Saturday, November 30, 2013

West Wing opening Credits and Thoughts

For my post this week I wanted to talk about the opening credits to The West Wing because they have always sort of fascinated me for their seeming simplicity on the surface but complex compositing underneath. On the surface it seems like, well, any other television opening sequence. "Make sure to get everyone in with scenes from the show" seems to me the M.O. for many TV shows, particularly during the 90's and early 2000's. However what makes this memorable for me is how many flash frames, extra assets, and compositing is going on between each shot. The sequence flows so well that you barely notice them the first few times you watch without a keen eye, but as you watch you can pick out more and more. I watched the entire run of the show years ago, and it still took a long time to be able to see. One in particular i'd like to bring your attention to is that as the sequence goes on the black and white pictures stop covering the screen and become more like pictures on a desktop being moved around.

 For me this gives the piece a much more alive feel, like someone was going through a stack of historical photographs. The thoughtfulness of the photographs themselves are also interesting to me, in the last 5 seconds there are several of these shown, but the one ended on is the shot of the president facing away from the camera.

 Even though the show is really about adding personality and character to political figures, the title sequence ends on this, showing Aaron Sorkin's awe of the "majesty" of government, a thought that definitely comes through in his writing of the show

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