Sunday, March 24, 2013

Type 2: Motion Inspiration

To move ahead into turning our speeches from a static paragraph on a page to a kinetic and expressive experience, we first had to turn to opening movie title sequences for inspiration and a better understanding of how to set type in motion.

These were the first set of movie title sequences we were to look at:
North by Northwest (
Psycho (
Ocean's 11 (

North by Northwest took a geometric and linear approach to type. It was successful compositionally because it played off the space and linear patterns within the movie stills. It was kinetic, rather than expressive, because although all the movements had a definite purpose, it was their spacial relation and position compositionally that created a busy yet corporate and sophisticated mood.

Psycho 1960 also took a linear approach to the typography but in a different fashion. With this sequence, shapes, long rectangles, were used to break up the type. This repetition created cohesive, kinetic movement. The limited color palette and music added additionally to the dark and mysterious mood that the sequence was setting up. In "slicing" the text, the titles and names of the actors, it seemed to foreshadow the movie's plot line in addition to establishing a creative approach to kinetic type.

Ocean's 11 utilized similar techniques but created contrasting mood of optimism and adventure among its compositions. This sequence focused on dots and different combinations of them to create beautiful patterns as well as typography. It was a smart cohesive element that made for brilliant transitions throughout the sequence. Mimicking Las Vegas lights and the mood and feel of a casino, these dots created energetic, kinetic movement that set up a sense of vibrance and adventure for the movie to start off on.

All three of these title sequences utilized straight lines as a cohesive and geometric element in their compositions and transitions. In sticking with limited color palettes and simple typographical choices, the sequences were able to successfully accomplish a variety of moods in addition to strong, kinetic typography.

The second set of movie title sequences included:

I Shot Andy Warhol (
Safe (
American Psycho (

These three sequences focused on the utilization of expressive type rather than kinetic (there's movement here but the sequences focus on articulating a particular mood). I Shot Andy Warhol utilized rough, raw, and choppy movements to set up a movie of eery mystery and quirky horror. The limited color palette of red, black, and white helped focus the type in a way the made the rough serif type face look creepy and mysterious. The interplay with the titles among the movie shots further adhered the movie of murder and mystery.

Safe, again, took a linear approach to the type but in different third way. The simple color change from white to red in the title was a smart move in foreshadowing the potential plot of the movie. There was a linear feel in that all the type was straight across but the hierarchy throughout the text created movement for the eye when it read across the screen. It seemed like the text mimicked headlights of an up and coming car. This type, contrasting to the other two title sequences, seemed to edge on expressive type, not necessarily kinetic because of it's adherence to the composition and the stoic, yet eery mood it expressed.

American Psycho was successful because it was simple, sophisticated and to the point. The blood dripping in rhythm to the music was one way that kinetic movement was worked into the sequence. The asymmetrical compositions and limited color palettes also added to the eeriness that the sequence sets up. It's interesting the contrast that is created here, of corporate sophistication and horror, and how much of an effect it has in foreshadowing the rest of the movie.

In finding my own inspiration in movie title sequences, my mind went back to middle school pop culture and Napoleon Dynamite. The title sequence here takes an offbeat but creative approach to typography that adheres to the quirky and unique mood of the movie.

Note: The publisher of this vimeo link has locked the embedding code so I've posted a link to the Vimeo video:

What's interesting is how the different the mood is within the typography of these sequences simply by making the titles tactile and visually stimulating. It's no longer merely words on a screen, it's a chapstick container with the producer or a corn dog with the name written in mustard. It's also interesting to note that despite the variance of type treatments, the quirky and optimistic mood stays cohesive throughout the sequence. Comparing Napoleon Dynamite to the rest of the inspirational title sequences, it's interesting to note the contrast and approach to typography. Creating visually stimulating compositions through typography is a difficult task. But when successfully accomplished, it can have a striking impact on the imagery and message surrounding it.

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