It’s been said before: the success of the retro-style animated opening titles for Catch Me If You Can fuelled a renewed interest in stylish animated title sequences. Down with Love and a several other films from 2002 and 2003 were all inspired by genre films from the 1950s and 1960s. (Deborah Allison wrote an informed article about this subject called Catch Me If You Can, Auto Focus, Far From Heaven and the Art of Retro Title Sequences.
Title designer Simon Cassels: “Down with Love was a homage to the romantic sex comedies of the 1960s, films like ‘Pillow Talk’ and ‘Lover Come Back’ with Doris Day and Rock Hudson, which are worth a lazy Sunday viewing.”
Cassels: “In the initial meeting with Peyton [the director] we talked about creating an opening sequence in the tradition of the animated opening titles of the early 1960s film and television series by Saul Bass, Maurice Binder and Pablo Ferra. This is when the Art of Film Title Design had really found its ground, so what a place to draw our reference from. The research on this project uncovered some gems and gave us a hint of the design and nostalgia that we needed to capture in our sequence. These creative titles were always intended as a vehicle to help set the tone and introduce the audience to the film, setting the scene before the first scene.”
“The animation was a mix of After Effects and Maya and traditional hand drawn animation. The final compositing was done in Shake,” explains Cassels. “The boarding of the job was by far the most time consuming and difficult aspect of the process. Once we had that down and cut together, it was just a matter of putting the pieces of the jigsaw together. We had a click track to work the animation from, and we used this to cut the story board, so we had a good indication of timings. We had a lot of lead time, which is unusual in title design, but always leads to the best results. Those student days of leaving everything to the last minute really doesn’t work anymore. If I can offer one piece of advice apart from to “wear sunscreen” is: Don’t rush anything.”
Having a great score to work to – composed my Mark Shaiman who I recently worked with on the main title for Hairspray – was a great experience. Having great music always helps in creating a great animated sequence. I loved working with Peyton. He was hands on in a really good way, offering insightful comments on the work we were doing for him. One of my greatest moments was having the sequence written up in the New Yorker The opening credits of “down with Love” are a thing of beauty.
The ongoing collaboration between Simon Cassels and Justin Blampied started at the Design and Communication course at the Camberwell College of Arts in London, UK, where they were both studying at the time. After college they started a Motion Graphics company called Robot.
Cassels: “The reel we built in England got us spotted by Asylum and Bob Dawson – an amazing title designer who was both a mentor and inspiration for us. We came to America to work with him on Tim Burton’s ‘Planet of the Apes’ and I have continued to work with him since then … Justin recently moved back to the UK but we still find occasion to work together when we can.”
Article: Remco Vlaanderen, © Submarine Channel, 10 October 2008.
Year of production
About Simon Cassels
Simon Cassels designed main and end title sequences for movies such as xXx, Austin Powers in Goldmember, Transformers, Down with Love, Bedtime Stories, and over a dozen more. He currently works as a creative director at Asylum Visual Effects where he directs design-based commercials and feature film work.
Simon Cassels & Justin Blampied/Asylum VFX
Maximilian Graenitz, Jane Poole,
Production companies (Film)
Fox 2000 Pictures, Regency Enterprises, Jinks/Cohen Company, Mediastream III, Epsilon Motion Pictures