Among the things that suffer on under-budgeted films (which is all I have had the privilege to make) are the title sequences. You look at the great ones, and they tell you that you are entering another world. They speak about possibility. They reframe you POV to focus on a different sort of detail. They heighten your focus.
I am pretty sure my favorite title design on my films is The Ice Storm. That was designed by Bureau, the now defunct design house run by Marlene McCarty who still does all of Killer Films titles. The title sequence they did for Cindy Sherman's "Office Killer" (which I executive produced) is particularly clever pairing of design and cost control. With each watching of ADVENTURELAND though, I grow more fond of its titles, which is a sweet and simple pairing with Yo La Tengo's score (if I do say so myself) and amusement park lights.
Titles are particularly tricky though because of where they come in the process. No one likes to focus on them until the picture is locked, otherwise they run the risk of designing something that no longer fully fits the film. At that stage though, there are usually money worries, so you are designing to fit a budget and not from inspiration. We all have some room for improvement in working with titles.
There are a lot of sites out there though, that help me realize just how high the bar is though.
Not Coming collected the sequences of Saul Bass, generally regarded as the best there ever was. I could happily have these playing on a continual loop in my house. If you've now got your Bass need peaking, you can also check out the Beta of Bass On The Web, and his logos.
Two sites totally devoted to titles are Forget The Film, Watch The Titles and The Art Of The Title Sequence. Retinart recently interviewed the guys behind the The Art OTTS. So if you have sworn off shopping and want to delight your eyes and mind, check out all these sites.
And if you are in the need for a psychotronic fix, check this out -- albeit it is just the cards (hat tip MCN).