Typography in Time and Motion

While motion can be simulated in printed works by means of repeated letterforms, uneven baselines, changes in direction, or inventive page formats such as flipbooks, kinetic typography gives designers the opportunity to communicate with behaviors or actions as well as with visual form. Time becomes the most significant structural element in the design, with the designer determining a sequence and pace for the message.

Beyond the basic considerations of typography, the designer decides how type moves and behaves, adding a “voice” to the message. Similar to listening to a person speak, type in motion can convey tone and inflection. And the pace at which the piece unfolds—quickly, slowly, or with dramatic pauses—establishes a mood. Moving type, coupled with sound and images, enables the typographic designer to explore narrative as a means of expressive communication.



9-1 Film still from Le portrait mysterieux, 1899, by Georges Méliès.

Designers have always been interested in dynamic typography. Examples of animated letterforms appeared as early as 1899 in advertisements created by Georges Méliès, a French illusionist and filmmaker, who used multiple exposures and time-lapse photography in his work (Fig. 9-1). Around 1929, the Italian Futurists began challenging assumptions about how language could be expressed and interpreted by liberating ...

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