Kinetic Typography. The art of typographic animation and our top 5 styles - Fred & Eric

Kinetic typography is the art of bringing words to life through animation. Combining the forces of motion with words can be a powerful way to communicate a message.

Kinetic typography describes a broad genre of animation, rather than a specific style. This term can be interpreted in many ways, which is why we decided to explore the art of typographic animation and separate the genre into different categories. Perhaps typography might be the way to go for your next animated project!

Dynamic Layout Kinetic Typography

When we think of kinetic typography, the below example by typographic animation masters, MK12 is the first technique we think of. This rapid animation style displays whole sentences with quick-fire energy. Words stack and grow while the camera tracks, twists and turns. It's a classic and timeless technique which has been replicated time and time again. However, the thing that makes a truly stand-out animation in this style, is a mastery of design and attention to typographic detail. Which is in no shortage in this MK12 short titled, Brazil Inspired.

This nimble creative approach is surprisingly legible. Conveying a lot of information in a very short amount of time can be useful for social media spots and urgent campaigns. An impending sense of urgency was exactly why we used this technique for Oxfam International's ebola appeal, below. It's also full of impact whether viewed with or without sound.

Fluid Cel Animated Typography

Beautifully crafted animating typography can often tap into emotions and feelings better than any literal representations could. Proven by this next example for Childline titled First Step. Here, the power of words creates what we at F&E think is the animation equivalent of onomatopoeic results. Fluid animation of the letterforms adds a whole new level of meaning and significance to each word. It's a perfect example of how effectively typography can express a range of emotions and intensify a narrative.

This beautifully crafted animation was created by the legendary BUCK and YCN Studio. Expressive cel animation forms a narrative beyond just simple words. Singling out the power of using typography, especially when dealing with highly sensitive subject matters. With typographic artistry showcased in nearly every keyframe, the result is another timeless piece that perfectly combines technique and subject matter into a highly effective piece of communication.

Rapid-fire Animating Typography

Our next kinetic typography style slides to the opposite end of the typographic animation spectrum. It's one of a series of ads for Honda, titled 'Keep Up', designed and directed by ManvsMachine with W+K London. The spot illustrates how words are used to enforce a beautifully simple narrative theme. Minimal movement and impeccable timing produce a highly memorable campaign.

It's amazing how quickly the brain can read words when they are centralised. A creative approach that Apple have also used in their campaigns.

It's a style we've used on a number of animations, like this short explainer animation created for household delivery service, Bother. Here we used the quickfire text to create breaks in the illustrated animations, keeping the animation fresh and engaging with unexpected and energetic typographic moments.

Individual Letter Typographic Animation

We love this technique. It's a modern and beautifully simple way to animate typography. Letterforms are individually animated with expert detail and precision. Used in moderation, this sophisticated style of animation is instantly eyecatching. We find it even more pleasing when additional meaning is created by the animation. Like the expertly crafted example below by Jeroen Krielaars.

Tracked 3D Animated Typography

Typography tracked into live-action settings creates exciting results. Words can be integrated into settings seamlessly, as illustrated by Saul Bass's iconic North by Northwest titles. Picturemill's Panic Room titles are a reimagination of this design, compositing 3D typography into shots of New York City. The bold sense of scale created by playing with proportions instantly draws the viewer in. We love how the typography creates unexpected visuals as we see it reflect on windows or obscured behind buildings.

Another enduring technique features typography that's tracked to follow live-action motion. Our most memorable example appears in MK12's Stranger than Fiction opening titles. The beautifully set typography compliments what's happening on screen. Unlocking a subconscious layer of meaning that could never be conveyed through the voice-over alone.

Roundup

We've only just dipped our toes into the vast typographic pool of kinetic typography techniques. One thing we know is, however fashions change, typographic animation is here to stay! Kinetic typography is adaptable and enduring. It can inject energy, evoke emotions and effortlessly create additional meaning in a story. No matter what style is used, the instant ease of communication is what makes it such an iconic form of animation.