Film titles

Here are some hints and tips for designing a terrific title sequence for your short film.

Credits. Don’t bother with opening credits. In the last few years, there’s been a trend away from opening credits in films. Indeed, there are a whole bunch of films – including Batman Begins, Pirates of the Caribbean, Vanilla Sky, Jurassic Park and The Ring – that don’t have a credit sequence at all. If you’re creating a short film, it’s much more important to dive straight into the story. Fictional studio logos and lengthy credits are unnecessary and slightly self-indulgent.  You can give credit to your actors and crew at the end of the film. And, if people enjoyed it, they’ll be keen to sit through the credits to know who worked on it!

To create scrolling credits in Adobe Premiere Pro, simple choose Title > New Title > Default Roll. Select the Type Tool (T) and create a text object. Click on the Roll/Crawl Options button and select ‘Start Off Screen’ and ‘End Off Screen’ to make sure that your titles scroll appropriately. For a more detailed look at creating rolling credits in, check out this YouTube tutorial. You can also read more about creating rolling titles at the Adobe site.

Titles. Although you’re not starting your film with credits, it’s still nice to have a title card. Remember the ambitious and long running television series Lost? Its title sequence went for twelve seconds. Remember this when you’re making the title card for your film. Keep it short, keep it simple. Your audience is much more interested in the story. Jump straight into the action, don’t waste time with a lengthy title sequence. Check out the website Movie Title Cards for a terrific collection to inspire your title card design. Remember that the style of your title card might also be linked to the style and design of your film poster and other promotional material. Consistency of design creates a sense of professionalism. Here are some great examples of title cards from various films.

 The Grey Gone Girl

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Typography. If you want to create a terrific title card, you need to think carefully about your use of typography. Settle for something that is simple and elegant – a typeface like Helvetica, Garamond or Trajan Pro. When you’ve got the text on screen, experiment with the weight, kerning and leading. It’s okay to take the time to agonise over this so you end up with something that is aesthetically pleasing. In Adobe Premiere Pro, you can create a title by selecting Title > New Title > Default Still. You can change the settings for the text at the top of the title designer screen. The options to change the size, kerning, leading and alignment of the text can be found at the top of the titler window. You can read more about creating and formatting titles here.

Composition. If you’re planning to incorporate the title of your film into a shot, think carefully about your use of composition. If the shot is too busy and you’re putting text over the top, it’s going to be difficult to read the text. Always allow space in the frame for text. Each of the examples shown here allows space within the frame for the title.



Face Off

Perspective. One of the most enjoyable parts of Zombieland was the way the filmmakers manipulated the perspective of text, incorporating it into the image. In After Effects, its possible to make a layer 3D and change its positioning and rotation along the Z axis. This can lead to some pretty cool looking images. If you plan to incorporate your text into the image in this way, you will need to think carefully about the composition of your shot. There are some terrific tutorials on YouTube which help to explain how to achieve this effect.



Motion tracking. If you have a shot with movement, it’s possible to use the motion tracking tools in Adobe After Effects to pin your text to the movement of the camera. There are a number of tutorials on YouTube which explain how to achieve this effect.

Animation. If a simple and elegant title card isn’t your thing and you’re after something with a little more impact consider animating it using software like Adobe After Effects.

Further Reading

Art of the Title

Movie Title Cards

The Art of the Film Title Throughout Cinema History