By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 0 Comments
Why Girls, Bates Motel and New Girl are going with minimal title sequences
The A&E drama Bates Motel, a TV prequel to Psycho, is giving fans a chance to create the opening title sequence—but with a catch: it has to be really short. “We’re looking for an awesome 15-second title sequence that captures the feel of Bates Motel,” series creator Carlton Cuse (Lost) said when announcing the contest, whose winner will be announced before the series premiere in March. Fifteen seconds is actually a pretty generous amount of time for a title sequence today. Many shows don’t have them at all: HBO’s most hyped recent show, Lena Dunham’s Girls, has nothing but a simple title card, like a low-budget movie. “In my view, short sequences are a missed opportunity,” says Danny Yount, who created the nearly two-minute opening for HBO’s Six Feet Under. But if Bates Motel is any indication, a title sequence may not be important enough to take a lot of time for, or even to hire professional designers for.
A full-length title sequence is certainly expensive to do, especially for shows that don’t take the easy route and string together a bunch of old clips. Yount says his sequence for Six Feet Under, a mini-movie that summed up the themes of the show, required “a full crew, three locations and two days of shooting,” but adds that “the producers wanted something unique to television, so I think it was a worthwhile investment for them.” Continue…
By Jaime Weinman - Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at 7:42 PM - 5 Comments
Last week I was advocating a return to the full-length TV intro, as opposed to just the title or a 20-second blink-and-you-miss-it sequence. I thought I would follow up by mentioning a few of the different types of intros that a show can do, and what they do for the show. Since doing them all at once would lead to a post about seventy kajillion words long, I’ll do four at a time. I’ll do part 2 later this week, but in the meantime, feel free to mention the ones I haven’t got to yet and which types of intros you like best. And also check out Lee Goldberg’s Main Title Heaven, collecting YouTube videos of main titles both famous and obscure.
1. The Vignette. This is an intro that consists of one short, usually silent scene with the main character or characters. They are in-character, unaware of the camera. In this short scene, they do something that makes it clear who and what they are, and what the show will be.
The classic examples of the Vignette are both, interestingly, only about 20 seconds long — proving that today’s shows could do them, even with the limited running time. I’m talking about The Andy Griffith Show, with Andy and Opie walking to the ol’ fishin’ hole, and The Dick Van Dyke Show‘s alternating intros, with Rob either tripping or not tripping over the ottoman. Dick Van Dyke is an example of how a Vignette can give a show a stronger identity. The first season’s openings consisted mostly of stills and freeze-frames of the cast members, and told us very little about what kind of show this would be. So they filmed a little scene that would tell us that Rob lives in a suburban home with his gorgeous wife (and the kid, but who cared about him) and that we can expect plenty of physical comedy. The scene sums up so much about the show that we can almost forget our questions about why Buddy and Sally are at Rob’s home before he is — or, as Richard Cheese pointed out, the fact that Rob shakes hands with Buddy twice.
Today, most of the Vignette intros can be found on pay cable: two of the most famous ones are Dexter proving how gruesome breakfast can really be, and Tony Soprano driving home. Here’s the Sopranos intro parody from The Simpsons (which of course has a very famous “Vignette” intro, also involving the characters driving home).
2. Fun And Frolic. In this type of main title, we see the character or characters doing many different things, but all of the footage is newly-created for the sequence (though there may be a Continue…