When the great Kyle Cooper spoke at FITC San Fran this past August, he did not disappoint. Kyle Cooper is an American film title designer who is known for his memorable, evocative work. Most notably, he elevated the opening titles to an art form with the film, Se7en in 1995. His work has inspired a younger generation of designers, and to this day, he has produced many more film titles. His story in a nutshell is this: Kyle Cooper studied under Paul Rand at Yale, and decided that he would focus on creating film titles. In 1996, he co-founded the creative agency, Imaginary Forces, which is focused on motion design. Once the agency grew substantially, he left and founded the agency, Prologue, which is where Kyle remains today.

At FITC, Kyle Cooper gave a very inspiring presentation entitled "Others: Content and Creative Community". His presentation offered us a rare glance into his genius; Kyle described his creative philosophy and process. As well, he showcased a few of the title sequences that he has designed.

While Kyle strives to provoke an emotional reaction from the audience, he does not want to reveal too much of the story. His focus remains on creating strong concepts, and tweaking them until they are solid. With Iron Man, he created visual riddles with the typography that allude to the story; this served as a means to connect with the audience. Kyle understands the need to engage an audience; he carefully develops visuals that have relevant, contextual meaning to the rest of the respective film.

These days, we have a plethora of digital tools available that make it easier to create digital pieces. That being said, having more tools does not necessarily equate to better quality work. Analogue forms of content have their own merits. Kyle admitted he had a preference for analogue content—that is, physical objects and handmade effects. Se7en has plenty of these including a hand-drawn alphabet, mishandled negatives, scratches, etc.

His reasoning behind his preference is that analogue content offers much more room for creative exploration. Analogue content can be arranged, rearranged and juxtaposed quickly to establish meaning and tone. It is raw, and there is an authenticity that digital tools may not be able to produce. As a result, analogue content gives way for some interesting experiments, some of which may be happy accidents.

3D animation and effects, on the other hand, don't offer that same luxury, and due to the amount of time that rendering takes, there is much less time (if any) to concentrate on tweaking the concept. Ultimately, it's hard not to argue that using tactile objects in the design offers an extra avenue with which the audience can connect. Kyle's creative process has paid off: With Wimbledon, he mentioned that his sequence was chosen over the work that other studios had created, which was more 3D and effects-heavy. See the opening sequence below:

Kyle Cooper's talk reassured one thing: the best design is concept driven. While technology may offer countless possibilities, it doesn't replace having a solid concept in creating a stunning title sequence that resonates with us. Content is king, and building that community with the "others" is paramount... and Kyle Cooper knows this.

Kyle Cooper/Imaginary Forces documentary (1 of 2)

Kyle Cooper/Imaginary Forces documentary (2 of 2)

Demo Reel 2006

For more information about Kyle Cooper visit:

About the Author

My name is Janet Cordahi and I’m a Toronto-based visual designer who loves to explore new ways of approaching different design challenges in this digital playground. I specialize in creating original solutions via motion graphics, print and web. For more information about Janet visit http://eccentricity.net/ or follow her tweets at http://twitter.com/janetyelplanety

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