Kinetic Typography (Unit 8)

Kinetic typography refers to the creation of moving type. It is an animation technique that is used to make lettering expand, shrink, fly, move in slow motion, grow and change in numerous ways for the user. The effect can be simple and short with only small changes or quite elaborate and lengthy.

Kinetic typography use has almost exploded recently because of more use of the technique in web design. Once something that was only used in video and television, kinetic typography is gaining popularity as a background effect on websites and in web-based videos. (All of this is possible thanks to higher and more common broadband and increased internet and web surfing speeds.)

The technique used for a number of reasons but can add emphasis to certain content. It can help convey tone and emotion. It can help create a unique visual where none exists. It can be an affordable option for those with limited budgets. It can add interest when your design is in need of a boost.

While kinetic typography can be labeled as an emerging trend for web design today, it has been around for quite some time. It was first used on the big screen.

Researchers at the Human Computer Interaction Institute and School of Design at Carnegie Mellon University have traced the first use of kinetic typography to the 1959 Alfred Hitchcock’s 1959 film “North by Northwest.” In the opening credits, type is used in a movable format. A year later, the effect was used again in “Psycho.” “This work stemmed in part from a desire to have the opening credits set the stage for the film by establishing a mood, rather than simply conveying the information of the credits,” researchers wrote.

From this point, kinetic typography became more commonplace in film and later in television. It’s been used in credits, during shows and for advertisements. A notable use of kinetic typography in advertising came in 2009 when Pepsi launched a “Refresh Everything” campaign (now called “Pepsi Pulse”) with a new logo. The new design – featuring a logo in place of the letter ‘o’ – appeared everywhere from television to online using movable type.

Kinetic typography is a fun tool for your kit, but it is not an easy solution to the I-don’t-have-any-art-so-now-what problem. It should be used – like any other tool – for a specific purpose and with a certain goal in mind.

There are uses in which kinetic typography has proven to be particularly effective. These uses most relate to tone. Adding movable type to something that would otherwise be static in nature can add help achieve this. Best uses for kinetic typography include:

  • Creating emotional content
  • Creating characters
  • Capturing attention

When planning for kinetic typography, there are some common patterns of movement and behavior.

  • Slow motion or fast motion
  • Stretching or shrinking
  • Movement in arcs or waves as text moves along curved paths
  • Anticipated action, such a subtle movement before a sharp one
  • Follow through actions that happen after something else has happened
  • Secondary action when text moves because of something that happens to another element in the frame

Using kinetic typography can be a fun tool. Moveable type can add impact, emotional connection and visual interest to digital and video projects. While the techniques can take some time to master, it is something that is likely around to stay. (Just think, designers have been using the technique in some form for more than 50 years.)



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