“Titanic (The Deluxe Edition)” by James Horner

James Cameron, known for being one, if not the most innovative and meticulous filmmaker out there, was responsible for the two highest grossing films of all time. And both prominently utilized two of the most ill-reputed typefaces of all time. It’s almost as if they did it on purpose… only to mock us typophiles.

Producing a hollywood blockbuster for an allegedly production budget of $237 million dollar and then making use of “Papyrus” (a font that came free with every Windows and Mac OS computer) certainly feels somewhat ironic, there’s no denying that. Even Ryan Gosling thinks so.

Ten years earlier Cameron already pulled the same stunt – albeit not to the same extent – with Titanic and its extensive use of the equally hated “Trajan” (shush graphic designers… calm down!). This overused font may not have the same cheap, inferior reputation as “Papyrus”, but it still robs the movie of the chance to give it its own unique identity, an iconic logo that speaks for itself.

I struggled with the decision to completely replace “Trajan” with a different and more distinct font, but ultimately decided against it. These covers first and foremost are meant to represent the original soundtrack as it is commonly known. Replacing a font, even if it’s as trite as this one, would probably take away the authenticity and and I wanted to avoid that.

In case you’re wondering why I labeled every cover as a Deluxe Edition, well I made this set for my friend Sonic who’s remixing and remastering existing scores to make them sound right. Let’s see what he has to say about it:

I was a bit shocked when I discovered that heidl employed that overused “Deluxe Edition” label for his set of Titanic covers. In my mind, everyone who uses that moniker (which I originally stole from Varèse Sarabende for my first DE) only does so because he or she is one lazy sack (I definitely am). But obviously heidl is not lazy so when he uses it I sort of cringe, simply because I think he’s above this, you know what I mean? I forget of course that heidl loves to lampoon and make fun of things. Best example for this is his covert re-design of the WrG Records logo. Oh what a clever – and oh-so creative – boy he is. I can’t say it often enough… but the two cover designers I like the most are heidl and Jim Titus.

But enough with the daily dose of bootlicking. Now for some corny anecdotes…

When the Titanic was discovered in 1985 by Robert Ballard I was immediately hooked by the human drama and the technical hubris the ship epitomizes. I was a child back then and I needed to know everything there was to know about that liner. Books, movies, technical drawings, you name it. All of it led to a life-long fascination with ocean liners. I even used to draw my own ships when I was just a bit older.

Now imagine me twenty years ago when I first saw Titanic in theaters: as the ship was leaving Southampton, soaring alongside the bubbling music James Horner provided, I was crying tears of joy. The movie is perfect and the music by James Horner perfectly enhances it, yet is also able to exist on its own. And that’s not an easy feat! But as it happens, the original soundtrack release is one of the most perfect CDs around, muscially and sonically.

Bob Katz, who is a Grammy-awarded mastering engineer, included it on his personal list of best-mastered releases. But that isn’t really surprising as Patricia Sullivan is one of the best as well. Give her enough time (-> money) and she will do everything she can to make it sound perfect. It helps that the recording itself is already very good, no surprise considering it was engineered by no other than Shawn Murphy. Mike Mattessino, mastering engineer for the La-La Land-release, didn’t try to re-invent the wheel, bless him. So what would I myself do? I would tone down treble just a tad, boost mids, maybe lower noise for the odd track here and there. I would delete or micro-edit some tracks to improve musical flow and I would call the resulting soundtrack “Deluxe Edition”.

The funny thing is: I haven’t even started yet! The 4-CD-box sits on my desk among Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Orphanage and Judge Dredd (Silvestri), my stack of “yet-to-do” scores. It’s rare that there are covers bearing the DE thingy before there even is a score for it. heidl completely went ahead and designed beautiful covers. Though, I will admit, it might have been merely a coincidence. Whatever it was, I now know I don’t need to design some cover myself as I will glady use heidl’s superior ones :-)

I am well aware that the majority of you won’t get ahold of this unofficial Deluxe Edition, so I’m also offering standard versions to use with the original soundtrack album. You can grab them below.

And for the first time in a very long time I’m making available a digital booklet again, not selfmade though, but cleaned up and optimized.

15 Comments

  1. Johnny Porter

    Stunning work … but then you say, “I’ve also created standard covers to use for the original soundtrack,” as if ALL those above were made by you. Whoops. Was that a genuine slip – how about a credit?

    1. What cover do you want to get credited for?

  2. Johnny Porter

    You mean you’ve appropriated more than one? Personally, I wouldn’t dream of passing off somebody else’s work as my own … but we’ve all got to follow our own path. I’m surprised you didn’t ask as I know you frequent the FSM board – https://www.albumartexchange.com/covers/474774-titanic-20th-anniversary-edition?q=titanic&fltr=ALL&sort=DATE&status=&size=any

    1. I did a Google search with that image and got absolutely nothing. And the AAX page is not helping either. There’s no indication there that it’s a fanmade cover. After all it looks official to me :) Guide me to the FSM post and I will gladly give you all the credits you deserve.

  3. Johnny Porter

    Whether it’s fan-made or official you still took credit for it.
    https://www.filmscoremonthly.com/board/posts.cfm?forumID=1&pageID=69&threadID=77253&archive=0

    1. Thanks for the flag up, bro.

  4. Johnny Porter

    Well, I guess an apology won’t be forthcoming. The question is, how many of those covers are actually your originals?

    1. Man, you act like you own this stuff. I’ve already told you that I’ve been looking for a source behind it, I always do. In this case AAX was the only one I found and it states nowhere that it’s custom made (AAX is for original art only btw). You pointed it out, I gave you credits. Done.

  5. Johnny Porter

    Once again you seem to be missing the point – there’s a principle to adhere to. And I own it in the sense that my time, effort and skill were expended creating something that didn’t previously exist. I’m sure you understand that part, the idea is to make something that looks like an official release right? The problem lies in your wording: “I’ve also created standard covers to use for the original soundtrack” giving the false impression that you’re the sole creator of those covers. The fact that you’ve searched for a source is irrelevant and just meaningless repetition while dodging the issue. It’s simple … be ethical and no trouble will come your way.

    1. Alright, I changed the wording and hope that we can finally bring this discussion to a close. You’re the sole creator of said cover and I’m in no way trying to steal any thunder from your or anyone else’s creative works. But honestly, your subliminal insults scattered in-between are not really helping.

  6. Johnny Porter

    I’m glad we cleared that up. Perhaps you should change this too, “In case you’re wondering why I labeled every cover as a Deluxe Edition, well I made this set for my friend Sonic who’s remixing and remastering existing scores to make them sound right.” Because you didn’t, and it creates the same false impression. Subliminal insults? They must have been subliminal as I wasn’t aware I’d made any. Anyway, I’ll be viewing your site from a new perspective from now on.

    1. SonicAdventure

      Let me chime in for a second, shall I? I assume you visit this site regularly. Let’s assume further that you’ve seen other posts by heidl and read their accompanying text. Because of that you should be perfectly aware of the fact that heidl credits anyone whose artwork he uses. Whether it’s a background designer, a font designer or a title designer. Here, for your particular cover, he slipped. And while I don’t even want to mention the many possible benign reasons, none of them has anything to do with malicious intent. heidl just doesn’t work like that. But what do you do? You start to attack him immediately and viciously. As if you’ve waited for it. You even insinuate that he does this all the time (“Personally, I wouldn’t dream of passing off somebody else’s work as my own … but we’ve all got to follow our own path”) yet you should be aware that he does not. Not nice.

      In my opinion he should remove the cover entirely. This drama (to which I’ve just added) is not worth it.

      1. I just deleted it. I really liked its simple design, but this thing, which should have been a quick affair, has apparently degenerated into a personal conflict.

        Johnny, you’re not the first to claim ownership on certain custom covers on my site. In the past credits were given and that was it. Why you keep querying on little things like phrasing and wording, I don’t know. Imo everything should be clear to anyone who actually reads my blog entries. if you don’t like my page or myself now, well that’s the way it is then.

  7. Johnny Porter

    Firstly, Mr SonicAdventure, “You start to attack him immediately and viciously.” Not at all. I take exception to your overreaction … I was merely asserting my rights. If I hadn’t there’d be no change, no moving forward and no clarity. Deleting the cover is the best solution I agree.
    “Johnny, you’re not the first to claim ownership on certain custom covers on my site.” I’m a bit surprised and disappointed by this. Mr SonicAdventure, does this not reveal a pattern of behaviour and contradict your statement about heidl crediting anyone who’s artwork he uses?
    heidl, I do like your site, as anybody interested in this area of design would. You claim to desire clarity, but I’m puzzled as to why someone who has these resources and makes such high quality covers would feel the need to take credit for other people’s work. And you never answered my query about the above cover set.

    1. Alright, enough with this. I won’t discuss this any further publicly. Send me a mail if you mean to.

Comments are closed.