Art of an Indie Title Sequence

Well, I wasn’t expecting to post about this for a few months, but since it was unveiled, I can now.

I finished work on the opening title sequence for the upcoming film Ingenue, directed by Kate Chaplin. Kate decided to drum up some excitement by posting the sequence now while the film is still in the finishing stages of post. Here are some mildly interest notes about how it was conceived.

I love title sequences, but I’ve never really made one properly before. We did a really short one for Love Dance, and I did a couple in college, but they weren’t really intended to set a tone. Earlier this summer, I think I told Kate I had a concept for her title sequence and she happily passed me the task.

Ingenue is the story of a couple who finds a human clone in their basement and has to raise it and teach it what it means to be a woman. Naturally, there’s a lot to do with medical science and femininity in the film, so that’s what I tried to pull thematically into the titling.

The femininity is abstract and literal. There’s stereotypical feminine stuff in there — the makeup — to go with the idea of a human female clone being built. It’s blended with shots from a lab facility. The other half of that is the colored water, which is also feminine. And works thematically for the film, but I won’t go into that.

The DNA stuff at the beginning was Kate’s conception. She had designed the poster early on, and wanted me to take the design and font and animate it, which is what I did.

This is the first time I’ve ever edited a piece that was totally silent and had music scored to it. I used some inspiration tracks, but the final music ended up different than I had thought which is a good reminder not to rely heavily on temp tracks. We’ll be adjusting and changing the audio design before the film’s premiere, undoubtedly.

And some quick behind the scenes of the actual creation.

The lab stuff was shot by me at IUPUI’s School of Science in August. I got permission to spend an hour or so wandering the lab with a researcher. I have a lot of cool shots that didn’t make this short cut, but I hope to play with them. They were shot on my Canon t2i with a macro extension on the kit lens (I think, it’s been a while). I had a desktop tripod I used for stabilizing it, placed a whiteboard behind each item, and lit it with a work-lamp flashlight as needed. I also did some in-camera light leaks.

Yes, in camera light leaks instead of downloading the multitude of light leak files available. What a hipster.

The random girl body parts are my friend and regular actress Sarah Hoback. We met up in a park nearby on a very windy day, as it was the easiest way to get well-lit quick shots. She, being the overly complicit thespian she is, was willing to lay on the ground in the middle of the park and slowly apply makeup to herself while I was about 3 inches away with my camera and macro extension. Kids kept wandering up to us, lots of people stared, it was generally a really good time.

The colored water shots were done in my editing room. I set up my camera and macro on the kit lens with a desktop tripod. On a small platform, I had a glass of water with a desk lamp lighting it from the back at a 45 degree angle. Then I just dropped in different droplets of food coloring. I kept having to get up and get new water, but besides that it was pretty straightforward. Colored water swirls aren’t exactly groundbreaking, but they work well for this film and they’re pretty.

I used After Effects for the compositing and animation. Pretty straightforward stuff, but a lot of blending modes and exposure adjustments.

Ta da, title sequence. Hopefully everyone likes them.