Sunday, December 02, 2007

SLOW vs. FAST INTROS



When I was kid we all played in the streets even after dark, every night that is, except the night "Zorro" was on. Then the streets were empty. Little kids were addicted to this show.

At the time I thought the intro was the height of sophistication. Now it seems a bit slow but the all the right elements are there and the arrangement of the music is terrific!

I have to say though, that the guy who put this video up goofed by not putting up the announcer's preamble to the intro. It was accompanied by music (not on this video) that set up the song perfectly. Listening to the song without it, as it is above, is like listening to the Stone's sing "Satisfaction" without the opening guitar statement.


Somebody at Disney's was good at setting up music. Look at the titles to "Davy Crockett" or the "What Makes the Red Man Red?" song in the original LP version of the "Peter Pan" soundtrack, or the "Look, up in the sky, it's a bird..." set-up in the classic "Superman" intro.





Fleischer has my deepest respect for coming up with this triple intro (above). First the look-up-in-the sky intro, then the actual titles with the great music, then the whole superman backstory, which might have repeated in every episode if he'd chosen to do it that way. Very nice! I'm all for long, multiple intros if you have the talent to pull them off! Sometimes the intro is the best part of the show!



These last three clips (above and below) are from "The Twilight Zone." The first two are quick, about 21 seconds, and are masterpieces of compression:









The graphics in the first two versions are much better than in this final one (above) but I still prefer a longer intro like this one from the first season. Why rush into a show that depends on mood and texture as much as The Twilight Zone?

26 comments:

Megan said...

Thanks to Gatochy for bringing me here. Good stuff and I will be visiting regularly so beware...

Donny James said...

Uncle Eddie, welcome to violence. The word and the act. While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, it's favourite mantle stillm remains...sex. Violence devours all it touches, it's voracious appetite rarely fullfilled. Yet violence doesn't only destroy, it creates and molds as well.

Russ meyer made the greatest intros!

Weirdo said...

Awesome. Those "Twilight Zone" intros were fantastic. To me, they always played better in black and white. it makes for better use of shadow and lighting. The "Zorro" intro was also cool. I used to know the entire theme song by heart.

Chris S. said...

You couldn't watch TTZ without the intro - one of the best ever!
I couldn't sleep as a child both because I wanted to stay up and watch The Twilight Zone, and because I watched the Twilight Zone and it scared the hell out of me. It was the most real and memorable live action series I had ever seen and I will always remember the lessons/perspectives that show gave me. Thanks for the post Eddie ... good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Eddie, what is the history of that color "Twilight Zone" intro? Was it done for the later, post-Serling reconstituted version of the show? UPA did the black and white originals of the late 1950's/early 1960's TZ title sequence. That color thing looks like it was done by someone trying hard with Chroma Key to mimic the feel of the real thing.

Anonymous said...

does john like fleischers superman??

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Anon: That color spiral and the rotating skull that succeeds it really suck! I only included it because it came bundled together with the better version.

UPA did the graphics showing the door, eyeball, clock, shattering title, etc.? Wow! Nice work!

Does John like Fleischer's Superman? I think so. Ask him.

Megan: Impressed by books, eh!? Well, you came to the right place!

Chris S. said...

Earlier I said: It was the most real and memorable live action series I had ever seen

I meant: surreal ... I'm always in a hurry when I write comments on my lunch break!!!

>>>That color spiral and the rotating skull that succeeds it really suck!<<<<
AN' HOW! I don't think I've ever seen that intro!

Steven Finch, Attorney At Law said...

No, no, Edward! UPA did the first season intro, with the webs and the cave--the last one you posted!

Incidentally, the version you posted is a remake by some ambitious YouTube user, not the original one. I can't seem to find a copy of the actual opening on YouTube, though.

There's also yet another Twilight Zone opening with a photographic eye morphing into a sun that then sets behind a widening thick, black line.

Anonymous said...

then Id have to get a blog etc. etc. I asked since he tends to rail (correctly) on stuff like superfriends scooby doo anime etc. and Fleischers superman seems like a rare example of good realistic animation

Eric O. Costello said...

I think the choice of Superman #1 as an example of an intro is on-point: it was a highly effective way to bring viewers into the picture regarding the origins of Superman with great economy and interest. After that, you really didn't need the origin angle...but the intro (bird/plane, &c.) stuck, and deservedly so. Of course, Timberg's "Superman March" by no means hurts!

The model sheets for the series are wonderfully done, and the series (at least in its first half or so) was the Fleischer Studio at its very best. In spite of a few oddities in the animation here (Lois' plane taking off, the way the skyscraper moves and twists), the last 2 and 1/2 minutes are slam-bang and one of the best set-pieces you'll see in that era.

Footnote: Carl Stalling managed to sneak in the "Superman March" into one of the Private Snafu cartoons, appropriately, Freleng/Geisel's "Snafuperman."

Marc Deckter said...

Well that settles it - Theory Corner needs an intro too. You could have the clip permanently in your profile, or at the beginning of each post.

And it would have to be like Zorro, with lightning striking in the form of a "U" and an "E".

Chip Butty said...

Pee-Wee's Playhouse and Fraggle Rock's openings really enchanted me when I was little, because the camera would glide through the weird surroundings of those world until finally reaching them - it was like being taken there. The Twilight Zone had kind of a similar device, always by descending from the stars at the start of an episode and then rising back up. And especially in the versions with those odd objects flying past you, or through you...

The Pee-Wee one definitely took it's time. There were two different versions where the camera lazily drifted through a forest and around the playhouse, before reaching the front door where the SECOND opening, the manic theme song, begins!

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Steven: UPA did the first season graphics? Not a bad job. I like the parting mist at the start and the mountain top (volcano top?) at the end.

Marc: Good idea! By the way, I visited your new site the other day and it was great!

Eric: Stalling used the Superman music for a Snafu!? I'll look for it!

Ken Mitchroney said...

" The Time Tunnel" intro did it for me Eddie.
..., " Tony Newman and Doug Phillips, now tumble helplessly toward a new fantastic adventure, along the infinite corridors of time"
Another great spoken intro. I was "so ready" by the time that was said. That and the guys falling into what looked like the "Family Affair" opening title.

I.D.R.C. said...

...Fleischers superman seems like a rare example of good realistic animation

I love them but you can see they had more trouble controlling the faces on the most human-looking characters like Lois and Superman than they ever did with Popeye and such. Any slight deviation from absolutely correct is magnified because we all know exactly what a real human face should look like from almost any angle.

The realistic humans' expressions and movements are also much less engaging. It's sort of inevitable, since real people can't do what cartoon characters can. It's interesting to note that when you confine facial motion to realistic proportions in a cartoon, the characters look relatively lifeless. That indicates to me that it's an artform that demands exaggeration for effectiveness.

They are gorgeous cartoons, and they wisely keep the wooden stuff brief and get to the action.

Whit said...

The Fleischer Supermans were arguably the first theatrical short cartoons wherein layout was as crucial a storytelling tool as animation. Check out the long beginning of "Jungle Drums" in Cabarga's book.

Chris S. said...

>>It's interesting to note that when you confine facial motion to realistic proportions in a cartoon, the characters look relatively lifeless. That indicates to me that it's an artform that demands exaggeration for effectiveness.<<

I always felt that way about rotoscoping (and now with this motion-capture nonsense). No one identified or really liked with the "realistically" animated characters from the old Disney Films - they loved the exzaggerated cartoony ones. And those who don't agree are wrooooong, damn it!!!

Marlo Meekins said...

Eddie, thanks so much for your comment! I always love getting validated from my favorite blog man. And I'm sorry I'm not there to hang out anymore! i miss you guys

Jordan said...

Hey eddie!

A PERFECT contrast of slow vs. fast intros is the show Justice League (bruce timm.)

For the first 2 seasons, it had a very very slow build up as an intro, very majestic and god-like, as if to say "you are about to be transported to a world where gods walk among us, sit back in AWE"
It had ugly CGI though, but anyway:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p81_kAFdyr8


Then the show changed its name to Justice League Unlimited, added 50 new characters, and got a "rockin'" high speed more energetic intro (though it still has a bit of a build in the beginning):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6dF0xYIFsg&feature=related


I like both...I have to admit when the show got really good, the high speed rockin' intro managed to get me excited each week.



-Jordan

Anonymous said...

what do you think of the "uncanny valley theory" Eddie?

http://www.slate.com/id/2102086

Anonymous said...

You'll notice in those Superman cartoons that there are very few incidents where the characters lip movements are seen for an extended period. In many instances, the character speaking is viewed from the back,other times they have the characters engaged in some kind of business where the camera might be focused on their hands. or a character might walk off and complete the dialogue offscreen. rarely do you see the characters just stand and talk, like you see in all the animated shows made for television starting in the mid sixties. That's when cartoons officially went "dead"--who just stands in one pose and speaks? Unless you're reading the news off a teleprompter, no one does.

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Jordan: I don't know. The graphics are well done but I get hung up on the music, which is loungey and unheroic and doesn't fit with the visuals.

Ken: Time Tunnel had a pretty good beginning if I remember right.

Chip: I'm going to look for that beginning! It sounds interesting!

Weirdo said...

You know what, "Zorro" looks better in black and white. Those colrs of the alte fifties were ugly.

I.D.R.C. said...

Pee Wee intro:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=XO7i-5bBZOg

2 1/2 minutes

Eddie Fitzgerald said...

Marlo: We miss you too! Hurry up and wrap up your business there and come back to LA!