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Art Of The Title: 10 Women of Title Design – so neat! (link)

By March 10, 2015Inspiration

Yep, I used the word “neat” in this blog title because I am THAT thrilled with something I stumbled across yesterday.  One of my favorite creative community websites, Art Of The Title just released a featured article in time for International Women’s Day (which was yesterday as of this writing) focusing on women in the Title Design industry, written by Lola Landekic and it completely blew me away.  We are talking about “once was blind, but now I see” levels here.  Just to be clear, my astonishment isn’t about how there are female title designers out there; it is the type of projects they have worked on and how much of an impact their contributions have had regarding my journey as a fellow motion graphics designer.  For those of you who don’t know me, when it comes to movies, I’m the type of person who looks forward to the main title sequence and am let down if it is just the typical vertical crawl.  Main Titles should represent the essence of a story by infusing elements that resonate to the viewer on both a conscious and sub-conscious level.  Over the years, these ladies have conjured up wonderfully clever approaches that have made a tremendous impact on me both personally and professionally, so I want to take this opportunity to gush about just how much of an impact they’ve had.  I don’t want to take away from Lola’s article, so I’ll just make quick anecdotes…

 

One of my absolute all time favorite movies is “Back To The Future”.  Just to give you an idea of how obsessed I was, when Back To The Future part 2 released in theaters, I had to vigorously advocate to convince my mother to take me to see this movie.  Since the movie was rated PG-13, she initially refused to take me since at the time, I was at the ripe old age of 10.  I kid you not when I say that I was on the verge of crying from frustration, thinking that all hope was lost and it was at this instant she relented and took me because she’s awesome like that.  The BTTF title is one of the most iconic approaches I have ever seen; the entire main title sequence just has a unique magic to it that registers with you, causing you to realize you’re about to watch something special and masterfully sums up the soul of the film.  Lola’s article revealed that Nina Saxon is the one responsible for this as well as MANY other title designs that I have cherished since I was a boy, so a heartfelt “THANK YOU” goes to Nina.

Finding the perfect storm of blending real world events with entertainment is no easy task.  As a history buff, I love it when a main titles sequence is able to provide the context of history that educates in a cinematic form.  Enter “The Kingdom”.  Originally, I saw this on the Art Of The Title website and it captivated my attention.  I love how the dual tone colors of brown & black causes one to think of sand and oil, the use of news footage and sound bytes gives a tangible quality, and the infographics cleverly morphing from one visual to another is presented in a cause & effect style, complimenting the timeline presentation.  Pamela Green is behind this kinetic main titles sequence that grabs a hold of you and doesn’t let go.  Pamela, you RAWK.

This next lady is a founding member and partner of Imaginary Forces, which consistently churns out amazing title designs and is a constant source of inspiration.  When she’s not busy helping to start up successful creative agencies, she works on sequences for film and broadcast.  A recent favorite of mine is “Boardwalk Empire” on HBO.  The setting of a beach with the bottles of alcohol crashing ashore and Nucky Thompson looking on serves as a metaphor for the premise of the entire show; the jagged rocks of the shore and boardwalk pillars representing the U.S. government’s Prohibition and the bottles of alcohol arriving on a wave of fate, serving a dual purpose of depicting the alcohol import smuggling that transpired from overseas while also personifying the shady characters who arrived at Nucky’s doorstep – sometimes safely at his feet begging for help, while other times shattering on the unforgiving shore.  The talented lady behind this title sequence is Karin Fong with special mention to Michelle Dougherty.  Well done ladies!

The last decade has been a golden age for beloved comic book characters to make the leap from print to the silver screen.  This is an absolute treasure-trove of opportunity for motion graphics designers to take the plunge into a beloved world that is rich with imagery and mythology.  As a comic book geek, some of my absolute favorite title designs come from this film genre as we have seen a variety of approaches over the years with each celebrated character receiving a treatment that is exclusive to their story.  Captain America: Winter Soldier is regarded as one of the best efforts to come out of Marvel Studios yet and the main title sequence designed by Erin Sarofsky is just plain rad.  The minimalist, monochromatic approach (or M&M as I like to call it – just as tasty!) fits beautifully with the government paranoia thriller undertones the movie conveys.  The stark contrast of light and dark shapes animating in such a way to communicate how not everything is always as it seems, starting out as recognizable patriotic imagery before twisting and writhing into Hydra imagery is a wonderful idea.  I hope to see a whole lot more from her in future Marvel Studio releases.

Last, but certainly not least, is Susan Bradley.  I have always adored how Pixar’s main title sequences are traditional 2D fare (with a little bit of 2.5D thrown in at times) since each movie is cutting edge 3D.  It shows how Pixar understands the value of traditional art & animation, which is what they use as a catalyst for each of their films.  Susan incorporates an accessible, playful visual style that is such a joy to watch and I really do feel like she harnesses the spirit of Pixar’s journey for each film in her works, whether she is producing it or in the trenches designing it.

This is just a sampling of who Lola features in her article and I can’t stress how thankful I am to her for doing this as not only was it super fun to revisit some of my favorite Title Designs, but it shined a spotlight on the unsung heroes who gave us these wonderful pieces of art.  I must confess that before reading this article, I assumed that most of these works were designed by men as the subject matter in most cases skewed more toward a male audience, but I realize now how absurd that notion is and am SO glad I can properly give kudos to these fantastically talented ladies.  All of you have made your mark in cinema and I look forward to seeing what you come up with next.

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