long live typography

Typographic motion design in film

March 26, 2015 | Opinion | by Michelle

Beautiful typography on paper is human, but beautiful typography on screen is divine.

As a motion designer with a graphic design background, the marriage of type and movement in film and television is akin to having a dog and a cat who are found cuddling on the couch together for the first time. It’s unexpected, awesome, and makes me clap my hands together with glee.

To some, the text that goes into a film or television show may be just that—plain ol’ text. People are usually more focused on what is happening in front of the camera rather than the credits that are going over top. But the thought and design put into something as simple as film credits or someone’s name in a documentary can establish the mood of a film, pass on a message to the viewer without being intrusive, and enhance—or sometimes hurt—the quality of a production.

Netflix’s House of Cards

House of Cards is a great example of that last point – although it doesn’t use it often, you can catch visualized text messages scattered here and there. They’re clean and subtle so they complement the show, but obvious enough to… get the message across (ha ha!).

House of Cards

Now, can you imagine if the text messages looked like this instead?

House of Cards - terrible texts


BBC’s Sherlock

Sherlock (one of my favourite shows EVER) is setting some serious standards when it comes to integrating motion graphics and type into a television show. From clues that are found in a crime scene, to the thoughts that are going through the mysterious detective’s mind, Sherlock’s graphics are stylish, clever, and with a purpose.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty comes a close second to any Wes Anderson pic when it comes to visual enjoyment on a personal level. The film was one big graphical adventure, both typographically and cinematically speaking. The title sequence was especially gratifying, because it wasn’t just a title that had cool typography and visuals; it established a style and character that carried through the entire film. Sidebar: It’s always a bit disappointing when a film has an awesome title sequence that stylistically has nothing to do with the actual film.

My favourite part is the transition from train station to title graphics to an overhead shot of a subway station.

Do you have a favourite title sequence or cinematic motion design that we need to see? Please share them below in our comments section!


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Michelle fell into design over 17 years ago after messing around with Photoshop 5.0, and has never looked back. She's in love with typography, interiors and animals of all sorts.

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