An opening sequence can make a huge difference in the way gets ready for the movie or tv show. If the two don’t match in genre or just tempo, sometimes it can take the audience right out of the experience, an example of a great opening title is ‘Alien (1979)’:
We’re immediately taken into their world as eerie, alien-hieroglyphic-looking letters phase onto the screen. The slow reveal of ‘Alien’ reflects the suspenseful storyline of the rest of the film, creating a link between the two which makes sure the transition is not jarring. As well as the graphics and timing, music plays a huge part in the experience.
With the simplistic, slow track of muted space behind plain, solid letters, the setting for the movie is given to us and from even before the first establishing shot of the movie, we already have a good idea of what genre (sci-fi/horror) is as well as how the director wants us to feel right from the get-go. For a couple seconds (1:05-1:07), there’s a section where nothing changes and the background shows pure darkness as, what looks to be, a planet covers the frame. At the same time, any credits disappear with only the half-complete title remaining. The short lack of activity creates a sense of unknown, nearly foreshadowing events later in the movie, like the alien’s attack.
My first go at recreating the animation.
During a class with Simon, we were talked through the use of paths and the pen tool in Adobe After Effects, to extend parts of letters, exactly like the opening sequence of Catch Me If You Can.
I took the footage from a past green-screen filming session earlier in the year to try out editing silhouettes, which involved lots of masking as I decided to move the right-most figure to the left slightly in order to appear like the fist made contact with the other figure. As this was practice, I didn’t think too much about the overlap this would need, and working together with the layers’ lowered opacities, this resulted in a darker area where they do overlap. It’s not extremely noticeable due to the very low time they’re in contact, but I would definitely take the time to mask around the fist any cut it out as this happens to keep the opacity the same throughout the clip.
Top Gear/90% Bloopers intro: Top Gear has been a common interest in our group, so it’s the obvious choice that will work well with everyone’s humour and ideas. We propose to recreate the 2018 Top Gear intro, using bloopers that we’ve collected throughout our college projects and silhouettes we make from photographing each member in front of a greenscreen. The branding will be changed to our group name, ‘90% Bloopers’, and keep a comedic focus.
This has been the inspiration for our project as the concept seems so simple but is incredibly effective with the dry humour of each episode’s opening. Referencing this video, Harley will match the editing style, timings, graphics and music to make it as recognisable as possible, with Adam designing and editing the silhouettes, text (saying 90% Bloopers) and animated title showing the spinning gears.
Each member of our crew will have a silhouette of themselves in a pose reflecting them, to replicate the recurring figures of the Top Gear presenters in this original video. There are also short, blacked-out actions throughout the opening, like at 0:07, where a button is pressed; we plan to use the greenscreen room to record similar clips to do with film and use them in the same fashion.
Gareth sits in a chair,
Adam waves his arm about,
Harley gets shot in the head,
Ellie holds a sign,
Jack eats toast with a man,
And I hand a flower over to Jack
– Harley – Editor/Script writer
– Jack – Production assistant
– Adam – Silhouettes director/Graphics animator
– Ellie – Camera/Production assistant
– Gareth – Video finder/Camera
– Charlie – Voice-over
The only new footage that we need to collect includes just the photographs of each member to use as the silhouettes. For this, I will be using a Canon E60 on a tripod and external button to ensure the camera stays still for a sharp photo. This will also prevent the framing from becoming out of place as everyone poses for their silhouette one by one, especially as we will have a small amount of clear backdrop which will take specific framing.
Due to our college technician being unavailable for the time we are/have been able to film and therefore unable to get into the greenscreen room, we had to think of another way to get a clean background to key or cut out from. Our next option was to ask to access the college’s photography studio where there are solid backdrops. Although this wasn’t our first option, pointing lights at the backdrops, not hitting the person being photographed, made for a decent, even alternative and turned out quite well.
Adam’s editing process:
Gareth has collected a large range of videos from the start of our first year that Harley can select from, cut up and use instead of the vehicle clips that are in the official Top Gear intro. Harley has also picked out the best videos that can be used as visuals to the “Tonight” section, with a voice-over stating in a dry fashion, what’s happening in that clip, in order to really mimic the feel of our source. Mainly, the footage we have gathered are out-takes from past projects, but some include short snippets of a few of those final videos; such as Gareth’s ‘toast’ and ‘film noir’ projects and my video of my cat, Sabbath.
As we were unable to borrow any equipment from college by the time we began our production, this voice-over test and final take was recorded via Charlie’s phone;
Charlie has recorded
As soon as I hit play, the reminder of Top Gear is given off immediately and that’s exactly we were working towards. I’m really happy with how the title sequence came out, especially with the editing bringing our variety of moments throughout the first and second year of this course together. The aim of this project was to recreate the 2014 Top Gear intro as closely as possible, while also serving as a recap of these years; I’d say we definitely achieved what we set out to do and I also think that it turned out even better than expected.
Matching the types of shots was difficult to do because of the difference of subject, the original being about cars, our about general film projects and behind the scenes. However, due to the dry type of humour, especially when it comes to the voice-over, and overall layout, timing and editing style, the two intros are nicely tied together. Everyone played very important roles in this production as we wanted it to present each persons’ personality, especially with the clips chosen to be put in the background. My specific role mainly consisted of photographing the silhouettes, in which it was important to frame each person in the photo similarly so the editor had an easier time putting it all together. Also I worked with the others in the crew to ensure the backdrop was lit evenly and had contrast to the subject in front to ensure the background could be removed in post, which worked well, creating a sharp, concise silhouette.
Although the whole video came out better than expected, there is one element that we could have executed a lot better. The audio quality of the voice-over that starts at 0:13 is not great due to lack of equipment from having to complete the project at home. If we were to do this again or amend the issue, I would suggest another person of the crew to record the voice-over as others have quite good recording equipment. I would definitely plan alternative ways of carrying out parts of future productions, especially since we never know if going out to record will be doable at the time of planning, due to the uncertainty of Corona Virus.