March 16, 2013

Learn All About the History of Opening Titles in 'The Film before The Film'

If you've ever seen a movie (if you haven't, stop what you're doing right now, and watch one), you've seen opening credits of some kind. Credits have existed pretty much since the beginning of moving pictures, and they are as varied as the films themselves. Nora Thoes and Damian Pérez, as part of a research project, have put together a fantastic video that takes us through the history of opening titles called The Film before The Film. Check out the video below.

Here is the Vimeo description:

Research Project at the BTK (Berliner Technische Kunsthochschule) about the history of Opening Titles.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions contact us: filmbeforefilm@ntsdpz.com

CREDITS:

Research:
Nora Thoes, Damian Pérez

Animation & Cut:
Nora Thoes, Damian Pérez

Text & Translation:
Nora Thoes, Christian Mahler

Sound & Dubbing:
Damian Pérez

Proofreading & Voice:
Demetrius Papadakis

Professors:
Christian Mahler, Daniel Wangen

Special Thanks to:
Ian Albinson for his suggestions and corrections.
Art of the Title for the wide range of opening titles.

What's interesting is that for a period of cinema history, even though more films were utilizing end credits, many filmmakers chose to simply put everything at the beginning of the film. That style is really in stark contrast to mainstream Hollywood movies today which typically have very long ending credits -- with only a few members of the crew mentioned at the beginning of the movie. I've always appreciated this way of doing opening titles, and even though it's not ideal for audience members, it gives a chance for everyone to get their names seen by the audience (that is, unless you choose to fast-forward).

What are some of your favorite opening titles?

Link: The Film before The Film -- Vimeo

Your Comment

13 Comments

I'm a huge fan of long opening titles, recently like that of Skyfall and TinTin, but I understand how some people are annoyed by it.

A couple posts ago there was the video about what a short film shouldn't have which one of the things was an extended title sequence, which I agree with, but with a feature I think it can add a lot.

March 16, 2013

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Aaron G

Skyfalls titles were impressive.

March 16, 2013

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Tyler

I don't think anyone has ever topped Dr. Strangelove's opening titles.

March 16, 2013

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Martin Scorcese opening of The Age of Innocence, by Saul and Elaine Bass: a metaphore of the film to come. The film about the film.

March 17, 2013

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Jean

March 17, 2013

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batou

The opening sequence to Peckinpah's Cross of Iron is extremely powerful and sets the context very well indeed (can't find the proper sequence on the web).

March 17, 2013

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Saied

Peckinpah new how to use opening titles. Look at Pat Garret and Billy the Kid, and The Wild Bunch. Very good stuff.

March 17, 2013

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Julian Terry

Those had slipped my mind ! The Wild Bunch opening credits moment "If they move, kill 'em" as the picture freezes on the musical note was great stuff indeed.

March 17, 2013

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Saied

anyone know how they did the floating text at 2:28? i understand that effect with computers, but it has me puzzled to how they did that effect with out computers

March 17, 2013

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j

Before computers they used Optical Printers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_printer See also Aerial Image http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aerial_image

For the Barberella title sequence the letters were photographed on an anamation stand (just like Mickey Mouse). Then they were married (combined) using an Optical Printed.

Optical Printers were used for Special Effects. Some SFX shots were made-up of 10-20 different pices of film. Combined with Motion Control cameras you got the realistic looking looking Star Trek and Star Wars movies.

March 20, 2013

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c.d.embrey

Opening for Limitless is one of the best of all time, especially with the fractal zoom technique it just sucks you right in, awesome.

March 17, 2013

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pacifbeachca

One of the best Slavko Vorkapich, isn't even mentioned. http://purecinema-celluloid.webs.com/slavkovorkapich.htm

Crime Without Passion. (1934) May Not be Safe for Work.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfYsccgVQHM&feature=player_embedded#!

March 20, 2013

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c.d.embrey

check youtube for 'night of the comet' opening. that is a beautiful title. it looks like brass or copper. i love it

March 21, 2013

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joel