Introduction to kinetic Typography

Typography in motion is commonly known as Kinetic typography. Typography underlines motion in graphics because motion relies on it as a tool for communication. I emphasize on motion on typography with a demonstration of a short film.

The technologies and media I use to demonstrate my application of motion graphics is Adobe Photoshop for creating the story board, Adobe After Effects to put together the kinetic typography film and Adobe Premium to incorporate sound and piece it together on post production.

Barbara Brownie (2015) says that with dynamic capabilities of screen based media, “our static definitions of type appear increasingly imperiled. New classification systems have been developed to take account for special and temporal factors. The decisive dividing lines between digital literature and print literature are textual motion as they are perceived as being in motion when displayed sequentially in quick succession (Brownie, 2015).

Temporal media offers typographers opportunities to dramatize type for letterforms to become kinetic and fluid. Fluid typography is where a letterform is abandoned from its identity and adopts another (Brownie, 2015). It is important to note that in digital screen-based media, a fully navigable three-dimensional typographic environment may be created and hence it is no longer necessary to understand letterforms as being flat signs which means they have spatial and temporal dimensions. It is also possible for screen to have four dimensions as type can appear in a number of screen based media such as film television credit sequences. Film tittle credits present typographic information over time, which brings it to life through animation as indicated on my short film.

Traditionally in static typography, using characters such as bold and italics gives an expression potential on dynamic properties. I choose to use Helvetica as my font type for my project bearing in mind that it has different weights and widths. Also because it is a neutral font and the meaning is in the content of the text and not the text itself. Introducing kinetics conveys more than just linguistic meaning as letterforms like jump and dance would convey joy, a slump can be used to convey sorry and those that vibrate can show scared or fear. In my film the yellow on the word idea indicates a light bulb moment. I found that the messages add an expressive value in addition to the linguistic features denoted by the word itself like the way I displayed the words press in express.

In the dynamic forms displayed on screens we have to account for special and dynamic factors. Jon Krashner (2008) mentions time as the fourth dimension in visual communication. He states the importance of time being that it is a powerful impact used for artistic expression that enhances landscape thinking. I found that time was valuable in my film making. Over different variations and trials I figure that if I worked in loops of seconds then I created a fluid rhythm of scenes.

The Creative process:

I landed on my idea through watching YouTube videos on expressive texts and kinetic typography. I was able to use type on the screen to convey messages across through the frames to inform the viewers about kinetic typography. In kinetic typographic, the movement and fluidity legibility fluctuates to predetermine the meaning of the words. As the letters fluctuate or become visible, ones recognizable the letters are determined by the viewer. One could argue in conjunction with Brownie (2015) that is perhaps why kinetic typography captures our attention as the viewer is eager to seek out language by making the viewer read even before the words are precise.


I first began by drawing a few sketches to convey the strategy for the words that I would lay on screen. Initially, I planned to have twelve scenes which will cut across a brief typographic word film on kinetic typography, which was the subject of the film.

In the first step I would ask what kinetic typographic is to give an understanding of the topic. The second step was supposed to define what typography was to then understand what it entails before further explaining kinetic typography.  Through steps three, scenes five to eight on page two on the original sketched storyboard, I used different examples to show expressive of text. Step seven shows the effect of time on kinetic typography because time is a dominant factor in video. I wanted to use step eight to give a brief history of Kinetic typography and mention a few pioneers. Then finish it off by mentioning the importance of kinetic typography.

However, I found that with video making, time captures our imagination in the impulse and lapse it on a timeline frame by frame enabling us to tell our story. I broke down the storyboard into a 30 step version that guided me through my project. Having created the process on Adobe Photoshop software allowed me to give a better prediction of the frame that would follow to tell a better story. I chose the colours white and black as they are good contrasting colours, with an additional Red to give the work flavour. I thought in the place of red, it could easily be replaceable with another colour that would suit the viewer. I add an additional pop color which is yellow to introduce a new color on the word idea for emphasis of the light bulb moment.

Developing the video

On the process of developing the video, I faced a couple of challenges in telling my story. Some of the predictions on my storyboard worked and others changed along the way. I saved my work in stages as I worked on Adobe After effects and rendered them to play back what it would looks like along different stages.

Trial 1

In the process of making the video, I discovered that starting with the question gave it away to easy. I wanted the words Typography to appear as the first words, since the first frame is automatically used as a frame. I also didn’t like how the word kinetic appeared instead of coming in from an angle in movement to suggest kineticism. So I corrected this in Step 1a

Trial 2

Proceeding along, I did not like how stage 2 step 6 on page 6 looked on screen. The explanation for typography was too long and therefore I cut out the words and defined it in fewer words which were easier to read in the period of time given.

Trial 3

In the process of creating the videos I realized there is a problem with the saving format of the videos. I tried saving the videos with an FLV extension since the windows file didn’t open on a mac computer. This is the stage at which I realized I had to figure out the format that worked best for the film. I also started realizing small jumps and other mistakes on my frames on the rendered videos. It emphasized how creating it was to use a series of continues loop of time to get a consistency in the play time.

Trial 4

At this stage while rendering and playing back the work I noticed that my windows extension saving format was corrupted. The frames were playing at random intervals. I also tried other extensions to see which ones would play on a mac computer. MP4 managed to play but the quality of the film was poor. F4V was the best however, it had a long additional space on the top and bottom making the video look elongated.

Trial 5

I decided to carry on with putting the whole video together and then go back and fix what I didn’t like, or what I saw didn’t work well. Therefore I had the final first cut.

Trial 6

I went back and fixed mostly the weights of the font I was using as the different contrasts weren’t working so well. Example the word ‘Using’ was clearly visible as a condensed font which stood out from the rest, making it somewhat distracting. I also added a scene with the word ‘example’ after the step 25 on page 9 to introduce the change of scene into Saul Bass’s work. I didn’t like the long pause as much and I felt that I was giving the audience too much information without leaving any suspense. I also changed my letter T for the word ‘to’ to small caps since it is in the middle of a sentence.

Trial 7

I then decided to place the example after introducing Saul Bass to introduce the next scene which I felt worked better. I also let the word example be placed horizontally instead of vertically as it would blend in better with the next scene in terms of the fluidity of transitions. I returned to the first version of introducing Saul Bass and then mentioned his works next as it had a better order.

Trial 8

This was the final video I decided to settle upon. After all the video trials and going back and forth with different versions because I found that this was the video that best suited the purpose of the film.

Generating a sound

On screen typography is expressive and with the help of overlaid soundtrack following a rhythm it provokes a certain mood. This helped determine different moods alongside the expressions given by the text and its content. Along my creative process I created a sound track and placed it together with the video to see how it played. I found that it introduced a different energy, very destructive. I therefore chose to do away with the sound I created and settled for a non-copyright sound found online by Raspberrymusic on YouTube noted on the description of the video. I also recorded tap sounds for the video and placed them on the text for a more dramatic scene at the beginning.

Would I make any Changes on the outcome?

Yes! I feel like our work is ever changing. The more I look at the film the more I find things to change. What keeps a creative at bay is giving yourself a deadline and being accountable to stop on a project so that you can begin the next one.



In conclusion, kinetic typography proved to be a good process for communication as it can be informative and indulging. I found that with the making of my video I was able to capture the viewer’s attention and control their reading paces as they followed along in my short film. Time plays a big role in the kinetic process, in terms of generating frames and a good looping sequence of rhythm. As a whole motion graphics keeps the mind engaged, tuned in the anticipation of wanting to know what is coming up next.



Adrienne Erin (2015)

Brownie, B., 2014.Transforming type: New directions in kinetic typography. United Kingdom: Berg Publishers.

Carrie Cousins (2015)

Chris Ace Gates (2015)

Kasper Aaberg (2016)

Krasner, J.S., 2008.Motion graphic design: Applied history and aesthetics [With DVD]. 2nd edn. Amsterdam: Focal Press.