Cinematography: The voice of typography - TypeRoom (2022)

If one thinks of Typography, in the context of Cinema, one thinks immediately and obviously of the opening and closing titles used in cinema. It’s a funny and perhaps a symbolic coincidence that type in cinema is mostly positioned at "the beginning"and at "the end."

It is as if type merely announces something, seemingly saying noting on its own. Whilst the content, the story, the "real cinematic narrative"is in-between, type is the indifferent packaging that needs to be unwrapped in order to consume.

Yet, even if this fact seems to be "a confirmed reality," we would like to argue that there is still a relationship to be redefined between typography and cinematography.

Lets firstly examine what we know about the obvious presence of typography within cinema known as the title sequence. Titles in films are often designed by unknown designers -with their names not even mentioned in their own contribution to a movie in most cases.

One could say that title designers in the history of Graphic Design, if there is one, don’t have such a celebrated position. However, there are exceptions.

Everyone knows the man behind Alfred Hitchcock ‘s Psycho, Vertigo or North by Northwest: Saul Bass.

He is probably so known because of his collaborations with Hollywood’s most prominent filmmakers -besides Hitchcock Bass has collaborated with Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick, and Martin Scorsese to name a few. In the time of Saul Bass, titles were even of lesser importance that we could think for today.

"I take this 'dead' period and try to do more than simply get rid of names that filmgoers aren’t interested in. I aim to set up the audience for what’s coming" Bass has confirmed.

Another one to follow Bass' fame is Dan Perri.

Even if Perri's work on "Star Wars" (1977) became a worldwide pop culture phenomenon it’s interesting to remark that where Saul Bass, a former collaborator of his, did have his "own" distinctive style or ethics as a designer, Dan Perri proclaims that he didn’t have a style.

This is evident in the list of title works he produced: The Exorcist (1973), Taxi Driver (1976), Star Wars (1977), Raging Bull (1980), Airplane! (1980).

Perhaps Perri was the forerunner of what became today’s bloodless professionalism in film titles.

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Pablo Ferro is another prominent type designer in the service of the movie industry.

The Cuban graphic designer who had immigrated to New York at the age of 13, became famous for his hand-drawn type for Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove" and his quick-cut montage technique.

In one of his interviews, Ferro proclaimed surprisingly that he did his montages without sound, an attitude which was maybe inspired by Saul Bass creative agenda to experiment with numerous ways in making title sequences convey more things than merely crediting all those who have worked on the production of a movie.

Ferro's work for "Clockwork Orange" would compete easily with the MTV montage speed ranges nowadays.

"The title sequence is the story,"he said. "It’s the introduction to the movie. It’s telling you what kind of feeling you’re going to get into. If you fail to do that, the whole movie falls apart" he said, setting some standards for what is title design today. Thankfully, his statement attributes an imported role to typographic design within cinema.

In the now classic title sequence for the first James Bond adventure, Dr. No (1962), Maurice Binder affirms once again the power of a condensed experience that could be easily used for branding or advertising a film experience.

It's remarkable that still in the naughties James Bond films seem to build on a creative force from the '60s.

Speaking of James Bond we must mention Robert Brownjohn and his widely known achievement -per Wikipedia- for another James Bond title, full in the spirit of the 1960s pop culture, From Russia with Love (1963).

In this title sequence, Brownjohn explores the materiality of typography by projecting the film credits on a body of a typical Bond girl.

Robert Brownjohn seems to be inspired by the idea of filming projections by the Bauhaus artist László Maholy-Nagy.

Looking to his portfolio of works Brownjohn's cinematic aspect in the way he created things was part of his way of thinking.

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However to cut the long, and very occult, story short on the crossroads of Typography and Cinematography as explored in title sequences format, we could cite a last celebrated example: Tom Kan's "The Void" (2007).

Designed by the France-based Japanese artist for Gaspar Noé's psychedelic melodrama seems to capitalize on a lot of typographic clichés but really tells a strong typographic story by itself.

But what goes beyond this brief introduction of titles by designers? Le's press rewind andgo back to the title of this feature, "Cinematography: The voice of Typography." Let's considerthe role of typography within filmmaking.

We have seen that generally type is used to introduce cinematic content.Mostly at the beginning and on the ending of a film, typography is conceived as playing a supportive role, nevertheless, some title designers have really taken the opportunity to tell something within their works.

Yet, thinking about the beginning of cinema circa the Silent Film era and long before the emergence of the so-called "talkies" almost a century ago, in 1927, typography did play a very crucial role in the movies industry. Please consider the meaning conveying role title cards or intertitles did have then.

In A dog’s life (1918) Charlie Chaplin seems to have a hard time understanding that the silent movie actress Edna Purviance is flirting with him. The intertitle reading "I’m Flirting" radically sheds some light on what she is aiming to express.

We could argue that typography in silent films is actually performing the voice of the actors when there was none.

Under this perspective, Typography played an essential role in making sense of a movie from the very beginning of Cinematography.

But, as the introduction of synchronized sound in the movies industry led to the death of the Silent Film era typography also became, as some known stars from the grand "Cinéma muet," degraded and was almost forgotten as a means of expression -with some exceptions.

One of the greatest examples where typography and cinematography coexisted in a meaningful ensemble is in the celebrated work of

Jean-Luc Godard

.

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The typography of Jean-Luc Godard. ⁰Various title frames in no particular order / 1960—2018.@DesignMuseum #fontsunday #frenchfonts #bastilleday pic.twitter.com/j6SkPoWjM2

— Selected Works (@selectedworks_) July 14, 2019

The renowned French-Swiss auteur uses Type, Image and Sound with equal respect and he is regarded by many the most typographic sensible filmmaker of all, an attitude which he may have inherited from his Swiss heritage.

Godard uses type with the respect he uses images and sounds for him type is not just illustrative or introductive but constructive in the art of cinematography.

The way he subverts meaning, playing with letters and words, shows that Godard sees those elements as visual content and not merely as sub scripting some cinematic grand idea.

Thinking of the 88 years old Godard, a man who is still making movies using typography as a vital element to his narrative, is perhaps thinking of cinema itself.

Born in 1930, just about at the same time as the "talking cinema" emergence, Godard seems somehow to have the memory of what was the power of cinema in the era of silent film.The era in which Typography was actively used to create cinematic narratives.

The acclaimed director even wrote some very special English subtitles for the Cannes screening of Film Socialisme (2010). This gesture shows his knowledge of how written words give, or change, the meaning when in relation to images and sounds.

For him translating the words is like translating poetry which is factually impossible -or at least needs a special effort. Translating poetry is inventing new poetry. And this is exactly what happens when we put subtitles to films. Every subtitled film is a new film.

As much as type changes film, in the case of subtitles and title sequences adding feeling and meaning to it, the film does bring feelings and meanings to typography as well.

Typography and Cinematography "recharge" one another, a case which is evident in the unique use of Windsor Light Condensed by the Woody Allen.

Windsor is a typeface of British origin that’s found its way, accordingly to Font Review Journal, into the "Ugly American vernacular." What does this typeface, that’s drawing upon some sort of Art Nouveau characteristics, say to us? What did Woody Allen accomplish through selecting it?

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One thing is clear, the font did have something to say even before Allen selected it. But it is troubling, at least for the typographers, graphic designers and the professionals of visual language that eventually this typeface, at its actual state, does make us think of Woody Allen’s films.

After all Typography preexists to Cinema.

One could claim that Type is the functional real and Type in Cinema the meta-real.

In John Carpenter's film, They Live (1988) the main character, John Nada, wears sunglasses which reveal to him the hidden dystopian reality he lives in.

Behind the seductive colorful images, one can read in clear Barbara Kruger like typography verbs which define our era. Obey, consume, reproduce, conform, etc.

In this underrated piece of cinema typography literally deconstructs the seductive cinematic illusion within a cinematic context and speaks out loud of what really is going on in the big screen.

Eventually,Typography and Cinematography are symbiotic writing systems making use of each other to express or to reflect on humane existence.

The Typographer and the Cinematographer are using similar coding in the sense that bothtypographersandcinematographersalike work, letter by letter, frame by frame tocompose reading symbols or containers of emotion.

The End

Enter the world of type in movies withCinematography, a limited edition 156-page flipbook which implements PF Grand Gothik and analyzes historically significant movie titles with 70 postmodern typographic images/posters, aiming to reflect and comment on cinematic content through type.

Contrary to the traditional use of type in communicating written language, this 16:9 publication acts as a reference point on type’s creative implementation as a visual element in the (de)construction and communication of visual language.

A collector’s item for designers and cinephiles alike in collaboration with Parachute Typefoundry X Typical organization.

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Words by Joshua Olsthoorn @ Typical Organization

FAQs

What are the 4 design principles for typography? ›

The good news is, there are eight basic, universal typographical design elements: typeface, hierarchy, contrast, consistency, alignment, white space, and color.

How is typography used in film? ›

We have seen that generally type is used to introduce cinematic content. Mostly at the beginning and on the ending of a film, typography is conceived as playing a supportive role, nevertheless, some title designers have really taken the opportunity to tell something within their works.

What are the three elements of typography? ›

Three fundamental aspects of typography are legibility, readability, and aesthetics. Although in a non-technical sense "legible" and "readable" are often used synonymously, typographically they are separate but related concepts. Legibility and readability tend to support aesthetic aspects of a product.

What are the 7 principles of typography? ›

Dair outlined seven ways that text could be successfully contrasted: size, weight, form, structure, texture, color, and direction.

What is the most cinematic font? ›

Faktor. If you're looking for the most famous movie font for logos and film design, then the Faktor typeface is a must-have. Faktor is the best movie font for subtitles. This cinematic font has a bold display which is designed to remain readable regardless of whether it is used for small or large texts.

What does typography include? ›

Typography is the art of arranging letters and text in a way that makes the copy legible, clear, and visually appealing to the reader. It involves font style, appearance, and structure, which aims to elicit certain emotions and convey specific messages.

Why fonts are important in movie Posters? ›

Well-chosen typography adds emotion, drama and personality to a poster, and can ultimately make your film more memorable and watchable in the mind of your intended audience.

How many types of typography are there? ›

Typography Basics

There are five basic classifications of typefaces: serif, sans serif, script, monospaced, and display.

What is typography and example? ›

Typography is the differences between different styles of text that create distinct appearances. For instance, one popular typeface in the Middle Ages was blackletter, which was used to print many publications, including the Gutenberg Bible.

Is typography a design principle? ›

Typography is a fundamental principle of good design. Whether you're designing for print or the web, good typography helps balance the visual structure of your design between the content and the visuals.

What are the rules of typography? ›

7 Typography Rules for beginners
  • Define clear entry points.
  • Line length (measure)
  • Alignment carefully.
  • Apply Visual space on Block of Text.
  • Pairing fonts wisely.
  • Hanging Punctuation.
  • All Caps.
6 Apr 2020

How does typography affect design? ›

Typography has two main purposes in graphic design. The first is to promote legibility, and the second is to help communicate the messaging, tone, and sentiment of a design piece. Another function of typography revolves around aesthetics. We're drawn to visually attractive designs that are clean and easy on the eyes.

Why do we learn typography? ›

Studying typography, in this sense, is research, it leads us towards a deeper understanding. It helps us see why something is the way it is, and what decisions went into making it that way. It also leads us to influences that informed our influences, this is history.

What is the 7 elements of design? ›

The elements of design are the fundamental aspects of any visual design which include shape, color, space, form, line, value, and texture.

What are Norman's 7 rules in interactive design? ›

Norman's Seven Principles

Make things visible. Get the mapping right (User mental model = Conceptual model = Designed model). Convert constrains into advantages (Physical constraints, Cultural constraints, Technological constraints). Design for Error.

What are the six typographic commands? ›

6 Types of Typography
  • Typeface. The art of designing typefaces composed of symbols known as glyphs in different weights and styles. ...
  • Point Sizes. A point size is the unit of measure for fonts with a point being 0.353 millimeters or 1/72 of an inch.
  • Line Length. ...
  • Line Spacing. ...
  • Tracking. ...
  • Kerning.
8 Sept 2017

What is the most important consideration for typography? ›

Measure. The term 'measure' describes the width of a text block. If you're seeking to achieve the best reading experience, this is clearly an important consideration. If your lines are too long, your reader can easily get lost, while a too-short measure breaks up the reading experience unnecessarily.

What is the Netflix font? ›

Graphique is the font used for the Netflix logo. The graphic was originally designed as a hot metal font of Haas Schriftgießerei, Switzerland by Swiss artist Hermann Eidenbenz, in 1945. Digitally remastered and extended the profile typeface, the German type designer Ralph M.

What font does Quentin Tarantino use? ›

Of course, the opening credits have a rampage of other typefaces, but there's something in common among so many Tarantino movies. There are three chosen movie fonts, appearing in the majority of films: Busorama, Friz Quadrata, and ITC Bookman.

What are typography techniques? ›

7 Eye-Catching Typography Techniques
  • Line Animation.
  • Shading Text.
  • Corner Effect Typography.
  • Masked Typography.
  • Bird Brush Typography.
  • Banana Twist.
  • Mixer Brush.

Is typography the same as font? ›

The words “typeface” and “font” are typically thought of as synonymous, but they actually refer to different things. While a typeface describes a particular style of lettering, a font refers to variations of a typeface, like its size and weight.

What is a typography design? ›

What is typography design? In short, typography design is the art of arranging a message in a readable and aesthetically pleasing composition. It's an integral element of design. Typography doesn't ask the designer to draw their own letterforms, but to instead work with typefaces that already exist.

Which font is best for movie poster? ›

A simple serif, sans serif, or slab font will go a long way toward conveying the theme of the film. Popular fonts for movie posters include Trajan for historical or political films, Helvetica for hyper-realistic and minimalist films, and Futura for science fiction.

What is the best font size for a movie? ›

Use a font without serif like Arial or Helvetica. Don't use bold style. Different from Shane I would recommend sizes between 24 and 32 for subtitles. With Cinema don't use the title safe area, use the action safe area.

What is a good movie poster font? ›

These days, Franklin Gothic (and the other “gothic” fonts inspired by it) is used for billboards, movie posters, print ads, and a wide range of other advertising signage.

What is type style in typography? ›

In typography, the distinguishing characteristic of a typeface, which can refer to roman, italic, bold, condensed, expanded, etc. 'Typestyle can also refer to a collection of type families that have a specific feature in common, such as roman, sans serif or serif, gothic, or script.

What are the 3 font styles? ›

Some of the most popular types of fonts include serif, sans serif, slab serif, script and decorative.

What are the 4 types of lettering? ›

Exploring different lettering styles.
  • Traditional calligraphy. Calligraphy is the design and creation of hand lettering with a brush or other writing tool. ...
  • Gothic lettering. ...
  • Modern calligraphy. ...
  • Serif lettering. ...
  • Sans serif lettering. ...
  • New lettering styles.

What is a good example of typography? ›

For example Garamond, Times, and Arial are typefaces. Whereas font is a specific style of typeface with a set width, size, and weight. For example, Arial is a typeface; 16pt Arial Bold is a font. So typeface is the creative part and font is the structure.

What is a synonym for typography? ›

printing. nouna process of reproduction. composition. presswork. type-setting.

What is excellence in typography? ›

Anagha Narayanan focused on the design's staying power: “Excellence is the longevity of the typeface itself, how relevant and how new it can be even a few years from now.

What is typography hierarchy? ›

A typographic hierarchy is a system that uses typography – the size, font and layout of different pieces of text – to create a hierarchical division that can show users where to look for specific kinds of information. It is an organizing system for establishing order in a set of data.

Is typography part of graphic design? ›

Typography is an integral part of communication within graphic design. Each font carries a unique attitude, conveying a completely different message from the next font over.

Where do we use typography? ›

Typography is widely used right from a logo to business cards, websites, brochures, menus, etc. There is a never-ending list of items where typography plays a crucial role in conveying a message to the audience. But creative use of typographic principles is the way to design brand visuals for the target audience.

How do you read typography? ›

While each letter is unique, certain shapes are shared across letters. A typeface represents shared patterns across a collection of letters. Typefaces that are selected for their style, legibility, and readability are most effective when following the fundamental principles of typographic design.

What are typography effects? ›

Typography is body language. It's what makes the first impression. Good typography enhances the character of the site and adds a tone of voice that subliminally reinforces what the words say to influence how those words are perceived.

What is typography in visual communication? ›

Typography is the style, arrangement or appearance of printed matter. Its origins come from the Greek typos meaning “dent, impression, mark” and graphia meaning “writing.” A broad term, over time it has meant different things to different people, but it has always served as the vehicle for information.

Why is typography important in branding? ›

It is yet another form of non-verbal messaging you are sending out about your brand. Your typographic palette helps to tie all communications together, from the copy on your website, direct mail through to your logo; creating brand consistency and memorability.

What is a typography logo? ›

A typographic logo is a logo that is text-based, though it might incorporate symbols or imagery. If you're not a designer yourself, it's the simplest type of logo to create (though truly great typographic logos will have design expertise behind them).

How do you do typography by hand? ›

How to start hand lettering
  1. Get your tools. You don't need any fancy tools to be a hand-letterer. ...
  2. Know about letter construction and relation. ...
  3. Learn the anatomy of letters. ...
  4. Choose a lettering style. ...
  5. Add dimension, details and decorative elements. ...
  6. Draw expressive letterforms.

What is a typography design? ›

What is typography design? In short, typography design is the art of arranging a message in a readable and aesthetically pleasing composition. It's an integral element of design. Typography doesn't ask the designer to draw their own letterforms, but to instead work with typefaces that already exist.

What are examples of typography? ›

For example Garamond, Times, and Arial are typefaces. Whereas font is a specific style of typeface with a set width, size, and weight. For example, Arial is a typeface; 16pt Arial Bold is a font. So typeface is the creative part and font is the structure.

What is the most important consideration for typography? ›

Measure. The term 'measure' describes the width of a text block. If you're seeking to achieve the best reading experience, this is clearly an important consideration. If your lines are too long, your reader can easily get lost, while a too-short measure breaks up the reading experience unnecessarily.

What does typography include? ›

Typography is the art of arranging letters and text in a way that makes the copy legible, clear, and visually appealing to the reader. It involves font style, appearance, and structure, which aims to elicit certain emotions and convey specific messages.

How many types of typography are there? ›

Typography Basics

There are five basic classifications of typefaces: serif, sans serif, script, monospaced, and display.

What is a good typography? ›

Good typography is measured by how well it reinforces the meaning of the text, not by some abstract scale of merit. Typographic choices that work for one text won't necessarily work for another.

Is typography the same as font? ›

The words “typeface” and “font” are typically thought of as synonymous, but they actually refer to different things. While a typeface describes a particular style of lettering, a font refers to variations of a typeface, like its size and weight.

What are typography techniques? ›

7 Eye-Catching Typography Techniques
  • Line Animation.
  • Shading Text.
  • Corner Effect Typography.
  • Masked Typography.
  • Bird Brush Typography.
  • Banana Twist.
  • Mixer Brush.

Why is typography so important in graphic design? ›

Typography has two main purposes in graphic design. The first is to promote legibility, and the second is to help communicate the messaging, tone, and sentiment of a design piece. Another function of typography revolves around aesthetics. We're drawn to visually attractive designs that are clean and easy on the eyes.

How do you use typography in design? ›

  1. 10 Tips On Typography in Web Design. by Nick Babich. ...
  2. Keep The Number of Fonts Used At a Minimum. ...
  3. Try To Use Standard Fonts. ...
  4. Limit Line Length. ...
  5. Choose a Typeface That Works Well In Various Sizes. ...
  6. Use Fonts With Distinguishable Letters. ...
  7. Avoid All Caps. ...
  8. Don't Minimize Spacing Between Lines.

What is a synonym for typography? ›

printing. nouna process of reproduction. composition. presswork. type-setting.

What are the fundamentals of typography in a design context? ›

Remember that the four fundamental principles of typography (contrast, space, hierarchy and size) are not rules or laws, but rather guidelines for every designer to follow.

What is functional typography? ›

Functional Typography is a series of posters that show the typographic codes abstracted from the surface of products and packages such as an orange juice bottle or the bottom of a Bic Lighter.

How do you get into typography? ›

Here are 12 typography tips for beginners looking to level up.
  1. Understand font families. The first and most versatile tool in your font tool belt is the font family. ...
  2. Use few fonts. ...
  3. Respect font integrity. ...
  4. The art of kerning. ...
  5. Hierarchy: How thinking gets done. ...
  6. Get on the grid. ...
  7. Compare and contrast. ...
  8. Improve hand lettering.
17 May 2018

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