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How title sequences shaped my designs

How Title Sequences got me into Design


July 26, 2019

Title sequences have played a major role in my design journey. These are some of my faviourites, and how they've shaped my designs.

I fell in love with design years before I began studying it. And I didn’t arrive at this career from a love of art or a longing to make better interfaces. No, of all things, it was the title sequences from movies and TV shows that first inspired me. My love affair with them even inspired my university minor.

Aren’t you just talking about the credits?

Well, yes and no. While it’s true that title sequences often include credits, such as the creator and lead actors, they don’t run at the end like modern credits. In 1977 George Lucas’ Star Wars changed everything by moving the credits to the end of the film. And the concept seems to have stuck industry wide. Title sequences are now a shorter, more stylised form of credit that takes the traditional place at the beginning of the piece.

It’s the hyper-stylised form of credit that first drew me to title sequences. When I first began university, it was one of my goals. All I wanted was to work for a studio that makes these interesting, short-form pieces. At some point, my focus shifted to interactivity and story telling, but I still appreciate how quickly a good title sequence can set the scene and tone of a movie or show.

This quick introduction to a story is something that I use in my own storytelling now. A piece of music, with strong visuals and matching typography can be enough to completely immerse you in the story. You’ll notice that there’s a strong persuasion to horror and science fiction titles in this list. That’s by no means saying that other genres don’t have amazing credits, but these are the ones that inspired… And I just happen to love horror and sci-fi!

This list isn’t in a particular order, but it does include some of the best title sequences from both television and cinema. Most of this list is very mainstream, but each is special to me because of how they shaped the direction my design journey would take. For a deep dive into title sequences of all kinds, check out Art of the Title.

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead was an obsession of mine just before I resumed my tertiary studies. Created by the Prologue studio, it uses unconventional cuts and framing to create an ominous feeling, the perfect precursor to a very intense show.

Dexter

Possibly the best use of juxtaposition in titles, Dexter uses extreme close ups of ever day tasks to

Catch Me If You Can

I didn’t know it at the time, but these vector motion graphics would help define some of my favourite pieces of work. While I’ve stepped away from the flat stying in recent years, it was still absolutely influential in my design journey.

Orphan Black

Based off the Rorschach Test, the Orphan Black opening credits elude to the science fiction themes of the show.

American Horror Story

Another sequence from Prologue studio, the first season’s opener to American Horror Story had a lasting impact on how important I perceived the opening titles to be.

Se7en

Se7en is a masterpiece, from the opening sequence right through to that harrowing ending. It wasn’t until we dissected these credits in a typography class that I understood how the misaligned and off-centre text created the stressful atmosphere, but it’s effect wasn’t lost before this.

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