Burlesque Title Sequence

Motion graphics can be described as short pieces of time-based visual media that combine the languages of film and graphic design. There are many ways in which this can be accomplished. Incorporating a number of different elements such as animation, video, film, typography, illustration, photography and sound will create a motion graphic. When creating my motion graphic I took multiple of these into account. The most common examples of motion graphics are film title sequences, commercial animation and lower-third elements.

For my project I have created a title sequence motion graphic that incorporates animation, typography, illustration and sound. The credits are often the first thing a viewer sees when watching a movie or a TV show, but the complexity and artistry of the title design is rarely discussed. Graphic artists that create title sequences are asked to develop concepts that not only evoke the core story and themes of the production, but also create a powerful visual experience that pulls the viewer into the movie. I decided to take on this challenge of evoking a movies story through a motion graphic. The movie in which my title sequence was created for was a 2010 film titled Burlesque directed by Steve Antin. The movie is about a small-town girl who ventures to Los Angeles in order to find her place in this world, which happens to be a neo-burlesque club, run by a former dancer.[1]

As a student in the graphic design field I am commonly interacting with two-dimensional images and print the most. I wanted to incorporate not only some two- dimensional illustrations but also venture out into the more animated side of graphic design. The work I have created is a thirty-second snippet of the movie opening credits that presents a two-dimensional piece of motion art with animation that creates the illusion of a three dimensional movement of design elements.

Unlike interactive data visualizations, which allow users to
 manipulate the piece of work and interact with a dataset, motion graphics tend to transform on their own. Motion graphics generally incorporate sound and are displayed through some sort of electronic media. My motion graphic is not based on interactions but based on visualization. The limitation on where it can be exhibited is non-existent, which is a very important thing in the graphic design world. In the interactive data visualization piece, The Dumpster by Golan Levin with Kamal Nigem and Jonathan Fineberg, limitations exist. This piece is limited because of its interactivity that is required to be completed on the web and only the web.

Over the past few years there has been an increasing demand for graphic designers to produce interactive user interfaces of all kinds. While there are multiple kinds of interactive user interfaces, two examples include websites and motion graphics. I have already learned how to develop a website but the idea of cultivating a motion graphic intrigued me. My abilities as a graphic designer would be expanded to more than just print art and web design because of this project.

One thing I learned is that the need for this interactive user interface calls for the visuals to be accompanied with music and or sound effects. Not only is visual illustration used in my Burlesque title sequence, but sound audio is also incorporated. Sound audio was an important part of making my motion graphic come to life. It’s been said that the visuals of a motion graphic are only half the final product; the piece of work isn’t truly complete until it’s been accompanied with sound. In my motion graphic I used the sound style often called synchresis. It is a mental fusion between a sound and a visual when these occur at exactly the same time. The term synchresis derives from the combination of ” synchronism” and “synthesis.”[2]

The artwork Growing Pains/Plant by Luke Dubois, is also a synchresis. While Luke Dubois had certain criteria for his sound to be played, I did not. He required that the piece was to be compiled for a mandolin accompanied by processing provided by a computer, as well as a video generated by the performer.[3] As for my motion graphic I found a piece of audio that was played in the original movie and used this sound clip to create a more dramatic visual effect. I did this by using the movement of my illustrations on a time constrained sound clip, distinctly because timing is the most important principle to think about when designing a motion graphic. The Burlesque Title Sequence that I created contains a few sections in which the movement of an illustration is timed to be at a certain point of the sound, in order to create a more dramatic visual effect. This is exactly the same as Luke Dubois piece Growing Pains/Plants. In his piece, the plant grows at the same rate in which the sound is played. Creating the illusion that the plant is growing as a reaction to the sound audio that is being played. As in both pieces the use of sound art was essential. It allowed for a relationship between the visual and audio domains.

The visual portion of my Burlesque Title Sequence incorporated typography, illustration and animation. The use of typography in my motion graphic was essential. I had to use it in order to educate the viewer on who was staring in the movie. Unlike Legible City created by Jeffery Shaw in 1989, my piece depicts the real information on who is listed in the movie. Legible City uses words to simulate city streets and architectural structures that are projected on a large screen. In this piece, the viewer both rides and reads as she navigates through this text-based virtual space.[4] This is much like my motion graphic where the viewer not only watches the animation and visual effects but also reads the text displayed on the screen.

The typography animation that I have created in the Burlesque Title Sequence depicts a real life handwritten signature. I did this in order to imitate a signature that someone would get after attending a show. To me handwritten styled typography displays a more feminine touch versus a rigid computer font typeface. My motion graphic was created for a more feminine viewer just like the movie was. This feeling of femininity was created not only in typographic animation but visual illustrative animation also.

Animation is a vital part of my motion graphic but interaction done physically by a viewer is not. Even though my motion graphic was not interactive physically one can consider it to be interactive emotionally because the feelings that it could evoke. Motion graphics are often used in interactive multimedia,[5] but are not necessarily interactive. When creating informative motion graphic videos such as a title sequence, you slow the viewer down so they can understand one thing at a time.[6] You manipulate how the viewer processes the video. The animation of words changing or the visuals moving can cause this manipulation.

The concept of animation and motion in interactive media has introduced new design possibilities and has allowed motion graphic designers opportunities to exercise their talents beyond the motion picture and television screen. One person who has created an interactive multimedia that is comparable to a motion graphic would be Lynn Hershmann Leeson with her artwork, Agent Ruby in 2002.

When first entering the interactive website you see typography flying and animation appearing all across the computer screen. This is comparable to my motion graphic. The only difference in the two pieces of artwork is that the Agent Ruby piece is interactive physically. Agent Ruby generates dialectic, which at times intelligent and cunning, at other times sensitive and funny.[7] Since I considered this piece to be a slight form of a motion graphic based on the animation, I decided to interact with her. Mainly because I wanted to be able to compare my piece a little more in depth and see if this form of software art would consider herself to be a motion graphic or something else. When asking the question of if she was a motion graphic the answer she responded was peculiar; she said that she is only a motion graphic when needed. So I went on to ask when is it needed to be a motion graphic and her response was that when the proper programming was done she would then and only then be a motion graphic.

Proper programming is needed for different forms of art, including motion graphics. The most common used program executed by graphic designers to make a motion graphic would be Adobe After Effects, which allows a graphic designer to create and modify graphics over time.[8] Another program used is Adobe Flash, which is the program that I used to create my Burlesque Title Sequence. I chose this program over Adobe After Effects because I could better animate my vector files the way I wanted to versus using the preset of an animation style that Adobe After Effects would have caused me to use. I ran into a few problems along the way with things not working the way I wanted them to. With me being a rookie at the program, the only solution I was able to find was to completely restart the process of uploading my vector file into the program and re-animating it. As like many other artists, I had to be unsuccessful before I succeeded.

One artist whose artwork was considered successful would be Myron Kruger’s.  Even though he was considered to be a pioneer of digital media and his artwork was successful, he was omitted from art history. Myron Kruger’s artwork Videoplace created in 1985 was an integration of sensing floors, graphic tables, and video cameras. The similarity between Videoplace and my Burlesque Title Sequence is that the colour palettes of both pieces are bright and fun colours. I chose to use bright colours in my motion graphic in order to depict the flashiness of show business. Both Myron Krueger’s piece Videoplace, and my motion graphic use silhouettes to show the artwork. His silhouettes are based on the interaction of the viewer. While the silhouettes I created are based on a two-dimensional rendering of a burlesque dancer.

With motion graphics there are no limits on what you can design. Some motion graphics are infographics displayed in the form of a video in order to educate someone via the Internet.  For my project I used this form of a video infographic in order to educate the movie viewing audience of which celebrities starred in the film. This form of multimedia content is becoming increasingly important in educating people in different subject matters. The advancement of computer programs allows for clear, precise and memorable presentation of complex concepts.[9] For example, flight simulations, simplified animations of biological processes and astronomy demonstrates how the incorporation of moving graphics with motion graphic show the advancement of computer programs.

In Karl Sims, Galápagos, the viewers participate in this exhibit by selecting which organisms they find most aesthetically interesting. The selected organisms survive, mate, mutate and reproduce. This is educational because it is related to Darwinism and shows the evolutionary cycle of organisms. The relation that this piece has to my motion graphic is that the creation of abstract forms convey a sense of reality to a common subject. Both artworks are based on a specific subject; in Galapagos multiple organisms are the subjects of the work and in my Burlesque Title Sequence the common subject depicted is the Burlesque club.

Many title sequences of 2012 are now using photographs versus illustrative graphics. Both styles of title sequences though keep the use of animated typography consistent. In conclusion I think that my motion graphic could have been better with the proper training and lessons. For a beginner though, I consider my work pretty successful. This is because I completed my goal of developing a title sequence that evoked the core story and theme of the production while creating a powerful visual experience.

[1] “Burlesque.” IMDB, 2010. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1126591/.

[2] Michael Chion, Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994).

[3] Roger Dubois. Applications of Generative String-Substitution Systems in Computer Music. (2003), 103-104.

[5] Matt Frantz, “Changing Over Time: The Future of Motion Graphics.” (2003): http://www.mattfrantz.com.

[6] The Art of Animation and Motion Graphics, (PBS Video), Online Video.

[7] Lynn Hershman, “Agent Ruby,” The Daniel Langlois Foundation, http://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/e/page.php?NumPage=167.

[8] “Motion graphic design,” Wikipedia. Accessed November 15, 2012, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motion_graphic_design.

[9] Frantz, “Changing Over Time: The Future of Motion Graphics.” (2003): http://www.mattfrantz.com.

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