As someone who’s been both fascinated and mystified by motion design, I’m super excited to dive into this kinetic typography project. My past experiences with Adobe After Effects left me confused and frustrated, but especially as I’m watching the tutorials linked in our class site I feel ready to try it out again and hopefully conquer the beast.
For my audio, I picked the Scorched Earth scene from Mad Men’s The Summer Man (Season 4, Episode 8). I cut the audio on Audition to keep it between our 30-60s range; starting with Joan’s heels clicking as she walks into the break room (about 0:11), and ending with her walking away (1:03). I tested out a few versions of the end cut, and eventually decided to cut out the short exchange between her and Peggy at the end, which I feel is more to set up the payoff at the end of the episode than it is relevant to this scene in particular. It also felt more impactful to me to end on “I never liked you” and let the full weight of the line settle. I’m very happy with the clip; it’s probably my favorite scene in Mad Men, which in turn is one of my favorite shows — I just love being able to use it in a project.
My first step after transcribing the lines was to look at the type I’d use. Joan plays into the sultry trope, so I wanted to choose something curvy, and a little soft and sweet — I went with Merengue Script. I especially like how it has alternate characters with big swirly ends, which feel perfect for a sarcastic cuteness when combined with the harsh words she’s saying. To contrast with that, the men would be very standard and geometric; to show how they’re ganging up against Joan, I decided to use the same type family (Dunbar Low) and just different weights to denote the characters (Stan is Medium since he’s more dominant in the scene, while Bill and Joey are Extra Light). After that, I picked a color palette somewhat based on the colors of the scene — Joan should be a deep red based on her hair and lipstick, while the men are a more drab green based on Bill and Joey’s pants color. As I worked on the transitions later on, I added the deeper shades that will transition between the red and blue in the end. Because this is a show set in the 1960s, I wanted to keep a mid-century feel, which I think is more or less captured in the font and color choices.
I then set up my artboards with a 3×3 grid inside the video safe area. Again thinking about the contrast between Joan and the men, I decided her lines would be at a smaller size and left-aligned, while theirs would take up as much space as possible and be right-aligned. I also thought of how they would animate on the screen; so far I think Joan’s should just pop up one word (or sometimes syllable, for emphasis) at a time, denoted by the little dots underneath the words. Stan’s will gently fade-in from the left to show his slight drawl, while Bill and Joey’s laughter will slide very quickly from the right. My last touch was finding a distressed halftone texture, again to try to capture a mid-century feel; I think this will be a video layer on After Effects, shifting very slightly from moment to moment (not just artboard to artboard; it should move with every syllable/word, or along with background audio like typewriters and phone rings).
Below is a slideshow of the artboards so far, plus a PDF version of them.