Life intervened, and my career took a different path. While I watched the industry from afar, I saw the techniques I learned in college become obsolete or outdated.
Three decades later, I have an opportunity (through the good graces of the Rhode Island School of Design) to catch up on some of the widgetry that's replaced the old kinescopes and editing benches of my undergraduate days. I'm taking a course in Adobe After Effects techniques that seems to marry what I used to know with what I don't know now.
My first homework assignment for After Effects was an open-ended project: I could choose any opening credits sequence from a film or television show, and "re-imagine" the sequence in whatever way I'd like. The only restriction was that I needed to use three of the After Effects techniques I had learned in class dealing with opacity, scale, and position of image layers.
I chose to remake the title sequence of what is undoubtedly my favorite film: director William Wyler's 1946 classic, The Best Years of Our Lives. Although the movie was beautifully filmed by cinematographer Gregg Toland, the opening credits were dull, static title cards dissolving into each other.
The Best Years of Our Lives was a story about soldiers, sailors, and airmen returning to civilian life after their struggle for survival through World War II. Audiences of 1946 knew that struggle intimately in their own lives, so there was no need at the time to portray that struggle on screen. Seventy years have put a lot of distance between us and that incredible time, so I thought I would try to show a few moments of that global battle as the credits appeared. Here's my attempt at condensing years of history into a minute and seventeen seconds:
(Apparently Youtube isn't going to let me upload this video correctly, so you'll just have to click the link. Sorry!)