Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Saul Bass - Title Sequence Designer

Saul Bass (1920-1996) is an American Graphic Designer who has also made many title sequences for films and some of them very famous title sequences making him a very famous title sequence designer.

He uses simple geometric shapes in his title sequences creating patterns and a very unique designs. His work has become his own style, the "Saul Bass Style". Bass was a freelance graphic designer but before this he worked in an apprenticeships with Manhattan design firms. Bass created posters which truly captured the mood of a film within simple shapes and colours. He used shapes and images in title sequences instead of just one photograph of a film star which most title sequences in the past had. 

Bass hand drew the shapes and images for his title sequences. He uses these Geometric shapes in his title sequences and they all have symbolism of the film they were made for, theses images and shapes usually had a message that linked with the film and Bass made sure the audience recognises this message as well. His style was very distinctive and recognisable. He started making title sequences when he worked the filmmaker Otto Preminger where Bass made prints for the film adverts. Preminger admired Bass's work as asked Bass to create a title sequence for a film. Since then Bass has even worked with some great directors in the history of films such as Alfred Hitchcock, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese. Bass has made title sequences for films like "The Man With The Golden Arm", "North by North West", "Vertigo" and even the very famous film "Psycho".

His title sequences usually consists of bold block colours and shapes. Bass is commonly known for playing around with shapes, silhouettes and colours and this can be seen in his title sequences.

Title sequences used to just be images or text. Bass introduced using videos to tell a story in a title sequence instead of being a plain image or text. Since then title sequences now have videos not just an image or text.

If it wasn't for Bass creating title sequences in a stylish way and as a video, title sequences may never have been seen as a piece of art. Bass himself said “I want everything we do to be beautiful. I don’t give a damn whether the client understands that that’s worth anything, or that the client thinks it’s worth anything, or whether it is worth anything. It’s worth it to me. It’s the way i want to live my life. I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” This quote shows that Bass loves his work and he sees his art as Beauty, even if others do not.

'The Man With The Golden Arm' (1955, Otto Preminger) Title Sequence Analysis

This title sequence is very simply designed with a constant black and white coloured them and block shapes throughout the title sequence. Throughout the title sequence the audience sees random lines appearing on the screen but as we carry on watching we find out the lines form a arm which links with the film "The Man With The Golden Arm". The lines are meant to symbolise drugs, they are white lines which are meant to be lines of drugs, these lines of drugs then make up the arm showing the audience that this is the man with the golden arm because he has a lot of drugs inside him. This shows the audience what genre this film might be as well as what it is about. The non-diegetic soundtrack in the background is very well synchronised wit the text, such as when the volume increases with jazz the text appears and disappears off the screen. The jazz music may also show the audience when this film is set such as around the 1920s as that was the Jazz era but this may not be the case as the film was based on a novel created in 1949 and the film was also created in 1955.

I like the simplistic look of this title sequence and even then the title sequence shows a lot about the film if you look very closely.

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