Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Up All Night with Alfred Hitchcock
Yes, children, it’s that time again! The Art Institute of Phoenix is staging another Up All Night party this Friday, 20 March 2009. Wayne and Laura in the AIPX Library Film Committee encouraged me to design a poster to advertise the big Hitchcock double-feature, AIPX Reel Inspiration presents North by Northwest at 10:15 PM & PSYCHO at 12:45 AM.
Isak Artzi asked if I’d give a description of how I made the image, so here’s the story:
Initially we wanted to have a triple-feature: North by Northwest+Vertigo+PSYCHO.
The first image that entered my head was a rusty-metal/ industrial render of the famous Hitchcock profile as used on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television series of the late ‘50’s/ early ‘60’s, inside which sat a colour photograph of a human brain atop the spinal cord. The brain would be cut into three pie-slices, each slice bearing one of the films titles scrawled in lipstick or nail polish.
I then thought of a simpler approach, with three identically-sized Hitchcock silhouettes projected through three lenses in yellow, cyan and magenta overlapping each other, with the titles coloured likewise.
I decided against these ideas because, gee-whiz, that profile / silhouette imagery has been used a bit much over the years and I didn’t want to be quite so obvious.
I don’t know where the idea came from to depict Hitchcock shooting pool, but next thing I knew I was drawing the director lining up a combination shot with a 3-ball aimed at three balls painted with the titles of the three films. Then came the word that we would only have enough time to show two, so I changed the 3-ball to a 2-ball and deleted VERTIGO from the trio.
I drew the whole illustration on a standard-issue WACOM tablet checked out from the video cage, with the Standard brush tool set between 9px & 20px (depending on the desired line thicknesses). Shape Dynamics and Smoothing were in the ON position. I worked in Photoshop CS4, mostly on the 308-06 & 307-01 workstations. I also used CS3 on pc Laptop #03 between 6 and 10 pm on the evening of March 10th. Any number of witnesses can verify my whereabouts on that evening.
When it comes to drawing with the pen tool, Photoshop is Photoshop. Adobe adds some new features to the Photoshop package every year, but drawing has remained pretty much the same for the ten years I’ve been using the program.
For the colours I did not want to use anything obviously associated with Hitchcock. However, I wanted a touch of “PSYCHO”, so I picked my palette from Van Gough’s psilocybin pool parlour. Many people say they remember PSYCHO in colour, although the film is black-and-white!
The Print Bureau did a marvellous job printing the poster six feet tall. Now if we can only find a frame to fit!
Probably not many people know that Alfred Hitchcock began his film career designing titles, and his continuing choice of outstanding, award-winning title sequences for his films bears this out. Saul Bass’s animated title for North by Northwest is thought to be the very first use of kinetic, moving type in the movies. PSYCHO is great titling too. Not to mention all the vintage footage of downtown Phoenix, Arizona in 1960!
Happy St Patrick’s Day, Mr Hitchcock, wherever you are.