Saturday, September 21, 2013

"The Last of Us" Title sequence

Start the video at 14:00 for the full effect of the Title Sequence in context.

This is a really interesting title sequence of a game that I have played, called "The Last of Us". The importance of this title sequence was something I didn't realize until after I read the interview on Art Of the Title. The very first scene in the game is the main character and his daughter as she dies. This moment has surprising narrative weight even though it's incredibly early in the story. At first, the story then immediately jumped ahead several years and continued along. In early testing it was clear this jump was a problem, because the narrative weight of the story didn't have enough time to sink in, so the next scene was confusing and hard to pay attention to. Naughty Dog, the game studio behind "The Last of Us", decided that a film style title sequence would be ideal to give some time to the player to absorb the story. So, this title sequence is both an interesting artful piece, but is also utilitarian in that it is necessary for the story to work. The textures were all inkblots suspended in water, recorded and composited in After Effects, to represent the spread of a zombie virus. It works really well, the textures are intruiguing and you want to figure out what they are, but not so much so that they detract from the titles. The thing I really find cool about this however is that the title sequence wasn't originally intended to be in the game, it was later decided on because it made the story work better. In particular, the vast majority of video games don't have title sequences and those that do usually just flash the title of the game and move on, like for example in Mass Effect 2.

Start Video at 6:20

While this flash to title is interesting and effective in this context, you don't really get to see the more traditional film title sequence in games, and I think that "The Last of Us" is an example of how as video games become more cinematic, how film style opening titles can be incredibly effective.

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