The X-Files

The title sequence of any film is crucial to engage the audience all while trying to  demonstrate how the story will play out. I chose to look at The X-Files’ title sequence. In short, this nine season, sci-fi fi show that is about two FBI agents that investigate unsolved cases of paranormal activity. One of the agents, Fox Mulder, believes in aliens and other sorts of paranormal activity. The other agent, Dana Scully, is a skeptical past medical doctor. Keeping this in mind, design elements such as lighting, sound and typography in the title sequence help tie everything together to complete the show.

The X-Files are the epitome of science fiction and uses these kinds of design elements to their advantage for the title sequence. As an avid watcher of the show, what always catches me first is the use of sounds. In the background, the title sequence has a whistle tone that is spooky, yet engaging. Without the sound it would not make as much sense. Its slow at some parts and fast others. There are low pitched sounds and high pitched sounds to add to the mystery. It is very unease but just the right amount to keep the audience wanting to watch more.

Another key element that accompanies the sound is the element of light. Being a science fiction show, it is expected to see darkness, shadows and cool colors. The title sequence has blue tones, almost not vibrant or calm colors. Instead it utilizes these cool and dark colors to communicate mystery and a little bit of fear. The cases these two agents are working are not light work and can be scary at times. The very first thing the audience sees is “THE X-FILES” with a wandering light in the back, resembling an alien spaceship. This element helps communicate that idea of uncertainty. However the show pushes the idea of the existence of aliens and due to the blurriness of the light, and in this way helps that because it is just clear enough to recognize this light as a space ship. It is not satirical, so no vibrant colors would fit and the cases are certainly not in a happy light. Motifs like the space ship, hand and person also are incorporated in this because they are not well lit or clearly visible. The spaceship is blurry and has vignette surrounding it. The hand is an imprint with a certain part light up. Additionally, the white character is also not well and is also a mystery element as the lighting saturates them instead of illuminating the figure. All in all the lighting in the title sequence either is too dark or is too light, both causing the viewer to be unable to clearly see what they are looking at. Mystery, fear, and ominous feelings arise with this combination of lighting and sound.

To wrap everything together, the text and typography are the last puzzle piece for the title sequence to truly do the show justice. The text is there to communicate ideas and to help introduce the characters and actors for those characters. The first text that is shown is the title of the show. There is an circle surround the X which illustrates the emphasis on how paranormal and unsolved the cases are. There is also a big X behind the extra spaced title. Acting like sort of a shadow, it is almost haunting. Next however, is “PARANORMAL ACTIVITY” because it is the main idea of the show. Even the objects surrounding it is very paranormal and uneasy. This is an example of how it can communicate the overall main idea. Next, are the introductions of the characters and actors. The title sequence does a good job to show the two as the forefront text says the actors names. The background in a showing of the agents badges, looking very professional and fitting to the storyline. It is in a classic font that are usually on badges to demonstrate the reality of it all. Finally, a motif throughout the show is “THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE.” It is in the center and mainly the only thing there to clearly communicate how important it is. All caps also influence the importance of this saying and has stuck with the show throughout all nine seasons. Even order applies here as it leaves the best for last. Main ideas first, supporting ideas throughout the middle.

The title sequence is a stable for The X-Files and is very well known. This is because of the effectiveness of the elements of design that are used to help really show the film off to the audience. Although the title sequence has changed throughout the seasons for a variety of reasons, these key elements have stuck to keep the ambiance of the overall show.