Clarendon Typeface Video

COMMUNICATIONS MINI FALL 2020 | PROJECT IV

**This project is a continuation of my last project: Clarendon Typeface Spread.**

We are to create a 60-second video that highlights the unique characteristics and personality of our typeface by using sequence and motion to visually describe and compare the various forms and attributes.

Our video should share similar characteristics, color choices, imagery, etc. to our magazine spread. Here is my final spread:

Getting Started

I was super…SUPER intimidated to begin this project because of my unfamiliarity with After Effects, and because of how short a time frame we had to complete our video before the end of the semester. I had seen so many typeface videos from the year above us, and it was always a project that I admired and was so blown away by, so I’m excited that it’s now my turn to create a ~hopefully~ respectable typeface video.

My first step was to choose music, and I was pretty stuck on what to look for because so much of my animation depended on the song choice. I looked back at my three adjectives: bold, playful, and timeless.

Finding Music

I knew I wanted my music to have a clear beat/beat drops to animate to, and I also wanted something upbeat, quirky, and impactful. I looked for a song with a lot of variations in rhythm so my video could have more interesting animations and transitions. I looked into the time period of the 1840s as a starting point for my search, but what the hell was even going on in the 1840s. Like nothing. So that wasn’t really helpful.

I then thought more about how I could characterize the Wild West aspect of Clarendon, and came up with three groups of music genres in mind:

  1. a percussive beat that’s fast, bold, and flashy.
  2. piano music that replicates the Old Wild West saloons and 1800s classical feeling of Clarendon.
  3. more modern music with electronic percussion (if that’s a thing).

As I listened I would try to imagine moments of my animation and how I would match it to the song. If I couldn’t think of any ideas on how to animate to the song, I would move on to the next. I searched for EVERYTHING: “western songs,” “harmonica instrumental,” “Wild West instrumental songs with no words,” “guitar and percussion instrumental with interesting beat drop,” “quirky and upbeat instrumental with piano and percussion and guitar with a beat drop” etc.

My fire cowboy playlist if anyone throws a Wild West themed party

After three hours of blasting cowboy music and farmer songs, my decision came down to three:

Book Move by Bromeliad

Goodtime Charlie by Franky ‘Fastfingers’ Flint

The Crazy Otto Medley by Johnny Maddox

I ultimately decided on Book Move, which absolutely pained me because it was the first song I listened to so it felt like I wasted the three to four hours I spent looking for other songs ;(

Book Move has a consistently upbeat percussive rhythm that reminded me of heels tapping and dancing on a wooden saloon floor. As I was first listening to it, I immediately thought of ideas for how I could animate my text to match the quick and slow beats, and I thought the striking and playful rhythm was pretty appropriate for Clarendon.

Brainstorming

1. Writing the Script

I began by looking back at my essay and 50-word statement and pulled out key elements and phrases I wanted to incorporate in my video. I wanted to include Clarendon’s origin, unique characteristics, its uses throughout history, and my three adjectives.

I then wrote my script while listening to my song, thinking about how I would match the words and phrases to each beat, and thinking about how I might animate it. This was extremely difficult because it felt like I was planning my entire video from nothing but my limited knowledge on what I can and can’t do in After Effects. Because I hadn’t created any visuals yet, I could only stare at the white wall in front of me and try and imagine how my video might look like.

2. Storyboard

I then moved on to creating my storyboard. I knew that if I front-loaded a lot of work and thought into the planning stages, it would be a lot easier for future-me animating in After Effects. I found it most difficult to get the timing right because I couldn’t gauge how long each animation and scene would take. Therefore, my storyboard gets increasingly uncertain and vague after the first 30 seconds because I started to get lost and overwhelmed in the music and the fast-paced rhythm.

The top two storyboards are two variations of the beginning of my video. I like the second (top right) sequence better.

Going Digital

Following my storyboard, I began incorporating color and imagery into my digitalized compositions. I wanted my visual language to correspond with my adjectives, with striking and quirky text, and the motif of the circle overlay pulled from my spread.

For colors, I wanted to keep it grayscale to match the etching imagery except for the bright orange spot color.

Start–0:17

0:17 — end (might have to add more scenes)

After Effects Time!

I underestimated HOW LONG it takes to literally animate one teeny tiny detail. I definitely struggled a lot in the beginning just to familiarize myself with a good workflow, and to get a feel for what movements I wanted to use throughout my video for consistency.

These first 17 seconds are definitely not refined (I still didn’t get to play with easing) but I just wanted to set a foundation for the motion and pacing.

A challenge was figuring out how to transition between scenes while staying on beat. Because my song is pretty fast-paced, I needed to make sure I didn’t get lost in all the flashy animation effects and that my text was still readable.

Feedback w/ Jaclyn:

  1. Really like “bracketed serifs” part, especially the tilted text is appropriate to Clarendon.
  2. Wished more time was spent on “Clarendon.” (3-beats) → maybe throw the whole word on the screen instead of it coming on separately.
  3. Storyboards: big R composition → could be fun to tilt the “R” when it comes on the screen with a bounce effect.
  4. For last compositions “the typeface of…”, the orange text can slide in horizontally.

Working Towards 1-Minute

For the next few days, my goal was to reach the one-minute video mark just to get all my content in After Effects to check the pacing. I wasn’t too concerned about small details, such as easing, but rather seeing where there were gaps in my overall video. Right now, I have a gap right after “Bracketed Serifs” that I need to figure out how to fill.

Feedback w/ Hannah:

  1. 0:05 Different sizes, different directions of transitions, and going between all caps and lowercase makes it a bit confusing and busy.
  2. 0:13 Place three dots right after “famous for…”
  3. 0:29 Maybe have the ball fall to the bottom of the screen instead of right in the middle
  4. 0:35 “Stylized…” is centered, but “The typeface of…” is left aligned → do either or
  5. 0:49 Company examples landed on “Tonka,” which isn’t as well known as other brands.
  6. Really like 0:20 and 0:27 transition!
  7. Maybe try bringing more illustration into the end segment, whether it’s punched out text or a background.
  8. More playfulness of text rather than straight horizontal across.

Feedback w/ Jaclyn:

  1. 0:05 Maybe all the words fit on one page like a word pile.
  2. Maybe try implementing the “Display” animation somewhere else as well
  3. Want to see a real “WANTED” poster (and more images!)
  4. 0:16 When “Bracketed Serifs hits, maybe float “Bracketed…?”
  5. 0:40–0:49 a little slow → don’t need the example companies because they’re scrolling too fast anyways
  6. Don’t really think more images towards the end of the video is necessary because the type already has really interesting animations for imagery
  7. Really like “playful” animation!

More Edits…

Hannah and Jaclyn both wanted to see more illustration and images throughout the video. However, I had a little trouble finding high quality Old West images with the same etching style I was looking for. I did, however, find a large collection of vintage etching style illustrations on Getty Images, and just photoshopped out the watermark (some of them cost like $500 for a “full size image” wtf).

I focused my edits to three sections: “The typeface of…” , “Robert Besley created…” , and filling in the gap after “Bracketed Serifs.”

I ended up almost redoing my video from 0:39 to the end. Because the percussive beat is so consistent, if I make any minor changes, I need to shift and change the rest of the content to re-adjust it to the beat.

Some process photos of major revision areas:

Group Feedback Session:

  1. Really like the transitions and playing with scale, as well as matching content to the fast and slow beats.
  2. Like the orange ball motifs, although orange as a background gets confusing sometimes?
  3. For “ball terminals” scene, letters don’t appear on the first beat.
  4. “Rob Besley Slab Serif” is still too fast, and the image is too distracting. Eye also gets caught on the small overlaps as the words bump into each other.
  5. “Upturned foot” too hard to read.
  6. Pretty seamless overall video other than small issues!

Refinements

I was really happy to hear mainly positive feedback on my video, and relieved that I would only have to make a few minor tweaks before the final show. The main areas I wanted to work on were: “Rob Besley created…” (once again…) and “BOLD — end.” The ending scenes with the three adjectives still looks too messy to me, so I wanted to spend some time redoing that section to make all the movements sharp, snappy, and convincing.

I also made sure to touch up other areas such as darkening the image so “upturned foot” can be read easier, fixing text overlaps and tweaking the speed graph to make all movements seamless.

I also had my little brother help me check if my text was appearing on beat so that I could match every animation, text, and image to the exact frame that corresponds with the music.

And so, here is FINAL VIDEO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YAYYYYYY! 🥳🥳🥳

Final Feedback

  1. Really liked playfulness and use of orange color throughout video.
  2. Animations feel very tactile which feels appropriate to Clarendon and images are appropriate to portraying Old West.
  3. Successful use of image!
  4. Very clean animation and well-matched to the beat.

Final Thoughts

Although I was kinda struggling finding an efficient workflow and figuring out After Effects in the beginning of the project, I’m really satisfied with my final video! After figuring out the direction and “vibe” I wanted to go with, the project was actually really fun, and the final result is so satisfying to watch and share with friends and family. When the words and movements match perfectly to the song, and it’s like you can hear the words and shapes and images moving (? i don’t know if this makes sense) and clashing into each other is so amazing to watch.

From this project, I learned how important detail and nuance is in motion—if the text appears half a beat off, it can ruin the whole snappy and clean feeling of the video, and it simply isn’t satisfying to watch. One simple tweak of the speed graph can also transform a stiff animation to something very fluid and convincing. I also learned a lot about the importance of transitions. I was pretty stuck thinking of transitions other than the default screen swipe, but watching kinetic type examples online, tutorials, and my classmates’ in-progress videos helped me think a lot more creatively on how to switch from scene to scene. More technical skills I developed is getting a lot more comfortable in After Effects, as well as learning what the pen-and-paper storyboard → Illustrator → After Effects workflow is like.

Now that our first semester of Sophomore year is done, and we finished the C Mini (kinda felt like I was sprinting a marathon sometimes), one of my biggest takeaways from the class was how to receive feedback and improve your project from there. Because aesthetics in graphic design are so subjective, I sometimes found it hard balancing my likes and aesthetics with a guest/peer critic. Of course, some things are incontestable, like whether your type is readable or not, if the pacing is too fast, if the composition is too cluttered, etc. But in freshman year, I didn’t really “pick and choose” feedback—if a professor said they didn’t like something, I would immediately change it. In C Mini: Vicky, Hannah, Jaclyn, guest critics, our classmates, would often tell us what they saw in our designs, and offer a multitude of suggestions, and then it was up to us to prioritize what feedback to improve upon in the next few days.

Anyways, this was a LIT MINI and I’m going C TRACK!!! yayayayayya (to my mother’s dismay who hoped I would become a Product Designer but nah)