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Opening titles and bugs present you with an excellent opportunity to create a compelling image of your company and to imprint that image into the minds of your audience. Since titles are such an important part of the production process, we’ll show you how to use these critical graphic elements to your advantage.
The purpose behind opening titles is more than merely identifying the production you're about to see. Used properly, opening titles can influence the audience’s expectations, excite them, and stir up their curiosity to see more. They may be approached in many different ways but their purpose is always the same: to invite the audience in, and in short, to set the mood for what is to come.
Using Practical ElementsOne method of creating opening titles is to use practical elements from your production such as cropped words on subway signs, calendars or text on the side of a water tower. () For example, the movie Napoleon Dynamite uses items commonly found in a cafeteria to introduce the cast and the crew. This allows the director to both give insight into the life of the main character, and give the names of the people in the film. Simple, to the point, and effective.
Alternatively you might simply fade text in and out, over footage that complements the theme of your production. An excellent example of this approach is the opening sequence to the 1991 production of Robin Hood Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner. Title and credits dissolve on and off screen over footage of the Bayeux Tapestry, a 900 year old, 224 foot long depiction of the Norman conquest of England. Although from a hundred years prior to the events of the movie, the tapestry’s strong medieval imagery perfectly supports the story’s theme. The 2007 movie, The Kingdom, very effectively utilizes historical news footage combined with narration as a background for the opening title and credits while providing valuable information to the audience.
Placing your titles over motion graphics is another very effective way to draw your audience in. The Matrix movies offer great examples of this technique when computer code turns into the credits for the film.() You can make your own from scratch with Adobe After Effects or other similar programs or incorporate simple titles over motion graphics purchased from companies such as Digital Juice or Artbeats. Titles like these typically look the most professional but take more skill and time than simply dissolving in and out over footage.
It's important to remember that your opening title sequence should engage the audience and entice them to see more - without giving anything away, or promising more than your production can deliver. Don’t get too complicated, simple is oftentimes better. A single-word title such as JAWS, with just the right audio track, still makes people wary of the water decades after the movie’s release. And don’t forget the music. There’s nothing like an exciting sound track or sound effect to draw the viewer in to create an indelible impression of your work in their mind.
Believe it or not, the type of title that you've seen the most is the bug. Though it's often small and subliminal, bugs are great for reminding your audience who you are throughout the film.
A bug is an identifier graphic whose purpose is to identify the particular company or network on which a program is airing. Bugs are used for corporate branding and may be seen on many of the major television networks. () NBC’s peacock logo and the Disney Channel’s familiar mouse ears logo can be found quietly occupying a corner of the screen during their programming. Bugs may be used either on-air or online... and in either case, will help the viewer quickly discover whose program they are watching. You don’t have to be a major network to incorporate bugs into your branding strategy and they’re easy to create... so let’s have a closer look at how you can create your own.
Begin with your company logo and size it to about 50x50 pixels for web video, 120x120 for standard definition or 200x200 for high definition television viewing. Typically, bugs are semi-transparent so you then need to reduce the opacity from 50 per cent to almost invisible for a hyper-subtle, near subliminal look. Add a drop shadow for added dimensionality that helps separate your bug from the background. Monochromatic bugs work very well; fewer colors equal fewer distractions. Increase its subtlety even further by reducing the color saturation. Not too much though, you still want your viewers to be able to easliy identify it . Place your bug in one of the bottom corners above the title safe area. Which corner you use isn’t as important as consistency; your bug should always appear in the same location for maximum branding effectiveness. In order to stay subtle, bugs are typically static. However very light animation such as a subtle rotating or spinning motion may be acceptable especially towards the beginning of the program.
Creating instant recognition and a positive lasting impression is vital in today’s highly competitive video production environment. Follow these tips and your opening titles and bugs will successfully draw in and engage your audience, giving your work the attention it deserves.