The best opening title sequences throw you directly into a film’s universe. Let’s check out some of our all-time favorites.
As motion graphic artists, we will sometimes be called upon to develop the opening title sequences for various film or television productions. This is an extremely important job because you are essentially setting the tone for the entire film, so you want to make an impression. If this is something that you are currently working on, get inspired with this collection of our favorite opening title sequences of all-time.
First up on our list are the opening credits to the 1995 film Se7en by David Fincher. While the majority of this opening title sequence features clips of live action footage, there was a level of motion graphics in terms of the credits. Now we would use a program like After Effects to create this sequence. Back in 1995, Fincher and company used actual film stock and scratched the credits in before layering them over the opening clips.
Video from Vaslav Tchitcherine
This 1960s-inspired opening title sequence was developed and created by designer Danny Yount, who also crafted the end-title sequence for Sherlock Holmes. In this sequence we see connecting action and smooth animations between scenes.
Next up is a classic title sequence from the comedic genius of Edgar Wright. Much like the Se7en title sequence, we see Edgar employ the creative vision of design house Shynola and their use of celluloid film stock that was scratched or painted.
Being a designer and professional concept artist, director Ridley Scott knew exactly how to set up the tension for the upcoming film. To help him do just that was Richard Greenberg. We watch as the letters of the film’s title appear a section at a time. Underneath this we have the eerie, tension-filled soundtrack. By the time the title is revealed, the audience is already a little unnerved.
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Once again we see a David Fincher film grace our list. This title sequence was visually amazing with its monochromatic 3D elements, and it really set ups the film with the violence in which the sequence plays out. Add to this a haunting rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor.
Steven Spielberg has never really been know to have catchy motion graphic title sequences at the beginnings of his films, but that changed with the 2002 film Catch Me if You Can. Again, we watch a very smooth 1960s-inspired animation sequence play out. We gain small insights to the film we are about to view, but these insights don’t ruin the film for us.
As if there weren’t enough 1960s-style opening title sequences in the world, here comes the television series Mad Men. Here we are greeted with vector figure who quickly begins falling against the New York skyline as classic advertisements are projected on the facades of the buildings.
For the third time on our list, a David Fincher film has made the cut. In this intro for Fight Club, we are introduced to the firing synapses of The Narrator’s brain as we slowly move out to reveal the Narrator himself, who has a gun in his mouth. The kinetic soundtrack and visual imagery really gear the audience up for the impending chaotic ride.
How could anyone forget this opening title sequence? What made this title sequence so iconic is Ennio Morricone‘s legendary soundtrack. However, the visuals are no slouch, as there is a lot of work with negative abstraction, which was pretty progressive for a western at this time.
Out of everyone polled, Casino Royale‘s opening title sequence is the best in the James Bond film series and one of the very best film intros of all time. It was such a departure from past films, which needed a boost after Die Another Day. This opening set a tone for the new Bond, and it could go down as one of the very best Bond films ever.
Quite possibly one of the very best opening title sequences we have ever seen, and definitely the best opening in recent memory. Designer Patrick Clair, inspired by the double-exposure technique of Dan Mountford, created a sequence that used footage from the show as well as 3D elements to create a visually stunning opening title sequence.
Who can forget the first time they saw the crawling text move up the screen? Originally the crawling text was created by having a 2 foot by 6 foot panel with the text on its facade. Then the newly formed ILM team would move the camera along the panel at an angle to create the crawling effect. With the advent of computer graphics, this process was moved to the digital realm and now can be done quite easily in most effects and editing software.
Saul Bass should be considered the Godfather of artistic opening title sequences. His opening sequences for amazing films such as Psycho, Casino, Cape Fear, and the The Seven Year Itch are pretty legendary. And while his title sequence for North by Northwest was really the first of its kind, we’re still partial to the opening title sequence for Vertigo.