Last week my good pal Larry Aydlette turned me on the fun to be had on YouTube with kinetic typography, in which short clips of dialogue from films and television are illustrated with animation. I wish I could just link back to Larry’s original post to give you an illustration of the good and bad examples of kinetic typography he had posted, but, as with all things on his terrific site Welcome to L.A., that post was as fleeting as the wind and is now no longer available. (You can currently catch a fab Apple 45rpm record spin out Billy Preston’s “That’s the Way God Planned It” and a keen consideration of the Dr. Seuss movie The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.; and don’t miss Larry’s review of Hustle, one of the final entries in the now-concluded Burt Reynolds-a-Thon.)
In researching the vast amount of KT available on YouTube, it was clear pretty quickly that there’s quite a variance in style and quality of work out there. Some feature good clips in listless animation that leaves out some of the words—part of the fascination of good KT is seeing just how fast and furious the words come, and how the rate of speed of the delivery of dialogue varies (The Kiss Kiss Bang Bang clip is an excellent illustration of this.) But if the sound sync is off, or if the way the words are represented is unimaginative, even the best patches of dialogue (like some of the stuff pulled from Pulp Fiction or Fight Club, for example) comes off flat, lacking the zing that’s actually there in the words spoken and enacted by the actors.
I’ve picked four clips that I thought were exceptional examples of kinetic typography. Just watch and see how the way the words appear, and the fonts used, can really illustrate well the type of feeling the movie is going after (Full Metal Jacket), can really make you aware of the style and varying pace of two speed-talking actors ( Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) or just allow you to enjoy in a completely different way patches of dialogue you may know like the back of your hairy hand (The Big Lebowski). And imagine the fun somebody is going to inevitably end up having someday taking on a fertile swath of dialogue from a Howard Hawks film, like His Girl Friday or Bringing Up Baby one day.
Full Metal Jacket: Gunnery Sergeant Hartman dresses down Private Joker
The Big Lebowski: Walter and the Dude interrogate Larry Sellers
The Big Lebowski: As we all well know, nobody fucks with the Jesus
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang: some back and forth between Robert Downey Jr. (fast) and Michelle Monaghan (way faster)