Friday, September 20, 2013

Blue Valentine is a film directed by Derek Cianfrance, released in 2010. I watched it the other night and thought the end credits were superb.

Take a look:

This title sequence was designed by Jim Helton, an experimental filmmaker and editor who commonly collaborates with Derek Cianfrance. Mr. Helton has a very interesting past: born in Germany on a US army base, he then went off to attend the University of Colorado to study film under Stan Brakhage and Phil Solomon, whose work he credits as his main influence.

 In an interview on theArtofTheTitle, he cites Phil Solomon as his main inspiration and recommends interested in this type of design to explore Phil's work. He talks about learning a process called "bi-packing," a process of placing two film strips on top of each other, and then rephotographing them to create a different effect than a superimposition. He goes on to describe his process for this sequence, made entirely on Final Cut Pro, taking a layer of footage of out-of-focus exploding fireworks, then taking the song by Grizzly Bear and using its rhythms to edit, and finally taking set photography by Davi Russo and reframing them to fit within the fireworks, and cutting them up into little details. Although he does not give away entirely his process, he says it was basically made with the composite feature and lots of tweaking. The fourth layer, the actual typeface for which he used  "a short fade in, and a long fade out, like exploding and disheartening light." And finally, the fifth layer he discusses is the sound recordings of fireworks streaking and crackling, children playing and laughing, mixing it with the image to create an abstract echo.

You can read the article here if interested:

I really like the elegance of this piece, but I really love how this clearly shows me that the tools and tricks to do these things are not necessarily difficult at all. Instead, coming up with good design in the first place is the actual labor.

Phil Solomon's influence on Jim Helton makes it clear how important an awareness and attention to other design truly is for making original design work. By paying attention to other's work, Jim was able to find ideas as references points for this piece. For me, this is a good example of how paying careful attention to design, and being knowledgeable and active supplies you with a well of creative influence from which to pull.

You can see Phil Solomon's work here:

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