24 Hour Party People

24 Hour Party People, a film that follows the British record label, Factory Records, and the fonder, Tony Wilson, highlights the fall of the punk era into the rise of the rave and electronic culture that sparked in the 90’s in Manchester. The opening title sequence is a highly chaotic, eccentric, and vibrant 2 minutes that reflects the aesthetic and atmosphere of the time. While the sequence was created in 2002, decades after the movement that is dramatized in the film, it manages to capture the essence of art and design in the specific sub culture. This is probably due to the fact that the aesthetic face of Factory Records was the same team that designed the opening sequence. Drawing from their work with the record label creating album covers for the signed bands, Central Station Design was contracted to create the opening for Michael Winterbottom’s film.

 

The opening sequence is quite busy and hard to break down and analyze, but the systematic mayhem is a successful provocative sequence that prefaces the film. Central Station Design created the sequence by taking their personal footage of the time, converting them to 35mm photograph stills, and hand painting the content on top of the images. In an interview with Lola Landekic with Art of the Title, Sam Carrol stated that “moving image to [them] was an opportunity to extend [their] comfort zone beyond 2D design- towards creating 24 pieces of artwork a second.”  Each frame was hand painted and manipulated, becoming its own piece of art work and then assembled into a 2-minute sequence. This made the sequence appear jittery and jumpy as no two frames were the same. However, this effect added to the chaos of the desired aesthetic and made the sequence highly unique.

 

All of the visual elements used in conjunction for the opening title establish a distinct visual quality, but the first one to be addressed is Typography. All of the text in the sequence are hand painted letter forms and there were two distinct styles. The first style being a cutout style text, where the letterforms were void of color and the paint was used as the border, utilizing the negative space of the text. The second style being plainly painted text with no borders. As a whole, the typography was never truly centered and seemingly bounced around the frame as it changed in color. Most of the text is visually hard to read, making it more decorative and an art direction than a case for legibility. However, the text has clarity when the name of the film, 24 Hour Party People, appears. This segways into the use of sound in the sequence.

 

The opening sequence is set to a song by the Happy Monday’s, a band signed to Factory Records and characters in the film, called “24 Hour Party People”. The tune adds to the alternative mood of the painted frames. Towards the end of the sequence, the words of the song align with the type, spelling out the title of the film. This quality is the most classic part of the sequence as most opening titles clearly present the title of the film and the actors names.

 

Moving onto the use of color in the sequence, it is safe to say that the colors usage is highly rebellious and reflective of the distressed, bleached aesthetic of Central Station Design. The paint used on the frames are very vivid colors and the frames often switch from very bright, high intensity with a cool tone paint to a darker, low intensity footage with almost neon colored paint. Aside from the type, organic paint splotches and distressed lines appear throughout the sequences and add to the hand-made appearance. The design team coined their style as “sophisticated punk”, this is the best way to describe the whole aesthetic of the opening sequence.

 

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Works Citied

 

“Artwork.” ©CENTRAL STATION ART, www.centralstationart.com/.

“The Factory Records Catalogue.” Factory Records: CENTRAL STATION DESIGN, factoryrecords.org/central-station-design.php.

Landekic, Lola. “24 Hour Party People.” Art of the Title, 21 Oct. 2014, www.artofthetitle.com/title/24-hour-party-people/.

Roy, Alex J, director. 24 Hour Party People Intro CreditsYouTube, 2002, www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3H9Rnj5ieQ.