Title sequences are the key to grabbing your audience from the very start, and an awesome title can be the difference between someone watching your video or scrolling right past. A poorly created title sequence is often a big giveaway that a film or video is low budget and not up to scratch to others. Camera technology has come so far in recent years that footage shot with a low budget camera is similar in quality to costly movies, and often one of the key differences is the opening title sequence.
Amateur films and videos often choose one of two options when they are creating title sequences; they either go overboard and try to make a heavily animated title sequence, or they keep things super simple with overlay text on the footage itself or a plain background. If you aren’t skilled in motion graphic design then a simple title sequence is probably your best option, as attempting to create an elaborate title on your own will often end up looking poorly made and unnecessary. Today’s design world is actually leaning more towards the minimalistic approach, but there are ways to achieve this successfully. These are our 5 top tips for improving title designs:
CHOOSE FONTS WISELY
One of the biggest errors that is often made in title design is poor font choices. Overly stylized fonts such as textured finishes, spray paint effects or grungy looks usually end up looking very cheap on screen. Stick to clean and simple fonts for your title sequences to give a clear, concise and timeless finish. Bear in mind that if your film is successful, the chances are it will be viewed for many years into the future, so never choose a font that could end up dating your movie.
AVOID ANIMATED TITLES
In the past, it was trendy to have title designs that animated with the picture on screen. For example, there may be a car driving along in the footage, and the title would follow along behind it. This trend has mainly died off and can now make videos look very dated and cheesy, yet some filmmakers still insist on animating their title sequence to match elements on the screen. Some people believe it will add some production value, however nowadays when it comes to titles the simpler the better. A simple static title faded in over a plain background or your footage will offer a much cleaner and more professional effect than an over-animated design.
KEEP FONTS SMALL
There is little worse than awkwardly sized titles at the beginning of a film. Your screen real estate is precious and there is no need for your title design to take up the majority of the space, unless you are specifically going for a large title look, such as a block text that covers the entire screen. Keep font titles nice and small; in most cases if you make a title comfortable to read without squinting, but not much bigger, then this will be perfect.
AVOID DROP SHADOWS
Whilst some font styles can make your movie look dated, drop shadows come with the same problem. A lot of designers end up using drop shadows simply to make their text stand out more on screen, however this often ends up making your title sequence look tacky and cheap. Only use drop shadows in your title designs if they fit with the overall aesthetic of your film. If you do absolutely have to use drop shadows to make your titles legible on screen, make sure you use them across every single title to keep consistency.
ALWAYS USE FRAMING GUIDES
It is painfully obvious when framing guides haven’t been used on titles. One lot of text will fade into the next, but they will be just marginally off from each other, making them look unprofessional. Another common problem with not using framing guides for title design is that your titles that are meant to be centred feel like they off to one side or the other. Turning on framing guides is effortless and takes seconds to snap your title design into the correct on-screen positions, and the final finish will look much, much better because of it.