Jump to content


Photo

Optical Titles/credits


  • Please log in to reply
20 replies to this topic

#1 chris descor

chris descor
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 36 posts
  • Other

Posted 03 May 2009 - 05:05 AM

Hi
How are credits/titles done on films? 35mm/16mm etc
I do NOT mean using software to create titles/credits.
When I watch a Woody Allen film for example, with the opening and closing credits, I can tell it is a photochemical process. When a recent contemporary televison show or film shows the credits/titles, I can tell they have been digitally created.
Some films as recent as 1999, have an extraordinary beauty to the simple white text on black blackground, and you can see the very very slight jittering of the letters because you know the film is running through the gate.
With digitaly made credits, they are static and loose something.
With the optical process, there is a lush hapic quality, that simply emhances the experience of watching light pass through film.

I'm not really interested in rolling credits, I assume in the old days, they wound a crank with long paper.
how did they do it before software became the norm? so I'm thinking 80s - late 90s?
But I'm not as interested in rolling credits, as I am in simple title cards/slide show etc
White text on black background, is what I want to know. how do you do this?
Also colour backgrounds, and images as well.
I'm asking in terms of analogue, not digital.

Is it done by simply having coloured card/paper with the text printed on, then illuminated from behind, then filmed by the camera at 24 fps etc so that it sort of has that brightness.
Or is glass placed in front of the coloured or black card/paper, the glass having the text on it etc

OR what?

I'd appreciate a recommendation for a book/guide which explains how these sorts of film optical effects are done?

thank you
  • 0

#2 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 03 May 2009 - 06:39 AM

Hi,

Titles were usually made with Letraset or hand even painted, onto clear acetate or black card. The titles would be filmed over a background or on HI Contrast film and composited with an optical printer. There were a great no. letering artists & graphic designers who specialised in credits & titles, many of those people have left the industry.

Stephen

Hi
How are credits/titles done on films? 35mm/16mm etc
I do NOT mean using software to create titles/credits.
When I watch a Woody Allen film for example, with the opening and closing credits, I can tell it is a photochemical process. When a recent contemporary televison show or film shows the credits/titles, I can tell they have been digitally created.
Some films as recent as 1999, have an extraordinary beauty to the simple white text on black blackground, and you can see the very very slight jittering of the letters because you know the film is running through the gate.
With digitaly made credits, they are static and loose something.
With the optical process, there is a lush hapic quality, that simply emhances the experience of watching light pass through film.

I'm not really interested in rolling credits, I assume in the old days, they wound a crank with long paper.
how did they do it before software became the norm? so I'm thinking 80s - late 90s?
But I'm not as interested in rolling credits, as I am in simple title cards/slide show etc
White text on black background, is what I want to know. how do you do this?
Also colour backgrounds, and images as well.
I'm asking in terms of analogue, not digital.

Is it done by simply having coloured card/paper with the text printed on, then illuminated from behind, then filmed by the camera at 24 fps etc so that it sort of has that brightness.
Or is glass placed in front of the coloured or black card/paper, the glass having the text on it etc

OR what?

I'd appreciate a recommendation for a book/guide which explains how these sorts of film optical effects are done?

thank you


  • 0

#3 David Rakoczy

David Rakoczy
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1579 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • USA

Posted 03 May 2009 - 10:27 AM

Optical printer... not in Avid or FCP.
  • 0

#4 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 03 May 2009 - 10:36 AM

Optical printer... not in Avid or FCP.


Depends -- no need for an optical printer if you are talking about white letters over black. In that case, it's usually backlit artwork -- they typeset the text (whether by computer or whatnot), print it out, and have a Kodalith made of it (transparency that is reversed, clear letters against black), then shoot this on an animation stand or something. I used to shoot my own titles like that for my Super-8 movies.

Yes, they'd usually use hi-con b&w stock.

Now for titles over picture, it gets more complicated because you need to create a hold-out matte for the letters so that they will look solid in front of the picture -- they may even be slightly different in size in order to create a drop shadow effect behind the letters. All of these elements would be composited in an optical printer.

You'd load a positive (IP) of the color neg background into the projector side, with a hold-out matte bipacked in front (clear background with black letters) and then rephotograph this onto a new dupe negative, now with black letters (unexposed areas) where the white or color letters will go. Then you load the text against black into the projector side and rephotograph that into the same dupe negative, and then develop that. Now you have solid letters against picture.
  • 0

#5 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 03 May 2009 - 01:37 PM

Hi David,

Titles with picture can also be Bi-Packed in camera, white titles can just be double exposed. For color titles the letering on cell will be it's own matte for the background pass (when back lit), a double exposure can create color. Some testing will be required!

Stephen

Now for titles over picture, it gets more complicated because you need to create a hold-out matte for the letters so that they will look solid in front of the picture -- they may even be slightly different in size in order to create a drop shadow effect behind the letters. All of these elements would be composited in an optical printer.

You'd load a positive (IP) of the color neg background into the projector side, with a hold-out matte bipacked in front (clear background with black letters) and then rephotograph this onto a new dupe negative, now with black letters (unexposed areas) where the white or color letters will go. Then you load the text against black into the projector side and rephotograph that into the same dupe negative, and then develop that. Now you have solid letters against picture.


  • 0

#6 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 03 May 2009 - 02:02 PM

I'm pretty sure they were using film recorders for this (at which point, doing it optically is just a waste of time, really, as you're starting with a digital file anyway) back into the late '80s.

If you're just adding lossy analog compression over a digital original that was burned onto film, what is the point?

Also at this point, good luck finding Kodalith. You could probably use other commonly-available graphic arts films, but they aren't available in 8x10" (20x25cm) sizes, IIRC.

I guess I don't see the point of employing such a tedious process that has such little improvement over digital, and is infinitely more tedious and expensive.

Unless you are doing some really snazzy hand-painted colored titles, there really isn't a point.
  • 0

#7 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 03 May 2009 - 02:46 PM

I'm pretty sure they were using film recorders for this (at which point, doing it optically is just a waste of time, really, as you're starting with a digital file anyway) back into the late '80s.


Not in London. The first Quantell Harrys were delivered in 1986 (Digital compositing 90 seconds of storage) along with Sony D1 machines, but they were only SD. The only film recorders in existance filmed a monitor frame by frame usually with an Oxberry.

I shot titles & FX for Highlander 1986, titles for Cry Freedon 1987, Shirley Valentine 1989.

Stephen
  • 0

#8 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 03 May 2009 - 03:05 PM

Not in London. The first Quantell Harrys were delivered in 1986 (Digital compositing 90 seconds of storage) along with Sony D1 machines, but they were only SD. The only film recorders in existance filmed a monitor frame by frame usually with an Oxberry.

I shot titles & FX for Highlander 1986, titles for Cry Freedon 1987, Shirley Valentine 1989.

Stephen


Sorry, I guess my dates were off. I guess they were two slow.

I'm pretty sure they had primitive, slow 2K film recorders as of the late '70s though. I remember running across a PDF of an old ad a year back, and, by the outfits adn computer technology (reel to reel magnetic computer tape anyone?) it was definitely no later than 1983.
  • 0

#9 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 03 May 2009 - 04:04 PM

I'm pretty sure they had primitive, slow 2K film recorders as of the late '70s though.


Not sure what they would have been used for, TRON was 1982.
  • 0

#10 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 03 May 2009 - 04:16 PM

Not sure what they would have been used for, TRON was 1982.


Might have been confined to still photography applications for the most part in the late '70s.

Then again, how did they do the Genesis Device Sequence for the STII:TWOK in 1982? They had to get it on film somehow. Either they filmed a video monitor or had to record it onto film with a primitive film recorder.

I'm sure the procedure was so laborious at that point as to not warrant its use for titles though.

What about T.V. though? With the exception of maybe Law & Order and certainly Murder She Wrote (the last TV show finished on film), I'm pretty sure most titles were digital even in the late '80s, maybe earlier than that. . .
  • 0

#11 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 03 May 2009 - 04:37 PM

Might have been confined to still photography applications for the most part in the late '70s.

Then again, how did they do the Genesis Device Sequence for the STII:TWOK in 1982? They had to get it on film somehow. Either they filmed a video monitor or had to record it onto film with a primitive film recorder.

I'm sure the procedure was so laborious at that point as to not warrant its use for titles though.

What about T.V. though? With the exception of maybe Law & Order and certainly Murder She Wrote (the last TV show finished on film), I'm pretty sure most titles were digital even in the late '80s, maybe earlier than that. . .


They probably filmed a monitor, that was fairly common in the 1990's!
BBC title sequences were often shot on film into the 1990's, compositing was usually done on Henry, depending on what was required. News & Current affairs generally stopped using film titles except for more important events, such as updating Royal obituarys.

Stephen
  • 0

#12 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 03 May 2009 - 04:38 PM

Might have been confined to still photography applications for the most part in the late '70s.

Then again, how did they do the Genesis Device Sequence for the STII:TWOK in 1982? They had to get it on film somehow. Either they filmed a video monitor or had to record it onto film with a primitive film recorder.

I'm sure the procedure was so laborious at that point as to not warrant its use for titles though.

What about T.V. though? With the exception of maybe Law & Order and certainly Murder She Wrote (the last TV show finished on film), I'm pretty sure most titles were digital even in the late '80s, maybe earlier than that. . .


They probably filmed a monitor, that was fairly common in the 1990's!
BBC title sequences were often shot on film into the 1990's, compositing was usually done on Henry, depending on what was required. News & Current affairs generally stopped using film titles except for more important events, such as updating Royal obituaries.

Stephen
  • 0

#13 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 03 May 2009 - 05:30 PM

They probably filmed a monitor, that was fairly common in the 1990's!


Sure, for insert shots it is obvious that they are filmed off of a monitor, but when they cut to the "full screen view" that was still filmed off of a monitor? Really?

I've never seen, say, Star Trek II theatrically (and kick myself for missing it), but surely that wouldn't hold up on the big screen?
  • 0

#14 David Mullen ASC

David Mullen ASC
  • Sustaining Members
  • 19769 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Los Angeles

Posted 03 May 2009 - 07:52 PM

Sure, for insert shots it is obvious that they are filmed off of a monitor, but when they cut to the "full screen view" that was still filmed off of a monitor? Really?

I've never seen, say, Star Trek II theatrically (and kick myself for missing it), but surely that wouldn't hold up on the big screen?


It does "hold up" but remember that this scene is playing on a monitor in Kirk's quarters and is a scientific simulation being played by the computer, so it didn't have to be overly photo-real even when it cuts to a full-frame image.

The Evans and Sutherland Digistar system being used (according to AC Mag, Oct. 82 issue) was designed for creating planetarium shows and they had built a display system that was 4000 x 4000 pixels for this work. But in this case, for "Star Trek 2" they used a high res computer monitor that was more like NTSC resolution, about 500 lines, but developed a system to increase sharpness and reduce aliasing (perhaps involving some multiple passes -- I think the monitor ran 60 fps but the VistaVision camera was shooting off of it at less than 1 fps, so they could build up exposure and perhaps fake some better resolution this way.)

They used this system to also create the moving star fields and some of the displays on the big screen in the bridge.

They later worked on "Last Starfighter" and claimed their film recorder was 6000 x 4000 pixels, but again, this could have been an accumulated resolution.

Also, these were b&w displays and color was created in multiple passes using RGB filters on the camera.

Now as for normal title over picture credits, doing it all digitally, including the compositing over picture, didn't become commonplace until the early 2000's. There were still places doing it on an optical printer when I did "Northfork" in 2002/3. Pacific Title, the biggest title house, had transitioned to doing them digitally right around them, though they were probably outputting text from computers to hi-con b&w film much earlier, maybe mid 1990's, and doing the composite over picture in an optical printer until film scanning and recording costs had gone done.

--

Here's a frame from the DVD of the Genesis simulation -- as you can see, it's not even full-frame but is composited into a monitor frame:

Posted Image
  • 0

#15 Stephen Williams

Stephen Williams
  • Sustaining Members
  • 4708 posts
  • Cinematographer
  • Europe

Posted 04 May 2009 - 02:06 AM

Now as for normal title over picture credits, doing it all digitally, including the compositing over picture, didn't become commonplace until the early 2000's. There were still places doing it on an optical printer when I did "Northfork" in 2002/3. Pacific Title, the biggest title house, had transitioned to doing them digitally right around them, though they were probably outputting text from computers to hi-con b&w film much earlier, maybe mid 1990's, and doing the composite over picture in an optical printer until film scanning and recording costs had gone done.


Scanning & working digitally was very expensive, it's only fairly recently doing a DI of an antire film has become common practice, which is why optical printing did not die out earlier.
  • 0

#16 K Borowski

K Borowski
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 3905 posts
  • Camera Operator
  • I.A.T.S.E. Local # 600 Eastern Region

Posted 04 May 2009 - 05:13 AM

Now as for normal title over picture credits, doing it all digitally, including the compositing over picture, didn't become commonplace until the early 2000's. There were still places doing it on an optical printer when I did "Northfork" in 2002/3. Pacific Title, the biggest title house, had transitioned to doing them digitally right around them, though they were probably outputting text from computers to hi-con b&w film much earlier, maybe mid 1990's, and doing the composite over picture in an optical printer until film scanning and recording costs had gone done.

--

Here's a frame from the DVD of the Genesis simulation -- as you can see, it's not even full-frame but is composited into a monitor frame:

Posted Image


Weren't we talking more about all-optical titles, as in a camera filming either graphic arts creds or physical wooden, plastic, or metal letters lined up and overlaid during the contact-printing process?

I'm sure that the credits that were being done in 2002 started out digitally, even if they were then burned back onto film for non-DI finishes.

So, even with the former, there is a modest improvement, perhaps in quality for a non-DI finish, but it is very very subtle.

The latter, what's the point? The results will be further degraded, which I suppose would hide any aliasing somewhat, but are ultimately doing that through generation loss.


Thanks for the shot from STII. I've never seen it in anything but pan-and-scan, so that is interesting that it was 4x3.

BTW, TOT, but do you know, David, when the U.S.S. Enterprise screen went to 16:9 or 2.35:1? Lol. IIRC, it was definitely widescreen by ST:IV
  • 0

#17 chris descor

chris descor
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 36 posts
  • Other

Posted 17 May 2009 - 01:27 PM

Thank you for your responses.
Though I'm still having a little trouble being able to understabnd all this, though I do try to get by, by looking online what this and that is etc

I was wondering if anyone could recommend one or two defenitive books about this specific art of cinema; analogue optical effects and titles etc
I would like 1 or 2 books that discuss this department but are also more than just a discussion, that actually explain how it is done etc so that I would be able to know possibly in-depth how it is done.
I dont know why, I'm just interested in the beauty and texture of film, and the titles of films are often underated and I love to see the texture of the film come through all analogue.

One day in the near future I would like to try creating some experiments with creating titles for perhaps super8 and/16mm or super16. I'm not making a movie, but wouldnt mind being a part of one, some day, but I havent got any expectations or plans. I want to know how I can make titles. simple
I would love to own a few books which I can refer to if I want to create title work for film, for fun or work. This stuff seems to be hands-on knowledge, but I'm sure there is 1 or 2 good books/manuals-guides out there that someone has.

I've heard about John Wigley and seen few videos of his beautiful experiments, and heard that he was the inspiration for the split screen horizional space-time sequences in 2001:A Space Oddessy. etc so analogue computers and these sort of analogue film optical effects could go hand in hand if lucky. more experimentation is needed.
anyone care to inform me a thing or two?

I made this thread with the intention of finding out/being taught, how I would go about creating film titles/credits/slides what-have-you for the opening or closing or intermission/silent-film etc of a film
Specifically in mind, wanting white text with soild coloured background.

So for instance can someone explain how and advise me on how I could create the following, useing a very basic method, with really no money, i.e. I'm not a student filmmaker with a 'project' to do, I genuinely want to know how one might be able to create this, the same way a painter would, by themselves to a degree, without the need for optical houses or printers or recorders etc, if i just had a camera or two and some of my own gear and intution etc
so; I want someones name or a companys logo, or multiple peoples names (cast) or (crew), in white text, font of my choosing, with a coloured background(blue, red, green or orange or purple etc) of my chossing/design.
So I' m thinking of how this can be done cheaply and basically. Not digital.

A. make the background, either from high quality coloured paper or card from art supplies store, or even paint the color onto canvas or card etc, skill required to create desired effect image or colour. then mount this on a white box, so that it lights up the colour. then paint the text with acrylic paint or oil if you want or transfer onto a standard sheet size of glass or acetate, and mount this somehow close to the camera lens for bigger letters to fit the screen to how ever much you want. then sort of light the glass and letters by lighting the glass exclusively with a specific light perhaps from above? or from the side. experimenting of cours to get it right.
then composite it for the camera etc
and shoot/film this either 24fps or slower like 1 frame persecond etc whatever you want, might increase contrast. with high contrast colour reversal film. and then rearrange all of this to another text-slide-glass sheet and another colour if wanted.

if wanted a black background, then dont light the background at all.
all of this done in a dark room.

what have I missed? I think the white letters would need to be completely opaque to stop the light from behind of the background's lightbox from shooting through the letters.
I will add more when I can remember what I was going to say.

I'm then thinking of being able to experiment with this method, by taking it further. i.e. one could project something onto a screen in a dark room, and place the glass with the text on it, in front of the screen with a camera shoting the glass with the screen behind it, so you get a still image or film with the text in front on glass, also needing to somehow light the glass/text with light from above? etc I got other thoughts as well. manualing shifting the light over the text (which is now 3D shapes)to create a weird effect, using some sort of metal/copper reflecing surface to bounce light or something create a silvery background etc, using gold leaf and curtains of shimmering gold glitter etc

but yeah, can you advise me on this method I described? i know i've missed something/s
i will add more when I'm able to remember what else I wanted to know
  • 0

#18 chris descor

chris descor
  • Basic Members
  • PipPip
  • 36 posts
  • Other

Posted 25 May 2009 - 07:09 AM

bump
  • 0

#19 Brian Drysdale

Brian Drysdale
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 5070 posts
  • Cinematographer

Posted 25 May 2009 - 10:54 AM

Graphic artists used Letraset for their lettering and mounted it on high contrast card.

http://www.letraset....p;cat=Lettering

You could check out "The Technique of Special Effects Cinematography" by Raymond Fielding

I believe Focal Press had/have a book on the animation Stand or rostrum Camera.


The last time I did some old style titles I just printed them out on my laser printer and got my local printing shop to copy the artwork onto high contrast lith with their camera.
  • 0

#20 Dominic Case

Dominic Case
  • Basic Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1357 posts
  • Other
  • Sydney Australia

Posted 25 May 2009 - 05:25 PM

Graphic artists used Letraset for their lettering and mounted it on high contrast card.

I don't imagine many people regret the passing of Letraset, though in its time it was very good. Just tedious. And unless you were a high volume user, you'd always run out of some letters really quickly.

There was a transitional stage though when titles were created on a computer and then printed out onto cards and photographed on a rostrum camera. I have in my little collection of curios, a set of Japanes subtitles for a feature film, printed onto a stack of cards, about postcard sized. Black letters on white, which isn't ideal, but was probably quicker to print. They would date to the late 1990s. They were intended to be photographed on a rostrum camera on hi-con stock then printed back to make a full-length master subtitle roll.
  • 0


Tai Audio

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Technodolly

Ritter Battery

Paralinx LLC

Metropolis Post

Opal

Abel Cine

Glidecam

Aerial Filmworks

Visual Products

FJS International, LLC

rebotnix Technologies

CineTape

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

CineLab

Willys Widgets

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Rig Wheels Passport

The Slider

Wooden Camera

rebotnix Technologies

Paralinx LLC

FJS International, LLC

Abel Cine

Ritter Battery

Tai Audio

Rig Wheels Passport

Metropolis Post

CineTape

Aerial Filmworks

CineLab

Technodolly

Opal

The Slider

Wooden Camera

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

Broadcast Solutions Inc

Glidecam

Willys Widgets

Media Blackout - Custom Cables and AKS

Visual Products