Fluid Typography: Transforming letterforms in television idents and film title sequences

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Television idents and film title sequences are frequently described as containing 'motion typography', but this and related terminology is vague or misleading, reducing all forms of kineticism to simple motion. Onscreen letterforms often operate more complex temporal behaviours, particularly transformation. Letterforms distort, break apart, or otherwise change until they lose their identity, and adopt a new, alternative identity which may be verbal, pictorial or abstract. Lack of sufficient vocabulary to describe such transformations has forced practitioners to describe their work in terms of previously existing work, thereby limiting the perceived scope of their ideas and the possibility of innovation.
This paper will propose that transforming type has been largely neglected by existing theorists, and will propose methods of classifying the various ways in which one letterform transforms into another. It will be observed that previous texts have tended to focus on changes in global arrangement, and in doing so have neglected to recognise the significance of changes that occur at a local level, within individual letterforms. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the paper will identify processes of metamorphosis, convergence, construction, and revelation, in examples including the Channel 4 idents of Martin Lambie Nairn and The Moving Picture Company, and in the title sequences of Kyle Cooper. New methods of understanding these artefacts will be introduced, with emphasis on local behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
EventTitles, Teasers and Trailers - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 22 Apr 201324 Apr 2013


ConferenceTitles, Teasers and Trailers
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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