Thursday, November 8, 2007

Forget the film, watch the titles (update)

Closing titles - Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - from Forget the film, watch the titlesIf you’re a fan of pop songs, particularly from the 1960′s when the three minute pop song was perhaps at its peak as a musical form, you’re familiar with the concept of a “golden intro”, that delicious first 20 or 30 seconds of instrumental music before the vocals start, that was often a thing of beauty in itself, above an beyond what may or may not have been a great song in total.

For examples, listen to the exquisite first 20 seconds of the Beach Boys’ California Girls or that wonderful descending pattern that forms the intro to the Kinks’ beautiful Waterloo Sunset; ahhhh – fractional moments of musical bliss. (The existence of these little bits of beauty was, of course, accentuated in being defaced by disk jockeys of the time, who made an infuriating, deranged, grafitti-like art form out of talking over entire song intros and ending their blabbering only microseconds before the song’s vocals started, but I digress…).

Similar to the wonderful hidden jewels of song intros, the introductions, or opening credits, of films have long been a repository for gems that often stand out from their surrounding work; which again, may or may not be up to the quality of the intro.

In recent years the opening credits, once considered a form of entertainment in themselves, also prominently in the 1960′s, have been de-emphasized, their place having been taken by the closing credits. In either case, the titles of films are a sort of hidden and underappreciated art form, rarely in the spotlight but as worthy of attention as animated shorts.

In another example of Why I Love the Internet, there is a site out there devoted to just that concept. Forget the film, watch the titles is part of the Submarine Channel, a portal for independent film. When I first wrote about it back in February, the project was just getting off the ground and the selection was small. On checking back, I’ve found the selection expanded, well worth a return visit.

Much to my delight, it now includes the great closing titles to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (sequence at left), one of my favorite pieces of short animation in recent years (and a prime example of the credits being considerably better than the movie). These were designed and directed by Jamie Caliri, who was the director of the terrific animated ad called “Dragon” for United Airlines last year (see my post on Jamie Caliri).

Like that sequence, the Lemony Snicket titles were done essentially with painted paper cut-outs, artfully drawn, arranged and animated. In the case of the Snicket sequence the lead animators and layout artists were Todd Hemker and Benjamin Goldman. Forget the film is good about not only giving you the credits for the credit sequences, but links to further information.

The collection is not growing rapidly, but you can sign up to receive their newsletter and know when the next title sequence gem has been added to the showcase.

 

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