Nice survey of great title design

A Brief History of Title Design from Ian Albinson on Vimeo.

Last year, Pesco mentioned the new SXSW Title Design Competition. Ian Albinson's presentation video for this year's SXSW "Excellence in Title Design" competition screening summarizes a lot of the really good work in film (and some recent television), from Intolerance, to Enter the Void. Some good films to add to your watch list, too. Link has full list of titles. Video link.


  1. SAUL BASS is generally considered to be one of the kings of movie titles. I used to have an art teacher in college who despised the designs of Bass and even told us students (straight out) that Bass was a “sub-par, poor and derivative” designer. It just goes to show you how wide opinions can be on one artistic subject. I think most of what Bass did is/was great – I even like his famous tacky Bob Dylan “Dylan” posterthat most folks hate!

    1. I’m not aware of any Bass-designed Dylan poster; more likely you meant Milton Glaser. In either case, your teacher was an idiot.

  2. Great Vid. It’s worth noting that title sequences don’t reflect the overall film quality. And I would have added “Fahrenheit 451”, among others.


  3. Check out the title sequence to CIAO! Manhattan sometime. Guy did that came off of Fellini one sheet design as a twenty yr old and went on to cop a best picture nomination.

  4. Once the R/Greenberg Associates ones hit (Superman, Alien, Untouchables, and even Se7en at RGA/LA) it’s amazing how many that follow are designed by former R/GA designers. Big influence on the field.

  5. As somebody who watches a lot of independently made movies as a part of what I do for a living can I use this opportunity to air a grievance about title design here? Please? Thank you.



    Watch this video. Now watch it again. Now, say to yourself “F**K FCP/Live Type/Motion/Avid/AE” or whatever it is you normally use to do your title design. Not because any of these are bad products but quite the opposite! It’s because they are making YOU lazy since they make doing formerly complex things so surprising simple that you don’t think creatively about doing these things any more. Phoning in title and credit design has become standard practice among so many of the films and videos I see these days and it tires me. It also tips your hand to me early in the show that you didn’t care about making this movie as much as you’d like me to think you did.

    So many people use the default settings on their titling software, or something so close to the default setting, that it’s just repetitive and boring. If you want to make movies that stand out, that’s not the way to do it. Even films that don’t require flashy titles benefit greatly from small touches that make the text set the tone. Watch this video again… watch some Kubrick and Godard films (just as an off the top of my head example)… you’ll get what I mean.

    If you do want flashy, go beyond the standard templates of FCP/Live Type/Motion/Avid/AE and you will surprise yourself with what you can do. The people who make these programs have given you an incredible tool set to work with but you still need to go further. Their “hammer”, does the default of “nails” but it also “crowbar”, “ball peen”, “saw”, “rotate”, “inflate”, “whizz” and “gee-bang”! Dream big young visionary!

    Yes, the default templates look great but they’re just examples and to people who see a lot of videos these days (which is a lot of people thanks to the internet), it’s going to look like as uninspired as the windows moviemaker white-on-blues that still seem to dominate YouTube. They seem uninspired because they are uninspired when you haven’t put additional thought into it and your audience will know because it will be the millionth time they’ve seen that effect. It no longer sets a tone except to say you didn’t care too much about this bit of the movie when you could have.

    Thank you for your time.

    tl/dr: Creativity counts on every single frame of film, even the titles. Filmmakers, please don’t be a tl/dr kind of person.

  6. Nice. I would have added some older titles, such as Gone With The Wind, where the title is integral with the “larger than life” theme, i.e., the title is too big to fit on the screen all at once so we see just a few letters at a time. Another great example of integrating the title with the story is Sunset Boulevard where the title is a stenciled curbstone from the actual street Sunset Boulevard. We see debris partially obscuring it, establishing the theme of the trash heap of past Hollywood glory.

Comments are closed.