How I Used Kinetic Typography to Tell a Story

  • Harry Hayes

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In This Kinetic Typography Video, the Words Visualize Buildings and Other Community Improvements.

Is it possible to use kinetic typography in a creative, conceptual way?

The answer is obviously yes, as this video for the Cumberland CID would suggest. The video, which was produced to commemorate the CID’s 25 Year Anniversary, started with a simple idea.

Make the words stack on top of each other and form the shapes of buildings and other landmarks within the community. Since the purpose of the Cumberland CID is to promote community improvements it made sense.

However, executing the idea wasn’t so simple. I had never done kinetic typography before, and had a lot to learn in its execution.

Animating Type

First of all, there was the moving type—that’s easy enough to do in After Effects, but if you look closely, the type doesn’t move at a uniform rate. It kind of bounces to a stop.

That’s accomplished using a plug-in called “Ease and Wizz” that adjusts motion in kind of a cartoony way.

Then there’s the shapes of the buildings themselves. Simple rectangles and skyscraper shapes didn’t go far enough. The clients wanted to mimic actual buildings.

So, for example, to simulate the rounded shape of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, I added a “Bulge” effect to the type (shown here).

Kinetic Typography

But by far, the biggest learning curve came with moving the camera. When working with 3D layers in After Effects, you can adjust the camera location, changing the POV. That’s how I was able to zoom in to individual words or buildings, then widen out to see the big picture.

The finished video ended up being hundreds of individual layers, including every line of type, every illustration and a few video clips.

Time consuming, but educational too.

In hindsight, the best thing about this project is it forced me to learn the intricacies of After Effects, and become comfortable creating animation.

Today, I use After Effects more than any other program. And not just for kinetic typography.


About the Author: 

Harry Hayes is the owner and executive producer at Content Puppy Productions, a corporate video production agency based in Charlotte. Before starting Content Puppy, he spent 20+ years as an advertising writer and creative director.

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