Art of film title sequences

Art of the Title Sequence celebrates the world's greatest film/TV title sequences, those oft-experimental opening moments of a movie or TV show that really set the mood of what's to come. I've always been intrigued by this art form and it's fun to watch examples from around the globe. The site also features interviews with more than a dozen masters of the media. Art of the Title was mentioned in a New York Times article today about the South by Southwest Film Awards new Title Design Competition. Winners will be announced at the festival next week. According to the NYT, "The modern approach to film titles crystallized, more or less, in 1955 with "The Man With the Golden Arm." It opened with a kind of jazz ballet in which dancing white lines, over music by Elmer Bernstein, eventually tightened into the contorted arm of a drug addict.

From the NYT:
The sequence was designed by Saul Bass, who tossed aside a more mechanical approach that had largely prevailed in Hollywood to create story-telling openings for films like "Psycho," "North by Northwest" and, later, "Goodfellas" and "The Age of Innocence."

(Among the entries at South by Southwest, "Cigarette Girl," an independent film about a world in which smoking restrictions have murderous consequences, is one that recalls the Bass oeuvre: guns, cigarettes and people flicker between the real and the abstract, over a cool-toned soundtrack.)

Before his death in 1996, Bass had been nominated for Oscars three times, winning once, for his short films. But his work on the titles fell through the cracks of a film industry awards system that has given far more recognition to directors

"New Honor for the Designs That Get Movies Moving" (Thanks, Jess Hemerly!)


  1. Really? They don’t just flip a coin and if it’s heads they do “landscape of super-magnified surface of mundane item in first scene” and if it’s tails they do “vaguely thematic abstract art?”

  2. I really love the title sequences for Adult Swim cartoons. “Venture Brothers”, “Stroker and Hoop”, “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” — they’re funny and spot-on reimaginings (is that a word?) of action dramas from the 70s.

  3. We did title sequences for one of my senior projects in design school (mine was American Gods) and it was a lot of fun, and very challenging. This site would have been a great source of inspiration, love the interviews with the designers and the images of process/early concepts.

  4. Saul Bass is a legend, partly for essentially starting the industry, but also for his design. Kyle Cooper, having done the credits for Se7en, is good; Danny Yount is also good, most recently he did the Sherlock Holmes credits but is also known for his work on Six Feet Under and Pushing Daisies.

  5. My current favorite title sequence is Dexter (on Showtime) – don’t know if it’s changed but, the first two seasons were fantastic: both exciting and repulsive. The scene where Michael Hall puts the ham in his mouth makes me shudder.

  6. Why is it that the title sequences (and credits) for old movies always seem to “swim” a little? First movie I saw in a theater was star trek 6… so I don’t remember: Did they really swim like that on the big screen or is this just an artifact of the transfer from film stock, to tape to digital?

    Oh, and my CAPTCHA is “Problems Daffodil” which sounds like what Sean Connery would call someone in a sort of mock James Bond rom-com from before there were rom-coms.

  7. There was an exhibition in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, in january: Forget the film, watch the titles. They had interviews online with film title specialists, which I blogged at My blog’s in Dutch but the interviews are in English, and they’re richly illustrated with quotes from title sequences.
    Even better, the exhibition’s site is still online and it amazingly features title sequences from 124 great films (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, anyone?). Find it at

  8. I loved the title credits for the recent TV series ‘Episodes’. They simply and beautifully captured what the series was about. It depicted a TV script taking flight, like a bird, from the UK to the palm tree lined streets of California before being shot from the sky azure blue sky and dropping into an outdoor pool, it’s gunshot peppered pages floating in the water: A great analogy for a series all about the butchering of a UK script in the hands of US producers.

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