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Psycho vs. Seven: How movie title sequences have changed over the years

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Digital editing subtly altered the title sequence aesthetic

A title sequence does more than just hint at the movie to come; it documents the state of film technology at the time it was produced. That's what Susana Sevilla, a digital design student, argues in her video essay, Things are not what they seem. Sevilla uses the films of Alfred Hitchcock and David Fincher to show how shifts in video editing software over time have changed the look of title sequences.

In the video above, Sevilla discusses how the emergence of editing software like After Effects subtly altered the aesthetic of title sequences as they entered the digital era.

The effects of After Effects

The clip compares title sequences by graphic designers Saul Bass (North by Northwest, Psycho) and Kyle Cooper (Panic Room, Fight Club). Panic Room uses 3D motion graphics for its credits, but still calls back to the geometric title sequence of 1959's North by Northwest. Cooper's echoing digitized typography at the start of Seven recalls Bass' fuzzy text in Psycho's opening credits. Although the basic structures of these title scenes are similar, the video argues modern design has created an unavoidable shift in aesthetic.