Hollow Man (2000)

Director: Paul Verhoeven

Title design company: Picture Mill

The sequence: Three-dimensional floating letters continuously reassemble themselves to form credits. The view appears microscopic, with random clustered geometric forms floating about.

The process: What creative director William Lebeda calls a near-perfect experience. The film was almost complete, and the Picture Mill team sat through a nearly final cut—with an empty space where the titles would go. According to Lebeda, Verhoeven said, “That’s your space to fill.”

“He cut us loose,” says Lebeda. The sequence they came up with “gives glimpses of things that are revealed. You see what you don’t see.” Perfect for a film about an invisible man.

Panic Room (2002)

Director: David Fincher

Title design company: Picture Mill

The sequence: Giant, 3-D credits hover ominously over New York City. The letters achieve a sense of menace because of their scale and the uncanny natural appearance of the type, which somehow manages to look as if it actually belongs within the skyline’s achitecture.

The process: According to Lebeda, director David Fincher “had a vague notion he wanted to be outside.” Much of the film itself takes place in a tiny space. The vastness of the skyline and the enormity of the type conspire to set up spatial discomfort. An inspired transition for a movie that includes a mother and daughter’s desperate, claustrophobic fight with home invaders.

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Director: Ang Lee

Title design company: yU+co

The sequence: The film’s name emerges against morning light on mountains. The title disappears. A truck, tiny in the frame, drives into view. It’s that simple—and it’s effective.

“Some people might just think that it is type over the mountains,” says Garson Yu, creative director of yU+co. “But there was much to it.” The perfect example of a title seamlessly blending into a film, particularly a film where landscape, isolation and encroachment play such prominent roles. It’s worth remembering that sometimes less is really more.

300 (2007)

Director: Zack Snyder

Title design company: yU+co

The sequence: Lightning illuminated titles. “Probably the quickest titles ever,” says Yu. The main end titles memorably employ 3-D blood splashed upon 2-D images to provide a clear link to the source material of Frank Miller’s graphic novel.

The creative process was unusual in that Yu worked with Snyder’s team from start to finish, including work for the project’s initial pitch.

Snyder himself has explained his appreciation of the titles as an integral part of a film: “I look at title sequences as part of the movie, not just as a way to get people’s names up on the screen.”