Motion Type Review

517: please record your detailed comments about the Project Three motion work. Cite specific pieces and note how time, motion, image, type, and message are functioning.

posted by Tony Brock on April 12, 2005 | comments: 19 | post a comment


Hey lady - I just wanted to be the first to tell you (again) how engaging your work was. I think we exhausted the word "anticipation" in class, but what you managed to do was what I equate to relief sculpture. You took that basic, black square, and carved our your light creations over time. It was really fun to watch with and without sound.

However, as for sound, I was thinking about it afterwards, and you picked/mixed some interesting stuff. It spanned the whole spectrum from delicate tinkly sounds to the loud thrashing "zoom" thunder roll at the end - which again, takes all the basic principles we've learned about as desingers - like high contrast, balance, scope - and applied it to the music - good job - for thinking so progressively!!!

One final mean and critical remark: There's one second where the viewer sees the edge of the frame on the lower right hand side as your amoebic shape zooms at the viewer - I suggest - enlarging that tot he point that you get rid of the line, it's that one moment of opaqeness that fights against the feeling of absorption that the viewer has when experiencing the piece.

Cheers, Jess

Posted by Jessica G. on April 14, 2005 09:29 AM

Kat -

Hey there - I wanted to comment on your work. First of all, I applaud you for taking on such a weighty statement, it's not easy to do that kind of interpretation with directed meaning - if you aren't the original author! At any rate, I agree with the class and believe you have adventures in editing ahead of you. You have a lot of video with tons of content that leaves things a little too open for the viewer.

In the beginning of your piece, you set up a scenario where you follow the right/left movement of the kitchen faucet. I liked this narrative device as it builds a certain style of read for the viewer (such as "what will happen as I pan left, and right? Will it be the expected or a surprise?). I think this is a natural place to start considering your choice of transitions. You could consistently pan in (left) and out (right) of the frames and you take the viewer deeper into your piece.

As for your overlapping of content. I think normally this works great. But, as we discussed in class, the "boxiness" of the central box, just totally trumps what's happening in the background. It's edges and corners are just too opaque for the viewer to overlook. For this to work more effectively, I believe the piece would have to be shot against black with no edges, to create a floating center type of feel. But instead, I suggest planting the two videos side by side (right, left) - that will create a different kind of juxtaposition of image/content and may be a great way for you to explore your more 'heavy, femiinist" statement and then your more "driving narrative" of the housework and such.

Caio, Jess

Posted by Jessica G. on April 14, 2005 09:36 AM

Hulloh Tyler,

Great job on your movie. One thing that I really admire about your work, is how you realized a rich and moody color-palette through your analog channels. You acheived great earthy reds and umbers and it had a very appropriate feel. As for content, I'm glad you removed the connective word "drowned" because it keeps the reader working hard and respects his/her intelligence.

I would say that your piece is extremely imagistic, though thoroughly type-driven. I think you pushed the "creation" of type process farther than anyone, and ended up with watery, dimensional forms that blur the line between type and image in a wholly originally way - nothing anthopomorphic, just deep.

Okay - so now on to the sound discussion. Sadly, I didn't like any of the sound. I'm sorry to say that - but well, it's true. I think the the starting and stopping and was just too fractured and fought against your piece causing certain parts to hold more meaning - which isn't necessary. Instead, as a viewer, I appreciated your watery landscape and wanted to "find" the moments of impact that were my own. The silence/speaking emphasis ran contrary to my own reading/pacing and I think it may have for other viewers as well.

I like the speaking idea as ambient sound, rather than music and think you should def. go with that -there is something performative and curious about that choice - which I think is good. However, I think the sounds if possible, need to be more muffled and from deeper in history. I know it's an odd thought - but possible renting an old movie or tv show and recording it as it plays - could allow you to get older slang and more prominent voices. I have a CD of people speaking who are voice-over actors trying to get cast in commercials - just voices - but I have a feeling it'll be too "zippy" for you. Anyway - just some thoughts.

Great work though, you created a world through your type, and that "under" shot was spectacular.

Cheerio, Jess

Posted by Jessica G. on April 14, 2005 09:47 AM

i wanted to say that i thought your movie was inspiring. i enjoyed seeing an effort to work type, narrative, video, style, music into a meaningful whole. you have some very poetic moments, particularly the filmed projections, and the footage of the tree. i don't recall if at the first crit we could actually see the quilt, but i think it might work better if it isn't so recognizable. you already establish that this is an intimate space with the sheet footage. overall, it feels like it needs to be edited down a little. the repetitive music draws it out even longer. is there a way to address that both your movie and the music are cyclical? because i mentioned that i wasn't particularly fond of the footage of the woman in the flower shop, i'll offer a few alternatives. i assume through the tone of the piece, that we aren't meant to be empathizing with a stalker, more sypathizing with the person who is experiencing loss. what if we just saw an empty space — a place where a person might have disappeared, an empty parking lot, a park bench? again, let me say that when you first showed the piece, it was an effective sensory and emotional flood. to bring the work to a finished form, i think this flood needs to be checked so that we as an audience feel consciously "let in" to have a glimpse into this condition of loss. i appreciate that you have dared to tread into emotional territory as a designer. nice work.
jon senior

Posted by jonathan hyland on April 16, 2005 09:14 AM

Jess Rose,
Typographically, your filtering is actually quite sophisticated, in spite of the fact that we know how it was done... What I mean is that while there is no mystery in how you constructed the blackboard sequence, the choice to edit out the moments where you were at the board erasing it forces us to suspend our disbelief a little bit; it’s a bit surreal, and an example of something that can only be done with technological intervention. Yet, it’s not employing all of the obvious digital/digitized tropes. Very smart, and very genuine! I’m also glad that you moved beyond that environment, and into popular culture to expand your message—the typography on the shirts was an appropriate setting, but what if at some point you treated the typography on the shirts in the way that Jon Harris and (s)Tyler used typography on fabric? A transition from the type on the shirts to projecting the type on the shirts, and then maybe lifting it out of that environment would blend the real/surreal for an unexpected moment.
I think the least successful part of your piece is the soundtrack. I can’t even recall what it was, but my notes mentioned my reaction to the soundtrack, and I think that my inability to recall it may say something about its inability to resonate. Maybe a conversation that indicates that teens recognize what is falsely taught as truth? Perhaps this just reiterates what you're already doing; I wish I could offer a better alternative.
In addition to being a strong solution to this particular assignment, your piece was very strong, and very effective in the way which you struck that delicate balance between being highly critical of a controversial issue and yet not preachy/removed in how you tackled it. You approached your audience in a way that clearly communicates that you are one OF them, and not preaching TO them. While it’s not an aesthetic issue, it is absolutely a design issue. We are after all visual communicators, right? Hold on to that ability, and exploit this as one of your strengths!

Posted by Tracy on April 16, 2005 12:13 PM

jon f h,
soooooo glad that you edited down the razor sequence; but not only did you edit it down/out, you created a typographic solution that was not equal to, but GREATER than the emotions you were trying to convey initially. And don’t even think that your use of Scripto was lost on me!!!!!! This was the designer’s equivalent of the writer’s soul being in the work—you used the words and graphically carved them into your body. Your piece was gorgeous; it lost the campyness that was working against it and evolved into a more sophisticated expression of your message. It’s no longer dark and gloomy in a B-movie style, but personal and evocative and effective in a way that only a designer could translate. Your re-working of this piece also shifted back to an emphasis on typography; the imagery supports the typography rather than competing with it as it sometimes did in your earlier version. I think you already knew this, because you kept warning us not to get too caught up in what it was at that time. Still lovin’ the little birdy too. In the first version, the transition from bird to porch was a gorgeous transition; with the new version, it’s not as clear a transition, but that’s ok because now the typography is integrated and the bird pecking at the repeat sequence is smart, fitting—and hysterical.

Posted by Tracy on April 16, 2005 02:26 PM

wow, thanks for the love. i have to respond to your comments simply by saying that i really appreciate how you notice every detail of your peers' work — don't think that this has gone unnoticed!

Posted by jonathan hyland on April 16, 2005 02:48 PM

oh, and by the way, thanks for suggesting that i use scripto.

Posted by jonathan hyland on April 16, 2005 04:19 PM

mister harris (glab-glibbidy-flib-flab)
i think your piece did a mighty fine job of creating an overall sense of meloncholy and loss. the music choice complemented the visuals well -- something about that classical piano coupled with the tree against the blue sky really sets a specific mood for me at the outset of the piece. it also does a good job of building the message over time, giving me those fragments here and there. i believe tony mentioned the fact that he was really trying to read even the backwards text as it moved across the screen, as was i. i found that aspect interesting--that i was both able and willing to read a few words of backwards and moving type. the handling and composing of the shots was quite good overall -- the handheld ovservations of the women worked well, and the tree shots were beautiful.

a few things i think could be improved upon:
it would be nice to see more compositional variety in the piece. the tree shots showed some variation, but didn't really build in a specific way. perhaps a secondary plotline could be implicit in the progression of the tree shots--growth, death, from earth to sky, etc. also tony mentioned the "i know how it was done" factor in the blanket shots, which i agree with. the warping and flowing text was quite seductive, but the surface was kind of obvious. not sure how to rectify that -- maybe making your own curving surface so its more abstracted somehow. on type vs image: your piece did seem to be more about the image (maybe 60/40 or so), which i think became easy to switch over to. the switching between type segments and image segments sets up a nice rhythm, but maybe you could investigate a range within the piece, which may give more variety.

that is all , comarade.

Posted by tyler on April 18, 2005 09:41 AM

miss kroop
for me, the strongest bit in the work you showed the other day (i know you're making changes to it) was the part with the type moving around really quickly, because it revealed bits of the phrase over time, and not necessarily in a traditional syntax kind of manner. i guess tony's kind of beat that idea into me (i'll show you the marks if you want), but i do think there's a nice sense of anticipation utilized there. if there is a way you could build that idea out through the whole piece, that would help a lot i believe. the "don't go so quickly" right after the opening title kind of gives the whole thing away for me. it may be nice to teach us the french translation through comparing the two languages over time. i believe you're working on the "XTREME kroop crop" version now, and i'm anxious to see how that affects the piece.

on type vs image, you did a great job of keeping yourself focused on the type, so definite kudos for that. there are definitely some nice treatments like the quick movements/fuzzy, blown out type, and the original bubbly oil/water stuff was quite nice. the type choice kept a nice literary feel to it, which is a good not to mr proust. i think he will love seeing those intimate details you are probably working on right now.

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Posted by tyler on April 18, 2005 10:07 AM

jess gladstoner:
i must commend you for not being married to your work. you all but chucked your earlier "fortune" idea and basically started from scratch, which is very hard to do. lots of designers (including myself) get pretty attached to some aspect of the work and insist on keeping things, often to the detriment of the final piece. a "woohoo" for avoiding that trap.

all that said, i'd take what you learned about pacing and rhythm and improve the first piece (like we talked about in crit). i think you have a continuum built up between the two pieces, and exploring the space in the middle may be beneficial. that continuum is as follows: the new piece has multiple levels of information--the old one has one level (speaking in broad terms), the new piece has a good rhythm set up with the recurrence of the pedaling shot (a more overt rhythm--larger gestures and slower pace over the whole movie)--the old one has much less sense of rhythm (there is rhythm there, but much tighter, smaller, staccato movements). so maybe a revised piece plays with rhythm and contrasts and info layers in the range between the two earlier pieces. hope that helps.

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Posted by tyler on April 18, 2005 12:02 PM



Posted by Tracy on April 18, 2005 02:10 PM

john h,

I just wanted to comment on your piece and the range of exploration through type. I think you definitely emphasized type through your piece(digitally,projected, type as image, read, "carved" pixelled, etc) which was the ultimate goal. They type created multiple reads as well through the cyclical treatment. There was a lot of repetition but that is pretty easy to edit. You responded well to the first comments made when you showed it the first time and really progressed with maintaining the same idea and mood but treating some parts more sophisticated. Nice job!

Awesome sound. Im actually going to work on sound and words for the final project so I will have to get up with you to see how you approached sound. I remember us talking about your piece being abstract and the message to it. Mabye the image by itself with no sound was abstract but the message seems clear with the sound. Maybe your not trying to tell us something specific through readable words but you made us react through just type as image, light, pacing and sound. Which is just as successful, there was a clear beginning and end and you took us through time. So, the visual message seemed rather clear to me. Nice work and you really inspired me to work more with sound and the impact it has and suspense it creates.

Posted by vb2k on April 18, 2005 07:45 PM

Grad students [a select and fine choice thereof + VB2K] rule. Cheers to you for meeting the course requirements. : )

I find it clear that most got seduced by the video image and did not move too far from capturing it and presenting it as is. In addition, many fixated more on the environment—the container, the setting—and found the cinematic image/statement more engaging than the typographic image/statement. In the big scheme maybe this is a non-issue but a few questions must be considered before we wholesale change the title of the course.

1. Is there a fundamental [language-changing] difference in the way type and image synthesize in time and motion as apposed to space? If yes, how?

2. Living in a land of both nuance and generalities, how can we make a case that the typographic solution in print suffers less by being isolated from ‘image’ than that of the time/motion solution? Does time/motion typography produce an image that is inherently lacking in many ways? Does this type rely primarily on its abstracted states of mutability to meet its greater potential?

3. Is it a cop-out to rely on image pure and simple without following the outlined criteria of the assignment?

These questions need to be addressed and the primacy of typography in these exercises defended/explained.

Posted by Tony on April 18, 2005 08:11 PM

My understanding of question number two brings up the issue of duration and how it is controlled differently between the two media. Time-based media generally require variation, movement or a certain behavior, in order to meaningfully span a duration. Motion pieces function in a way that is both distracting and absorbing, creating an immediate experience which collapses the distance between the viewer and the work. In order for typography to truly occupy a place in time-based media, it must exist in deliberate relationship to the conditions which the media presupposes. In other words, it emphatically should not attempt to function like print (I am not referring to VB2K's piece here, which uses the medium to slow us into a discussion of the differences between the two). Motion typography dwells in a place between that which is read and that experienced. In print, type opposite an image on a single spread holds us in a place of interpretation. The time the engager spends here is dependent on the richness of the dialogue between the two elements, which is in part dependent on the impact of the typographic statement. VB2K's piece considers these differences at a point of coincidence — first where type functions as both image and referent on the printed page, second where print is remediated into a time-based context. The final piece holds us in a place between the immediacy of experience and the interpretive act of reading. Where a filmed motion piece normally attempts to operate transparently, here it serves to call our attention to media as something which can also be read. The result is a dialogue between print and motion which calls into question our assumptions about how both operate. Finally, it is ultimately typography which provides a context for this dialogue by recurrently reminding us of the tension between interpretive and experiential durations.

Posted by jonathan hyland on April 19, 2005 01:10 PM

Jessica G:
You movie is very dependant on image, but don't disregard how well crafted that image is. You camera angles are fresh and they still give me the information I need. I enjoy the one second bits of footage of you in a place unknown. It adds a lot to the piece. The bits of type that I enjoyed the most were the sign-like images (the treatment of to word generic comes to mind). I liked to music you picked as well, it seemed to add more information that wasn't expressed visually.

I think most have expressed what your piece so clearly uses: suspense and anticipation. It reminds me of a really good movie title sequence. There are three separate changes in pace that work to your advantage and make a nice transitions. For example, changing from the open-&-close-blinds-lit letters to the posterized A, makes for a nice break in visual subject matter. Also, I like how you use such highly-contrasted well-lit letterforms with murky photocopied posterized letters. I could go on and on about the imaging, but I also want to mention the audio. I admire that you mixed your own audio. The sound makes such a difference in terms of impact and for some reason it helps me better understand your movie.

You implement 3 basic parts in your movie: the projector screen, sheet, and the oil bubbles. Your piece is visually interesting, but could benefit from cropping. To be specific, there is one part where the type on the projector screen is going off the screen. This became much more interesting because it added mystery to how the screen is moving, I could no longer tell a person was waving it around. Oh, and whether or not it was on purpose, the little bit of audio at the end nicely finished your movie. It was unexpected and complemented everything else.

Jon Harris:
I really liked your imagery. And I like the treatment of the type. However, it was very difficult for me to read. I would rather be able to read bits and pieces throughout the movie than to "get the answer" at the very end. This seemed like it gave away a secret that I would have much rather decoded from the movie itself. Overall, I liked the message and how it was treated, and the audio went well with it.

Posted by Jessica R on April 19, 2005 02:58 PM

where the f are the other critics?

Posted by tyler on April 21, 2005 12:46 PM

Here is a special thanks to Ms. Jessica Gladstone, Master Jonathan Hyland, Commander Tracy Kroop, Eye-in-the-sky Tyler Galloway, Networker Sarah Ensminger, and the Great Mysterioso Jessica Rose for taking their time and meeting the needs of the collective by reviewing Time+Motion work online. Three cheers to you all—your efforts are duly noted.

Posted by tony on April 24, 2005 08:21 AM

So...I am late. I am sorry.

I feel like my piece has gotten enough attention for one semester. I do appreciate all of your comments, AND out of class. I will speak of it no more, though, at the risk of sounding "vain." (That Carly Simon tune kinda gets on my nerves, ya know??)

At any rate...on the whole it was very interesting to see the things that people came up with independently. Lots of us being separated from eachother in separate studios in different parts of the building, we don't have eachother's ideas and different readings of the project to feed off of. That's one thing I've noticed about having an upper-level design's not as much a community project, it's closer to independent study, then meeting as a group after the fact. It can be weird for juniors like me who havent' had that experience until this semester, but it also makes for a lot more interesting results in class, I think.

I have been thinking about what in this project made so many pieces turn to image. It is almost as if it was a natural thing...image wasn't all-out eliminated as a choice, so it was used, in some more extensively than in others. I don't know if I want to call using image over type a "cop-out", because I am trying to imagine if, in theory, these pieces were all viewed by a different group of people who were just watching them for enjoyment. Would they find some of the more image-based ones to be stronger than the typographically-based ones? I don't know.

I guess I will say that using lots of image simply watered down the idea of studying typography in motion, though it definitely did result in some nice pieces.

Hyland: I admire your creativity in different ways of portraying the typography in your piece.

Harris: The music in your piece was beautiful, and it did create a sense of mystery about the woman in the video. I definitely would look into ways of incorporating more typography in the story, though.

Jessica G: Way to keep on trucking! I really did enjoy your second iteration of your piece. If the type could somehow become just as active and message-carrying as your image was (formally, that is), I think it could be even better. I guess what I mean is try to think of gestures you could express with your typography, rather than just making it look cool (which you did! ^^)

Jessica R: As always, with something a little different. It was a strong piece from the beginning, and though it looks simple, stop-animation is no easy task! I applaud you for that. I really think the classroom environment set the stage for the message we got from the work, too. Had it been in a scientific lab, or some dark alley, the message would have been quite different, so you took that editorial position and directed us on how to feel about it. Really nice job, I think it worked out great.

Tyler: Your piece also has some very interesting emotions attached to it (obviously) which I think was great fodder for a project like this. I know your sound was giving you trouble the whole way through...I hope, if you plan on re-editing, you are able to find something that works for you. My ideas for it were something like "white noise," like the sounds you'd hear in church while everyone is waiting for the service to start, or in a graveyard when someone is visiting a loved one's tomb...there are noises, but only slight ones, and that signifies silence. I hope that makes sense. Ooga booga!

Tracy: You made mucho progress in your piece as well. I agree that the close-up thingy that Mr. Harris did helped out a lot, but it wasn't all out of your hands! You created some fine gestures and formal comparisons, without which the close-ups surely wouldn't have looked half as nice! So good work :)

VB2K: I really enjoyed your final piece. It was sort of haunting in a way, probably because of the lighting and your voice-overs :) I commend you for using the actual book in your motion piece...I'm not sure I would have been quite as brave to do something like that. I think you did it well, though, and the little nuances throughout the piece (the hand printed on the page, etc) really kept us with it. Good work!

And everyone should come to the Speed Street Nascar Festival in Charlotte on May 28 with me and come see Styx! It will be quite rockin', despite the Nascar.

Posted by Agent K on April 24, 2005 11:03 AM