Kinetic Typography: If a writer can design it, so can you
Kinetic typography has grown in popularity the last few years. It’s a video technique where words fly onto the screen, forming interesting shapes and patterns. There’s only one minor problem.
Animating Type Is Hard
When I started work on this video for the Cumberland CID, it seemed simple enough. The basic idea was to have words stack on top of each other and form the shapes of buildings and landmarks. 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 before I could pull this off.
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.
I designed the type to resemble Cumberland CID landmarks. For example, to mimic the rounded shape of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, I added a “bulge” effect to that type (shown here). The layers were also 3D, enabling me to control depth as well as height and width. That’s how I was able to give the type perspective, and position the building shapes relative to each other.
But by far, the biggest learning curve came with moving the camera. 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 problem is the camera controls in After Effects aren’t all that easy to use. After several hours of research and online tutorials, I was finally able to figure it out.
Kinetic Typography is Lots of Layers
The finished video ended up being hundreds of individual layers, including every line of type, every illustration and and a few video clips. The excavator illustration seen here was four or five layers—every segment of the arm had to move individually.
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 editing program.