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The Column icon The Column: Issue 60

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The Column is a monthly feature that explores the world of creativity and aesthetics.

Creative Credits
Mike de Sousa, Director, AbleStable

Do you stay for the end credits when you go to the movies or are you one of the majority that gets up and leaves as soon as the last scene fades from view? Perhaps your take of the credits is an endless list of names that are primarily for the benefit of industry insiders. There are however good reasons why you should stay those few minutes more after the movie comes to a close.

Rolling Credits

Credits acknowledge those who have worked on a movie, game, multimedia, or performance production and take the form of a list of contributors. Credits are usually restricted to the entertainment world and are not generally associated with commercial products, however consol games and some software companies also credit those who have developed their products after the closing sequence or on the "About" window. On the occasion when an advertising campaign for a commercial product is critically acclaimed, credit is given to those involved, for example, The Cog Honda campaign.

End movie and consol game credits recognize all those who have worked on the project. In the case of a movie they present the names of the writer, director, cinematographer, editor, composer, actors, and the production company and staff. In contrast, the opening credits are usually limited to listing the major cast members and core creative team and often forms part of the title sequence. On occasion the movie begins without any opening credits other than the production company and movie's title (eg Citizen Kane).

Movie Credits

Movie credits are generally divided into two: creative and production.

Creative credits: writers; directors; editors; producers; cast; production designers; composers; casting directors; cinematographers; sound track recording; artists and illustrators etc.

Production credits: location rentals; building sets; purchasing or renting equipment; props building; film stock and processing; optical and special effects; stunt staff etc.

The opening credits usually list the core creative and production efforts in the following order:

Sound Processing (Dolby, Lucasfilm THX etc.)
Name of the studio (Paramount, Universal, etc.)
Name of the production company (20th Century Fox, Warner Bros.)
Investment group usually credited as "in association with."
Director's first credit, usually "a film by [your name]," or "a [your name] film."
The stars
The film's title
The featured actors
The key production staff (editor, casting director, composer of music, production designer, director of photography, costume designer)
Writers (in the US only three writing credits on a feature film are permitted)
The Director (always the final credit in the opening credits). The Directors Guild of America permits a film to list only one director, even when it is known that two or more worked on it.

The closing credits now generally feature a full list of all who have worked on the movie, however in years gone by the opening credits were more comprehensive with the closing credits only listing the main cast.

Game Credits

Gaming has much in common with movie making and is following the convention of crediting all those involved in the production. The list of game credits includes the following:

Production Company
Level Design
Office Manager
IT Support
Technical Director
Audio Director
Sound Designer
Voice Talent
Voice Recording Engineer
Original Music
Network Manager
General Manager
Test Manager
International Development

The essential difference between movies and consol games is that the movie does not invite interaction. The audience's relationship with the images and sound defines the movie which is a time constrained art form. Movies are emotive, immersive, and require a meeting of the heart and mind. In contrast games can be played over an extended period of time and are defined by the interactive relationship between the player and the game media. At present, the focus of game developers is to provide a challenging and stimulating problem for the player to overcome, rather than develop materials that are primarily emotive and thought provoking.

Why Stay For The Credits?

Movie credits not only allow the viewer to note who was involved in the making of it, they provide a valuable period to reflect on the experience of the movie and encourage the audience to drift back to the real world.

This "stage of recovery" is important. The mind has a tendency to easily forget without a process of reflection. As I stay in my seat listening to the music and watch the credits roll, fragments of scenes from the movie I have just seen replay in my head. If the movie made me feel and think, I ask myself how and why. Giving myself space allows me to better understand and appreciate the strengths or weaknesses of the movie. For a movie that has done its job well, staying for the credits allows my emotions to calm, and my mind to further ponder on my attitudes about the characters, plot, and events that unfolded.

Closing Credit Music

The music that plays during the closing credits also stimulates my memory and thoughts. I may associate fragments of music with a short term memory of something I witnessed a short time before. Great movies have great music, and the composer has written music that continues my experience towards an aesthetic closure. I feel differently when I stay and listen to the final sound fade from view. I am often the only one to remain in my seat, fully exposed to the complete movie experience.

If the end credits includes a song (often used as a promotional devise), that too can help one consider issues, characters, or events in the movie from a different perspective. The more I search, the more I gain.

If I leave my seat before the credits roll, I loose all this, and it is not possible to recover this experience at a later date. The first time you view a movie is the only first time. Seeing the movie for a second or third time is a different experience. Seeing the movie on DVD is a different experience. These are not better or worse experiences, but they are not the same as staying in your seat during the first viewing.

In Closing

On occasion movies feature a post-credits scene. The Mission for example has a short but crucial scene where, with a single look, Cardinal Altamirano invites the audience to consider their present attitudes towards what they have just witnessed. The timing of this scene is crucial as it occurs after a long period when the audience has had time to ponder on the epic tale they witnessed moments before.

Many however rush from one experience to the next in a never ending journey of sensation. TV companies spin the credits to movies ever faster, reduce them to such a small size so as to be meaningless, voice over them with words and images, presenting them as subservient to the promotion of another show that competes for our attention. This desperate desire to grab our attention distracts us from choosing a path that will otherwise enrich our experience.

Next time you see a movie, I urge you to stay for the end credits. Read a few, listen to the music, think about what has gone before, and let the images, sounds and events of the previous ninety minutes or so flow over you. Don't follow the crowd. Stay, enjoy, and find something precious that you will otherwise leave behind forever...


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Authors background
Mike de Sousa is the Director of AbleStable®. Mike has been commissioned as an artist, music composer, photographer, print and web site designer, and author. Mike is also the Creative Director of 2BrightSparks, a software company.

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