Title Sequence Production RolesBack to Production roles and responsibilities Director
From the Director’s point of view, title sequences differ from most other productions because each individual shot is generally much shorter and the length of the overall shoot is again much shorter, perhaps only one day. While students in general might think this is great, as a Director it should alert you to the fact that you need to work very hard from the beginning and stay focussed for the whole time you are on the shoot.
This may be your début as Director, so remember that the crew work with you and for you. The shoot is yours and you are where the buck stops as far as quality control goes. If you know what you want and the crew share your vision, then things could just go the way you want them to. Try and stick to the schedule, working at a reasonable pace. Use your PA as your right hand and get them to do other jobs such as assisting other team members whilst you concentrate on the actors, the shots and the look. Work from a colour monitor at all times, using it to make critical judgements and decisions on framing and camera work, lighting, mise-en-scène and action.
Using a colour monitor whilst shooting on location will afford you the opportunity to direct the shoot more easily. Directing the film from the LCD monitor that is an integral feature of most camcorders is somewhat limiting so you should, wherever possible, aim to use a filed monitor. Watching and directing each shot on a decent sized colour screen means that you can also perform the role of the Director of Photography and ensure continuity of lighting, of camera movement and action. It is quite liberating moving away from the small screen and also permits better judgements around mise-en-scène simply because you can view more detail.
As with other types of production you will be guided in the composition of individual shots by the Director. Unlike other productions, shots will frequently be extremely short in duration so always ensure that you head and tail each shot: that is, that you record at least five seconds extra at the start and end of every shot. This is particularly important when shooting title sequences because each shot is extremely short, so a shot which would be two seconds long once edited should have a four or five second head and tail. Your Editor will be very grateful to you for this when it comes to using the shot in the edit as it will allow them to easily find the clip and give them enough footage to add transition effects to.
The role of the PA working on a title sequence is essentially one of the assistant to the Director. They would take responsibility for liaising with external people at the location, keeping the shoot on time, ensuring that all the shots on the storyboard have been shot and maintaining the camera Log Sheet. In effect, they will do virtually anything that the Director requests. In larger productions such as drama there would be First Assistant Directors and Runners to undertake these tasks.
Although, as we said above, many title sequences do not use sound recorded on a shoot, that does not mean that the Sound Recordist’s job is redundant or that they can afford to relax on set. Although the sound may never be used, it needs to be recorded cleanly so that the Editor has it should they need it.