a Composition Cropped Layers. Change the Composition Settings so that it's a 20 second timeline.

Animate the Y Position to scroll the type. I've set my keyframes at 0 and 19:22. Tweak the keyframes back and forth a little; this will have an impact on how much flicker is visible.


Only use this step when you are dealing with video. It's unnecessary otherwise. Option-click the Position stopwatch and enter this expression: [Math. round(position[0]),Math.round(position[1])]. This expression tells the Position tool to only move the title in full pixel increments.

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This one is another step that is only for video. Add Effects | Blur and Sharpen | Reduce Interlace Flicker. I set the softness on mine to 0.6. Keep it very low.


Done-If tweaking these keyframes leads to you pulling out your hair (you wouldn't be the first), there's a great Title Designer tool in Premiere Pro that blends MS Word-style word processing with automated tools to make this process much easier.

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Famous Movie Title Techniques


The Sopranos-Style Wipe The memorable title sequence for The Sopranos features a very subtle but effective type animation. In this tutorial we will recreate that motion.

Tutorial: Creating the Sopranos-Style Wipe


To match the look and feel of the Sopranos intro, I am using treated footage from the New York/New Jersey area, and the title of this project is displayed in Franklin Gothic Bold. Move The Narrows off-screen to the left side.

© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00009-X


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Fifteen frames later, move it to the center of the screen. Preview it. It doesn't look like much yet. At 4:15, add another Position keyframe to hold it in its place, and then at 5:15 move it off-screen to the right.


With the type layer still highlighted, go to Text | Animate | Property | Position. Start a stopwatch for Position where you'd like it to begin. I started mine at 3:00.


Enable Motion Blur in the timeline and on our type layer.

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Now you will start seeing this effect look closer to the Sopranos titles. Now, the Sopranos title sequence also has a little skewing to it, so go to Animate | Add | Property | Skew. Start the stopwatch for Skew at the same place as Position. Set the amount of Skew to –10. Fifteen frames later, once again lining up with the Position keyframe, set the Skew to 0.


Done-To continue lining up the Skew effect with the Position move, set a keyframe at 4:15 that keeps the Skew at 0 and at 5:15 return it to –10.

The Suspense-Style Glowing Back Light This look has appeared in countless suspense films. It's an easy, attractive effect. Here's how to create this very popular look.

Tutorial: Creating the Suspense-Style Glowing Back Light


We'll begin this effect by duplicating the text layer.

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Turn on the duplicate layer's solo switch. This makes it so that we only see the copied layer; the rest are hidden.

Change the color to a bright green. Turn off the Solo switch.


Apply Effects | Blur and Sharpen | Directional Blur to the duplicate type layer. Move the duplicate to the layer below the original. Start the stopwatch for Blur Length.


Done-At the 1 second mark, increase Blur Length to 70. Now a streaked glow will grow behind the type in the same shape as the original layer.

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The Star Wars Backward Crawl This lesson will demonstrate how to recreate the famous Star Wars-style backward crawl. As geeky as this might sound, this infamous effect is quite admirable for its economical value. It's a very simple but signature effect, and it's rather edifying to ­recreate it, or so I hope.

Tutorial: Creating the Star Wars Backward Crawl


First we will have to do some arranging to get our type correctly formatted. The typeface for this effect in the original movie consisted of variations on Franklin Gothic. To create your body type, since this is a large body of text, arrange your type in a word processing software package and copy it.


With the Text tool selected, click and drag to make a text box layer.

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Open the Paragraph panel. With your type highlighted, switch to Justify All. Now it will much more closely resemble the Star Wars back-crawl.


Paste your text within the text box. It's not correctly formatted yet, but we are getting there.


Highlight your type layers and put them into 3D mode. Create a new Null Object layer and put that into 3D mode. Parent the type layers to the Null Object.


Adjust the Orientation on the X axis until it matches the tilt of the original. I found that around 300 degrees is where it matched up correctly.


Done-Now it is time to move the crawl. The best way to move it is to control its center by animating our Null layer's Anchor Point. Test it out a few times to adjust the speed; set keyframes to take it off the screen at the bottom and over the course of time have it rise the top of the frame.

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The Horror-Jittery Type in the Style of Se7en and Saw Since 1995's Se7en, title sequences have received much more notice. The title sequence from Se7en also set the standard for what people want to see in a horror film's design package. The dark imagery, matched with skittering flashes of dirty, grimy images, have been a hallmark of the horror genre, and in this lesson I'll demonstrate how you can achieve that look.

Tutorial: Creating the Horror-Jittery Type in the Style of Se7en and Saw


To match the look and feel of the background footage, you will need to process it pretty heavily. I used a close-up shot of the pages turning in a book and duplicated it with the Multiply blend mode. I also gave it some burned film effects with CC Burn. Finally, I added a color treatment to get that sepia look.


In Adobe Illustrator use a Wacom tablet to draw the letter forms. Since we want a hand-scrawled, rough look, use a thin, rough pencil brush and draw the lines over each other until you build up a texture that works. Make a second copy of the letters in white. Save your Illustrator file.

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One issue that frequently comes up with dealing with a rough, hand-scrawled effect like this is that it becomes difficult to read, and it is very important that the type look cool and be legible. Make a new type layer and, using a tough, bold font, write the name of the movie.


Now we can add our jumping/jittery animation. After Effects has the Wiggler panel, which helps us deal with randomized effects. On the type layer, set two keyframes for Position. Make a small move with your title; we really just need two keyframes for the Wiggler to create random keyframes between them. Highlight the two keyframes. In the Wiggler, set it to apply to Spatial Path so that the random values affect the actual position of the layer. The Noise Type should be set to Jagged so it is nice and rough. Under Dimensions, set it to All Independently, so that the random values appear on both the X and Y axes. Adjust the Frequency (how often a random value is created) and Magnitude (how large the randomization of the range will be) according to what makes the type appropriately jumpy without making it too difficult to read. Click Apply. Try it a few times before you settle on something.


Put the white version of our scrawled type from Illustrator in the document above the typeface layer. Set its blend mode to Difference and lower its Opacity to 20% . Now parent the white scrawled layer to the type, and it will follow the Position animation. Start the stopwatch for Scale. Set two keyframes in sync with the first and last keyframes for Position on the type layer.


Highlight the two keyframes for Scale, and use the settings above on the Scale. This will give it a great jump effect that complements the original type nicely.

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Done-Bring in the black version of the scrawled type. Set its blend mode to Opacity. Then add Scale and Opacity and, just as we did previously, use the Wiggler on them.

The Superman-Style Explosive Type This memorable effect can lead to numerous uses in a modern context. Here's how to do a digital recreation of the Superman title sequence.

Tutorial: Creating the Superman-Style Explosive Type


Create a new type layer with a blue stroke and no fill. Use a large bold font, such as Ariel Black. Duplicate it, and parent the duplicate to the original. Highlight both layers and put them into 3D mode.

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On the duplicate, add Effects | Stylize | Glow and Effects | Blur and Sharpen | Fast Blur. Try applying the settings shown above.

Using the Position and Rotation tools, animate the title flying in. Set the Z Rotation to start at 90 degrees, and 2 seconds later return it to 0. Set Position keyframes for Y to have it come in from off the screen and Z to send it further back in space.


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Duplicate the text layer again, removing the Position and Rotation animations. At the 2 second mark, add keyframes to Scale it from 100% to 200% at the 4 second mark, and reduce the Opacity from 100% to 0%. Apply Motion Blur.


Now, here's the really cool part: Add Effect | Time | Echo to the third type layer. Set a keyframe for Number of Echoes to go from 0 to 45 starting at the 2 second mark and ending at the 4 second mark.


Done-Now, to complete the effect, in the original Superman title sequence the base text flies forward and fades off. So, add keyframes for Position on our first type layer starting at the 3 second mark, and bring the type toward the camera. Use Opacity to fade off the type. Do the same thing for our second copy of the text, since Opacity is not affected by parenting settings.

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The Matrix Raining Characters By now The Matrix (1999) number rain has been everywhere, but I think knowing how this effect is achieved is a handy skill to have in your repertoire. Here's one version of it that is pretty ­simple and effective.

Tutorial: The Matrix Raining Characters


We'll approach this effect as a background. To get started, switch the Type tool to Vertical.



Use a green, futuristic font, and type out whatever text you'd like to use. Don't worry too much about what it actually says, since we will be changing it a lot.


Open the Effects and Presets panel. Go to Animation Presets | Text | Animate In | Raining Characters In.

Next, let's add an expression to loop the characters raining in. Option-click the Offset stopwatch, and add loopOutDuration(type = “cycle”, duration = 0). This will loop the animation.

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Duplicate the type layer about eight times, distribute the copies across the screen, and change the type for each one. Also, move the keyframes for Offset around so that the loops won't sync up.


Done-To complete this effect, let's duplicate all the type layers and switch them into 3D mode. Move them back in Z Position. Add Effects | Blur and Sharpen | Directional Blur. Turn up the Blur Amount to 17. Finally, add Motion Blur, and there you have a Matrix-style raining character background.

The Dawn of the Dead Blood-Splatter Type Some of the best recent visual effects come from a combination of old school techniques aided by digital manipulation. One of my favorite recent title sequences is Dawn of the Dead (2004), which uses a very cool mix of old and new.

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Tutorial: Creating the Dawn of the Dead Blood-Splatter Type


Begin by setting the type in After Effects and go to Save Frame As | Photoshop Layers. Call it dead1. psd. Open the exported file in Photoshop.


Use the Smudge tool in Finger Painting mode, and drag the red out in a smearing motion. After you've done that a little, save the file as dead2.psd.

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  Repeat this process a number of times. As you spread the red out, turn off Finger Painting so that you stop adding red to the screen. Every time you've made a few changes hit Save As, and give each file a name that is one numerical value higher as in dead3.psd, dead4.psd. dead5.psd. As many as you feel are necessary.



As you get it spread out to the outer edges, switch to the Eraser tool and start removing the middle.

After you have done about 15 or 20 frames, you'll have as many as you'll need, so go back to After Effects. Import the dead1.psd file as Footage and turn on Photoshop Sequence.

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Set the text layer to be 4 seconds long, and add the frame movie at the end of the text layer. Right/Control-click the frame movie and choose Time | Enable Time Remapping. Make the frame movie 1 second long.


Done-On the frame movie layer, add Effects | Blur and Sharpen | CC Vector Blur, and set keyframes for the Amount to go from 0–350 in the course of that last second. And there you have it—smearing blood type.

The Lost-Style Basic 3D Title The opening to the TV series Lost has a famous animation that includes a very basic 3D effect. In this lesson we will recreate that look using a famous After Effects work-around. One of the things that After Effects desperately needs is the ability to extrude text into volumetric 3D. Until that becomes available, we can use this technique.

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Tutorial: Creating the Lost-Style Basic 3D Title This duplicating effect for 3D text is made obsolete in CS5. Photoshop's new Repousse tool really eliminates the need to go about this effect in this way. However, since the look is somewhat different I still think it's relevant to know to how to perform this technique.


I've written this out in the famously out-of-the-box Lost typeface Century Gothic. Now flip on the 3D switch.


Duplicate the type layer 10 times. Make sure all duplicates are in 3D mode.


Open Position for all the text layers. The third number value is the Z Position. Increase the number values there in increments of 2. This is going to create two pixel gaps in Z space between each copy of the layer.

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Go to Layer | New | Null Object. Put the new Null layer into 3D mode. Parent all the type layers to the Null layer.


Done-Now we can use all the typical 3D effects and transformations, controlling it from the Null object layer, in what closely resembles true volumetric 3D.

The Spider-Man-Style Full-3D Text Animation In this lesson we will utilize Cinema 4D and create full-3D ­ nimated text along the lines of big superhero movies like Spidera Man (2002). We will also look at the easy workflow between Cinema 4D and After Effects.

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Tutorial: Creating the Spider-Man-Style ­ Full-3D Text Animation



In Cinema 4D, go to the Object menu and choose Spline Primitive | Text to create our type object.

In the Attributes window, select Object, and then you'll see a Text heading. Right next to it you can type your title. For our superhero movie we will create an effect in which each letter flies out on its own, so I'm creating a separate object for each letter: C, A, P, T, ., W, I, N, and D.

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Drag the text objects into the Extrude NURBS to make the letters 3D. Once again, do this for each letter.


From the Add HyperNURBS tool, select Extrude NURBS, and make an Extrude for each letter.


In the timeline, place the playhead at the 20 frame mark. Push the Record Position button (key icon) to make your first keyframe.


At the 30 frame mark, highlight the Extrude NURBS for the letter C, drag it up high above the rest of the text (with the Move tool), and spin it a few times (with the Rotate tool). Set another keyframe.



Repeat this process for each letter.

Now we will set this up to go over to After Effects. Go to the Render Settings tool. The Render Settings dialog will open. Under General, change the Filter to PAL/NTSC.

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 Under Output, match it to the settings you plan to use for your After Effects project. Select the appropriate size and format from Resolution. In this example I am using 720 × 480 D1 NTSC.


So we can use After Effects to animate our background, turn on Alpha Channel and Straight Alpha. Since AE and C4D are very friendly (seriously, C4D can almost be considered an honorary member of the Adobe Creative Suite; wouldn't that be the best), we can take our C4D project right into an AE comp by turning on Compositing Project File and choosing After Effects from the menu.

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It's important that you install the Cinema 4D plug-in for After Effects. In the Maxon folder you'll find an Exchange Plugins folder. You might need to get the most recent version of the plug-in from Maxon's site; it should match the version of After Effects you are running, Figure 9.1.

Figure 9.1 



Now we can go ahead and render.


You will now have an .aec file that will open in After Effects, like a project file. However, make sure you have the After Effects plug-in installed or it will give you an error message.

Done-In After Effects I added some animated shape layers in 3D mode, to give it that superhero title sequence background feel. C4D and AE are a powerful combination, as demonstrated here.

Completing the Creative Process


Studios/Designers Clients: How Does It All Work? Movie titles began strictly as a necessity, a means of displaying important information about a movie. However, in today's age, the title sequence is in many ways a method for setting the mood and tone of a film. The title sequence can transport the audience into the world of the film by taking the visuals associated with the film and using music and design to introduce the audience to this new place that they will occupy for about 90 minutes. But how does a producer or director determine who should design the titles for a film? There are, of course, numerous factors. First, there is what the director wants creatively. Does the director want something that can be achieved within the existing production team, or will she need to reach out and find someone or an entire team? Next, there is the budget; directors can't always get what they want. Sure, that depends on the director and budget, but every film is highly dependent on the budget and the needs for the title sequence and what kind of reality can be expected. So, again depending on the budget and the needs of the title sequence, the designer may be an individual or a full design team. For something large and expansive, a team will be needed to make the production deadline. Companies such as Imaginary Forces, A52, and many others focus on motion graphics work such as film titles. In 2005 I created the opening titles for the film Red Doors, which was an independent film. I, not being a design team, worked directly with the producer, director, and editor. Typically, title sequences are done during postproduction, but that can be quite varied based on what is needed for the film. In a recent interview on, designer Gareth Smith of Shadowplay Studio said that when he was working on the title sequence for the film Up in the Air, director Jason Reitman brought him in on the process quite early. Smith was sent screenplays before the film was shot, to give him © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00010-6


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and his team time to develop concepts. Not only that, what if Smith noticed in the script an opportunity to request that the ­production team get a specific shot? Advanced planning like this might not be the norm, but it can create amazing opportunities for the title designer. Title designers are often chosen based on some established relationship with the creative side of the film. The great Saul Bass started his career as a graphic designer, making film posters in Hollywood, when he had the opportunity to work with Otto Preminger on a poster for the film Carmen Jones (1954). Preminger was so impressed with the Brooklyn College graduate that he contacted Bass to create opening titles for The Man With the Golden Arm. Bass was able to convince Preminger to allow him to create this extremely famous sequence, and the rest is history. Given the way the title sequence greets the audience and transports them into the world of the film, directors usually pick a title designer that they have some kind of relationship with. You never get another chance to make a first impression on an audience, so title designers are relied on to make it count. Depending upon the designer's relationship to the production, budgetary concerns, and numerous other factors, the amount of time the designer spends working directly with the creative team will vary. Some directors will sit and supervise much of the creation of the title sequence. Sometimes the director is otherwise occupied, and the producer will be the point of contact for the designer. In my experience the relationship between the title designer and the editor is also important, and we will address that further a little later.

Planning a Movie Title Sequence Everything in a movie is dependent on planning. Planning is absolutely essential to keep a movie on schedule and for the ­production to get the most out of the budget. Title sequences are often approached as an entire film or short film on their own. In the planning stage of the production, the concept of the title sequence should be decided. What will this title sequence do? What story should it tell? Sometimes, as in the case of 2008's The Incredible Hulk, the title sequence tells the film's backstory, setting up narrative elements to clarify things that happen later in the film. It's a very good idea to create storyboards for the title sequence. Since it reduces the amount of production time, directors and producers don't want title designers searching for ideas when they are supposed to be making something, so a clear decision on what the title sequence is there for is crucial.

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Sometimes, as in the case of big names such as Kyle Cooper, the lead designer on a title sequence is acting as a director of the short film that the title sequence will end up being. In the end, the film's director will be making all the final creative decisions, but exactly how much influence the title designer has is completely based on the designer's relationship with the director. In the case of Cooper, many directors refuse to work with him because his title sequences are often better than the film itself. Although that's nice, no one really wants to be shown up by the opening act. Title sequences, in an ideal world, are subject to the same amount of preproduction and planning as the rest of the film. The sooner a designer is involved and making decisions, the better to get the ideal title sequence. As designer Gareth Smith stated, being involved early in the process helps immensely, and he was able to request shots from the production team. However, requests from the title designer are not always possible for the production team to accommodate due to budgetary concerns. Sometimes designers will be limited to working with the elements provided by the production. In other cases, designers need to assemble their own shoots, or order stock footage, or integrate computer-generated elements into the footage or in place of footage.

Project Element Preparation When it comes time to prepare elements for a title sequence, it can be a messy situation. Title designers often deal with the design team from the graphic design department as well as elements from the production itself and elements that they generate on their own. Bringing it all together can be quite challenging but also rewarding. When the clients give you the credit list, request that it be as close to the final list as possible. In designing titles and end crawls, something that can easily be fixed in a word processing software package will set you back a while fixing it with design software such as After Effects and the Adobe Suite. Clients might not immediately understand this, so do your best to explain it, but they are going to send you fixes and adjustments to the credit list anyway, so try to avoid setting things up in a way that causes you problems if it needs to be fixed later. One thing that must decided early is what the title designer will be responsible for delivering. How long should it be? What format will match what the editor's working on, and what format will the production need for the final presentation? Going back to the very beginning of this book, remember that if for some reason

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it is unavoidable that you have to use raster-based type, having to resize later will be a true chore. So, one recommendation is that if you are working with raster-based type, you should set up the original resolution to match the final output size or higher. If the type can remain vector in format, this is less of a concern since the size can be changed later without losing image quality. In the early stages of production, the title designer should meet with and urge the director, producer, and editor to make a decision as to what the final output is going to be. Now, if that is determined to be a 2K or higher film format, the title designer might be best off working at a lower resolution until the final title sequence is approved and then generate the higher resolution version.

Typical Order of Credits in an Opening Title Sequence Here is the typical credit order in an opening title sequence: 1. Name of the studio that is distributing the film. 2. Name of the production company responsible for making the film. If an investor financed a substantial portion of the movie, they will usually be credited alongside the production company with “In Association with.” 3. A (Producer's Name) Production. 4. A Film by (Director's Name). 5. Starring (this is optional or can be paired with the first cast ­member's name), followed by the names of all principal actors. 6. Film title. 7. Featured cast members. A card that states “Featuring” used to be fairly commonplace but now appears to be falling out of fashion; in some cases, to speed up a title sequence, featured players are held off for the end crawl. 8. Casting by. 9. Music, composer, or original score. 10. Production designer. 11. At this point it can vary; you might see makeup, costume, or visual effects credits here or skip to the next few credits. At this point it should vary based on what is most important to the movie. If the movie's a high budget sci-fi bonanza, it's appropriate to credit the VFX team or supervising visual effects ­artist here; if it's an historical epic, costume and makeup should probably get some notice here. 12. Edited by (the editor is the first of the people whose “thumbprint” is on the movie creatively; the other two are the writer and director). 13. Director of photography.

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14. Producer, produced by, and executive producers. This is a sticky one. If there is one place in an opening movie title sequence where it is likely to change, it is here. Let's say you are working on an independent feature that gets picked up by a larger distributer; that means you have more executive producers to add to the title sequence. Also, you may run into the need to add “Also Produced By.” Much of what this ends up being is controlled by the contracts of the various players involved at the studio, production company, and distributor. 15. Based on the (media name or title) by (Author's Name). This is highly dependent on the project; if the movie is based on an existing work, this credit is necessary. 16. Story by. This credit is employed either when a script has gone through a number of changes or someone wrote a story that the film's script is based on. 17. Writer or written by. The writing credits are highly regulated by the Writers Guild of America, so check to be sure that the credits are done correctly. A maximum of three writers can be credited on a feature, although teams of two can count as one if separated by an ampersand. However, if they worked on the script separately, they will be separated by the word and. Writers, like editors, are said to put their thumbprint on the movie. 18. Director or Directed by. The last credit belongs to the ­director, and the Directors Guild of America only allows one director to be credited as director on the film unless their was a death during production.

Timing/Deliverables In the case of the sequence I made for Red Doors, a low-budget indie feature, the original plan was to finish at DV resolution. But as production progressed and the film was accepted into more festivals, an online HD version was needed and I had to up-res my titles. For the main title sequence, I had to move the animation into a larger document that matched the HD settings, but I had to render the titles by themselves without the background footage so that when the color-corrected final footage was ready, the titles could be placed over the footage. Which leads to a concern about time. In 2005, I had been working on an older Mac G4 with a meager 2 GB of RAM. I believe I was running After Effects 7 at the time. Renders of the complete title sequence took about eight hours. Now, my little Macbook Pro with 4 GB of RAM and a dual 2.5 gHz Intel processor could run circles around that, but at the time it caused me to raise some concern. I warned my clients that any major changes that forced me to render the complete sequence again meant that we'd lose an entire business day waiting for the old Mac to putt-putt along.

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Workflow for Building and Creating a Movie Title Sequence As you can see throughout this book, a title sequence can be massive undertaking. In the following, final tutorial I will do my best to take you through the typical steps of creating a title sequence. These can vary greatly, but it should give you some sense of what this kind of project entails.

Tutorial: Building and Creating a Movie Title Sequence


Plan your concept or concepts. In the early stages of producing a title sequence, the title designer must settle on a plan or course of action. If it helps, and it most likely will, make a storyboard to explain your planned process as thoroughly as possible. If you happen to be brought in on the project early and it would be beneficial for you to have certain shots, see whether the production team is open to you suggesting certain shots during the shoot. If not, plan for things such as stock footage and photography to help you gather your elements. If the director has something specific in mind, listen to what he or she wants and do your best to meet and exceed those expectations. Sometimes they might present you with storyboards or a plan in mind; be open to it. Ultimately, no matter how good you get at this, the film's director has final creative say on the movie (and let your director handle the battles with the studio).

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Pitch your concept, with as much detail as possible. The real way to win people over to your idea is to present the idea as clearly as possible. You might need to generate a few tests or create an animatic to illustrate your idea. Creating something on your own to help someone envision your idea is never a waste of time; it's called sales, and it is a common business tactic creative types should do more often. The slicker and more polished your pitch piece, the more impressed your clients will be.


If your concept is chosen or if you have been hired and handed a concept and things are going ahead, the next step is to settle on the technical issues. Technical planning is essential. Meet with the producer, director, and editor and settle on a schedule and formats for what will be delivered. Settle on how you will be interacting with the director. Is the director going to come to your workspace and supervise? In many cases that means that they get to watch lots of blue bars scrolling across screens. Many directors are hands-on and want to supervise the process, so it's best to plan things out so that you have something to show the director. Often a director's busy schedule won't permit a visit to the title designer's studio. (Continued)

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Cont'd  When you're choosing the duration of your title sequence, ask the editor how long the title sequence should be. Set your timeline to be a little longer than that. Title sequences are typically somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes. The thing that you want to avoid is a overlong title sequence that bores the audience. Though it is an important title sequence in the history of filmmaking and to this day a favorite of mine, 1978's Superman: The Movie's title sequence goes on forever. To the point at which the soundtrack seems like it's getting tired. Title sequences that lose narrative importance will start to wear on an audience. If it becomes the case that you must show your progress via Web posts, be careful. Why? Well, there's no better way to look like you don't know what you are doing than to have the director ready to view and comment on your work but then discover he can't play the video you've posted on your site for him. Here's the real snag: There are many ways for videos to be unplayable in other formats. So, say you both are on Macs; you might not have all the same codecs, and that can be difficult to diagnose remotely. Do your best to find out whether your client is going to view the video on a Mac or a PC, what OS they are running—basically as much information as possible. Don't get fancy and try an untested format you aren't comfortable with. Also, if you know that the director or producer will be watching on a different format, try your piece on that format yourself. I have on many occasions taken videos to public PCs just so that I could make sure the files would work if the client happened to view them on a PC. If I am able, I like to meet with the director personally, bring my laptop and present the material in the best possible light. Communication with clients via emails can lead to misunderstandings. I can't tell you how many times a vague comment in an email set me on a course that led to major confusion.


Project-manage your work. Project management can save you so much time. The best method I have found for project management is pictured here. Make five folders inside a main folder for your project. Use Original Art to store all provided elements from the client, so you have a path back to what you were given at the beginning of a project. When you have prepped your files, use the Save As feature to save them to your Photoshop folder. If a file will be imported into AE, you should save it to this Photoshop folder. Save your .aep After Effects project to the AE Project folder. Render all your output to the AE Renders folder, and after you encode a file to be posted online, save it in the Posts folder. Set up this folder system before you do any work on your project.

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  Protect your work. Two features that are sometimes overlooked can be absolute life-savers when it comes to protecting yourself and your work. These are AE's Auto-Save and Increment and Save. Auto-Save can be found in the Preferences; it has its own heading, and all you have to do is turn it on, choose a time period for Auto-Save to kick in, and choose the max versions of the same project you want. So, the default is 20 minutes, but that might be too long (with powerful software like AE, you can change the world in 20 minutes), while 2 minutes will probably get on your nerves and interrupt your workflow. I usually use somewhere between 4 and 8 minutes. Increment and Save will do a Save As for you and add a number to the end of the filename. I like to do this every time I begin a project in which I'll be making changes from the last version. Often I will do this at the beginning of each day on job (so, if the client wants to go back to where we were two days ago, I can call that version back up in no time). Get into the habit of using these two features; lost work can cost you entire days' worth of time.


  Decide on the basic movement of every title. As we have seen earlier, we are going to want the same basic movements on every title, so the hardest one is the first one. Experiment with movements and animation and decide which is the best, and use this one as a template for every title that will follow. If your client wants to have creative say at this point, bring them in, but this is a very early stage, and some clients who aren't familiar with this process might not want to come in and discuss type animation and fonts with you at this point, so use some discretion here. When we've settled on the style of animation we want, we will duplicate from this one for every other title. Another helpful decision at this stage is to trim your title to the length you need it. If your trim points are hard to read, you can use Shift-Command-D to split a layer.

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Finish the bed. The bed is the background. That might be animation, footage, photos, or many different things. If it might change, don't render it out; use Pre-Compose. When I worked on Red Doors the editor provided me with an edited sequence over which the titles would be superimposed. Now, the footage that was in my AE timeline was never going to be in the final film, it was only there for me to get my timing.


Get approved, and complete the sequence. In this world, the job is over when the client is happy, not when the deadline arrives. Meet your deadlines, of course, but remember that there will be back and forth between you and the client side, with changes being made often in that period. Typically the director will back off once she is happy with the creative aspects of your work, and then the producer will take a more active role in making sure everyone is happy with their credits and that everything looks right. I know that sounds strange but the cast and crew are concerned about how long their names are up on-screen during the title sequence, so do your best to give the audience time to read everything and give every important team member their due. Names can be tough since spellcheck doesn't exactly work with names, so check with someone on the production side that everything is correctly spelled and displayed.


Done-Render to client spec. Keep in mind that the title sequence will have to work with other ongoing aspects of production. Keep in close contact with the producer and the editor as to exactly what they need from you to complete the film.

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Rendering Your Title Sequence There are two main editors who work on a film. The offline editor is one you're most likely familiar with; this editor is responsible for the creative decision making for the film's final cut. The online editor is responsible for assembling the final footage, color-corrected and perfected to match the final editing decisions made by the offline editor. If the title designer is having her title graphics superimposed over footage from the film, she does her work leaving areas of the screen largely blank, with the exception of the title animation. She will most likely be creating titles with an alpha channel so that the titles could be placed over the final footage on software being used to complete the online edit. This will mean rendering with a format set to some kind of high-resolution image sequence. This can be with TIFFs or Targas or other image sequence style formats. When rendering out to image sequences, make sure that you do it to a folder, because you will be creating hundreds of files. An image sequence literally means one file per frame. At 24–30 frames per second, a 5-minute title sequence is around 1,800 files! In After Effects, you'll find these settings in the Output Module Settings.

Figure 10.1 

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Case Study: Title Sequences by Ex'pression Graduates College: Ex'pression College for Digital Arts Instructor: Yael Braha Title: The Greatest Story Ever Told Genre: Drama Title Designer: Justin Betham Title Sequence: Portfolio:

Synopsis of Movie The film is about a man struggling with schizophrenia and his ability to adapt his disorder into his daily regime. His home has a basement where he converses to inanimate objects, reasons with them, and also manages to receive advice from them about his daily life.

Description The camera moves slowly into the pieced-otogether world, traveling through the front door of a dark house, down a lonely hallway, passing by spinning swirls that complement the feeling of confusion and chaos. We travel down a spiral stairway and end in the basement, where a paper puppet resembling the main character is hung from the ceiling in a room filled with spirals spinning in the background. I chose to portray him as a puppet for his lack of control over changes in his personality. As the camera arrives at the puppet, the screen fades to black and a reveal of the title of the film fades in. After the title fades out, it transitions into the actual basement, where the film begins and where most of the film takes place. The end title sequence starts exactly where the beginning titles finish, and the camera reverses out of the “handmade,” isolated world. At the end of the film, the main character encounters a failed attempt to interact with a person from the outside world (a girl he met on a dating Web site). He ends up in the basement and experiences a mental breakdown. The film fades out and the camera reverses out of the room, away from the puppet, back out the stairway, and all the way out of the house.

Creative Justification The title sequence was built to look like a fake, handmade set pieced together with a combination of heavy, thick paper and tape to resemble the main character's pieced-together thoughts. As far as colors, I utilized a desaturated, minimal color palette. The mix of blue and gray hues give a cold, dark feeling of a calm emptiness. The choice of lack of color resembles the emptiness the main character feels. The lack of saturation also resembles his feelings of loneliness and confusion from his long hours spent in his basement. The choice of typeface is Goudy Old Style. This typeface is a mix of gently curved, rounded serifs and hard diamond-shaped dots in the i and j. The mix of rounded curves and harsh diamond edges resembles the main character's mix of personalities. In the film, his mood shifts from being polite, level-headed, and pleasant to suddenly being overwhelmed with sadness, frustration, loneliness, and confusion.

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Software and Techniques The scene was created and rendered in Cinema 4D and assembled in After Effects, where typography, color adjustments, and music were applied. Music: Hajnal (dawn), by Venetian Snares.

Figure 10.2b  Figure 10.2a Still Frames from "Greatest Story Ever Told", designed by Justin Betham.

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Figure 10.2v  Title: Seen and Not Heard Genre: Drama/Dark Comedy Title Designer: Ame Garrucho

Synopsis of Movie A deaf man surrounds himself with a world of imaginary sounds. He later decides to get a cochlear implant to really hear the world. Now, being able to hear, the man is not sure if that's what he really wants.

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Description All of the credits are handwritten and jittery to add to the organic/handmade feel of the textures in the background and masking tape borders. The credits also animate on in American Sign Language, to incorporate the theme of deafness from the film. Since the film did not have any background story behind the main character, the title sequence was meant to show a little bit of his life. The entire sequence is based on the main character's daily routine before he goes to work in the first scene, but with a twist. There are imaginary sounds that the man creates in his mind throughout the piece as he proceeds with his routine of getting out of bed, walking to the restroom, washing his hands, putting his clothes on, etc. All the sounds don't match exactly with the objects, to show what the man “thinks” he is hearing.

Creative Justification The title sequence is inspired by Shadowplay Studio's Juno title sequence. The look and feel were developed to incorporate the unusual sound effects with organic images. Since the sounds are jarring, the visuals needed to match that and give off the same feeling. A stop-motion and handmade feel seemed to be a good way to merge the two together.

Software and Techniques Green Screen Production, Final Cut Pro 7, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, and After Effects.

Technical Challenges Creating a jarring sound design with found sounds and handwriting credits several times to create a loop.

Figure 10.3a Still Frames from "Seen and Not Heard", designed by Ame Garrucho.

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Title: The Better Angels Genre: Drama Title Designer: Tina Chen Title Sequence: Portfolio:

Synopsis of Movie A retired history professor escapes from his son's home carrying a .38 revolver and the unflinching belief that he is Abraham Lincoln. He roams through parks and encounters various people along the way. It turns out that he is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Description Main titles: The background is a historic letter written by Abraham Lincoln that slowly moves across the screen. The production company name fades in and out, followed by the name of the film and a single falling leaf. As the leaf falls, the letters of the title fall with it. End titles: The background is a historic letter written by Abraham Lincoln that slowly moves across the screen. Groups of leaves blow on screen from the left and continue to move across the screen, then blow off screen to the right. The cast names fade in and blow off screen with the leaves. The leaves stop blowing as the crew names fade in and out.

Creative Justification On one side, the historic letter gives depth and texture to the background while still having some relation to the film's storyline. On the other, falling leaves were used to represent the ephemeral nature of life and to tie the titles to the main

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setting of the film; the majority of the film takes place in park settings. Using the leaves without any photos or footage gives the audience a feeling of fantasy or an altered reality. The slow falling movement of the leaves and the minimal colors of browns, reds, and golds represent the somber, dramatic pace of the film.

Software and Techniques Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, After Effects, Maxon Cinema 4D.

Technical Challenges Creating a realistic falling movement for the leaves.

Figure 10.4a Still Frames from "The Better Angels", designed by Tina Chen.

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Title: Number 24 Genre: Suspenseful Drama/Horror Title Designer: Iris Azadi Title Sequence: Portfolio:

Synopsis of Movie A serial killer, who claims the charms and keepsakes of his victims, is about to take his 24th woman when the tables are turned.

Description The style of the title design was minimal but detail oriented. I left much of the screen's real estate empty but used textures and subtle blemishes to set the mood. The font choice was Baskerville Old Face, a strong serif font with character. The color palette overall was muted and desaturated, giving the titles a drowned and dark feeling (without being a typical horror movie title sequence).

Creative Justification The objective was to set the tone and mood of the movie without giving away its plot. I used information that is implied in the movie but never shown, using it to tell a backstory. By using ambiguous items, such as the silver and gold

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chain, Polaroids, and news clippings, I set up the beginning of the movie as though these items belonged to the 23 other women who were not shown in the movie. The end title credits are very similar to the opening titles except they are now covered in drops of blood. I did this only in the end, to keep the ambiguous tone in the opening titles.

Software and Techniques C4D, AE, Video.

Music IX, by Gregg Kowalsky; stock photo of woman, by razee81.

Figure 10.5b  Figure 10.5a Still Frames from "Number 24", designed by Iris Azad.

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Title: The Better Angels Genre: Drama Title Designer: Conrad McLeod Portfolio:

Synopsis of Movie A retired history professor wanders into a public park with a pistol, all the while believing that he is Abraham Lincoln.

Creative Description/Treatment Initially, I had incorporated other elements into the titles to foreshadow the main character's belief that he is Abraham Lincoln, but I decided on a more simple and ambiguous approach. In this final version, a shattered clock represents the main character's fragmented perception of reality and failing memory. The gears and letterforms are scattered throughout an empty space, and as the camera slowly pushes in, the letterforms tumble into place and pass by and out of the shallow depth of field. The use of a sepia color palette and serif font reflects the historical aspect of the film as well as a solo piano piece to help set the dramatic tone.

Software and Techniques Cinema 4D, After Effects, and Photoshop.

Figure 10.6a Still Frames from "The Better Angels", designed by Conrad McLeod.

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Title: A Father's Will Genre: Drama Title Designer: Nathaniel Costa; additional help in the live action shoot: Nicholas Buford Portfolio Web site:

Synopsis of Movie Richard, a soon-to-be father struggling with a fatal case of cancer, begins an experimental treatment, keeping him in a suspended state of hibernation, and awakens unaged 70 years into the future.

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Description The title sequences for this film are meant to simulate the main character's experience of his experimental medical treatment from a first-person point of view.

Creative Justification The title sequence for A Father's Will explores undefined aspects of the plot, making the titles an essential part of the storytelling process.

Software and Techniques AE, C4D, Live Action, Still Pictures.

Figure 10.7a Still Frames from "A Father's Will", designed by Nathaniel Costa.

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Resources Websites AIGA Design Archives: Art Directors Guild & Scenic, Title and Graphic Artists: Beck, Jerry, Cartoon Research–Original Titles: html Daily Motion: Forget the Film, Watch the Titles: Hill, Steven, Movie Title Screens Page: The Art of the Title Sequence: Internet Movie Database: Motionographer: Movie Title Stills Collection: Title Design Project: Titulos De Credito: Tylski, Alexandre, Generique & Cinema:

Title Design Studios 21Boom: Big Film Design: Blind: Blur: Digital Kitchen: DR Film Design: Energi Design: Gunshop: Kompost: Imaginary Forces: Jamie Caliri: Mk12: Momoco: Pic Agency: Picture Mill: Prologue: Reel Fx Entertainment: River Road Films: Shadowplay: Susan Bradley Film Design: Trollbäck+Company: Voodoodog: yU+co:

© 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00016-7


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Bibliography Albers, J. (1975). Interaction of Color. Yale University Press. Arditi, A., & Cho, J. (2007). Letter Case and Text Legibility in Normal and Low Vision. Arlene R. Gordon Research Institute, Lighthouse International. Aynsley, J. (2005). Pioneers of Modern Graphic Design. London: Michael Beazley. Bass, S. (1960). Film titles: a new field for the graphic designer. Graphis, 16(89), 208–216. Bass, S. (1966). Movement, Film, Communication. In G. Kepes (Ed.), Sign, image, symbol (pp. 200–205). New York: G. Braziller. Bass, S. (1969). Film titles: a new field for the graphic designer. In L. Jacobs (Ed.), The emergence of film art: the evolution and development of the motion picture as an art. From 1900 to the present (pp. 382–383). New York: Hopkinson and Blake. Bass Instinct (1995). Creative Review, 48. Bellantoni, J. & Woolman, M. (1999). Type in Motion: Innovations in Digital Graphics. New York: Rizzoli. Bankston, D. (2005). The Color-Space Conundrum. American Cinematographer. Benson, J. L. (2000). Greek Color Theory and The Four Elements. Amherst: University of Massachusetts. Benson, J., Olewiler, K., & Broden, N. (2004). Typography for Mobile Phone Devices: The Design of the QUALCOMM Sans Font Family. Punchcut. Birren, F. (2006). Color Psychology and Color Therapy: A Factual Study of the Influence of Color on Human Life. Kessinger Publishing. Bornstein, M. (1975). The Influence on Visual Perception on Culture. Max-PlanckInstitut für Psychiatric and Yael University. Borsatti, C. (2007). I grandi incipit del cinema. La chiave d'ingresso del film. DeAgostini Editore, Collana scuola golden. Box, H. C. (2003). Set Lighting Technician's Handbook (3rd ed.). Focal Press. Boxer, S. (2000). Making a Fuss Over Opening Credits; Film Titles Offer a Peek at the Future in More Ways Than One. The New York Times. Brown, B. (2007). Motion Picture and Video Lighting (2nd ed.). Focal Press. Carlson, V., & Carlson, S. (1991). Professional Lighting Handbook (2nd ed.). Focal Press. Chris, M., & Meyer, T. (2007). Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects (4th ed.). Focal Press. Codrington, A., & Poyner, R. (2003). Kyle Cooper. London: Laurence King Publishing. Cook, P. (2008). The Cinema Book (3rd ed.). London: British Film Institute. Credit to the opening titles. (2003). Design Week. Curran, S. (2001). Motion Graphics: Graphic Design for Broadcast and Film. Rockport Publishers, Inc. Design Museum London. (2005). Saul Bass, Graphic Designer (1920–1996). Design at the Design Museum. Retrieved from saul-bass. Eastman Kodak Company. (1970). Basic titling and animation for motion pictures. New York: Eastman Kodak Company. Foster, J. (2009). Lights, Camera, Action. Pro Video Coalition. Geffner, D. (1997). First Things First: David Geffner on the Art of Film Titles. Filmmaker Magazine. © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-240-81419-3.00017-9


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Gid, R. (1963). Saul Bass: New film titlings and promotional films. Graphis, 19, 150–159. Grannel, C. (2009). Lights! Camera! Titles! From the Archives: An Interview with Kyle Cooper. Revert to Saved. Retrieved from http://reverttosaved. com/2009/03/26/from-the-archives-an-interview-with-kyle-cooper/. Gruson, L. (1982). Color Has a Powerful Effect on Behavior, Researchers Assert. The New York Times. Harris, R. (1998). L'Origine della Scrittura. Stampa Alternativa & Graffiti. Haskin, P. (1996). Saul, Can You Make Me a Title? Film Quarterly, 50.1, 10–17. Helfland, J. (2001). Screen: Essays on Graphic Design, New Media, and Visual Culture. Princeton Architectural Press. Herron, S. (2004). Memory-Color Tests Forms in Real-World Applications. Holt, S., Lupton, E., & Albrecht, D. (2000). Design Culture Now. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. Huchendorf, L. (2007). The Effects of Color on Memory. UW-L Journal of Undergraduate Research. Individual Differences in Color Vision. Color Usage Research Lab, NASA Ames Research Center. Retrieved from php. Itten, J. (1991). Arte del Colore (2nd ed.). Il Saggiatore. James, J. (2005). Digital Intermediates for Film and Video. Focal Press. King, E. (1993). Taking Credit: Film title sequences, 1955–1965. Typotheque. Retrieved from sequences_1955-1965_1_contents. King, E. (2003). A Century of Movie Posters. Barron's Educational Series. Kirkham, P. (1994). Looking for the Simple Idea. Sight & Sound, 16–20. Kirkham, P. (1995). Saul Bass and Billy Wilder: In Conversation. Sight & Sound, 18–21. Krasner, J. (2008). Motion Graphic Design: Applied History and Aesthetics (2nd ed.). Focal Press. Lussu, G. (1999). La Lettera Uccide. Storie di Grafica. Stampa Alternativa & Graffiti. Lynch, R. (1997). Kyle Cooper/Imaginary Forces. I.D. Magazine, 58. Malkiewicz, K. (1986). Film Lighting. Fireside. Malkiewicz, K. (1989). Cinematography (2nd ed.). Fireside. Mamer, B. (2008). Film Production Technique: Creating the Accomplished Image (5th ed.). Wadsworth Publishing. McAlevey, P., & Seale, J. (1979). Special effects and titling: magic through technology. Millimeter, 7, 28–32. Meggs, P. B. (1997). Saul Bass on Corporate Identity. In S. Heller, & M. Finamore (Eds.), Design Culture: An Anthology of Writing from the AIGA Journal of Graphic Design (pp. 71–77). New York: Allworth Press. Morioka, A. (2008). Color Design Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Using Color in Graphic Design. Rockport Publishers. Naremore, J. (1993). North by Northwest. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. Nillsonn, T. H. Ensuring Color Legibility. Charlottetown, Canada: Department of Psychology, University of Prince Edward Island. Nillsonn, T. H. Standards for Color Legibility. Charlottetown, Canada: Department of Psychology, University of Prince Edward Island. Poetry in Motion. (2007). Digital Arts. Re, V. (2006). Ai margini del film. Venezia, Campanotto: Incipit e Titoli di Testa. Rebello, S. (1990). Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. Romney, J. (2004). “Let it Roll!” The Independent on Sunday. London: England. Schieber, F. Using the “Blur Tolerance” Technique to Predict and Optimize the Legibility Distance of Highway Signs. Human Factors Laboratory. University of South Dakota.

Scorsese, M. (1997). Saul Bass as a Designer of Films. In P. B. Meggs (Ed.), 6 Chapters in Design: Saul Bass, Ivan Chermayeff, Milton Glaser, Paul Rand, Ikko Tanaka, Henryk Tomaszewski. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. Sharpe, L. T., & Wichmann, F. A. (2002). The Contributions of Color to Recognition Memory for Natural Scenes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 28(3), 509–520. Smith, S. C. (1991). A Heart at Fire's Center: The Life and Music of Bernard Herrmann. Berkeley: University of California Press. Soar, M., & Hall, P. (2006). Images Over Time. Eye. Solana, G., & Boneu, A. (2007). Uncredited: Graphic Design and Opening Titles in Movies. Barcelona: Index Books. Spoto, D. (1991). The Art of Alfred Hitchcock: Fifty Years of Motion Pictures. Anchor. Squire, J. E. (2004). The Movie Business (3rd ed.). Fireside. Steiner, F. (1974–75). Herrmann's ‘Black and White’ Music for Hitchcock's Psycho. Filmmusic Notebook, 1(1), 28–36 and 1, no. 2 (26–46). Stephenson, R., & Phelps, G. (1990). The Cinema as Art. Penguin. Talking Title Sequences with the master: Kyle Cooper. (2005). Thunder Chunky. Retrieved from Twitchin, & Birkett (1983). Starters: Teaching television title sequences. BFI Education. USSC (2006). Sign Legibility Rules of Thumb. United States Sign Council. Veronesi, M. (2005). Le Soglie del Film. Torino, Kaplan: Inizio e Fine nel Cinema. Wolfmeier, T. (1999). Designing for the Color-Challenged: A Challenge. HumanComputer Interaction Resources Network, ITG Publication. Wood, R. (1989). Hitchcock's Films Revisited. Columbia University Press. Woolman, M. (2005). Type In Motion 2. London: Thames and Hudson. Zennaro, M. (1997). Calligrafia: Fondamenti e Procedure. Stampa Alternativa & Graffiti.

Filmography (in alphabetical order) Almodovar, P. (2004). Bad Education. Anderson, P. T. (1999). Magnolia. Aronofsky, D. (2005). Requiem for a Dream. Berg, P. (2007). The Kingdom. Bute, M. E., & McLaren, N. (1940). Spook Sport. Campbell, M. (2006). Casino Royale. Caro, M., & Jeunet, J. P. (1991). Delicatessen. Chaplin, C. (1931). City Lights. Clément, R. (1952). Forbidden Games (Jeux Interdits). Cody, Diablo. (2009). United States of Tara. Coen, J., & Coen, E. (2003). Intolerable Cruelty. Cohn, A. (1998). Dead Man on Campus. Coppola, F. F. (1974). The Conversation. Cukor, G. (1939). The Women. Donen, S. (1963). Charade. Duchamp, M. (1926). Anemic Cinema. Favreau, J. (2008). Iron Man. Fincher, D. (1995). Se7en. Fincher, D. (1999). Fight Club. Fincher, D. (2002). Panic Room. Fleischer, R. (1966). Fantastic Voyage. Forster, M. (2006). Stranger Than Fiction. Forster, M. (2007). The Kite Runner. Gondry, M. (2006). Science of Sleep.

  Bibliography   377

378    Bibliography

Griffith, D. W. (1915). The Birth of a Nation. Guggenheim, D. (2006). An Inconvenient Truth. Hess, J. (2004). Napoleon Dynamite. Hitchcock, A. (1958). Vertigo. Hitchcock, A. (1959). North by Northwest. Hitchcock, A. (1960). Psycho. Jonze, S. (2009). Where the Wild Things Are. Kubrick, S. (1964). Dr. Strangelove. Leterrier, L. (2008). The Incredible Hulk. Lee, A. (2003). Hulk. Lynch, D. (1997). Lost Highway. Maddin, G. (1997). Twilight of the Ice Nymphs. Milestone, L. (1960). Ocean's Eleven. Nair, M. (2001). Monsoon Wedding. Niccol, A. (2005). Lord of War. Noé, G. (2002). Irréversible. Park, C. (2005). Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. Pasolini, P. P. (1966). Uccellacci e Uccellini. Polanski, R. (1965). Repulsion. Reitman, J. (2007). Juno. Reitman, J. (2009). Up in the Air. Ritchie, G. (2000). Snatch. Ritchie, G. (2008). Rocknrolla. Schnabel, J. (2007). The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Silberling, B. (2004). Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Slade, B. (1979). The Partridge Family. Snider, Z. (2004). Dawn of the Dead. Snider, Z. (2009). Watchmen. Spielberg, S. (2002). Catch Me If You Can. Truffault, F. (1966). Fahrenheit 451. Tykwer, T. (1998). Run Lola Run. Wegener, P. (1920). Der Golem. Weitz, P. (2009). Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant.

Index Note: Page numbers followed by b indicates boxes, f indicates figures and t indicates tables. 3:2 pull-down, 38 A ABC Movie of the Week title design, 55 Absorption, sound, 269 Achromatic color harmony, 124 Action edits, 252 Adobe. see After Effects; Flash; Illustrator; Photoshop Aerial camera movement, 243 After Effects, 56 alpha channels, 203b audio file formats supported, 271 audio integration with, 271–274 audio layer, 272, 273f camera creation, 216 Cinema 4D plug-in for, 327–329 composition creation, 210f, 219 Composition Cropped Layers document, 160f continuous rasterization, 156 default camera, 215 depth of field, 234 dolly camera movement, 245–246 exposure settings, 230 expressions, 278 Flash versus, 94–95 focus, 227, 228f frame rate setting, 221, 221f framing angle, 240 f-stop value range, 230 handheld camera movement, 246 image size determination, 239 import types, 191, 191f importing files into, 191 layer parenting, 278 light additions in, 140

moving type animation to Flash, 98–99 nondestructive effects, 156b opening in editor, 170–171 pan camera movement, 245 pedestal camera movement, 246 preset creation, 169 rack focus camera movement, 246 rulers and guides, 82b setting up in, 167–171 Shape layer function, 161b, 161f, 162f, 163f shutter angle and motion-blur options, 235–237 Steadycam camera movement, 246 stopwatches, 295b tilt camera movement, 245 title card-based title sequences with, 200 as type animation tool, 95 for Web-based content, 94 when to use, 95–98 zoom camera movement, 245 After Effects tools/options 3D layer icon, 217f 3D Switch, 257f, 258f Alpha Channel option, 347f Animate option, 197f, 198b, 201f Audio Output option, 274 Audio panel, 272, 277f Bevel Alpha option, 212f Blur Length option, 330f Blur option, 311f Camera Settings window, 230, 230f, 231, 232f, 234 Canvas Size option, 166b, 167f CC Burn effect, 166f, 169f, 333f CC Light Rays effect, 280f, 281f CC Radial Wipe effect, 316f, 317f CC Vector Blur effect, 342f

Character Panel, 197f Collapse Transformations option, 158b Composition Settings, 167–168, 221 Constrain Proportions option, 166f Continuous Rasterize option, 323 Convert to Audio Keyframes option, 280f Ctrl-D (Command-D), 202f, 300f, 304f Ctrl-E (Command-E), 170, 193f Ctrl-M (Command-M), 207f Difference blend mode, 334f Directional Blur option, 339f Echo option, 337f Effects & Presets menu, 209f Eraser tool, 318f, 341f Extrude NURBS option, 346f Fast Blur option, 320f, 336f Focal Length parameter, 231, 232 Glow option, 336f Gradient editor, 204f Graph editor, 213f, 226f Intensity option, 298f, 299f Keyframe Interpolation option, 213f Light option, 298f Mask Expansion option, 294f, 306f, 307f Mask Feather option, 295b, 295f, 302f, 303f, 307f Mask Opacity option, 306f, 307f Mask Shape tool, 294f Motion Blur option, 205f, 235, 309f, 311f, 328f, 339f Move tool, 346f Multiply blend mode, 333f Null Object option, 344f Opacity blend mode, 335f


380   Index

After Effects tools/options (Continued) Opacity option, 290f, 291f, 292f, 293f, 337f Orbit Camera tool, 241 Output Module Settings, 274, 274f, 359f Paragraph panel, 296f, 299f, 332f Pen tool, 161f, 162f Per Character 3D option, 310f Photoshop Sequence option, 341f Point of Interest controls, 298f, 299f Position tool, 336f, 343f Pre-Compose, 158b, 158f, 317f, 318f Property option, 308f Radial Blur option, 301f Raining Character In option, 338f Range Selectors, 201b, 202f, 308f Rectangle tool, 211f, 302f Reduce Interlace Flicker option, 325f Reload Footage option, 171, 195f Render Queue panel, 236 Render Settings tool, 346f Resample Image option, 166 Reverb option, 277f Reverse Transition, 316f Rotation tool, 311f, 336f Scale tool, 169f, 170f, 199f, 201f, 300f, 306f Selection tool, 302f Skew option, 329f Smudge tool, 340f Stencil Alpha, 157b Stereo Mixer option, 277f, 278f Straight Alpha option, 347f Text tool, 331f Time Remap feature, 224, 226f, 314f, 342f Time Reverse Keyframes, 318f Tracking option, 296f Transparency Grid, 203f Type tool, 200f, 321f, 338f Wiggler panel, 334f Workspace for Text option, 196b X Rotation option, 205f, 206f After Effects tutorials

adding animated illustrative elements, 161b adding music and sound effects, 277b animated title cards, 196b animating layer styles, 159–161 Dawn of the Dead bloodsplatter type, 339–340 end scroll animation, 323b exploding type, 309b fading up and down, basic move, 290 fading up and down by character, 292b falling into place, 307 footage editing, 254–256 horror-jittery type, 333 in-scene title wipes, 304b large blocks of type, 207b Lost-style 3D title, 342 lower third title creation, 203b Matrix raining characters, 338 painterly effects, 319b painting/writing text on screen, 315b preset creation, 169b resizing movie poster logo, 166b shaped fade up and fade down, 294b Sopranos-style wipe, 327 Spiderman-style full-3D text animation, 344–345 spotlight reveals, 297b Star Wars backward crawl, 331 Stencil Alpha, 157b stop-motion titles, 312b Superman-style explosive type, 335 suspense-style glowing back light, 329 synching sound with type, 279b text bounce, 299b ticker creation, 210b title card-based title sequence, 200b title sequence with virtual camera, 256–259 title wipes, 302b tracking animation, 295b "whoosh" creation, 275b

write-on effect with font, 317b zoom-in effect, 306 Afterimages, 129b Alberti, Leon Battista, 115 Alpha Channel option (After Effects), 347f Alpha channels, 203b The Alphabet Conspiracy background, 101 case study, 99b cues, 101 custom typefaces, 102 defined, 101 Alphabetic writing system, 73 Alternating title cards and footage, 13 Ambient lights, 141 Amplitude, 269 decibels, 269 defined, 269 see also sound Analogous color harmony, 125, 125f Anchor Point animation, 332f Anchor points, 191–192, 192f Animated title cards, 196b completed, 199f composition length setting, 196f type animation, 198f type appearance, 197f Animatics defined, 30 as pre-production step, 6 presentation, 6 Animation-based title sequences, 16 Animators defined, 291 Opacity, 292 range selector, 291, 292 Aperture, 229–230 Apple Final Cut Pro editing footage in, 254–256 software setup, 253–254 Apple Motion 2D mode, 216 3D mode, 216 Angle of View parameter, 233f camera creation, 216 default camera, 215 dolly camera movement, 245–246

Index   381

editing footage with, 254–256 focus, 228 frame rate, 221, 222f image size determination, 239 light properties, 146 light types, 144 Optical Flow option, 226f pan camera movement, 245 pedestal camera movement, 246 project creation, 219 rack focus camera movement, 246 Rotation values, changing, 240, 242 software setup, 254 Steadycam camera movement, 246 tilt camera movement, 245 Time Remap feature, 224, 225f Timing option, 225f Variable Speed Time Remap feature, 226f zoom camera movement, 245 Aristotle, 114–116 Aspect ratios defined, 218 film cameras, 218 in film/video workflows, 35–36 mobile devices, 88t Assets creating and animating, as production step, 7 frame size, 33 Audacity adding sound effect in, 275b defined, 275 Fade In/Fade Out options, 276f High Pass Filter option, 276f Phaser option, 276f White Noise option, 275f Audio Amplitude layer, 280f Audio files formats supported, 271 imported, 272 working with, 271 Audio integration (After Effects), 271–274 Audio Output option (After Effects), 274

B Background lights, 138 Balloon lights, 136 Baseline, 77 Bass, Saul, 49–52, 252 background, 49 career, 49–50 graphic design education, 49 North by Northwest, 50 Psycho, 50–51, 52 title sequences, 49 Bed, 358f The Better Angels (Chen) creative justification, 364–365 description, 364 illustrated title sequence, 365f, 366f software and techniques, 365 synopsis of movie, 364 technical challenges, 365–366 see also Title sequences by Ex'pression graduates The Better Angels (McLeod) creative description/ treatment, 368 illustrated title sequence, 368f, 369f software and techniques, 368–369 synopsis of movie, 368 see also Title sequences by Ex'pression graduates Bevel and Emboss layer style complexity, 154 defined, 148 effect, 153–154 illustrated, 153f Stroke layer and, 153b Style setting, 153 Technique setting, 153 Texture setting, 154 see also Layer styles (Photoshop) Bezier paths, 157 Bitmap screen fonts, 75 Black background, 129 Blur Length option (After Effects), 330f Blur option (After Effects), 311f

Bold, faux, 76–77 Brightness in color deficiency, 127 defined, 124 Broadcast title design, 55–56 Budgets in creative brief, 4 title sequence, 349 as transition decision-making factor, 10 Building/creating title sequence workflow, 354 bed completion, 358f concept pitching, 355f concept planning, 354f getting approval, 358f project management, 356f protection, 357f rendering to client spec, 358f technical planning, 355f title movement determination, 357f C Camera framing, 238–242 high angle, 239 high-level, 239 image size and, 238–239 level and angle of, 239–242 low angle, 239 low-level, 239 real-world cameras, 239 Camera movements, 242–246 aerial, 243 computer-generated, 244–246 dolly, 243, 244, 244f green-screen production, 249 handheld, 243 motivations for, 244 pan, 243, 244, 244f pedestal, 243, 244f point of view (POV) and, 244 rack focus, 243 Steadicam, 243 tilt, 243, 244f types of, 242–243 zoom, 243 Camera Settings window (After Effects) Blur Level option, 234

382   Index

Camera Settings window (After Effects) (Continued) Depth of Field option, 234 Enable Depth of Field option, 230, 230f, 258f Film Size option, 234 Focus Distance option, 234 F-Stop option, 234 Cameras computer-generated, 215 depth of field, 233–234 film, 132, 133, 215 frame rates, 220–224 lenses, 227–232 real-world versus CG, 215–237 shutter angle, 235–237 shutter speed, 234–235 video, 133–134, 215 virtual, 256–259 Case studies The Alphabet Conspiracy, 99b The Kite Runner, 65–67 Le Tourment Vert, 185b Pop!Tech 2008, 260b Quantum of Solace, 61–65 Stranger Than Fiction, 67–68 Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, 15b TED 2009, 171b title sequences by Ex'pression graduates, 360b Urbanicity, 282b Cast shadows, 143 Casting, in order of credits, 352 CC Burn effect (After Effects), 333f CC Radial Wipe effect (After Effects), 316f, 317f CC Vector Blur effect (After Effects), 342f Cell phones, titles on, 87–89 Chevreul, Michel, 116 Cinema 4D plug-in, 327–329 Cirque du Freak (Weitz), 16 City Lights (Chaplin), 46 Client dynamic The Kite Runner case study, 66–67 Quantum of Solace case study, 63 Stranger Than Fiction case study, 68 Close-up (CU), 238 Closing titles, 30–32

CMYK color system, 120, 120f Collapse Transformations option (After Effects), 158b Color brightness, 124, 127 complementary, 128 computer-generated lighting, 142 contrasts, 127–129 cool/warm, 116, 116t, 119t cultural and sociological connotations, 117 deficiency, 126–127 as essential title component, 113 history, 114–116 hue, 124 mood and, 117 online resources for, 126b perception of, 113 political connotations of, 117 preference, 118 primary, 123 properties, 124 psychological responses to, 119t Radatz, Ben on, 264 religious connotation of, 117 saturation, 124, 127 secondary, 123 senses and, 117 shades, 124, 124f spectrum, 113, 114f symbolism and psychology of, 116–118 tertiary, 123 as therapy, 118 tints, 124, 124f tones, 124, 124f understanding, 113–127 in Urbanicity case study, 283 Color harmonies, 124–126 achromatic, 124 analogous, 125, 125f complementary, 125, 125f cool, 126 creation techniques, 124 defined, 124 monochromatic, 124, 125f split-complementary, 125, 125f square, 126, 126f tetradic, 125, 126f triadic, 125, 125f warm, 126

Color Overlay layer style, 148, 154, 154f Color palette Adobe Illustrator, 121 Adobe Photoshop, 121 deciding, 116 evocation, 117–118 Color systems, 119–123 CMYK, 120, 120f color motion picture film, 123 color values, 120 HSL (or HSI), 120 HSV (or HSB), 120 Pantone (PMS), 120 RGB, 119, 119f RYB, 119 use decision, 122 YUV, 120 Color temperature, 131–132 chart, 131f daylight light fixtures, 131–132 defined, 131 tungsten light fixtures, 131 Color wheel, 120f, 123 Complementary color harmony, 125, 125f Complementary colors, 128 Composition Cropped Layers import type, 192, 209f, 257f Composition import type, 191–192 Composition Settings (After Effects), 167–168, 221 Advanced tab, 237, 237f Basic tab, 167f Compositions creating, 210f, 219 length setting, 196f, 200f, 209f settings, 219 Compression, client decision, 34 Computer-assisted title sequences, 56 Computer-generated camera movements, 244–246 dolly, 245–246 handheld, 246 pan, 245 ped, 246 rack focus, 246 Steadycam, 246 tilt, 245

Index   383

zoom, 245 see also Camera movements Computer-generated cameras creating, 216 defined, 215 frame rate, 221 see also Cameras Computer-generated lighting, 140–146 ambient lights, 141 cast shadows, 143 characteristics of, 140 color, 142 cone angle, 143 cone feather, 143 differences in, 140 intensity, 142 light options, 142 parallel lights, 141 point lights, 141 shadow darkness, 143 shadow diffusion, 143 spot lights, 140 see also Lighting Concepts edit, 252 pitching, 355f planning, 354f Cone angle, 143 Cone feather, 143 Cone of vision, 84 Continuous rasterization, 156 Continuous Rasterize option (After Effects), 323 Contours, layer styles, 149–151 Cool color harmony, 126 Cool colors, 116, 116t, 119t Cooper, Kyle, 351 Creative briefs budget section, 4 common sections, 4 compiling, 3 defined, 3 deliverables section, 4 objective of, 4 overview, 3–7 as pre-production step, 5 section examples, 3 target audience section, 4 timeline section, 4 Creative process completing, 349–359

The Kite Runner case study, 65, 66 Nimmo, Stacy on, 109–110 preparation and testing, 172 Quantum of Solace case study, 61, 62–63 Ross, Rock on, 40 Stranger Than Fiction case study, 67–68 TED 2009 case study, 171 Critical focus, 227 Cuts, 250–251 D Da Vinci, Leonardo, 115 Dawn of the Dead blood-splatter type, 339–340 After Effects tutorial, 340–342 defined, 339 see also Famous movie title techniques Daylight light fixtures, 131–132 Dead Man on Campus (Frankfurt and Fong), 27–28 Delicatessen (Caro and Jeunet), 56, 57 film opening, 56 music, 56 transition into movie, 57 type qualities, 57 Deliverables, 353 client decision on, 34 in creative brief, 4 Depth of field, 233–234 After Effects, 234 defined, 233 great (long), 233, 234t less (shallow), 233–234, 234t variation, 234 see also Cameras Design blocks, 81–84 Deteuranopes, 127 DI. see Digital intermediate (DI) Difference blend mode (After Effects), 334f Digital Intermediate (DI) defined, 36 digital video source/ deliverable, 37 digital video source/film deliverable, 38

film source/digital video deliverable, 37 film source/film deliverable, 37–38 image sequence conformed/ manipulated, 36 image sequence printed, 36 process, 36–38 scanning, 36 workflow, 36, 37t workflow variations, 36–37 Dimmers, 137 Directional Blur option (After Effects), 339f Director, in order of credits, 353 Director of photography, 352 Display typefaces, 75 Dissolves, 251 Distance, in light intensity, 136 Distribution contracts, 32 Dolly, 243, 244, 244f, 245–246 Double title cards, 30 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick and Ferro), 52, 53 Drop Shadow layer style defined, 148 illustrated, 151f Drop shadows, 151 Duchamp, Marcel, 46 E Early titles, 45–49 City Lights (Chaplin), 46 Duchamp, Marcel, 46 Forbidden Games (Clément), 48–49 Griffith, D. W, 45 Scenic and Title Artist 816 union and, 48 Spook Sport (Bute and McLaren), 47–48 superimposing technique, 46–47 talkies, 46 The Women (Cukor), 47 Echo option (After Effects), 337f Editing footage for title sequence, 250–254, 254–256 music, 254

384   Index

Editing (Continued) Nimmo, Stacy on, 107 software setup for, 253–254 Editors offline, 359 online, 359 in order of credits, 352 Edits action, 252 concept, 252 cut, 250–251 for designers, 252–253 dissolve, 251 fade, 251 form, 252 motivation of, 251–252 planning, 253 rules and art of, 251–252 screen position, 252 sound, 270–271 types of, 250–251 Emotional response, as title sequence function, 3 Emotive lighting, 139 End scrolls, 322–323 animating, 323b difficulty with video, 322 effects for, 323 processing, 323 setting, 323 typefaces for, 322 Engage and excite, as title sequence function, 2 Eraser tool (After Effects), 318f, 341f Exploding type, 309 After Effects tutorial, 309b defined, 309 rotation, 311f starting from ending, 309f timeline, 310f see also Techniques Expressions (After Effects), 278 Extreme close-up (ECU), 239 Extreme long shot (ELS), 239 Extrude NURBS option (After Effects), 346f Eyelights, 138 F Fade up and fade down, 290–292 After Effects tutorial, 290b

basic move, 290 by character, 291–292 as most common, 290 playhead placement for, 291f shaped, 294b see also Techniques Fades, 251 Fahrenheit 451 (Truffaut), 54 Falling into place, 307 After Effects tutorial, 315b defined, 307 see also Techniques Famous movie title techniques, 327–345 Dawn of the Dead bloodsplatter type, 339–340 horror-jittery type, 333 Lost-style 3D title, 342 Matrix raining characters, 338 Sopranos-style wipe, 327 Spiderman-style full-3D text animation, 344–345 Star Wars backward crawl, 331 Superman-style explosive type, 335 suspense-style glowing back light, 329 Fantastic Voyage (Fleischer and Kuhn), 53 Fast Blur option, 320f, 336f Fast-motion shots, 223, 223f A Father's Will creative justification, 370 description, 370 illustrated title sequence, 370f, 371f software and techniques, 370 synopsis of movie, 369 see also Title sequences by Ex'pression graduates Featured cast members, in order of credits, 352 Files, importing into After Effects, 191 Fill lights, 138 Film DI workflow, 37 frame size, 38 process and transfer, 36–38 Film cameras aspect ratio, 218

color-balancing, 132, 133 default recording speed, 220 defined, 215 focus rings, 227 framing, 239 f-stops, 229 use of, 215b see also cameras Film title, in order of credits, 352 Film transfer, 65 Film-out, 13 Final deliverable, as postproduction step, 7 Fine cut, 7 Fine-art techniques, 315–319 painterly effects, 319b painting/writing text on screen, 315b write-on effect with font, 317b see also Techniques Flash After Effects versus, 94–95 Convert to Symbol option, 97f Document window, 96f Dynamic Text feature, 97b F keys, 97b FLV format, 99f Free Transform tool, 97f keyframes, 97f as motion graphics tool, 95 moving type animation to, 98–99 moving type with, 93–98 Properties panel, 97f type animation, 96–97, 97b Type tool, 96f when to use, 95 Focal length, 227, 231–232 After Effects, 232 defined, 231 illustrated, 231f see also Lenses Focus, 227–228 adjusting, 227 After Effects, 227, 228f critical, 227 film cameras, 227 Motion, 228 pull, 227

Index   385

video cameras, 227 see also Lenses Foley, 270–271 Font families, 75 Font size distance and, 85–86 Legibility index (LI), 85, 85t Nimmo, Stacy on, 105 Peng, Synderela on, 69 point size and, 86t Radatz, Ben on, 263 Ross, Rock on, 42 Fontlab Studio defined, 90 Generate Font option, 93f glyphs, 92f illustrated, 90f typeface creation with, 91–93 Fonts bitmap, 75 creating, 90–91 handwritten, 77 monospaced, 75 OpenType, 80 Psycho (Bass), 52 tracking and, 79 TrueType, 80 Type 1 (PostScript), 80 use decision for, 73, 77 weights, 75 write-on effect with, 317b see also Typefaces Footage alternating title cards and, 13 editing for title sequence, 250–254, 254–256 in importing workflow, 191 in titles over picture, 12–13 titles placed over, 195 Footage import type, 191 Footage and motion graphics, 18–27 How We Built Britain title sequence, 18–27 notable title sequences using, 27 Footcandles, 136 Forbidden Games (Clément), 48–49 Form edits, 252 Frame rates, 220–224 in After Effects, 221, 221f CG camera and, 221

changing in post-production, 224 client decision, 34 common, 222t defined, 220 faster, 223, 223f film camera, 220 in Motion, 221, 222f slower, 223, 223f variable, 224, 224b video camera, 220 Frame sizes asset, 33 client decision in, 34 common, 33t for film, 38 for mobile devices, 88t in post-production, 33 for video, 38, 218t Frames per second (fps), 220 Fresnel lights, 135 F-stops, 227, 229–230 After Effects, 230 defined, 229 determining, 229 in film cameras, 229 in video cameras, 229 see also Lenses G Glow option (After Effects), 336f Glyphs, 92b, 92f Gradient Overlay layer style defined, 148 effect, 155 illustrated, 155f Gradients editing, 212f linear, 211f Graphics design department, working with, 165 Great (long) depth of field, 233, 234t Greatest Story Ever Told creative justification, 360 description, 360 software and techniques, 361–362 synopsis of movie, 360 see also Title sequences by Ex'pression graduates Green-screen production, 247–250 camera movement, 249

camera settings, 249 factors in, 247 foreground/background lighting setups, 248–249 green light bulbs, 249 green spill, 247–248 lighting, 247 lighting sources, 249 screen area maximization, 250 shadows, 248 waveform monitor, 247 Grid systems, 81 breaking the grid, 83–84 characteristics of, 81 implementation of, 82–83 use of, 81 Griffith, D. W, 45 Guides, hiding/showing, 83–84 H Handheld camera movement, 243, 246 Handwritten fonts, 77 Harmonics, 268 High Pass Filter option (Audacity), 276f High-key lighting schemes, 139 High-level framing, 239 History, title sequences, 45–60 ABC Movie of the Week, 55 Bass, Saul, 49–52 broadcast, 55–56 computer-assisted, 56 Delicatessen (Caro and Jeunet), 56, 57 Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick and Ferro), 52, 53 early titles, 45–49 Fahrenheit 451 (Truffaut), 54 Fantastic Voyage (Fleischer and Kuhn), 53 Irreversible (Noé), 60 Lost Highway (Lynch and Johnson), 58, 59 modern, 57–60 Monsoon Wedding (Nair and Trollbäck+co), 59 The Partridge Family, 55–56 Repulsion (Polanski and Binder), 53

386   Index

History, title sequences (Continued) Se7en (Fincher and Cooper), 57, 58 Uccellacci e Uccellini (Pasolini), 54–55 Holmes, Steve, 185, 185f, 282 Horror-jittery type, 333 How We Built Britain (Edwards) aerial video footage, 19 defined, 18 final shot, 27 in footage and motion graphics combination, 18–27 Jeep as narrator, 27 sequence beginning, 27 see also Footage and motion graphics HSL (or HSI) color system, 120 HSV (or HSB) color system, 120 Hue, 124 I Illustrator, 89 3D Extrude and Bevel effect, 194f Appearance panel, 194f Character panel, 194f color palette, 121 Create Outlines option, 89f editing type from, 193b Eraser tool, 90f Lasso tool, 90f Live Trace, 91f modifying text with, 89 swatch libraries, 122 with Wacom tablet, 333f Image size in After Effects/Motion, 239 in camera framing, 238–239 Importing as Composition, 191–192 as Composition Cropped Layer, 192, 315f, 320f, 324f files into After Effects, 191 as Footage, 191, 341f as Projects, 193 type changes and, 193 workflow, 191–193 Incident light, 229 Inner Glow layer style

controls, 152 defined, 148 effect, 152 illustrated, 152f see also Layer styles Inner Shadow layer style defined, 148 effect, 151 see also Layer styles In-scene title wipes, 303 After Effects tutorial, 304b creating, 304b defined, 303 Inspector (Motion) Camera tab, 228, 228f, 233f Properties tab, 240, 241f, 242 Intensity, light, 136 Intertitles defined, 31 use of, 195 see also Title cards Intervalometers, 220b Irreversible (Noé), 60 Italic, faux, 76–77 K Kerning defined, 77–78 manual, 78 metric, 78 optical, 78 Ross, Rock on, 43 typefaces and, 78 Key lights, 138 Keyframes Flash, 97f Position, 204f, 213f, 305f, 306f, 328f, 336f Scale, 300f X Rotation, 205f, 206f Kickers, 138 The Kingdom (Berg), 28–29 The Kite Runner case study, 65–67 client dynamic, 66–67 craft, 66 creative process, 65, 66 production/post-production team, 66 project length, 66 title sequence concept/ inspiration, 65

L Large type blocks adding in animations to, 210f background texture of, 209f extending, 209f importing, 209f setting type in, 207f type animation, 209f working with, 207b Latin alphabet, 73 Layer parenting, 278 Layer styles (Photoshop), 147–155 adding and adjusting, 147–148 animating with After Effects, 159–161 Bevel and Emboss, 148, 153–154 Color Overlay, 148, 154 contours of, 149–151 dialog box, 148f Drop Shadow, 148, 151 Gradient Overlay, 148, 155 Inner Glow, 148, 152 Inner Shadow, 148, 151 Outer Glow, 148, 151–152 Pattern Overlay, 155 Satin, 148, 154 Stroke, 148, 155 types of, 148 Use Global Light option, 149 uses for, 147 Layers anchor points, 191–192, 192f Animator added to, 198f audio, 272, 273f Audio Amplitude, 280f Null Object, 332f text, importing, 193 Le Tourment Vert case study, 185b camera use, 188 concept and inspiration, 185, 186, 187 creative freedom, 187 French background, 188 Holmes, Steve and, 185, 185f illustrations, 189f, 190f project timeline, 188 research influence, 187 type approach, 187 Leading defined, 79 Ross, Rock on, 43

Index   387

Legibility index (LI), 85 defined, 85 reference, 85t for smaller screens, 88–89 translation to screen sizes, 86, 86t Lenses, 227–232 features of, 227 focal length, 227, 231–232 focus, 227–228 f-stops, 227, 229–230 long, 231 normal, 231 prime, 231 short, 231 use decision for, 227 zoom, 231 see also Cameras Less (shallow) depth of field, 233–234, 234t LI. see Legibility Index Ligatures, 76 Light gels, 133–134, 137 Light intensity, 136 computer-generated lighting, 142 manipulating, 136 measurement, 136 Light meters, 229 Lighting computer-generated, 140–146 emotive, 139 green screen, 247, 248–249 high-key, 139 low-key, 139 Radatz, Ben on, 264 set, tips for, 138b Light(s) ambient, 141 angle of, 137 Apple Motion, 144, 146 background, 138 balloon, 136 changing type of, 144 color temperature and, 131–132 daylight, 131–132 as essential title component, 113 eyelight, 138 fill, 138 Fresnel, 135

function of, 137–138 hard sources, 134–135 incident, 229 key, 138 kicker, 138 model and settings, 135 open face, 135 parallel, 141 plate creation, 130 point, 141 qualities of, 134–138 reflective, 229 in samples/plates, 130 size and output, 135 soft sources, 135 space, 136 spot, 140 tungsten, 131 understanding, 129–146 visible spectrum, 114f Linear gradients, 211f Live-action footage, Quantum of Solace case study, 63–64 Live-action shoot in pre-production, 6–7 as production step, 7 Logographic writing system, 73 Logos main title card as, 159–163 movie poster, resizing, 166b studio, 32 Long shot (LS), 238 Lost Highway (Lynch and Johnson), 58, 59 Lost-style 3D title, 342 After Effects tutorial, 343–344 defined, 342 Lower third titles adding text layer for, 205f background creation for, 203f composition creation for, 203f creating, 203b defined, 31, 203 keyframe animation in, 205f keyframes, copying/pasting, 206f Motion Blur, 205f opacity in, 204f render setting for, 207f Lowercase ascender, 79

defined, 76 descender, 79 in Legibility Index (LI), 85, 85t Low-frequency effects, 268 Low-key lighting schemes, 139 Low-level framing, 239 Lumens, 136 M Main title cards adding animated illustrative elements to, 161 defined, 30 as movie logo, 159–163 Manual kerning, 78 Mask Expansion option (After Effects), 294f, 306f, 307f Mask Feather option (After Effects), 295b, 295f, 302f, 303f, 307f Mask Opacity option (After Effects), 306f, 307f Mask Shape tool (After Effects), 294f, 302f Match frame transitions, 10–11 defined, 10 designer involvement, 10 examples, 10–11 see also Transitions Matrix raining characters, 338 After Effects tutorial, 338–339 defined, 338 Matte titling, 54b Medium close-up (MCU), 239 Medium long shot (MLS), 239 Medium shot (MS), 238 Metric kerning, 78 Mixed case, 76 Mixers, 271 Mobile devices, viewing considerations, 93–94 Modern title sequences, 57–60 Monochromatic color harmony, 124, 125f Monospaced fonts, 75 Monsoon Wedding (Nair and Trollbäck+co), 59 Motion blur as After Effects option, 205f, 235–237, 309f, 311f, 323, 328f, 339f rendering, disabling, 236 shutter angle and, 235

388   Index

Motion graphics footage and, 18–27 Peng, Synderela on, 69 Quantum of Solace case study, 65 Stranger Than Fiction case study, 68 Move tool (After Effects), 346f Movie posters logo, resizing, 166b Multiple title cards, 30 Multiply blend mode (After Effects), 333f Murch, Walter In the Blink of an Eye, 270 Synesthesia, 269–270 Music adding in After Effects, 277b adding to title sequence, 275 in editing process, 254 in order of credits, 352 N Newton, Isaac, 115 Nimmo, Stacy on camera movement and transitions, 107 on challenges, 110 on color and lighting, 109 on creative process, 109–110 on current projects, 111 on editing, 107 example work (Higher Level), 104f example work (Jacked Auto Theft Task Force), 106f example work (The Word), 110f example work (Vision 08), 108f on favorite parts, 110 on font size and readability, 105 graphic design background, 103 on Gunshop, 105 influences, interests, and passions, 105 on inspirations, 111 on screen time, 106 on soundtracks, 108 on technology, 110 on title design, 103b on title safe boundaries, 106–107 Noise, 268 North by Northwest (Bass), 50

Null Object layer, 332f Null Object option (After Effects), 344f Number 24 creative justification, 366–367 description, 366 illustrated title sequence, 367f music, 367–368 software and techniques, 367 synopsis of movie, 366 see also Title sequences by Ex'pression graduates O Objective, in creative brief, 4 Offline editors, 359 Online, titles, 87–89 Online editors, 359 Opacity Animator, 292 Opacity blend mode (After Effects), 335f Opacity option (After Effects), 290f, 291f, 292f, 293f, 337f Open face lights, 135 Opening titles, 30–32 terminology and concepts of, 30 typical order of credits of, 352–353 OpenType, 80 Optical kerning, 78 Orbit Camera tool (After Effects), 241 Order of credits, opening title sequence, 352–353 Outer Glow layer style defined, 148 effect, 151–152 Elements section, 152 illustrated, 151f Quality section, 152 sections illustration, 152f Structure section, 151 Output Module Settings (After Effects), 274, 274f, 359f Overtones, 268 P Painterly effects, 319b After Effects tutorial, 319b defined, 319

letter form creation for, 322f paint splatters for, 320f, 321f type layer creation for, 321f Painting text on screen, 315b Pan defined, 243 illustrated, 244f motivation for, 244, 245 in post-production, 33 Panic Room (Fincher), 17–18 Pantone (PMS) color system, 120 Paragraph panel (After Effects), 296f, 299f, 332f Parallel lights, 141 The Partridge Family title design, 55–56 Pattern Overlay layer style, 155 Pedestal camera movement, 243, 244f, 246 Peng, Synderela on challenges, 70 on designing title sequences, 69b on editing, 69–70 on font size, 69 on goals/objectives, 70 on inspiration/influence, 71 on motion graphics, 69 on project length, 70 on score, 70 on technology, 70 on title card order, 69 Per Character 3D option (After Effects), 310f Phaser option (Audacity), 276f Photogrammetry, 17–18 Photoshop color palette, 121 continuous rasterization, 156 layer styles, 147–155 NTSC DV preset, 208f swatch libraries, 122 Photoshop Sequence option (After Effects), 341f Picture edit, 11 Pitch, as pre-production step, 6 Pitch (sound), 267–268 frequency dependence of, 267 frequency measurement for, 268 low-frequency effects of, 268 see also Sound

Index   389

Pitching concepts, 355f Planning concept, 354f edits, 253 technical, 355f title sequences, 350–351 Point lights, 141 Pop!Tech 2008 case study, 260b challenges, 260 imagery selection, 260 integration, 260 Trollbäck, Jacob, 260 Position tool (After Effects), 336f, 343f Positioning, title sequence, 8–9 at beginning of movie, 8 at beginning/end of movie, 8, 9 at end of movie, 8–9 in middle of movie, 8 Post-production changing frame rates in, 224 frame size and, 33 panning and scanning in, 33 sound in, 270–271 steps, 7 Sympathy for Lady Vengeance case study, 15 Pre-compose option (After Effects), 158b, 158f, 317f, 318f Preliminary testing, as preproduction step, 6 Premiere Pro, Title Designer tool, 325f Preminger, Otto, 350 Pre-production steps, 5 Sympathy for Lady Vengeance case study, 15 title sequences, 351 Presets contour (Photoshop), 149–150 creating, 169 NTSC DV, 208f project, 219 Typewriter, 209f Primary colors, 123 Prime lenses, 231 Producers, in order of credits, 353 Production early stages, designers in, 352

green-screen, 247–250 steps, 7 Sympathy for Lady Vengeance case study, 15 title sequences in, 215–266 Production company, in order of credits, 352 Production designer, in order of credits, 352 Production/post-production team The Kite Runner case study, 66 Quantum of Solace case study, 63 Stranger Than Fiction case study, 68 Project import type, 193 Project length The Kite Runner case study, 66 Peng, Synderela on, 70 Quantum of Solace case study, 63 Radatz, Ben on, 265 Ross, Rock on, 42–43 Stranger Than Fiction case study, 68 Project management, 163–164 AE Project folder in, 164 AE Renders folder in, 164 defined, 163 master folder in, 163 original art folder in, 164 Photoshop folder in, 164 Project Properties (Motion), 222f Projects creating, 219 element preparation for, 351–352 importing, 193 presets, 219 Propagation, sound, 269 Protecting work, 357f Psycho (Bass), 50–51, 52 aluminum bars, 51 fonts, 52 foreground/background visual illusion, 51 horizontal black lines, 51, 52 structural forms, 51 Pulling the threads title sequences, 29–30

Q Quantum of Solace case study, 61–65 challenges, 65 client dynamic, 63 creative process, 61, 62–63 female forms, 62 forensic table sequence, 64 live-action footage, 63–64 motion graphics and film transfer workflow, 65 previsualization, 61, 62–63 production/post-production team, 63 project length, 63 soundtrack, 65 special effects, 64 R Rack focus, 243, 246 Radatz, Ben, 262b advice for novice title designers, 266 background, 262 on challenges, 265 on color and lighting, 264 on favorite titles, 266 on font size and readability, 263 on goals and objectives, 265 illustrated, 262f on MK12 beginnings, 262–263 on project length, 265 on score in place, 264 on studio guidelines, 264 on team dynamic, 265 on technology, 265 on transitions and hard cuts, 217, 218 on work influences, 263 Radial Blur option (After Effects), 301f Raining Character In option (After Effects), 338f Range selectors, 291, 292 Range Selectors (After Effects), 201b, 202f, 308f Raster images, 156 Readability, 84–89 cone of vision and, 84 factors, 84

390   Index

Readability (Continued) font size and, 85–86 Nimmo, Stacy on, 105 Radatz, Ben on, 263 Ross, Rock on, 41 Rectangle tool (After Effects), 211f, 302f Red Doors, 349, 353, 358f Reduce Interlace Flicker option (After Effects), 325f Reflection, sound, 269 Reflective light, 229 Refraction, sound, 269 Reload Footage option (After Effects), 171, 195f Render Settings tool (After Effects), 346f Rendering title sequences, 359 Repulsion (Polanski and Binder), 53 Research, as pre-production step, 5 Resolution in film/video workflow, 35 reduction, 165–166 Reverse pull-down, 38 Reverse Transition option (After Effects), 316f Revised storyboards, as ­ pre-production step, 6 RGB color system, 119, 119f Roman Capital, 73–74 defined, 73–74 as form following function, 74b primary use of, 74 Ross, Rock, 39b on challenging aspects, 43–44 on creative freedom, 41 on creative process, 40 defined, 39 on font size, 42 illustrated, 39f interest in film titles, 39 on job rewards, 44 on kerning and leading, 43 on life experience as influence, 39–40 on number of movies worked on, 44 on preliminary testing, 42 on project length, 42–43 on readability, 41

on score/soundtrack, 41, 42 Rotation tool (After Effects), 311f, 336f Rough cut, 7 RYB color system, 119 S Sans serif typefaces, 75 Satin layer style, 148, 154, 154f Saturation in color deficiency, 127 defined, 124 Saw-style horror-jittery type, 333 Scale tool (After Effects), 169f, 170f, 199f, 201f, 300f, 306f Scanning, in post-production, 33 Scenic and Title Artist 816 union, 48 Scores, 271 Screen position edits, 252 Scrims, 136–137 Script typefaces, 75 Scrolling titles, 31 Se7en (Fincher and Cooper), 57, 58 aesthetical qualities, 58 close-up shots, 57 defined, 57 Se7en-style horror-jittery type, 333 Secondary colors, 123 seen and Not Heard creative justification, 363 description, 363 software techniques, 363 synopsis of movie, 362 technical challenges, 363–364 title sequence illustration, 363f, 364f see also Title sequences by Ex'pression graduates Selection tool (After Effects), 302f Serif typefaces, 74 Shades, 124, 124f Shadows cast, 143 darkness, 143 diffusion, 143 drop, 151 Shape layers (After Effects), 161b, 161f, 162f, 163f Shaped fade up and fade down, 294b

Shot composition, 238–246 camera framing in, 238–242 camera movement in, 242–246 Shutter angle, 235 in After Effects, 235–237 defined, 235 motion blur and, 235 see also Cameras Shutter speed, 234–235 defined, 234 higher, 235 range, 234–235 slower, 235 see also Cameras Single title cards, 30 Skew option (After Effects), 329f Slow-motion shots, 223, 223f Small caps, 76 Smart quotes, 76 Smith, Gareth, 349–350 Smudge tool (After Effects), 340f Sopranos-style wipe, 327 After Effects tutorial, 327–329 creating, 327–329 defined, 327 matching look/feel of, 327f skewing in, 329f see also Techniques Sound, 267–278 absorption, 269 amplitude, 267, 269 audio integration of (After Effects), 271–274 characteristics, 267–269 edit, 270–271 importing, 279f mix, 271 pitch, 267–268 in post-production, 270–271 propagation, 269 reflection, 269 refraction, 269 score and, 271 synching with type, 279b tone, 267, 268 Sound effects adding in After Effects, 277b adding in Audacity, 275b adding to title sequence, 275

Index   391

Soundtracks defined, 271 Nimmo, Stacy on, 108 Quantum of Solace case study, 65 Space lights, 136 Special effects, Quantum of Solace case study, 64 Spiderman-style full-3D text animation, 344–345 After Effects tutorial, 345–348 background animation, 347f defined, 344 Split-complementary color harmony, 125, 125f Spook Sport (Bute and McLaren), 47–48 Spot lights, 140 Spotlight reveals, 297 After Effects tutorial, 297b defined, 297 see also Techniques Square color harmony, 126, 126f Star Wars backward crawl, 331 After Effects tutorial, 331–332 defined, 331 type formatting in, 331f Steadicam, 243 Steadycam, 246 Stencil Alpha cutting out textures with, 157b defined, 157f using, 158f Stop-motion titles, 312 After Effects tutorial, 312b defined, 312 equipment requirement for, 312f importing photos for, 313f with modern equipment, 312b Stopwatches Offset, 338f Position, 324f, 328f Scale, 334f Story by, in order of credits, 353 Story within a story, 28–29 The Kingdom title sequence, 28–29 notable title sequences using, 29

Storyboard revision, 6 Storyboarding, as preproduction step, 5 Straight Alpha option (After Effects), 347f Stranger Than Fiction case study, 67–68 client dynamic, 68 creative process, 67–68 main-on-end title sequence, 68 motion graphics and film transfer workflow, 68 opening sequence, 68 production/post-production team, 68 project length, 68 rotoscoping and motion tracking, 68 title sequence concept/ inspiration, 67 type treatment, 68 Stroke layer style defined, 148 effect, 155 illustrated, 156f Stroke weight, 76 Studio logos, 32 Studio name, in order of credits, 352 Style frames, as pre-production step, 5–6 Subtitles, 31 Superimposing technique, 46–47 Superman-style explosive type, 335 After Effects tutorial, 335 defined, 335 flying title animation in, 336f type towards camera in, 337f Supertitles, 195 Suspense-style glowing back light, 329 After Effect tutorial, 329–330 defined, 329 Syllabic writing system, 73 Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (yU+co) case study, 15b video-based title sequence, 14 Synesthesia (Murch), 269–270

T Talent contracts, 32 Talkies, 46 Target audience, in creative brief, 4 Technical planning, 355f Techniques Dawn of the Dead bloodsplatter type, 339–340 end scroll, 322–323 essential, 289–323 exploding type, 309 fade up and fade down, 290–292 falling into place, 307 famous movie title, 327–345 fine-art, 315–319 horror-jittery type, 333 Lost-style 3D title, 342 Matrix raining characters, 338 painterly effects, 319b painting/writing text on screen, 315b Sopranos-style wipe, 327 Spiderman-style full-3D text animation, 344–345 spotlight reveal, 297 Star Wars backward crawl, 331 stop-motion titles, 312 Superman-style explosive type, 335 suspense-style glowing back light, 329 text bounce, 299 timing, 289 title wipes, 301–303 tracking, 295 write-on effect with font, 317b zoom-in effect, 306 Technology Nimmo, Stacy on, 110 Peng, Synderela on, 70 Radatz, Ben on, 265 TED 2009 case study, 171b creative process, 171 Trollbäck, Jacob and, 171, 171f Tertiary colors, 123 Testing preliminary, 6 as production step, 7 TED 2009 case study, 172 Tetradic color harmony, 125, 126f

392   Index

Text bounce, 299 After Effects tutorial, 299b defined, 299 see also Techniques Text as character, 17–18 Text tool (After Effects), 331f Textures, cutting out with Stencil Alpha, 157b Thirds, 82, 83b Tickers color transition for, 212f composition creation for, 210f creating, 210b defined, 210 effect completion for, 214f keyframe interpolation for, 213f linear gradient for, 211f rectangle expansion for, 212f setting keyframes for, 213f setting speed for, 213f setting type for, 212f Tilt, 243, 244f, 245 Time remapping, 224 in After Effects, 224, 226f, 314f, 342f for stop-motion titles, 312 Time Reverse Keyframes option (After Effects), 318f Timelines, in creative brief, 4 Timing, 289, 353 Tints, 124, 124f Title card-based title sequence, 200b with After Effects, 200 animation template, 202f composition setup, 200f title creation, 200f title duplication, 202f title trimming, 201f Title cards animated, 196b in avoiding typos, 32 creating, 195 defined, 30, 195 double, 30 early, 45 intertitle, 31, 195 main, 30, 159–163 matte, 54

multiple, 30 nonmoving, 195 order, Peng, Synderela on, 69 single, 30 triple, 30 Title Designer tool (Premier Pro), 325f Title designers choosing of, 350 delivery responsibility of, 351–352 with design team, 351 in early stages of production, 352 edits for, 252–253 in match frame transitions, 10 novice, advice for, 266 time with creative team, 350 Title Safe boundary box, 86 Title sequences adding sound effects/music to, 275 alternating title cards and footage, 13 animation-based, 16 brief history of, 45–60 budget and, 349 computer-assisted, 56 creative brief and, 3–7, 4b creative process overview for, 3–7 editing footage for, 250–254, 254–256 effective, 2 elements of, 2, 3 footage and motion graphics in, 18–27 functions of, 2b match frame transitions in, 10–11 music of, 1 opening, typical order of credits, 352–353 planning, 350–351 positioning, 8–9 in pre-production, 351 in production, 215–266 pulling the threads and, 29–30 purpose and functions of, 1–3 rendering, 359 in setting tone, 1

story within a story and, 28–29 text as character and, 17–18 title card-based, 200b titles over picture and, 11–13 transitions in, 9–30 video-based, 14 with virtual camera, 256–259 workflow for, 5–7, 163–171 Title sequences by Ex'pression graduates, 360b The Better Angels (Chen), 364–366 The Better Angels (McLeod), 368–369 A Father's Will, 369, 370 Greatest Story Ever Told, 360, 361–362 Number 24, 366–368 seen and Not Heard, 362, 363–364 Title wipes, 301–303 After Effects tutorial, 302b creating, 302–303 defined, 301 in-scene, 303 see also Techniques Titles average speed on, 289 on cell phones, 87–89 distribution contracts for, 32 early, 45–49 Lost-style 3D, 342 lower third, 31, 203b movement determination in workflow, 357f online, 87–89 opening/closing, 30–32 preparing, 113–171 safety, 86b scrolling, 31 sound in, 267–278 stop-motion, 312 subtitles, 31 talent contracts and, 32 typos, avoiding, 32b Titles over picture, 11–13 defined, 11 footage quality and, 12–13 readability and, 12 title placement in, 12

Index   393

Tone, 124, 124f, 267, 268 defined, 268 harmonics, 268 overtones, 268 see also Sound Tracking defined, 78–79 fonts and, 79 typefaces and, 79 Tracking animation, 295 After Effects tutorial, 295b defined, 295 Tracking option (After Effects), 296f Transitions alternative, 27–28 decision-making factors for, 9 match frame, 10–11 Nimmo, Stacy on, 107 Radatz, Ben on, 217, 218 title sequence, 9–30 Treatment, as pre-production step, 5 Triadic color harmony, 125, 125f Triple title cards, 30 Trollbäck, Jacob Pop!Tech 2008 case study, 260 TED 2009 case study, 171, 171f TrueType, 80 Tungsten light fixtures, 131 Two-dimensional motion tracking, 12–13 Type 1 (PostScript), 80 Type animation, moving from After Effects to Flash, 98–99 animation (Flash), 96–97, 97b editing from Illustrator document, 193b horror-jittery, 333 importing Photoshop documents and, 193 large blocks of, 207b Matrix raining, 338 Photoshop layer styles with, 147–155 size, 76 Superman-style explosive, 335 synching with sound, 279b Type tool (After Effects), 200f, 321f, 338f

Typefaces The Alphabet Conspiracy case study, 102 bitmap, 75 color combinations for, 127–129 custom, creating, 91–93 display, 75 do's and don'ts for, 76–77 emotional qualities, 74 end scroll, 322 kerning and, 78 ligatures, 76 lowercase, 76 mixed case, 76 monospaced, 75 moving, for the Web, 93–98 properties for, 75 sans serif, 75 script, 75 serif, 74 small caps, 76 stroke weight, 76 tracking and, 79 type size, 76 uppercase, 76 x-heights, 75 see also Fonts Typographic narrative, 79b Typography function of, 73 Websites for, 80b Typos, avoiding, 32b U Uccellacci e Uccellini (Pasolini), 54–55 Uppercase defined, 76 Legibility Index (LI), 85, 85t Urbanicity case study, 282b color use, 283 concept and inspiration, 282 Holmes, Steve, 282 influences, 287 research, 287 V Variable frame rates, 224, 224b Vector images, 157 defined, 157 resizing, 168

Video DI workflow, 37 end scrolls with, 322 frame size, 38, 218t Video cameras ASA rating, 230 color-balancing, 133–134 default recording speed, 220 defined, 215 focus rings, 227 frame format, 218 framing, 239 f-stops, 229 white balance alteration, 134 see also cameras Video-based title sequence, 14 Virtual cameras creating title sequences with, 256–259 functioning of, 256 Von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang, 115–116 W Warm colors, 116, 116t, 119t Waveform monitors, 247 Web titles, 87–89 video displays, 93 viewing considerations, 93–94 White balance defined, 133 video camera alteration and, 134 White Noise option (Audacity), 275f Wide shot (WS), 239 Wiggler panel (After Effects), 334f The Women (Cukor), 47 Workflow, importing text/files, 191–193 composition, 191–192 files into After Effects, 191 footage, 191 Workflow, title sequence, 5–7, 163–171 bed completion, 358f building and creating, 354 concept pitching, 355f concept planning, 354f getting approval, 358f with graphic design department, 165

394   Index

Workflow, title sequence (Continued) logo resizing, 166b post-production, 7 pre-production, 5 production, 7 project management, 163–164, 356f rendering to client spec, 358f resolution reduction, 165–166 setting up in After Effects, 167–171 technical planning, 355f title movement determination, 357f

work protection, 357f Workflow, video/film, 33–36 aspect ratios, 35–36 asset frame size, 33 deliverable format, 33 deliverables decision, 34 resolution, 35 source format, 33 Write-on effect with font, 317b After Effects tutorial, 317b defined, 317 see also Techniques Writing credits, in order of credits, 353 Writing text on screen, 315b

X XFL format, 98–99 X-heights, 75 Y YUV color system, 120 Z Zoom camera movement, 243, 245 Zoom lenses, 231 Zoom-in effect, 306 After Effects tutorial, 306b defined, 306 see also Techniques