What is Kinetic Typography?


 Kinetic typography is an animation style in which text is the predominant animated feature on screen. It's not a new style or type of animation, but it is one that has gained popularity with the new and more simple tools for creating it. Kinetic typography has been around since early film, but didn't really take off until the 1960's. People point to the opening credits for North by Northwest by Saul Bass as the first example of what kinetic typography would become.

While simplistic looking now, it was actually a fairly large undertaking back in the day. Luckily for us, it's much simpler now.

Since kinetic typography is easier than multiple exposures and creating crazy camera rigs for film cameras, it's also gotten a lot more dynamic and creative. Since it's easy for us to pair audio and animation now just by dragging and dropping, a variation on music videos known as "lyric videos" have become more and more popular. You might remember something that became popular on youtube when it first started was people posting songs with the lyrics on screen made in windows movie maker with bad font choices over a blue background. Now official lyric videos are being made with kinetic typography. While a better quality, I've noticed it's often a place holder for pop songs once the song is released but before the official video is released. Here's a funny Key of Awesome parody of that idea.

Where I think kinetic typography is more exciting is when people are using it differently than just repeating the lyrics to a song as you hear them. This short about the power of empathy I think is a great example of how kinetic typography can be used creatively to accentuate a piece. By combining the kinetic typography with character animation, it's used to accentuate key points and communicate an idea the characters are having while another voice over is playing.

You can really see the characters communicate even though they are doing it silently, and it's done in an creative and engaging way.

Since people always talk faster than actions happen, kinetic typography is a good way to keep the viewer engaged and keep the momentum of the animation up. It's always evolving and gives you something to watch as you engage in the voice over. It pulls the viewer in without it distracting from whatever the voice over may be saying. Kinetic typography is the ultimate combination of audio and animation where they compliment each other without detracting.

Kinetic typography is most often created in After Effects or Flash. Apple Motion can also be used to create kinetic typography but I'm not crazy about that program and honestly I have yet to meet someone who uses it over After Effects. After Effects is best for doing kinetic typography where the words or letters are appearing or disappearing, flipping in and out in a 3D space or being placed in live video. Flash is used more when you want the letters to morph and evolve into each other, like in the empathy short where they grow onscreen and flex and bend.

Kinetic typography is a fun and relatively simple style to pull off, the only draw back right now to it is that it is so common on the internet it could be tough to make your work stand out.

On the other hand though, since it is so popular a lot of commercial work is looking for it, so it's good to learn how to do. If you're interested in kinetic typography here's a Vimeo channel devoted to it, where you can go to get some inspiration.

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Your Citation
Chew, Johnny. "What is Kinetic Typography?" ThoughtCo, Aug. 9, 2016, thoughtco.com/what-is-kinetic-typography-140976. Chew, Johnny. (2016, August 9). What is Kinetic Typography? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-kinetic-typography-140976 Chew, Johnny. "What is Kinetic Typography?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-kinetic-typography-140976 (accessed November 23, 2017).