Saul Bass is one of the most famous artists and trendsetters in the world of motion media and design. Bass has created numerous logos for such famous companies as Kleenex, Bell, and AT&T. These logos became well-known due to their minimal designs, which were quite memorable and sophisticated. The semantic context of these logos was simplified into basic geometric forms; hence, it was easy to understand what products or services are provided by the company just by looking at the logo (Horak, 2014, p. 133).
However, Saul Bass is known not only because of the logos he created but because he changed the motion graphics. He began his career by creating movie posters, and filmmakers have noticed this talented person quite fast. As a result, Saul Bass was invited to design the title credits for different movies. It should be noted that before Bass started his career, title credits were boring static, and not everyone considered them useless. Therefore, credits were usually not even shown to people watching a movie and were projected onto the closed curtains, which would only open for the first official movie scene (Bigman, 2012). Everything changed when Bass started to turn credits into graphic masterpieces full of inner meaning, aesthetics, and interesting design solutions.
Saul Bass’s Opening Credits
Movies with credits created by Bass were delivered to movie theaters with a note to the projectionist asking to pull the curtain before titles. It changed the world of cinematography and provided numerous possibilities for experimentation for Bass and other artists.
Title credits designed by Saul Bass became so well-known because they aligned with the theme and mood of the movie. If it was a comedy, Bass created a relaxing and fun atmosphere; however, if it was a horror movie, Bass made viewers feel the suspense and thrill (Horak, 2014, p. 77).
Saul Bass and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
For instance, the credit sequence created by Bass for the comedy movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” The main idea of this sequence is to use the symbol of the world and to turn it into different objects, which would symbolize the “mad world.” The symbol is turned into a parachute, balloon, ping-pong ball, egg, and other objects (Horak, 2014, p. 125). All the transformations are made in a quite unexpected ways, and it is quite difficult to predict what is going to happen with a “mad world” symbol.
The camera in this title sequence is focused on the ball almost all the time, which is put into the center of the screen. The symbol is also chopped, sawed, flapped, and cracked, making the credit sequence look quite dynamic. Apparently, Bass wanted to make viewers understand that the movie they were going to see would be entertaining, fun, and dynamic. Bass paid a lot of attention to the music to ensure that it aligned with the title sequence. Thus, the title sequence for this comedy movie is accompanied by music, creating a mood of joy and fun. It reminds us of the music that is often used during performances in the circus. Thus, every person could easily understand that numerous funny things will happen from the beginning until the end of the movie.
Saul Bass and Psycho
Bass was professional because he could make the title sequence align with any movie of any genre. When Bass created a credit sequence for Hitchcock’s “Psycho,” he made a credit sequence that was quite disturbing and even terrifying. He used bars appearing at different speeds, lengths, and colors to make the viewer feel disturbed. Only simple geometric objects were used in this title sequence, and still, their combination, symbolism, and inner meaning are astonishing.
The music was also quite disturbing, with high-pitched sounds and a fast tempo. Some bars symbolized cues coming together without offering a solution (Bass & Kirkham, 2012). While the title sequence seems to be quite simplistic, it creates a unique atmosphere of horror. Part of the credits appeared on different bars and could be readable when the bars were in alignment. Credits for this movie made people feel that this is not just a horror movie but has an interesting plot with detective elements.
All the facts described above clearly indicate that Bass changed the world of movies by making the credit sequence look interesting to a viewer. Instead of making credits that are not interesting and literary useless, Bass turned them into art. This talented artist used associative thinking of viewers by giving them cues of what is going to happen in the movie. Obviously, an impressive credit sequence can make the viewer’s feelings brighter and can serve various purposes, such as creating a needed atmosphere or making the viewer become focused on what is happening on the screen before the movie starts. His contribution to the development of motion graphics and cinematography is significant, and his title sequences can be considered movies within movies.