Title Sequence: “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” Reflection

I was excited for this project as soon as we were introduced to it, remembering how I enjoyed working on the motion type project in Sophomore year. Having recently watched Shutter Island, I knew I wanted to do something with a similar feel. I remembered how messed up watching ‘Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?’ was, just psychologically, and after seeing the title sequence for it, felt like there was another style left to be explored.

After watching many title sequences to choose one to storyboard, I decided on storyboarding the title for “Mimic”. The style reminded me of the title for “Se7en”, it gave the same mood—really disturbing in a scary way.  These were my initial inspirations, but after a couple of tests and feedback I came to the conclusion that their style was too intense for “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” Its story was intense, but not in the same way as Mimic or Se7en, where there’s a lot of gore and murder. I got heavily inspired by the title sequence for “To Kill a Mockingbird”—although its mood was also very different—it was more calming like someone is telling a story. In hindsight, Saul Bass’s work on titles for “Psycho” and “Vertigo” were also major sources of inspiration. What really sealed the mood I wanted to create was finding the music I was going to use (Enigma from The Imitation Game, by Alexandre Desplat). I also wanted to tell a story but in an unnerving way.

Storyboarding was not an entirely new concept to me, but I never did it as thoroughly as I had to do it this time. It was difficult since working like this felt restrictive. Except it wasn’t. Just having to think in a pre-planned way was difficult. Typically, the shooting happens, and it helps with the thinking. The way I went around this was by shooting short, test clips of what I could possibly do, without a planned narrative. Based on the feedback on these tests, I was able to storyboard exactly what I wanted to do. I remembered the word ‘schematics’ being discussed and used that as my starting point. What helped was to write out what the story of the movie was about in a paragraph and list key elements of the film.

While shooting, I quickly learned how important storyboarding was. It gave me a focus, saved me time and created a focus for discussing and getting feedback from the professors. When I had a plan in front of me, I could talk about what part of the plan was working and what part needed changing.

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Usually, what would take me many days to get, I got over  8ish hours broken across a couple of days, because I knew what I was doing. Usually, I would try things as I go (which I still did), but this time I had more of a purpose behind what I was trying—which resulted in me getting useful footage pretty early on. And then after getting feedback and making changes to the storyboard, I could reshoot exactly what I needed even faster.

I knew I wanted an old, Saul Bass kind of feel (similar to the already existing title sequence). Watching tutorials for creating that kind of look, and actually watching titles or movies with that feel also helped. By the time I got to incorporating the type in, I knew I wanted something big/bold and all-caps. But before that, I had to learn to get comfortable with what I wanted to achieve. I kept feeling like I was going overboard with the scratched or ‘old’ look. I would experiment with how it looked in colour, or at various brightnesses. After getting feedback from various people, I finally got that it only seemed cheesy because I wasn’t used to it, and I was taking it too seriously. I knew I wanted to create a Saul Bass-style look, but forgot that it seems cheesy to people my age, and thought I was doing something wrong. I ended up having to wholly accept the style to create the scratchy, dusty, dramatic video that recalled the style from the time of the movie.

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It was the initial planning that  I mostly found difficult (and the sourcing of materials I needed)—and drafting emails that went, ‘Thank you for letting me borrow your wheelchair!’

What I know I want to improve is the incorporation of the type into the video. I got a lot of positive feedback on the shakiness of the type, yet something still felt not right. I want to experiment more with the different ways  I could incorporate the type, maybe a better tracking tool could be used, or I could experiment with different positionings. I’m comfortable with the shaking type, but I feel that the intensity needs to be taken down a bit.

What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? Car Accident Bette Davis Joan Crawford English

To Kill a Mockingbird

Various Titles (Vertigo, Psycho, Se7en, Mimic…)

Shutter Island Soundtrack – Symphony No.3 Passacaglia – Allegro Moderato

Shutter Island SoundTrack-Lizard Point.flv

The Imitation Game Soundtrack – Enigma

How to Fake the Super 8 Film Look

How to Make Old Film Effect in Premiere Pro

Premiere Tutorial: Old Movie Effect in Adobe Premiere

Final Outcome:

A title sequence I made for the movie ‘What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?’. The sequence was meant to evoke the style of films from the 50s and 60s, getting inspiration from Saul Bass, Stephen Frankfurt, and the movie itself. The music used is composed by Alexandre Desplat for the movie ‘The Imitation Game’.