How to recreate the original title card from “The Thing” completely in-camera

Sep 24, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to recreate the original title card from “The Thing” completely in-camera

Sep 24, 2020

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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The Thing is arguably one of sci-fi’s finest masterpieces, of that there is no doubt. Released in 1982, its creators didn’t have access to even the most modest of modern CG tools that can run on just about everybody’s desktop or laptop computer today. They had to do things practically. For real. In-camera.

Amongst those things shot practically is the initial opening title sequence. After initially seeing a ship hurtling towards the earth, the words “THE THING” are burned into the screen. But how exactly was it done? In this video, Tommy and the team at InCamera walk us through a recreation, sticking as closely to the original techniques as possible.

For comparison, here’s the original opening title sequence for The Thing from 1982.

YouTube video

The entire InCamera YouTube channel, as the name suggests, is centred around doing visual effects in-camera rather than on the computer – and they have a video coming soon for the other part of The Thing’s intro sequence showing the Earth – and while it’s a fairly new channel, it’s kicked off with some promising content.

In the case of this particular title, we’re walked through the process of how they recreated it, the experiments they performed to test different methods, and how you can adapt the process to create it for yourself at home. Although, they set fire to some plastic bags to recreate that literal burn-on effect from the original sequence. So, if you’re going to give it a go, do it in a well-ventilated area. And, naturally, you do so at your own risk.

Even if you don’t have a go at recreating this title in its entirety, the video mentions some very cool in-camera tricks you can try out safely. Without having to set fire to anything!

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “How to recreate the original title card from “The Thing” completely in-camera”

  1. udi tirosh Avatar
    udi tirosh

    I love it! Just goes to show how passion > cgi budget. Not that I’m a purist, but it’s fun to see how problems are solved without computer magic