Title Sequence Part 1: The Hunt For Red October.


For this project I aim to produce a Title Sequence to an already released movie. I intend to pull together a mixture of still elements, titles & music and will utilise Adobe Photoshop & Premier Pro to lay out a sequence where the elements interact to represent the chosen movie.

In preparation I have looked at a number of designers who have done similar work. The first of which is Saul Bass. You can find a number of his works here. He always seemed to bring an element of the “hand made” into his work. Weather it was making the elements used in the sequence or the treatment of the typography. He set the standard for a lot of people in terms of elements & the playfulness used.

One pair of designers who were definitely influenced by Saul Bass is  Kuntzel + Deygas who designed the titles for the Di Caprio/Hanks movie “Catch Me If You Can.” They used a totally hand made set, making stamps of the characters with different body parts to suit different parts of the title. They created an ever evolving scene of cat & mouse using the characters & perceived shadows to add a real sense of drama to the title sequence, almost a summation of the movies drama & suspense rolled into one short sequence.

The traditional look of the stamps overlaid on the high colour backgrounds blends the artistic hand made look with a modern feel.

It has to be one of my favourite sequences & I have used it as inspiration for my chosen movie titles.

I also looked at the title sequence for The West Wing which won an Emey for Outstanding Main Title Design for Billy Pittard (creative director) and Mark Johnston (title designer), who has a very interesting interview here.

Kyle Cooper has worked on many huge blockbusting productions from Dreamcatcher, The Walking Dead, Metal Gear Solid & Twister. His style encompasses a whole range of fields from using video clips overlaid with titles to purely animation for Metal Gear Solid which was very bond like in it opening titles.

His work on some of the more dramatic & horror style movies fits perfectly with the genre as his treatment of the video clips is very edgy. Constant movement, never staying for long on each image & very quick, non static titles leaves you unsettled and ready to be scared out of your wits.

This title sequence designed by French designers Alexis Beaumont & Michel Pecquer is a mixture of video & animation. They us an animated computer style font that fits very well with the comic book style of the animation.  http://www.artofthetitle.com/title/la-vraie-vie-des-profs/

Some of the titles I have selected for consideration are Sneakers, Cape Fear and The Hunt for Red October. I have looked at numerous examples of title sequence creation & design and they are listed at the bottom of this post, but one of them turned out to be a really cool stop motion movie charting the history of war or the second world war at least. Its called Food Fights & you can find it here. Food Fight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-yldqNkGfo

After a little research I found some information on the various video  sizes & output qualities along with some other useful information. ( Standard video sizes. https://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-camtasia-mac-aspect-ratio-current.html ) Also some useful information on controlling movement using tweening. ( TWEENING https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/using/controlling-effect-changes-using-keyframe.html )

As preparation for this project we created in class a short sequence using 2 short video clips, audio and a vector shape. To become familiar with the use of Premier Pro we placed these elements on a timeline & used effects such as transitions & motion to give it a bit of life.

My clip can be found here. ( I used a close up view of the face to create a slightly sinister feel 🙂 )

After fleshing through a number of ideas for titles I decided to run with The Hunt For Red October as this is probably one of my favourite movies. I came up with a rough sequence of the events that I would like to see in my Title, then sketched out a very rough storyboard of how I wanted it to come together.

I then set about gathering my graphical elements, using the storyboards as a guide. Elements include Images for ships & submarines, depth charges, the Russian Hammer & Sickle  symbol, and a shoreline image. I also needed to create some coloured backgrounds. I created these & edited my other Graphics in Photoshop.

Once I had most of my elements together I experimented with Photoshop to see if I could put together a very simple sequence, which also helped me to solidify my ideas for the final Title sequence. The result can be found here.

I have looked at a number of the titles in my research to see the differing approaches to credits etc. For instance, The West Wing uses a series of very quick titles overlaying very short  motion clips  & images. Its a very upbeat & engaging result. However the titles in Catch Me If You Can are a lot slower & are weaved in to the storyline of the sequence, as part of the evolving scenes. The designers did not feel a need to rush the titles and were not afraid to leave a longer gap between them here or there.

I also looked at the styling of the font used in the titles. While the type used could often vary a lot between them, the majority of them were produced in white. This affected my final descision for my own type as you will see later on. I had originally used red due to it’s association with Russia but this didn’t stand out from my imagery very well so I decided to use white. I did however find a new font released by Russian designers very recently called Arkhip.

Where I had originally used the font “RedOctober” which looked very Russian, Arkhip had a much more subtle look to it while still having the feel that I wanted.

Some of the techniques I used in making my Title included Motion, both simple & using a bezier curve, blending of layers and the use of video transitions such as fading in & out.

I changed the fade filter from 2 seconds to about 5 so that it would give the title a more ponderous & momentous feel.

I also used the image of the coastline only across the top third of the scene to preserve the tones on the lower 2 thirds. I also dropped its transparency to about 60% to give it a misty feeling.

Lastly, when I first output my sequence it was aprox 1.2 GB in size which seemed to be much too large for our purposes so I reduced the bit rate down from 8000kbs to 4000kbs and rendered it as a Windows Media File. This brought my file size down to about 80MB which is much more acceptable. The screen quality does not seem to have been badly affected until viewed at full screen.


Self critique.

There are obviously a lot of things that I could improve upon with this title, and have done with my Stop Motion Title Sequence Part 2. Here are just a few.

The Graphics: The graphics are very basic & would not be suitable for a production in the real world. However my main focus with this project was to create a suitable interaction between the elements which I believe I have achieved.

Duration: In terms of the duration of my Title Sequence, at 5 min long it is a good bit longer than you would normally find in a movie title (perhaps about 3min 30sec), however, given I had chosen the music and the fact that I wanted it to create a ponderous solemn feeling I decided to use almost the full length of the theme. There are perhaps 1 or 2 sections where the pause between credits could be shortened.

Typography: The font I had used initially was “RedOctober” in red, and while this is designed to have a very Russian look to it I found a much more modest looking font created by a Russian designer. I changed to the new font but also changed the colour to white as the red was blending in with the background a little too much.

Website Embed: When I first embedded the title into my portfolio website I had an issue with the you tube area not resizing. I managed to solve this by placing a small amount of Css code into the Css file. I found the code here.

Lastly: My final sequence has a line running along the right hand side of the screen which I have been unable to remove. This is a problem whether I use the 8000kbs or 4000kbs quality. I have checked the forums & it seems to be an ongoing issue. https://forums.creativecow.net/thread/3/892434 The solution is quite a long winded workaround where you create a larger image area time line, create your sequence, then output your sequence into the smaller, original timeline. Phew.





Dominos sequence for the start of Sneakers. Beat up dominos scrolling across the screen.

Backlit character movement on a light box. ???

I like the look of Cape Fear.

Casino – Letters & Numbers raining down. Perhaps…..Sneakers.




Kuntzel + Deygas. http://www.artofthetitle.com/title/catch-me-if-you-can/

A mixture of video & animation. http://www.artofthetitle.com/title/la-vraie-vie-des-profs/

Marko Polo Title  http://www.artofthetitle.com/title/marco-polo/

Saul Bass title sequences. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqM3McG4-LE

Sneakers – Playtronics Break in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I785GmSougM

Casino Royal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWEPGNjDi1M

Smashing Mag 50 Stop motion Titles. https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/12/50-incredible-stop-motion-videos/

Guinness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc6U7_-BeGc

Food Fight https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-yldqNkGfo


Editing tweening controls. https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/using/controlling-effect-changes-using-keyframe.html

Easing in & Out with Motion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPSQQAhp3To

Neon Text https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLTgrphh2Ak

Standard video sizes. https://www.techsmith.com/tutorial-camtasia-mac-aspect-ratio-current.html

TWEENING https://helpx.adobe.com/premiere-pro/using/controlling-effect-changes-using-keyframe.html

Editing tutorials. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnF1qJdnfUw


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