A Tribute to Bass

The Academy Awards are this Sunday. In an effort not to make this post about baseball or the movie Moneyball (clearly the best movie of the year even though it included Brad Pitt), I will avoid any additional references. Instead I’ll write about something new and old. Over two years ago Paul wrote a post about his Affair with Movie Title Sequences. I was reminded of his post when I came across a link to a new website dedicated to the work of Saul Bass. Paul doesn’t have a website dedicated to his work.

In that post Paul stated that “One of the most famous title sequence designers was Saul Bass, a graphic designer and film maker who died in 1996. His work influenced (and continues to influence) a generation of designers (you’ll certainly see his influence in the Catch Me if You Can title sequence).” In an effort not to make this post about Star Wars I won’t make any additional references about the Bass tribute Star Wars title sequence. (You can see the video in Paul’s post.) Bass’ influence can be seen in movies and graphic design elements everywhere from the original AT&T logo to the Girl Scouts logo today. See if you recognize any of these others.

The website I mentioned above is an online archive of Bass’ work. Web designer Christian Annyas is created the web-page. She goes on to say, “I’ve seen a lot of movies over the years. To prove I’ve sat through at least the first ten minutes of them I started making screenshots of the titles. Then my computer crashed and I almost lost them all. To save them for future generations I created this little website.” I love it when people gives back to the greater good. It’s also an interesting way to self promote. Not that we would know anything about that. Annyas has also created an online database of other title sequences as well.

At the very least it is a great place to waste some time. As far as the Academy Awards go, I’m pulling for Brad.


Logo Abuse

I have wasted too much brain space on pop-culture factoids. I have always been fascinated with elements of pop-culture. It probably has something to do with me primarily living outside pop-culture trends and my late-80s Dungeons and Dragons expertise. I have even been dubbed by one IBD reader as the “trend-guru.” I’m not sure if that is a compliment to me, an insult to Paul, or some sort of club that I unintentionally joined that has been charging $14.99 a month to my credit card. I like the idea of staying current, and I especially find it gratifying when I see something in popular culture that relates to my work or passions. 

A couple weeks back, I was really excited to watch the Academy Awards. Not because of the red carpet, a movie that made me cry that will go unnamed, or seeing what typeface the larger than life letterforms on the stage are set in, but because of a movie where design was at the premise behind the film.  The short film Logorama was up for Best Animated Short Film. Some of you may remember my post on the film Helvetica (by some of you I mean Paul) where I mentioned that “the 2007 release Helvetica brings recognition to a typeface that was created not to be noticed.” That’s right I just quoted myself.

The short film Logorama won Best Short Animated Film. If Helvetica was created to go unnoticed then the logos featured in Logorama were created to get noticed. The 16 minute French animated film does an excellent job of highlighting logos by taking them out of their context and pretty much abusing them. This is no different from me trying out for the football team as a freshman in high school.

Logorama deservingly won the Oscar.  It is worth watching from a design standpoint. Every time I watch it another logo stands out to me that I didn’t notice previously. It is amazing how many logos are involved in the film and it is great fun to see how many you can count. No wonder I didn’t make the football team. I have to give a disclaimer here, as much as I enjoy the artistic approach to the animated logos some of the content, violence, and language in the film is for adult audiences (not that kind of adult). Based on the amount of Disney films shown in my house, I was a little taken back by some of the violence and language especially coming from Ronald McDonald. You could mute the movie and just watch the visual scenery (the best part), download the French version to learn words they never taught you in French class, or make up your own story and act out the parts in funny voices. Really, no wonder I was the manager for the tennis team. Logorama can be downloaded for $1.99 on iTunes.

I also hope that in 2011 that another design-type movie is nominated for an Academy Award. I have yet to see it but based on the title alone, it’s awesome. Typeface the movie has to be great. Everything that I have heard about it echoes my enthusiasm, but I do have a small circle of friends. In a world of digital design Typeface focuses on a Wisconsin print shop where layout and design is still one element at a time.

From what I have read the Hamilton Print Shop and Museum is similar to Hatch Show Print Co. in Nashville, Tennessee. Some of you may remember my post on Hatch (by some of you I mean Paul, who am I kidding even Paul doesn’t remember that one) where I mentioned that “Hatch Show Print Co. is in operation today using the letterpress process in a world of desktop publishing, offset printing and computer processing.” Okay, two quotes from me, by me, is even too much for me in one post. The film is currently available in limited screenings but I hope to offer a full review in a future post. The film has a great website with the story of the movie, photos, video, and store. A DVD of Typeface is scheduled to be available later this spring.

Now I’ve got to explain to my wife how I failed to notice three months of $14.99 charges on the credit card to dnd.meetup.com.