by Charles Webb, 8 November 2013
It seems like we’re having a mini-celebration of titles in media here at Redbubble. After yesterday’s brief look at the history of video game title design, we came across this PBS video delving into the art of title sequences in film and television from PBS Digital Studios.
“I think a good title sequence is a show of respect to the audience,” muses Imaginary Forces’ Peter Frankfurt, one of the title designers featured in the mini-doc. “We’re really going to actually try as hard as we possibly can to invite you in and entertain you.”
Right now, you know what show has my favorite title sequence? “Eastbound & Down.” Usually the show’s theme song (“Going Down”), with a quick flash of the title at the end of the opening scene, the appearance of the title usually puts a button on whatever the theme of that week’s episode will be, eschewing the “mini-movie” approach.
At this point, my inclination would be to say something about this being the golden age of title sequences (or something similarly pat), but that’s simply not true. While title sequences for TV have gotten more elaborate (and fast forward-worthy in their length at times), film and television fans have been fortunate to have titles inviting the viewer in for nearly as long as moving images have been around – it’s simply a matter of form matching function. From the slow dissolve of the Universal creature features to Saul Bass’ groundbreaking designs, to the Bond films’ wonderfully surreal openings, title sequences have been giving the goods for years.
The PBS doc isn’t arguing otherwise, and is well-worth a watch for looking at the history (and present) of the title sequence.