Whether you’re new to kinetic typography or you’re its number one fan, we’re going to take you through everything you need to know and show you some amazing examples.
But first, a quiz.
Question: What do Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas have in common? Besides being incredible movies, of course.
Answer: They both feature title sequences created by Saul Bass.
If you haven’t heard of Saul Bass, he was a graphic designer best known for his motion-picture title sequences and movie posters. One of the most famous of which is the title sequence for Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, widely regarded as the first ever use of kinetic typography in a feature film. Take a look:
You see the text that slides on screen from different directions? That’s kinetic typography! But, of course, this is just one small use of it (and from sixty years ago). Kinetic typography is a diverse, visual story-telling technique that has evolved over the years and can be used for a wide variety of purposes.
What is kinetic typography?
Put simply, kinetic typography means ‘moving text’. It’s an animation technique that pairs text with motion to convey ideas and evoke emotions in viewers.
There are many benefits to using kinetic typography in your video marketing strategy, especially if you want to future-proof your videos. According to a 2019 report by the World Advertising Research Centre, 72% of internet users will be mobile-only by 2025. And most sites automatically mute videos when accessed by smartphones. By using kinetic typography, you can get your message across even with the sound off.
Plus, we all know the internet is a noisy place. There are hundreds of hours of new videos being uploaded every minute, and you need people to pay attention to yours. Kinetic typography helps to increase engagement by demanding attention from viewers, as they need to read the words to follow along.
14 Kinetic typography videos that mesmerise
So, now that you know all there is to know about kinetic typography, let’s take a look at some video examples.
Build a Bigger Business (Shopify/Tony Robbins)
When speaking to entrepreneurs, you need to get to the point (fast!), and make every word count. This inspirational video for Shopify, starring life-coach and business strategist, Tony Robbins does exactly that.
Typography aside, this video has a lot of energy, with fast-paced editing and a motivational soundtrack to really grasp the attention of viewers. The kinetic typography simply elevates this to the next level.
The theme of the video is ‘hunger’ and this word bursts onto screen several times, along with other keywords, as they are spoken by Tony Robbins. This really works to drive home the message and make it more memorable.
New York Times Turkish Edition (Quba Michalski)
The New York Times is built on words, so it’s poetic that this video builds recognisable landmarks from newspaper pages. In fact, according to the video description on Vimeo, actual pages from the first issue of the Turkish Edition of The New York Times were used in the video. The financial news pages were used for Wall Street and the entertainment news became Times Square.
As this video is all about bringing the American newspaper to Turkey, the video takes viewers on a tour from Manhattan to Istanbul, all with wonderful words!
First Step (Childline)
Abuse is a tough topic to deal with, and, before seeing this video you’d be forgiven for thinking that kinetic typography isn’t capable of conveying an emotional story. But you’d be oh so wrong.
This video, without a voiceover or characters, and very-little graphics, is mainly led by kinetic typography, and yet it tackles the subject in an almost perfect way.
The typography used for the child’s part of the conversation is animated in a way that matches the child’s emotions. When the child feels stuck, the text sticks to the screen like bubble gum; and when the child feels embarrassed and frightened to talk, the words flutter away into nothingness.
In contrast, when the councillor speaks the scene is clear and the text is measured.
From this Childline video, we can learn two things. First, that kinetic typography is extremely diverse, and second, that it is capable of telling almost any story.
Jump (Ford F-150)
A car advertisement is probably one of the last places you’d expect to see kinetic typography. And yet, in this video about the Ford F-150, the text is what carries the story.
30 seconds isn’t a lot of time to make an impact, and Ford seems to be aware of this, starting the video with the phrase, ‘OK, LOOK…’ This no-nonsense approach holds for the rest of the video, and works to grab the attention of viewers.
Ford uses big, bold text to match a big, bold car, and the result is a captivating video that gets their message across plain and simple!
Catch Me If You Can Opening Titles
Based on the introduction to this article, you may think you’ve spotted another of Saul Bass’s movie credits. This movie was actually made after his death, although it’s known to be a strong homage to his work – created by the visual creation duo, Kuntzel+Deygas.
This opening sequence is almost like a story before the story, with kinetic typography acting as one of the main characters. The simple line art that runs through the sequence is cleverly manipulated to pair the names of the actors with props from the story, like this:
The continuous motion here works to mesmerise viewers and grab their attention before the movie has even started.
Internal Communications (Poppulo)
When you only have thirty seconds to say what you want to say, you need to be fast. This video from Poppulo does not miss a beat!
The energetic text dances around the screen to the tune of a funky soundtrack. And the kinetic typography also works seamlessly alongside the icons in the video. An example of this can be seen when the phrase ‘uncover your vision’ transforms into a blinking eye:
This video shows that you can have fun with typography and animation, even if your focus is on B2B topics.
From Paper to Screen (Thibault de Fournas)
This video by Thibault de Fournas uses typography to explain typography – pretty clever, right?!
This real-time demonstration is divided into two parts, with the first part displaying the basic rules of typesetting and the second telling a history of kinetic typography in film.
This divide also has a secondary function in that it shows us just how diverse typography can be. The first half of the video, with the letters moving around screen in time to Debussy’s Clair De Lune is world’s apart from the second half of the video, which is more dramatic and intense.
Keep Up (Honda)
This video by Honda uses kinetic typography to challenge the viewer to pay attention. A genius idea that led to the video going viral and being used around the globe, despite it being originally intended as a UK-only campaign.
The way the words appear on screen one at a time and then increase in pace as the ad progresses makes viewers feel like they’ve been challenged, and have ‘pushed their limits’ – which is the core message of the ad.
Instead of making the car the focus of the advert, Honda made the challenge the focus, and this ultimately made the video extremely shareable.
Spider-Man Opening Titles
Although not part of the official Marvel Cinematic Universe, the 2002 Spider-Man film was possibly the first to feature Marvel’s iconic animated logo. If that wasn’t enough to make this opening sequence amazing, then the kinetic typography will surely win you over.
The text, which looks to be made of webbing, tumbles on screen one letter at a time, and each word lands on a different spider’s web. This continuous motion creates a mesmerising effect and works to prepare the viewer for the world they are about to enter.
Tomorrow I’ll be Brave (Jessica Hische)
Tomorrow I’ll be Brave is a children’s bedtime story by Jessica Hische. This animated video uses kinetic typography to bring the pages of the book to life in this fun, short trailer.
The most interesting thing about this video is that the words themselves are used to create entire scenes. For example, the word ‘STRONG’ becomes the tunnels of an ant farm, and the word ‘CONFIDENT’ is the battleground for a knight slaying a dragon:
This approach makes the video quite different to all of the others on the list and definitely presents a unique way of using kinetic typography.
Conan O’Brien (Jacob Gilbreath)
Speeches are a great use case for kinetic typography, as this video demonstrates.
The stripped-back white and grey palette ensures that the viewer’s focus is on the message, rather than any other distractions on screen. Although the yellow icons add a nice pop of colour and help to break up the words while also emphasising certain points.
When the video zooms out at the end to show the whole speech, it really demonstrates how carefully choreographed this 3D video is.
Kid President Peptalk (Taylor English)
Kid President is a young, motivational speaker. And the motion of the text in this video really helps to emphasise the passion and enthusiasm in his voice when he speaks. Whenever the peptalk becomes particularly emotive, the words burst on screen in big, bold letters.
The use of icons in conjunction with the kinetic typography also helps to tell the story in a fun, childlike manner that matches the voiceover.
This video was originally live action, so if you want to have fun comparing both versions then check out this article.
Be Water, My Friend (Júlio Cargnin Pereira)
This short video packs an incredible punch (pun absolutely intended). The audio, snipped from an interview conducted shortly before Bruce Lee’s untimely death is married up perfectly with the kinetic typography – and this superb editing has earned the video thousands of views.
Message aside, this video is a great example of how versatile kinetic typography can be. The words stretch, float, melt, flow – and do whatever else is required to back up the story. It shows that, just as water can be manipulated, so can typography.
For our last video, we thought we’d showcase a completely different use case for kinetic typography: a video CV. It’s no secret that job markets are becoming more and more crowded and competitive, and a video can be a great way to stand out in an employer’s inbox.
This video by Guillaume Drigeard isn’t especially flashy. The typography animates in a simple way, but it gets each point across clearly. And it’s been viewed over 30,000 times – pretty great for a CV!
Kinetic typography is such a diverse technique that it can be used to tell almost any story – as the 14 amazing videos in this article demonstrate.
If you’d like to find out about other types of videos, take a look at this article: 6 Types of Animation Used by Brands.