The Art of the Line

When I discuss design with someone and am asked about my design philosophy, I always come back to the power of the line. To me, good line and space are the foundation of any good design. One can have all the colors, gradients, drop shadows, and special effects one wants…but without a strong underpinning, it’s just slop on a page.

I was reminded of this today when I was reading “The Art of the Title” list of best title sequences of the year. There in the middle was a title that stopped me cold the first time I saw it on screen. It’s black and white and with some occasional red thrown in. Any one of these frames stand on their own – but put them to music and motion and the effect is jaw-dropping.  Sit back for 2 minutes, turn the screen up to full, and watch.  We’ll discuss in 2 minutes

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Main On End Titles from Sarofsky on Vimeo.

Everything is just. so. right.

The attention to detail: the ‘wings” on the SHIELD emblem fanning out; the gears that segue into Hydra coils. Every single character is instantly recognizable even as depicted by flat black and white forms.


One look at that silhouette and you KNOW (even without the title) that it’s Chris Evans. The uniform detailing also delineates his form and structure. (and the vignetting on the left frames it beautifully)

And the continuity from forms in one sequence to another is flawless. Yes, admittedly it uses the currently popular parallax effect for the opening sequence and elsewhere – but it’s done intelligently and it enhances the sequence.

But above all….the design is just so spot on! How can flat space look that damned dimensional?

Title Art Director Erin Sarofsky talks about the creation of the sequence here.  I’m thrilled that he loves the character silhouettes as much as I do!

“My favorites of the actor vignettes are Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan. They are just so simple and well executed. It’s not easy to refine something into its simplest form and still have it look right. Especially in silhouette, where the slightest thing being off will make the person look unrecognizable. We literally talked about Chris’s eyelashes for days.”

Want to read and view the entire 10 title sequences?  Hop on over to The Art of the Title.  DO also view “Manhattan”  I’ll probably also touch on the “True Detective”  sequence in a later post – a title that is 180 degrees from this one, but oh so rightly done as well.

Posted in Philosophy

Coloring Not Just Within the Lines

What a great many people also don’t know about digital imaging is that a large portion of it concerns color correction. One can divide working with an image’s color into three types

1. Color correction. Most items (unless they are shot in natural daylight or with a camera that will compensate for various lighting situations) will not photograph the color that they actually are. Lights may give off their own color cast. The camera actually sees some dyes as a completely different color (neutral/olives photographing as rusty red is the most common). Actually making an item the color that it truly is one of those little known uses of color correction.

2. Color enhancement. Often photographs are either too ‘flat’ (lacking in enough color and contrast) or ‘plugged up’ (darks are too dark and those dark areas will not print with any detail.

3. Reimagining the shot. Revising the mood of a shot, completely changing the color of objects within the shot, or bringing out certain features of an object.

All of these types of color correction will be subjects for later posts. In the meantime, take a look at this short video on the same aspects of using color correction in film.

Posted in Retouching