"Words and lettering played an enormous role in films of the silent era. Film titles made their appearance in the earliest silent films, along with letter cards (or inter-titles), which provided context. These cards were the responsibility of the lettering artist, who collaborated with the scriptwriter and director to create narrative continuity so that audiences could follow what they were seeing. Distinct from these inter-titles was the film’s main title, a vehicle of particular concern to film producers because of the legal, copyright and marketing information this footage had to bear.
Here is the main title from D.W. Griffith’s “Intolerance” (1916), which many reviewers and historians consider the greatest film of the silent era. Note that variations of the director’s name are featured in five ways":
BK Comments- This shows one of the earliest versions of Film Titles. This is how a traditional film title would look like in a silent film. This shows how the mixture of graphical designing and Lettering would be combined to create title sequences that would prepare the audience for the film they would watch. These title sequences would come along with lettering cards which were the responsibility of the lettering artist. These lettering cards and film titles can bring a sense of uniqueness to a film as its film title differentiates it from others.
"Regardless of the method followed, we see the emergence of typography that seeks to match letterforms with the subject matter and even the zeitgeist — including typefaces inspired by art movements such as art nouveau, art deco and expressionism — as well as the commercial vocabulary of packaging design and advertising."
BK Comments- This shows that title sequences were not only used for films but for advertisment, and marketing. Title sequencing became a packaging of beautiful design and witty advertising in order to pull consumers and audiences in. It evoked curiosity from the artist and then the typography became inspired by art movements such as art nouveau, etc.
As movies grew more popular, their titles evolved. Movie producers invested considerable sums in film production and sometimes resorted to fixing a dog of a film by rewriting the inter-titles. For a time, “film doctor” Ralph Spence(1890–1949) was the highest-paid title writer in the industry, earning $10,000 a picture for his one-liners.
During the 1920s and ’30s, European cinema was deeply influenced by modernism, and aspects of this visual sensibility were brought to the US by filmmakers who were fleeing the Nazis. Meanwhile, the studio systems operating in Europe and Hollywood also delighted in creating titles that featured vernacular graphic novelties. As much as possible, they liked to convey the tone of a movie through the “dressage” of its main title. Thus, black letter fonts in the opening credits were used to evoke horror, ribbons and flowery lettering suggested love, and typography that would have been used on “Wanted” posters connoted a western flick.
BK Comments- This is simply showing that title sequences evolved to another thing entirely with new technology and ideas forming. People changed from the original and dull simply text and started using different fonts to catch the audiences attention. T|hey used these different fonts on text to foreshadow the genre of the film for example black front for horror and flowery text for love.
The (True) Birth Of The Title Sequence
"Breakthrough ideas in titling, such as timing the typography to interact with metaphorical imagery or to create its own world, were largely innovations that came from outsiders to the Hollywood studio system. Figures such as Saul Bass, Pablo Ferro, Maurice Binder and Richard Williams arrived on the scene in the 1950s, at a time when the studios were starting to flounder in their fight with TV. At that time, independent filmmakers made commercial headway by doing things differently, spreading utterly fresh ideas about the possibilities of title sequences. This is the era in which the discipline of film title sequence design was actually born."
BK Comments- This was the breakthrough age for title sequences as famous graphic designers who reinvented the trade such as "Saul Bass" started to use little words and more art on title sequences and posters to leave an impression on the audience and give them ideas about the film they were about to watch. This was the era where "the discipline of film title sequence design was actually born" and would give birth to future graphic designers who would adopt or be influenced by iconic graphic designers such as "Saul Bass", "Pablo Ferro", and "Richard Williams".
"It could be argued that typography lost importance in this era of title design. The imagery behind the credits received a lot more attention. Still, the interplay of typography and images was by no means ignored. Popular trends of the 1950s were using three-dimensional lettering and embedding type in physical artifacts such as embroidery and signage. In contrast, Saul Bass often approached the lettering of a main title as he would a logo, making it function as the core element in a full marketing campaign. While the variety of solutions increased considerably, their anchor was always the relationship of on-screen typography to the movie itself."
BK Comments- This title sequence "Walk on the wild side" is a perfect example. The first things to catch my eyes are the eyes of the cat which seems to be staring at me. I then notice the typography but still take my attention back tot he cat eyes and assimilate the cat eyes with what i read. This brings more questions about the film intriguing me. With the picture and typography I am able to get a deeper meaning from the title sequence. Designers such as "Saul Bass" would approach these titles sequences with these kind of ideas. He would make the logo the core element in the full marketing campaign.
The Digital Era, And Modern Trends In Film Title Design
"Every sphere of contemporary life — and especially the film business — has been affected by computers. For designers, creating film titles meant participating in the apprenticeship tradition — learning by doing, on the job; that continued unabated into the mid-1990s. At that time, dynamic openers by Kyle Cooper and others showed what the next generation of design-educated, film-literate, tech-savvy creatives could do. That apprenticeship tradition has largely been overshadowed by the rise of popular technology, the Internet-enabled archiving of everything and the plethora of schools that propagate countless design disciplines. Most significantly, we see designers working like filmmakers and filmmakers working like designers."