When did TV/movie titles start to float in "real" space?
March 24, 2009 2:21 AM   Subscribe

When did credits and titles start floating in "real" space in TV and Movies?

I first noticed this in Fringe, where the locations of the action "Logan Airport, Boston" or "Baghdad, Iraq" are floating in or above the scenery itself. The camera will often fly through or over these titles, and actors and vehicles will walk behind or in front of them. You get the impression that if they weren't careful the actors could knock the titles over or bump into them.

The recent Watchmen movie used this technique in the opening credits - the titles appeared to occupy the same physical space as the actors and objects in the credits and would move in relation to the camera.

Titles such as the Lost interstitial don't count, as although the camera flies through them the title doesn't share (or seem to share) physical space with actors or scenery.

Is Fringe the first use of this technique, or just the first use that I've noticed? Where did it originate, and do you have any other examples of the technique being used?
posted by BOfH to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The first time i saw it, was in david fincher's panic room. (title sequence)
posted by ouke at 2:32 AM on March 24, 2009

The TV show Heroes uses it. Also there's a current Volkswagen ad that makes a joke out of it.
posted by originalname37 at 2:39 AM on March 24, 2009

The title Yellowstone is seen reflected in the water at the beginning of the first episode of the new BBC documentary series. (Link, may be UK accessible only.)
posted by boudicca at 2:49 AM on March 24, 2009

Finding the first instance is probably going to be hard. I seriously doubt it was the Panic Room credits. That movie did, however, more or less popularize the technique(which may be closer to what you're really asking), as it got a huge amount of attention at the time for using it, most importantly really well. If I remember correctly, this was due in large part to use of newer methods which made such integration easier than it was previously.
posted by Su at 3:06 AM on March 24, 2009

North by Northwest is the earliest example I can think of. (Wait until 40 seconds or so in for the building to "fill in.")
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:08 AM on March 24, 2009

I seem to recall The Twilight Zone doing this, except they would actually be physical items that the credits / title would be printed on. For instance, a person would walk through a door in a title sequence and the door would have a sign hanging from it with the title. I can't remember a specific episode, however.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:55 AM on March 24, 2009

North by Northwest is the earliest example I can think of.

And its creator - Saul Bass - is the guy you want to look to for creating stuff in movie credits decades before anybody else.
posted by rongorongo at 3:58 AM on March 24, 2009

Long before optical or digital trickery made the effect dirt-easy, having titles and credits physically within the scene (where actors and extras actually DO walk in-front and around them) was not unheard-of.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:47 AM on March 24, 2009

Panic Room was the first time I saw it as well.
posted by crickets at 7:46 AM on March 24, 2009

North by Northwest has titles lined up with the plane of the surface of the building -- this is the earliest one I can think of that the titles have any apparent relationship to an object on screen (even though they are still 2-dimensional) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom also has 2d titles, but they seem to be in 3d space; that is, characters and objects pass in front of them as well as behind them. And Panic Room is the first one I can think of where the titles appear to be 3-dimensional objects in space.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:48 AM on March 24, 2009

They do this in chopping block quite a bit.
posted by shownomercy at 8:16 AM on March 24, 2009

At the beginning of Johnny Dangerously, the year (1928?) appears in white block letters in the middle of a street scene. But they are actual letters, and a car crashes into them.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 8:16 AM on March 24, 2009

As many have said, the movie Panic Room is the first instance that I remember. And the look is almost exactly the same as Fringe.
posted by shinynewnick at 8:51 AM on March 24, 2009

Here is that volkswagen ad.
posted by originalname37 at 9:14 AM on March 24, 2009

Some interesting commentary on the Panic Room title sequence here.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:21 AM on March 24, 2009

Sunset Blvd (1950) kind of did this with perspective applied to the titles to match the sidewalk surface.
posted by teg at 10:36 PM on April 3, 2009

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