Monday, October 29, 2012

Visual Review 8: "Dollhouse" Title Sequence

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"A futuristic laboratory assigns different tasks to its various residents, who then have their memories erased upon the completion of their assignments." (IMDb) This short-lived TV show aired on FOX in 2009 and was created by Joss Whedon.

In the beginning of the title sequence, we are shown a wide shot of a cityscape. Which plays with shadows showing nighttime, and the only source of light coming from windows of the buildings. There is motion blur here with the cars and the lights. Probably a post-shooting effect was added to speed up time.
     Lines are made by the city which shows us linear perspective. The composition of the city doesn't end in this frame, the city goes on as we see the sped up cars going further into or away from the city. The different shots fade out to white and have this flash like effect that brings in the next shot. For the entire sequence, there is this dream-like glow.
     The sequence to this show follows the main character, Eliza Dushku (Echo). We are shown low angles. There are post-shooting editing effects of costume changes within one frame. This symbolizes Echo's (Eliza Dushku's) transformations of different characters and personalities.

The text of the actor's and production team's name are in this small white font that also has a glow/tint to it. I think it fits into the theme of the sequence. The text is also small to make the viewer pay attention to what's happening on screen, that's why the font is also very plain, yet it in all caps. It's very simple.
     There are continuous lines created by the city. Many objects and people are falling through the shots as they go about their lives. The camera lens used for the daytime city shot (Tilt shift) gives us the impression that we are world full of dolls. This wide shot really brings in the color scheme. It blends the colors to this grey/green tone. The colors are soft making it look like everyone is the same, wearing the same thing, but they're not.
     Text not related to production is bracketed as we get a close up of Echo (Dushku). Again, the colors have this grey/green tone and effects were added (after shooting) to make the close up look like a security camera. The red bracketed text ([Active Located], [Active Engaged]--the active being Echo) is the put the viewers into the scenario that these "dolls" can always be found. The red text contrasts against the soft, blended colors to make you notice what it is and to try and dissect what it means.

High angles are also used with this repetitious glow and soft blended touch on normal colors and textures like wood to take us away from reality. Scale appears to also be a repeating element in everything shown. Our eyes are drawn to the center of the frame in most of the shots. The center is also always in focus, where as the edges may have this soft glow that's not as in focus.
     We are taken away from the blended greens for one shot to vibrant greens shown through the trees (still staying with the color scheme). The shadows and light frames, giving the sequence an ethereal quality. The music used throughout the intro also fits in perfectly with what we're seeing and with the dream-like theme. Contrast is given through the color tones and with the red text tracking Echo.

The layout of the ending frame was a deliberate design choice, I think. The circle with 5 points can look like an eye to some viewers, or like a star. It's not quite symmetric but the point at which the objects (eerie beds for the "dolls") are placed is even. Especially the text of the creator's (Joss Whedon) name. The text falls directly in the middle thirds of the screen. Joss Whedon's name is in bold, yet still small. The "Created By" text is even smaller, drawing the eye to the most important text--his name. Again, I think with fans there is recognition that "Oh! We know who Joss Whedon is", so that's all we should focus on. If it were a show by a creator that people have never heard of then I'm sure that the "Created By" text would be larger. Joss Whedon has already established himself as a writer/creator/producer/director so, I don't think it was as necessary to place emphasis on that part.

I thought Dollhouse was a great show. Unfortunately, it got cut before it could really begin.

Sources: Video via Viddler, Images via Pinterest


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