The credits shown at the end of a film are usually much different from the ones shown at the start. After the film is over, viewers don’t have any real reason to stay, they’ve got what they paid for. The overhead lights have come on, signaling them to leave.
While most films continue to use the traditional credit roll technique, others have chosen to style their end credit sequences closer in style to opening titles. This maintains the filmmaker’s vision to the very end and gives the audience a little something extra to hang around for after the film.
End Credit Sequences
Traditionally, credit roll movement was created physically by hand. Credits were printed on large rolls of paper and the scroll effect was created by unrolling at constant speed. The movement was then captured by a stable camera. Typically white text is used on black backgrounds as it’s less straining on the eye. It’s important to optimise the display as the motion can also affect the legibility of text.
It’s far easier to focus on the brighter text when compared against a black background and in the darkness of a movie theatre. Obviously the computer has made this technique redundant with many software programs now having built in animation presets such as "crawl" or "roll" that can recreate the effect easily.
Arguably the most recognisable example of this (although used for a different purpose) are the prologues used at the beginning of the Star Wars films. To create this, large versions of the text and background were laid out on the ground and a camera was moved over the passage of text. This gave the impression of perspective movement.
One of the first films to use animated end credits was Around the World in 80 Days. Legendary title designer Saul Bass designed the sequence which is nearly seven minutes long. The images recap the story of the film in a summarised version before finally ending the movie. Traditional style motion graphics are still used in end credit sequences to this day. Pixar in particular have embraced this narrative style in their end sequences. Visually they create an interesting contrast to the 3D animation used in the main film.
The story doesn’t have to be intricately retold though; simply using related imagery can be enough for the viewer to associate it with the film. The continuity can easily be achieved by using the same theme for example. Motion Graphic design now plays a big role in the creation of the unique looking sequences. Cinema goers know what to expect from a credit role. The movement and timing of images is something that can be experimented with to make a more memorable ending. What ever it is though, the most successful end credit sequences find some way of connecting with the film its self. This can be done by basing the sequence on the plot, imagery, theme or even style; they all help to give the impression you’re watching a continuous piece of work.
Remember the purpose of these sequences is to acknowledge those who worked on the film, so presenting this information is the main aim. A balance still needs to be struck between design and presentation. It’s highly unlikely the entire credit list will be displayed in a motion sequence; there will always be some need for the credit roll. It still remains the most effective and efficient way at presenting large lists of information. The best sequences find a way to incorporate credit rolls into the style of the sequence. A strong transition between the moving sequence and the start of the credit roll will help the continuity of the piece. Introducing some level of design to the credit roll will also help make them look unique, even turning them into beautiful works of art in some cases.
Showcase of End Credit Sequences
Other Useful Resources
- The Art of the Title Sequence
- Watch the Titles
- The Art of Film Title Design Throughout Cinema History
- 30 Unforgettable Movie Opening Sequences
- 7 Beautiful Title & Credit Sequence Designs
As the film has finished by the time end credits are rolling, it’s up to the filmmaker whether an elaborate and expensive sequence is required or not. Credits after all are really just a list of textual information. The initial benefit is to create an incentive for the audience to stay, allowing the cast and crew to be acknowledged for their work on the film.
Creative reasons may be considered also. First they can help to maintain the theme or even narrative of the film after its finished. It can provide an opportunity to use a different medium in the design of the film, which in turn can improve the overall the quality. More importantly they can create a much more memorable experience for fans, helping to end the film on a high.
Do you stay for the credits after watching a film? Have you spotted any sequences we’ve missed? What are you’re favourites? As always let us know!