The Art of Title Sequence

Memorable scenes from the show accompanied by the cheesiest music the director could find (maybe it was a challenge for a prize?) and credits rolling and rolling and rolling, from the guy who stopped by the studio to fix the air conditioning to the producers. No, thank you. That’s not what a title sequence is, at least not since the 1980s.

A title sequence is the cover of the book in a visual, moving sense. It’s what gives you an idea of what you’re about to see, set the stage while being interesting itself; an important part of the production not just something you skip through.

I personally can’t be talking about title sequences without mentioning The Simpsons, for 26 glorious years and still kicking, the show has done a new “couch intro” every episode. The creativity that goes into working with something so limited: a shot of a couch, the back of a TV, a side table, a lamp and a crooked painting and five characters, is something to pause and ponder on.

Taking it a step further, French animator Yoann Hervo plays on the familiarity of the intro by remaking it in such a way that is the same but isn’t, activating those parts of our brains that really stopped thinking about the details of the clip we’ve seen more times than we can remember.

Such commentaries are thought provoking in how they sometimes are a “what if” questions. What if an intro to a CAMP festival wasn’t an energetic beat accompanied by b-rolls of mountain hiking and smiley people looking up at rainy skies with the words DO IT or GET OUT THERE or something that would make you drop your remote control and go running in the streets? This seems to be the tone of most of the them and they seem to work, so why not?

Instead, they did this:

If a title-sequence or introduction that can be missed is a waisted resource that can easily grab the viewer’s attention and convince them to start, and stay longer watching the production. The choice of music, typography and the progress of the sequence all play into how much value the makers think their work has.

To watch more interesting title sequence, check out Art of the Title and/or Forget the Film, Watch the Titles.

An Open Letter to Lanier

Dear Mr. Lanier,

I have recently been reading your book You Are Not A Gadget for class, and while it’s not a book that I would usually read in 4 days, I did read your run-on rant on how everything has gone so, so wrong and how “new media” if we dare call it that has ruined every possible hope of a new civilization.

It should have been obvious, Mr. Lanier that since you start your book by criticizing your book that this was going to be…peculiar.

“It’s early in the twenty-first century, and that means that these words will mostly be read by nonpersons…”

also, ouch!

“—automatons or numb mobs composed of people who are no longer acting as individuals. The world will be minced into atomized search-engine keywords within industrial cloud computing facilities located in a remote, often secret locations around the world.”

You are right, Jaron. But see, even though I am the human rarity reading this book, I did use search-engine keywords and cloud computing services to read your book, and so did you probably throughout writing and publishing this book.

I agree with you that the world is becoming more technology-oriented, but that doesn’t mean we will turn into gadgets, much like the silver space suit still hasn’t made its debut in everyday culture as expected.

We are increasingly depending on technology, and it is taking a toll on us, but it has its upside. It has a huge upside that I‘m worrying you’re missing out on. Open culture didn’t drive creativity out the window, it’s just that we are still living in the capitalist world we’ve always been living in. Profit will always be the winner. Expecting that to change just because we are introducing a new medium and new platforms and new ways of publishing and connecting isn’t good for you. Because some things will simply not change in life.

The internet isn’t all low-quality content looking for money, the internet is not a big “slum”, it’s where you look that matters. Who says that only signed artists should make music, what deems them good anyway but the audience, the people?

Concerns over who is “running the internet” is a valid argument, I’ll give you that. But the “lords of the cloud” are systems and companies, and they are run by people. It always comes back to people and it always did.

Living in an open, digital culture is not a threat to my humanity, value and contribution. I am not a gadget, no one is a gadget and no one is turning into a gadget.