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February 1st, 2014 by jomo

One of the things I did during my putting-meat-on-the-table life was film (and video) titles. In the 60s, 70s, less-in-the-80s and still-less-in-the-90s, productions required titles shot on film and transferred to video. The Chyron titler, a high-end device when it debuted, obviated the use of film, and titles could be produced directly to video…one of the early tollings of the bell for my profession…

While a not-inconsiderable portion of my business, I really didn’t like doing titles: it was exacting work and critics came out of the woodwork. The images were there, more-or-less static, for everyone’s squint-eyed consideration. One job I re-shot 3 times because the client kept insisting they were crooked – they were exactly the same everytime, but on the 3rd pass he was satisfied. I shot the titles for Tobe Hooper on “Chainsaw Massacre” but since he was blowing it up to 35mm and I shot the titles on a 16mm Bolex claw pulldown, I told him that he should get them reshot in pin-registered 35 – so he took my art and had them reshot. DuArt (I think) stripped their name in (crooked), in place of my credit, and shot the credits.

The title crawl for Bob Burns’ feature (the title of which I don’t recall) went along fine ’til about half-way through, when the words went a little wonky, distorting sideways and up, and then snapping back into place and all was well the rest of the way. Perplexed, I did a dry run of a re-shoot, and found that there was one place where a corner of the artwork negative was snagging on a little edge of hardware, and then breaking free.

What got me started on this was watching some show and thinking about the current fashion in titles: KIM – Keep It Moving. No longer are titles static, but they are in constant motion, zooming or panning. Not much in the tilt category because that might cause overlapping which is confusing. And the worst thing for titles to be is confusing.

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