The entire history of human expression, slightly abridged
This film started out, like so many movies, as a book, and the book was better.
Just My Type, by Simon Garfield, is one of the best books I’ve read in the past year. It’s a hilarious, impeccably told history (a sporadic, idiosyncratic history) of typefaces and fonts. Garfield does a great job writing about type in a way that is accessible to non-professionals, although one suspects that the constant reminders about which designer designed which typeface (even after we’ve covered it) were inserted after the initial draft, possibly at the urging of an editor or marketing professional?
But the book got me thinking about typefaces and fonts, especially about the connections we make between them and memory and identity. There are too many great examples of iconic fonts–the London underground, the Brady Bunch logo–but seeing photos of the New York subway signs immediately made me think about what strong associations that certain typefaces can have. And in reading about the history of typefaces, and how Swiss values were reflected in Helvetica and Univers, and how German certain blackletter typefaces looked, and about how Gotham got used in President Obama’s 2008 campaign, I decided to make this movie asking what a Michigan typeface would look like.
I made the individual slides in Gimp and the just stacked them in Premiere, one after the other, and cut it to the music (I got the music from freemusicarchive.org). I don’t use any effects, really, but I knew I couldn’t use Windows Movie Maker, at least not easily. Windows Movie Maker only allows you to make each clip a certain amount long, in increments of one second. I theoretically could have stacked them all up, making each a little bit longer than I needed, exported the video, then re-cut it the exported video to the music (which is what I would have had to do without Premiere), but instead I just used the more powerful program from the beginning of the project.
In hindsight, I should have made the slides on a 4:3 ratio so that they would fill the entire frame. Also, certain moments–the color of the words TRAVERSE CITY and DETROIT–are more difficult to read than I would like, and if I were doing this all again I’d change them. But it’s made now, and I’m eager and excited to move, finally, onto digital audio.
But first, one more video.