My interest in animation has always had a strong focus on motion graphics. My appreciation in cinema developed at around the same time that opening credit sequences began to command real attention. Names like Imaginary Forces and Saul Bass were actually things I heard in my house growing up, and one critique often leveled against movies was, “those opening credits were pretty ugly!” Thus, for my After Effects animation project, I decided to provide an opening credits sequence for a certain well-known space-centered wartime epic.
Initially, I had intended to take inspiration from Saul Bass with a kind of freeform cutout look and feel. While looking through the footage, however, I found that in every little corner of the film, there were small details of interface design and graphic design. I eventually decided to let the sequence celebrate these elements and give them a bit more screentime. It became pretty fun to recreate all of these moments in After Effects especially considering that these graphics must have taken days if not weeks to create for the film production.
As amazing as Star Wars is, one thing it does not have going for it is its typeface selection. In all of the movies, the opening crawl and any other onscreen text are conveyed in Trade Gothic, which is pretty boring. I looked at some of the original posters and found that a lot of them used ITC Serif Gothic, which is currently being used as the title font in the new sequels as well! This is a great nod to the era that Star Wars was born in and gives it a bit more of a sci-fi edge. I decided to follow suit and use it for all of the titles.
As far as music selection goes, I chose a piece from the score that offers a more contemplative mood forgoing the bombast and fanfare of the original opening piece. Primarily this is a holdover from the original idea I had, but I still wanted to offer a different entry point to the movie.
While I believe that Star Wars is one of the best movies ever made (in its original theatrical release…) and my clumsy attempt at an opening sequence would definitely not improve it, I think its rich narrative and drama provide multiple ways to appreciate it. All at once its a movie that’s about a pair of grumpy droids that keep falling into and out of perilous situations, a young farm boy learning of his destiny to be a great warrior, a courageous princess taken prisoner and her daring escape, and the discovery by a cynical smuggler of something good in the world worth fighting for.
Music used in the piece:
The Little People Work
John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra
Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope