In taking on this kinetic typography task, I first looked around at other kinetic typography videos, hoping to draw some inspiration and learn about some common practises of the format. I soon saw that there was a wide variety of ways to approach the subject. As well as the differences I mentioned previously on whether to include the original video or not, there are many different aspects that set one piece of kinetic typography apart from another.

How many words are displayed at once can make a big difference in the final video. The text can be jumped through one or two words at a time and quickly disappear from the screen by whatever means, or entire paragraphs or sections can be displayed at once, with each word being added on to the screen while keeping the previous words visible. This can have a large impact on the feel of the animation overall. If very few words appear at a time, more attention is drawn to them and the viewer is more likely to be reading the right part of the text at the right time in relation to the audio. However, this comes at the cost of possibly leaving people behind if the words are displayed for too brief a period to read and make sense of. In contrast to this, displaying whole sections of typography at once can help group the text into logical sections, which the viewer will then regard as a cohesive segment, possibly all connected to the same idea. This can have the drawback, though, of having a lack of focus on a specific part of the audio as the viewer could be reading any part of the previous text. Some techniques can be used to somewhat rectify this, be it by emphasising the animations of key points in the text or by using different fonts and colours to grab attention to the desired section.

The use of colour in these pieces is also another thing I took into serious consideration. While a lot of the videos I saw used several and varied colours throughout them, some only used a few. One video that I saw and will link here made particularly effective use of only two colours – in this case a near black and white.

This example also makes very good use of another feature I identified in some kinetic typography animations. This is the use of illustrations outside of the text, as well as creative use of the text in suggesting shapes and ideas. For example, the words “hair extensions” can be seen to form an image of hair on a woman’s head at 2:50 into the video. This technique as well as having illustrated images mixed amongst the text is very effective at emphasising the key ideas of a section of text, as well as making the animation more visually impressive. However, excessive use can have the effect of making the scene feel cluttered or overly complex – something which I have decided to avoid in my Gravity piece, as I think it would work against the theme of the source material.

After thinking about all of this, I made a number of decisions about my intended outcome early on. These were primarily to keep the scene simple and free of clutter, to use generally only black and white, and to display only a limited number of words at a time during the animation. The reasoning behind these choices was based around keeping my work in line with the theme of the source material it is based on (Gravity/its trailer).

I chose to use a monochrome colour palette as I hoped this would evoke the idea of being in space and cause a general atmosphere of emptiness and being alone. I think this fits well with the film, and particularly the short section that the audio I’m working with was taken from, as it occurs when one of the characters is out in space alone and is struggling against the emptiness all around her. I later decided to use two main colour layouts – both white text on a black background and white text on a black background. I did this to differentiate between the two characters in the clip. The white on black I used for the female character lost in space, as I think the black background serves this metaphor well. I used black on white to portray the male character communicating from a control area, as I think the (actually slightly off-)white background has a clean, almost clinical feel about it, which gives the sense that the voice is coming from a different, and safer, location.

Only having a few words at a time on the screen was a choice I made to try to emphasise the urgency of everything that is being said. This is a scene without much unnecessary talk, and everything that is being said is towards the goal of potentially saving a life, so I thought it appropriate to make the visual representation of the dialogue short and rapid. This is also why I avoided excessively complex animation of the text, and instead used largely uniform animations or fades for the text, only embellishing certain points further to convey additional meaning (for example the text shrinking at the very end, meant to suggest a camera zooming out to show the true extent of the nothingness all around the subject of the clip).

I think this all worked well, and am reasonably happy with the result even if it is a little simple, but you can judge for yourself.


My finished kinetic typography animation for the Gravity trailer can be viewed here.