'Panic Room' Question: New Yorkers needed

Florian Hardwig's picture

a friend of mine is writing an article about movie title sequences.
He has a question concerning the famous typographic one from ‘Panic Room’, that might best be answered by locals, or people being familiar with New York City.

Where exactly are the places shown in the opening credits? Is their sequence a logical one – like a flight through the city, along a certain line? Or is the camera rather randomly jumping from some location to the other?

Here are 22 stills from the sequence, in order of appearance.

Thank you very much for your help!
[Bonus points if you can correctly identify Copperplate Gothic. :-)]























Florian Hardwig's picture

I start myself: 11 is Times Square, right?

elliot100's picture

I don't know New York very well, but yes they appear to be on a route or in a small area.

4 is zoomed into the right centre of 3

9, 10, 11 all feature Times Square

The building in 13 appears to be that in 12

19 appears to be on the edge of Central Park in 20

David Rault's picture

I'm pretty sure they do not have a logic progression, you jump from upper east side to financial district to times square to central park... I think they are just randomly showing buidlings and iconic views of new york in a purely aesthetic way, in order to place the typeface the way they wanted to. these credits are very nice by the way, they actually appear in my upcoming book at the copperplate chapter. and I happen to have myself a very nice and big book about opening credits, which was released a short time ago; i dont have the title here, but maybe your pal should take a look, not to do the same one.


Linda Cunningham's picture

19 is the Plaza Hotel, which is on the SE corner of Central Park, in fact.

20 is Sheep Meadow in CP, looking SW

15 is midtown, as the Chrysler Building is centre left.

14 is St. Patrick's Cathedral (Fifth Ave and 51 St.)

3 is the Wall Street area

2 is down near City Hall

So yes, it's pretty much a N-S trip over Manhattan.

pattyfab's picture

3 is the Municipal Building (foot of the Brooklyn Bridge); 4 detail of same

the building on the left in 6 looks like the Puck building which would mean it is the corner of Houston and Lafayette

9, 10 and 11 definitely Times Square

14 is the back of St. Pats, which means it's Madison Ave. I used to work in the building at the upper right!

19 looks to me like the Dakota, not the Plaza (same architect)

The last two are either CPW, 5th Ave, or Central Park South - you can see the park wall at left.

I think some of these look like CGI composites, though.

Mark Simonson's picture

I was going to say the Dakota for 19, too.

David Rault's picture

from the website of the company who did the opening sequence:

"Panic Room’s slow moving, aerial opening title sequence features dramatic architectural shots above New York City. “The titles themselves are constructed and fit so that they appear to be real and near but not attached to building facades,” says CafeFX artist Akira Orikasa. “It was important to light and composite them so that the light shining on each title matches the lighting in the scene.”

“We balanced photo-realism with readability, and to give the titles a sense of weight, we worked on font selection, avoided redundancy in plate selection and, especially, created a lighting pattern that insured that the light shining on the titles captured and reflected the light behind, below, and around it,” Orikasa explains. CafeFX employed Lightwave's radiosity rendering application to capture diffused lighting and color from the environment, and add a "weighty" dimensionality to the titles.

Camera movement in the titles was captured, in part, using a method called Photogrammetry.  "(Director) David Fincher shot background plates of the city, then he wanted to alter the camera motion,” Orikasa explains. “We had to create 3D camera motion that did not exist in the real footage. Photogrammetry allows you to move a virtual camera freely by taking a still image--in this case from the architecture photo stills from a high-res Imax camera--model the geometry of each building in the plate to match the still, then move the camera around. The result is the original shot seen from a new camera angle or motion,” he says. Some shots we created using a mixture of several pieces of film and 3D textured objects."

so actually, these are not video but animated stills... amazing.


Florian Hardwig's picture

Wow, you are amazing! Thank you all very much, that was very quick and very informative!

Once more the typophile community proved to be a fantastic help – even though this request was not 100% type related (apologies for that).

Hypothesis corroborated: It’s pretty much a travel across Manhattan, as Linda said; starting in the South at the Bay, going North via City Hall, Municipal Building and Puck Building, then passing Times Square and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, finally arriving at the Central Park area with Dakota and Sheep Meadow – where the further story of ‘Panic Room’ takes place. Great!

Also thanks to Mark & David for the additional information. Yes, he knows about this book, but he can’t recall its title either, right now.

Florian Krautkrämer's picture

The Book you're talking about, is it: Uncredited: Graphic Design & Opening Titles in Movies by Gemma Solana and Antonio Boneu
Big coffe-table-book with a lot of stills (really a lot of)

rs_donsata's picture

What about the movie? Is it good?


Theunis de Jong's picture

What a great link!
My favourite is there as well: Catch me if you can

Follow-up question: What Font?

David Rault's picture

What's great with this book (yes, thas is this book by the way) is that it comes with a dvd of the credits...

the movie is not very good, imho. not the best fincher, which is either se7en or fight club.

about catch me if you can, it is really a nice piece of animation. it was done by a couple of french designers i've met some years ago while working on a project, kuntzel & deygas, and it sports the chalet typeface.


Mark Simonson's picture

Just a little nit to pick: The typeface used in the "Catch Me If You Can" titles isn't Chalet, but Coolvetica.

David Rault's picture

my bad, mark, you're right.


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