The projects keep on rolling in, and this time we’re taking on a brief based around kinetic typography. This is a style of textual animation that involves written words moving around the screen, and is often used in several areas such as introduction sequences and trailers for films and television. The commonly accepted first well known instance of kinetic typography being used in such a way was by Saul Bass, in the opening credits for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 film North by Northwest (Lee et al 2013).

Kinetic typography is also commonly used to accompany an audio clip of a person’s voice, whether giving a speech, singing, acting or any similar activities. There are two main approaches to this when it comes to working with a video source – namely layering the text over the existing visuals, and removing the video altogether and creating a new piece out of the motion type and the audio track. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages, and each is well suited for dealing with different source material, depending on what the creator wants to be portrayed through the typography. By utilising the video and adding the text over it, there is often a greater potential for keeping the context of the original scene, as the viewer can easily see the setting, characters and events unfold while reading the typography. This can be lost if the video is removed, however the lack of extra clutter generally makes the text itself the primary focus, which draws attention towards what is being said rather than what is happening visually. The text can also be manipulated to give a sense of the original scene, such as by making shapes out of the words or animating them in such a way as to suggest the action of the video.

The brief set by the university is to create a 15 second kinetic typography animation from a video/audio clip. We are free to choose our own source material, although a portion of the trailer for the film ‘Gravity’ has been given to us to work on. I have considered what I want to do, and I have decided to use the provided material. Some of my peers have expressed disdain towards the video clip, noting such flaws as excessive repetition and lack of any real meaning once the video is stripped out, and I admit the clip may not in fact be perfect for the task. However, this is why I have chosen to pursue it. I believe that working to a brief, flawed or otherwise, will be good experience for the professional world, and I will gain more from challenging myself to adapt to a provided clip than going out and finding an easier one.

With this in mind I aim to produce a piece which fits the mood of the trailer, but which also provides value as a standalone object, not requiring the trailer to have been seen or any prior knowledge of the movie to be held to be appreciated.





Lee, J. et al, 2013. The Kinetic Typography Engine: An Extensible System for Animating Expressive Text [online]. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University