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yU+Co: The Watchmen Titles

NOTE: This title sequence was removed at the request of Warner Bros. I will never understand Hollywood’s approach to free publicity. Persistent souls will still find the titles elsewhere online.

yuco_thewatchmen_01

yU+Co and director Zach Snyder teamed up to create this epic title sequence for the eagerly anticipated “The Watchmen”, which opened in theaters today.

The title sequence sets up the movie by traveling through several stylized time periods beginning in 1939 and ending in 1985. Vintage superheroes take stage as dynamic slow motion and selective movement empower each shot with beauty and intrigue.

From the yU+Co release:

The challenge for yU+co. was integrating titles into an already edited six-minute sequence that was built without the placement of titles in mind. In order to make the titles feel like an organic part of the sequence, Yu and his creative team wove meticulous detail into the type design. Rather then simply lay 2D type onto the foreground of the live action, it is incorporated in 3D into each scene.

According to Director Zach Snyder (via Fandango);

From the very beginning I wanted to do a cool title sequence for the movie and it was actually the thing that got me started drawing Watchmen because they were trying to figure out how much this movie was going to cost. I said it’s really impossible to say until I start drawing the movie and a get a sense of what the movie is…

So I literally went to the beginning of the movie and started drawing. It was funny because I had the music—I was pretty positive that it was going to be Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Then it started to take shape for me as we really find out where we are in the world, and that’s how that sequence came about, tracing the alternate history.

The result is an imagined yet nostalgetic superhero landscape, setting up the film to be, hopefully, as inspired as the title sequence itself.

Posted on 6 March 2009 |

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20 thoughts on “yU+Co: The Watchmen Titles

  1. This was meticulously art directed & beautifully photographed. That said, I have to say it was too long and underwhelming as type design goes. Too beholden to the logo design, IMHO. I do appreciate the pickle they were in, shoehorning the type into a locked sequence. Tough break that shouldn’t have happened on a visually-driven tentpole like this.

  2. I think the cinematics are beautiful and there is a lot of symbolism of pop culture and the novel if you’ve read it. I think its a great piece. As for the first comment of being “easy” to do, I think a comment like that probably only comes from a novice, since the hard part is creating Ideas and stylizations of motion graphics rather than the technical aspects, I also think it shows a misunderstanding of what probably went into a piece like that. To recreate the Kennedy assasination and the moon landing so beautifully is a lot of work and to think of all the minutiae that goes into all those shots is incredible. “easy to do” is a comment for youtube videos by 17 year olds.

    • guess it depends what we are talking about. the post itself seems to only talk about the actual titles that yU+Co did, meaning they didnt have anything at all to do with kennedy, the moon, etc.

      • Agreed. Matchmoving/rotoing slo-mo footage and extruding a little text? Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a beautiful title sequence, but the cinematographer, production designer, and editor deserve a ton of credit for this. That having been said; yes, it’s a pain designing “around” vignettes such as these.

      • Yeah I see that, It just irks me when people look at things from a purely technical view.

        • I did not mean to diss what yU+Co did, they probably did what they where ask to do and they did it well.
          I read the article including yU+Co release notes before I saw the title sequence and my comment was referring to what yU+Co said. They were talking about technicalities so my comment was about technical aspects of the sequence. It was just a statement without judgement.

          • Thats my mistake then, I probably just jumped the gun here, I just hate it when people will judge a piece in terms of its technical merits instead of its artistic ones.

  3. watching this piece in theatre it made a lot more sense than as a standalone quicktime. its not that interesting on its own but within the context and pace of the film both as story points and the slower pace as a setup for the movie itself it seemed to work really well. Also even though it may seem arbitrary it totally sets the tone for the story within the movie i felt like.

  4. I totally agree, it was a way to lay out the background for characters that may not have a history with the audience (unlike Batman or Hulk, etc – we all know who they are). I thought it was a nice storytelling technique.

  5. I visit this site every single day. Then I went on vacation, come back and I miss the quicktime version of Watchmen’s opening. T_T?
    When I saw it in theater it was so beautiful I almost cry.

  6. The opening titles were by far the best part of the whole movie, there was more story telling and continuity in the titles than the following 2.5 hours of feature movie. Just shows how much value good motion graphics design can add to moving pictures.

  7. Damn it! gone from both sources… did anyone grab it when they had a chance? best part of the film hands down. would love to have it in good quality.

  8. I’ve watched Watchmen two or three days ago and I was presented with this ‘cool’ movie title sequence making me think : Wow! The slow motion photography shots with all those historic references, mind blowing. It also raised my expectancies from the movie. (I must refrain myself from posting any spoilers). This piece is legendary. :-)

  9. Creating or working on titles for a high profile film such as Watchmen is great for yU+Co and all involved. As a whole, this title sequence does more than just inform the audience of the key crew / filmmakers, it sets the scene and brings the audience up to date on the backdrop of the Watchmen universe.

    The post on Motionographer is primarily concerned with the typography and 2D/3D work carried out by yU+Co. Sadly this is the most underwhelming part of the Watchmen title sequence and with all the eye’s of the film gong world on this ‘un-filmable’ adaptation, I feel that yU+Co are cashing in somewhat on the hype surrounding Watchmen.

    Plus there seems to be some odd/poor design choices throughout. The most obvious is the text ‘reflected’ in the astronaut’s visor at the end of the sequence. It appears that reflections don’t exist in space; perhaps Dr. Manhattan has altered the law of physics on the moon. For such high profile work, I wonder why this design ‘mistake’ was made. I cannot believe that it was overlooked or accidental. Although I am not a designer it looks odd and incorrect. We’ll probably never know.

    Maybe Warner Bros. took the original post down because they are embarrassed. I would be.

    • alright. you’re right. the most beautiful part of this title sequence is NOT the typography, but it is, more or less, the most relevant item to this blog.

      however, the post does not focus on, nor suggest, yu+co’s titles are what make this amazing. we didn’t write much, but what is written addresses the nostalgia and beauty Snyder, his DP, and the rest of his team achieved with the live portion of this sequence. that said, with what they were given and directed to do, yu+co did an excellent job incorporating the titles into the piece, and that is commendable as well.

  10. Well if we’re not focusing on on Yu+Co’s efforts for this sequence, then why is this post it on Motionographer? This is, after all the home of motion graphics. I’d like to initially say though that Snyder and his team have created a beautifully shot title sequence.

    Sadly though, Yu+Co have not done an ‘excellent job’ in my opinion. They have done an average job both technically and creatively – but that’s generally what happens when graphics have to be retro-fitted into a pre-made title sequence. I’ll say they’ve done an excellent job if I learn they had $50 and an intern student to do this typography.

    If anything, we can sweep the poor typography under the carpet because the visual imagery is so strong. Now I’m not saying typography should compete with title elements – but it should never let the side down either.

    Sometimes, I really feel Motionographer shows a lack of reason when making posts – far too much hyperbole is used.

    • Again, I did not say yU+co’s title’s weren’t relevant, I said they weren’t the most important part of the title sequence. Nevertheless, story driven, artistically rendered moving images, especially with type, are always relevant to the viewers of this site.

      “Sometimes, I really feel Motionographer shows a lack of reason when making posts – far too much hyperbole is used.”

      We go through tremendous screening to ensure the time people spend on Motionographer isn’t wasted on crap projects or irrelevant content.

      Motionographer is a dedicated and diverse team of film, animation, and design enthusiasts, each with a different view of what is and isn’t “good”. Some of us prefer glossy 3D, some graphics, some illustration, others- story driven, artistic title sequences. It’s eclectic, surprising and cool. In the end, our goal and intention remain- to post work that inspires, draws enthusiasm, and encourages discussion.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s always good to discuss the selections, especially if you don’t agree.

  11. /me scratches head

    The type in the sequence fit the type on the cover, so, I mean, not everyone would’ve done it that way… but it made sense to me. (shrug) Though, I’m just nobody. I’ve read reviews on the movie (some people didn’t get it, said you had to read the thing to know what’s going on. I disagreed with that too, but… whatever.) I saw it, I liked it. The title sequence blew me away at first, I thought it was a neat idea. Watching it again, it dulled it down a bit. Not a fan of that shade of yellow, the font, or drop shadow but I got over it. took it for what it was. I’m new to the whole 3D game… But it’s a work of fiction so… any thing’s possible, “mistake” … really?? C’mon… a li’l artistic license can’t trump the laws of physics or what. Bites tongue.

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