Kinetic typography, also known as kinetic text, is a graphic design animation technique that uses dynamic type - moving, vibrating, sliding, scrolling, dancing or any kind of movement you can think of - to create eye-catching letters that can make otherwise static text come alive and grab the viewer's attention.
It's more than likely you've seen examples of kinetic typography around you every day but just weren't aware it was a 'thing'.
It's been around for quite a while. Animated text was used as early as 1899 by George Melies but unfortunately this work hasn't survived to this day. One of the earliest existing examples, maybe the very first example, are the opening titles from Alfred Hitchcock's film Northby Northwest. It was created by Saul Bass - one of the undisputed bonafide geniuses in the world of graphic design and cinema.
Since then it's been used regularly. It's been especially common in film titles (such as the famous Star Wars opening crawl) and company idents.
It's enjoying enough of a resurgence lately to be considered a trend. This is for a perfect storm of reasons:
1) As computer software has become increasingly sophisticated and affordable in recent years, it has meant that anyone can do it. This has led to a tsunami of designers (professionals as well as ordinary joes and josephines) trying it out.
2) With attention spans seemingly getting shorter every year, kinetic typography is an ideal way to grab and retain that precious span.
3) But finally, perhaps most importantly, and stemming from the previous two reasons, it has seen an explosion of popularity on social media - especially tiktok. If you want to make a short, attention-grabbing film which looks cool and stylish - using kinetic text is the way to go.
It's also used extensively by companies and brands to get their message out on social media, especially as is the increasing case, videos are watched without sound. This is a hugely important factor in its current popularity.
Kinetic typography is somewhere between text and moving image. If you are faced with a choice of having some eye-popping visuals or some relevant messaging to squeeze into the few seconds of your social media film, then kinetic typography is the ideal solution as it allows you to do both.
Another area where it's used a lot is in explainer videos. These can often be dry and uninteresting so designers use as many tricks as they can to make them come alive. Kinetic typography is a perfect way to make explainer videos more engaging.
There are 3 basic kind of kinetic typography:
Motion Typography – Scrolling Typography
This is text that moves along a single plane together in a block - it can be in any direction in 3 dimensions - upwards, downwards, sideways or advancing and receding.
Motion Typography – Dynamic Layout
In this form, the letters or words can move independently in relation to the other letters and words around them. It's super-useful for adding dynamism to a video.
This is where the words themselves change shape or appearance rather than moving in space.
Kinetic typography is being used increasingly frequently in many different areas. It's a cost-effective way of making your film stand out and can kill two birds with one stone by being visually impactful but also practical in terms of getting information across.
There's endless examples out there if you want to spend the time looking for them but here is a topnotch collection of examples, all handily curated in one place.
It's becoming such a big thing that vimeo has its own channel dedicated to kinetic typography https://vimeo.com/channels/kinetictypography
There's also plenty of youtube tutorials like this one to give you an overview
Ads are an ideal medium for kinetic typography. It helps to hammer home the message (especially if it's being watched with no sound) and can give the visuals a bold, dynamic feel.
This Apple ad is a brilliant example of its use. The text almost becomes a character itself in the film - propelling the story, reacting to it and emphasizing the important information.
Another area where it's used a lot is in explainer videos. It's probably no coincidence that these two trends are exploding together at the same time as they work so well together. Explainer videos can often be dry and uninteresting, or focusing on subjects that are information-heavy, so designers use as many tricks as they can to make them come alive. Kinetic typography is a perfect way to make explainer videos more engaging.
The most important aim of a documentary is getting information across to the viewer. If you have an especially important piece of information that you really want the viewer to notice, then kinetic typography is a perfect tool for doing this. It's also ideal for putting emphasis on a great quote during an interview.
One of the hottest trends within a trend is recreating the dialogue from a movie scene using kinetic typography. It's an area where creators can let their imagination run wild.
Do you have a favourite song but can never understand or remember the lyrics? Kinetic typography is perfect for solving this problem and it's why they are so popular among music fans right now. The best ones use the text as a dynamic image within the video that reacts to the words.
Kids don't read books anymore and get most of their education from Tiktok. We live in an increasingly visual-based society and so it seems a little weird that text is trending… but that's the reality of this topsy-turvy world! Text is being reinvented to support other visual media - either through titles, subtitles or as a medium in itself. It's almost a new form of communication and that's really exciting.
It's a dynamic time for animators, filmmakers and graphic artists who are using kinetic typography right now. The possibilities seem huge and there's a great DIY attitude that's resulting in some amazing creativity.