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Title sequence and green screening.

“Movie titles and opening credits play an important role in the feature presentations they introduce.They set the mood, facilitating the audience’s smooth entrance into the world created by the film”  Vartanian of Goligo Books taken from Typo-Graphics

I wanted to share this title sequence  the show is “United States of Tara” and follows a woman who has multiple personality disorder the sketchiness and obvious contrast going on this intro really somes it up nicely with a little piece written for it by The Polyphonic Spree. It starts with a wooden board with 3 streaks on and one pure white one which is pretty obvious what it is if you have seen the show….

(through out this I will just drop in cheeky title sequences as they come to me, trying to stay away from the obvious cliche’s )

We have been set the task of recreating a title sequence to a film that already exists whilst also using an element of green screen and incorporating a narative. At first I didn’t quite get what we had been asked to do ( I thought we coud literally do something vaguely similar to what had already been done.). Now I understood the task that had been set and finally had gotten to grips with how I could use green screening in my piece, I was ready to start making the story-board or animatic as it were, again didn’t fully grasp the concept… okay so the original idea I had was Taxi Driver when I thought of this I thought of the speech about the rain coming down and washing the scum from the streets however upon researching I found that my tiny bird brain had just mixed two parts of the film together…

(this is the original title sequence)

I didnt actually want to do this piece once I had understood the task, but knowing the pace of this module would require a lot of learning by me as I have no formal after effects or photoshop experience post 2005, decided to do it anyway as it was the idea and as my idea was now gone then this presented a challenge I felt would be a good one to document and generally get me a little out of doing purely what I want to do. I understand what is going on in the original it is very theatrical much like the film so that is lent to it, the font isn’t really that relevant other than the fact it’s yellow. I found it to be somewhat of a bore as far as title sequences go. (PDF. linked to a paper written on typography in film by Iowa State University)

This title has stuck with me my whole life

and the more I keep rewatching things i have always liked these same narrative themes keep popping up, I haven’t been able to switch off from critiquing everything!

I then watched this video and did a little research into the graphic design element and narrative that is synced with film, and wanted to know exactly what it was a title sequence does

this is a short interview with 3 companies i think, one which was involved with David Fincher’s Se7en , blue valentine and madmen. I have seen the first quite a few times and wanted to stay away from that but as I have more names have kept creeping up other than Saul Bass and Kyle Cooper one of which was Danny Yount but I’ll get into that a little later on. I found after watching this short was completely reeled into watching Blue Valentine which I haven’t yet seen. The fact that this happened to me made me realise exactly what the point of a title sequence to encapsulate people within the first 5 minutes it’s almost like an entirely more intelligent approach to what advertising in film does, without completely ruining the narrative or otherwise making you completely avoid something because of how poorly it is portrayed. In terms of narrative you can’ t really grasp anything from adverts these days as the majority use action shots fast cuts etc… in a grandiose attempt to show off the companies range of effects or emotion or sometimes just for comedy’s sake sort of reminiscent to a 14 year old with a stupid opinion webcam and youtube account.

The things that could be associated with Taxi Driver: his mohawke, taxi?!,

Went out and took moving image shots for my piece after toying with the idea I thought as the music in the intro is a repetition of intense orchestral stabs to have the back ground as either a double yellow line or black screen either way shot at night with filters added in after-effects so as to highlight the gloominess of the narrative, while different images or stills taken from moving image are sequencially placed to the audio. I intend to use the part of the speech from the begining of the film which is a rather well-known and poignant part of it, this is partly to show the character it is based around and also because of me remembering that as the title sequence to begin with. (maybe this is because the original isn’t very stand-outish or at least I personally didn’t find it to be. So the original soundtrack will remain with the sound of rain water over a wild track possibly ambient royalty free soundscape I can find following the lines on the road with various shots showing the city and different things, inner shots of the car I will go out this week and film a taxi itself when it’s raining and attempt to get an extreme close-up of rain splashing on the bonnet to over-lay and hopefully the editing process will give the idea that what is going on is happening in a Taxi and not a small Peugeot! * slow-motion.

The Process

When it came to actually shooting I used my phone which in hindsight was a bad idea, even though it has 4k capabilities and all the other stuff the guy in the shiny phone shop said, I hadn’t used it to shoot and edit before. Schoolboy error…I took the shots in a point of view sort of way. The reason for doing this was the theme of my remake of the Taxi Driver intro was the road that Travis Bickle is headed and so wanted to include the viewer almost subliminally, the old one had pretty much nothing to do with it and seemed to sort of just lend to the trendy and culture of the time. This being the case I also tried to keep everything retro looking and used some of the Luminatrek presets I had downloaded as the image in the second piece of moving image had to be stretched to fit the screen, (this was the problem that I had with the phone. Originally I had intended to theme a heavy amount of the intro on the rain taking from the quote “One day a real storm will come and wash the scum off the streets. The paramount logo was my starting point and so I animated the rain over the logo as Paramount do tend to “switch up” their logo when they have some god awful teen horror or animation, whatever it was a vague homage. To animate the rain I imported the logo made and made it black and white sort of expecting the outcome to not be as crisp looking as it should, I used Particle World to create a motion preset called “burst” then messed with it by taking off the grid turning down the velocity and dropping the x-radius so it gave it a longer elliptical direction to flow in. With regards to the music I wanted to keep the dramatic orchestral stabs from the original and thought I could create a strong link between audio and visual I think I acheived this on a more basic scale than I had first though, but am happy with the outcome. The mac that I had been using in college decided to do this

so the first two weeks of what I had solely done in After Effects was lost I had a few files and the original footage from the car shoot.When I got back to doing it I had decided to drop the line about the rain because unless it’s justified via a jumpcut or something you generally  don’t really see people choosing lines from a movies script prior to it showing, maybe this is just me but I figured I’d leave it.  I then took the greenscreen footage in the film studio I chose to use a pair of clippers as they were symbolic to the point which I was trying to get to, which is as I said that moment where Travis snaps after travelling his long road of general disassociation. The footage was taken with a back light and a light either side so as to give a more street-light effect on the metal of the hair clippers. I acheived the footage I wanted and took it straight off and into After Effects I used Keylight 1.2 and had literally no problem getting the green gone. Once this was done I realised that it looked a bit like a fairy liquid ad from the 90s with some hoofing great hand telling you it’s ok to carry on washing dishes, also without having knowledge at the time of flare plug-ins I decided to cut out the hand by masking it with a cloud effect called Fog Lights. Without trying to tie too many things together I felt this also added to the piece as the clouds and rain which runs through out as a theme until the final logo appears. The way that the music progessively gets more intense is the reason that I chose to fade in and out of most of the clips to give a pulsing theme, I think I was trying to replicate how sodium light makes me feel.
With the greenscreen shot and the car scenes done it was time to edit on the mac in the college hoping that the bugs on the system had been temperamental….they had not.

I started working at home on the project and couldn’t get my head around the lay-out of after effects and after hours of swearing to myself like a trooper I realised that I didn’t even have to do this, I could have done it all structure-wise in Premier, in fact the project was even supposed to be in Premier with dynamic links so I had wasted a couple of weeks misunderstanding things and generally stressing myself out for no good reason. This knowledge out there (even though it was to begin with) I started understanding the process of dynamically linking things and with the basic backbone of the edit there I find it entirely easier to use After Effects and when I did use it purely for each individual link I understood the need for it and how easy it can make things. My new confidence overwhelming me I decided to try and go down new road using an image of Deniro that I was going to subtly drop in the back ground almost hidden of him having shaved his head and looking rather manic. I used a burst creation to make a puddle I then used particle world to try and make it seem like the image was a puddle with drops splashing off of it (still wanting to use the quote at any chance I could.) After a while I saved it and carried on the next day when I came back to it everything had dynamically unlinked itself and so I endeavoured to start again, I downloaded a trial copy of after effects and and premier onto my girlfriends mac as adobe were getting wise to anything that I put on mine and I ran out of email addresses for free trials. I was hit by this….

again I lost a lot of work but knew what I was doing so started again, by now the sheer amount of starting and restarting was getting ridiculous, my harddrive was jammed with more corrupt files and dead space than a government building. I decided when putting it back together that I was going to leave the quote and just head on with the driving shots and the rain theme running throughout, I smashed through the majority of it and found a font, the same font I used for the titles and actors the font was taken from and is called “Mexcellent 3d” I think that is particularly reminiscent of the era and was quite lucky to find one for free, the audio/visual link is rather good as the title shows and the music changes up to that well known saxaphone piece. The last decision was to beef out the last 5 seconds to take the music to a place that it seemed it could end, and so I decided to not the writer as the more I thought about I wasn’t even aware of who wrote Taxi Driver as it is somewhat overshadowed by Scorsese’s upcoming notoriety I used an American Type Writer font for the writer and director, this was again to lend to the era with the other fonts in mind as well.

I think that the outcome was good I would be a little more organised and try and work on as few computers as possible will look into sorting this out I appreciate the relevance of keeping everything in seperate folders etc… had I not done this in the first place it would have taken a lot longer for me to find the files sort through what was needed and what wasn’t. I am quite confident when using After Effects now it was literally just foreign but the basics of it are pretty easy to understand and I look forward to using it in the future, Premier is still Premier and doing it’s thing….

hopefully all these words are relevant 🙂


  1. editing decisions: columbia logo in the rain (for the rain theme) used After Effects
  2. Martin Scorsese picture in type writer font to show the era (fade)
  3. Green screened clippers : (shaving away Robert Deniro’s name like the hair)
  4. POV shot luring people into being ok with the lonely taxi guy (fade)
  5. Jodie Fosters name again the hair thing
  6. A long dashboard shot to show the slow progression of his losing his shit (fade)
  7. Taxi Driver written in the font Mexcellent
  8. writers name

(Nearly all shots fade this is because of the nature of both the film and the music.)

Round 2: Practical Screencraft. (Stu & Greg the Phone)

I have chosen to put these illegible notes here for your perusal as they were quite well documented (for me) and I completely took it all in for the first time I understand how cameras work with other things such as crop factor ( having bought myself my own camera with a smaller sensor, * see i totally get it!) different types of shot, framing, difference between lenses and the reasons for using them (not complete but competent) different depths of field and I feel alot more confident now when I am behind the camera, I just didn’t see the need in re-writing everything that we did in class and hopefully the proof is in the pudding.

IMG_2562 IMG_2561 IMG_2560 IMG_2559Ok so for this project and part of the term we have been mainly focusing on lens and lights, which is great but I can’t help but feel as an under-confident camera op. this should have been structured the other way around as I personally didn’t know much, but maybe it’s supposed to be common knowledge by this point and I have missed something. Either way I finally got my loan so I went out and applied what we had learned about depth of field and tried to take some shots here are some of my favourites although I don’t know whether or not they are good or interesting things to have photographed the first one is just a soft-focus.

IMG_1235 IMG_1241 IMG_1242 IMG_1591 IMG_1592 IMG_1594 IMG_1597 IMG_1600 IMG_1602

…with my new Canon-600D I started just pointing and shooting at pretty much everything for the next few weeks and still am with it, we were tasked with using the camera to tell a narrative without using any dialogue, to me this was massively daunting but I chose to use an inanimate object as somehow I thought this would be easier. I clearly did not talk this through with my skill based part of my brain as I found it pretty difficult to capture emotion without the use of a person and their face!

I decided to use a Fisher Price telephone that I bought for my son when I was in London, this was a bad idea as it may have/did get trashed and cost a lot as we got stuck on the high street the day the tubes were on strike. I did however manage to take lots of stills and come up with my story whilst there.

The story:


The idea of the story is that a phone which is owned by a youngish guy is taken out of his flat when his girlfriend moves in and put in a charity shop, not happy with this he decides to break free from the shop in a 90s kid tv homage kinda way, he then goes out and for the first time he has a sense of freedom and is able to do what he wants. He then finds a wallet and as this phone is upset he goes straight to the pub to drown his sorrows where he bumps into a gremlin, (deeper rooted the Gremlin is actually an asociate alter-ego ((which is why he’s only ever around when the phone is causing havoc)) sort of like Raol Duke’s associate in the Fear and Loathing saga by Hunter S Thompson. I am aware this is completely unbeknown to a viewer but I know it! The phone then goes on a rampage of gambling drinking and snorting drugs in a club bathroom until he has a nose-bleed he then gets kicked out of the pub and goes on to break into a house-party but is kicked out for smashing a beer. The gremlin and the phone then wind up on a bench as they leave the wallet in the party, (this shot again is left-out so may not make the best sense) unhappy with life the phone attempts suicide by hurtling himself down a flight of stairs and bleeds out, only to be found by a little boy and taken home to live with him. (there’s your equilibrium).

Significant shots the list of them and locations and reasoning for them:

My House

  Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.21.54

The first place that the film starts off is my house nice and easy I used a tripod, a sony one that was absolutely terrible, but I then stopped using it as it got jammed and I didn’t want to break it! shutter speed was 30 aperture 4.5 and ISO 1600 to make it look bright and slightly over exposed this is to either play with in post and try and warm up the feel of it, but also to represent better times than the rest of the phones little story. When I shot inside I just used the natural lighting of the room this was to make it seem more normal and everyday.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.23.39

The shot for the stairs going down was done using an LED at the top of the stairs with a low ISO and wide aperture the LED was angled to try and extenuate all the lines of the stairwell even the Daido rail leading down towards the door and out of the flat to show the direction the story is going. There were more stills which were used but then droppped the two used are taken

Mr Scarecrow’s Attic

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.25.00

Mr Scarecrow’s attic belongs to a friend of mine and rather than go looking for a charity shop I thought it would be a nice location to use it is a second hand store and I had to keep reminding myself of this so’s not to offend the owners when shooting there, in all it took 1 hour on one day and then the second day i took another 20 minutes whilst I took some shots of the shop for them for letting me use their space. I have recently been informed that one of them is being used in  a magazine article on the shop as it is about to open a new store so that is quite cool. The first shoot didn’t go well or badly to be honest I think I didnt do the location enough justice but I found it hard to get my head around how to set the tone, I had an idea of what I wanted to do but couldn’t get there. The slider didn’t have a base-plate with it so I ended up gaffa taping the camera to it which is why there are wobbles in the shot which I used. That shot is the best of about 20 and I still wasn’t happy with it. The mood I was trying to capture was still quite dark and bleak as the phone had just been abandoned so for the static shots as I didn’t want to take away from the location at all shutter speed was 50 at 4.5 and the iso was at 400 as the last project had loads of grain so I have been wary of that. I used the static shots from the first day and went back to try at the slider again as this shot was darker than it had looked on the screen.I think from now on that a portable monitor is the best way to go about resolving this issue or looking into there being an app. on Android.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.27.07

I used a GoPro to capture the first person perspective as it seemed like the perfect thing to do as the lens is slightly fish-eye and it was obvious to tell what was going on and what you were looking at.

In the Street

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.29.27

    This scene is supposed to show liberation of the phone and his new found freedom all of the shots are taken from his level and are quite spacious and wide in terms of the size of the subject, when shooting in the street for the movement I wanted to use a wide angle and Sigma 70-300 zoom lens to show what little action there was how well this came across is down to the viewer,  the fact that it’s a toy on a piece of fishing wire kind of negates this approach i think! when I shot on the wide angle lens the shutter speed was 30 as it is good for slow moving pans aperture 4.5 and ISO right down to 100 with a neutral density filter, the reason for using this was that the weather had been so off and on I thought it would take away from any obvious glare so it could carry on with the same feels. The phone finds a wallet in this shot all the lines are leading to the wallet, to draw your gaze with what the phone is looking at.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.30.20

The Voodoo Lounge

This was shot with a higher ISO to show that it is happy fun times and a quicker shutter speed for the quicker movement of the crab at first I had tried to use the colleges tripods and come up with the best way that I could make a modern hiphop ish look to the phone getting plastered. Due to the equipment I went home and got some toys as these would be at just the right level to capture the phone with and work as a dolly, unfortunately later this didn’t work as the tires to the toy were slightly ridged and therefore showed a lot of movement, the other shots were an over the shoulder shot to show the phone at the bar then shakily jerked upwards to show his mind is elsewhere,

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.31.37

the toilet scene


this was filmed at home with a wide angle lense very close up and an LED in the dark this was supposed to recreate a dingy club toilet but maybe could have done with a connecting shot showing his way to the toilet but I’m pretty sure what’s going on is implied. The shots of the phone and Gremlin  leaving were shot with a 7.1 aperture 100 ISO and a Neutral density filter because it was really sunny again.

Shot of the sky in the alley

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.33.17

this was really me just playing around with the neutral density filters to see how defined i could get the sky to look and what it would look like, I wanted to be showing that it is still bright and stuff is still going on for our friends and that they are still in good spirits. This was mainly a connecting shot to link the alley to the GoPro footage at the party.

GoPro Party

This scene starts off with our heroes going into a party and set, and finding some beer, the reason I used the set which was set up for liam’s project was a sort of homage to Adaptation where he visits the scene to Being John Malkovich (this was actually premeditated not just an idea I had to fill shots!) . The party was shot at 30fps and with a wide aperture to let in as much light as possible as this would be the last time they were happy the ISO was at 400 as Liam had already set up the lights for his own production.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.38.29 Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.38.41

For them partying I used a lot of overhead shots of both the phone and then the gremlin to show that we feel bad for them because they’re just getting wrecked and doing no good. Slight focus pulls and movement were supposed to represent a 90’s drug film moment a bit like Human Traffic etc.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.39.38

I also used  a slightly weird right to left crab this was supposed to mimick the first crab at voodoo so you know what was going on. There’s a 5-10 sec clip where you see the phone and Gremlin next to a broken beer bottle this shot was just as it happened before it got cleared away so I totally screwed it up and it was dark so I tried to use premier (which im not so good at) to brighten it up but all it did was make it seem out of place

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.40.41

 we then go to GoPro P.O.V. of them being kicked out of the party and left outside on the doorstep feeling cold and alone.

Park Bench and suicide

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 08.41.40

This was shot with neutral density filters with the aperture right up and a low ISO the day was foggy it looked dreary enough this was the look I was going for, I tried colour correction for the first time in the edit that was good fun, but the shots of him falling down the stairs were a bit weak as he stopped there was a pull focus then he falls down the stairs. I had intended to “cut to the action” as it were but the standard lens focus ring is maybe a little jolty or perhaps its that combined with my camera ability I am not sure, however i do think I should look into getting one that rotates almost mechanically so my heavy-handedness doesn’t interfere with shots that I want.

Suicidal Failure!!!!

quite a few things went wrong with this project it was maybe too elaborate for me teamed with my organisational mishaps, the last shot that I wanted was after the phone had gotten the money from the public, he went to the shop (Boozemart) and then down to the waterfront to kill himself. I thought that the last shot would be absolutely amazing I was going to use a wide-angle lense and tele-photo lens and position the phone looking out towards the sea from a jetti, at first using a telephoto lens to compress the image then have a few pans around the place ending on a wide-angle shot of the Jetti pointing outwards towards the sea all perfectly pushing forward showing that the only option for him was suicide.


this is the location that I had in mind! Boozemart didn’t seem happy with the story once I told them it anyway, but I put that down to it being a franchise and the owners own sense of moral implications, (let’s hope you carry on getting tramps and kids drunk so you can sleep at night)

Strip Club
another shot I was going to use but ran out of time, was a strip-club. The idea was that the phone would either go to a strip club or down a back alley and to a prostitute, I got the LED lights out some red gels even bought the materials and had hung up some sheets on the wall to give it the feel of a strip-booth. I was going to shoot from the floor so for comedic value was only going to have a strippers legs so there was no need for anyone to get naked. (I tried in several gentleman’s clubs neither they or my mrs. were happy with the idea so I moved on.) being as the project is about lens and light I thought this would be perfect, however when I came to shoot my stripper had come down with baby-related illness and me being me got annoyed and took everything down, I should have at least taken a still of it but didn’t think to. I instead just booked out stuff didn’t use it and went in for 9:15 on my day off!

The Private Shop

after the strip club idea failed I got in touch with the private shop owner to shoot there I did go down and get about 2 mins of footage (when edited) but it didn’t really fit into the story, I wondered whether or not this could have been used as the ext. location of the strip club but had moved passed by this point. One thing I have come to notice is when u ask people if they can help you and you pitch your idea, they are always really interested up until the point they just flat-out refuse you!


The last shots I took were going to be used as the credits, so after we leave the little boys room via the window (sounds more sinister out of context) the shot went onto Exeter street and left us with this warm glowy Bokeh that I shot out of the window great shame but I got obsessive with other stuff so here’s a pic

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 10.27.24


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