CT371 SEC602/603: Intro to Kinetic Typography

Course Information


Course Description

This class introduces all aspects of Kinetic Typography which is the technical name for "moving text." The text content is presented over time to convey meaning, evoke a particular emotion, or visually direct attention in manners that are beyond the capability of static media such as paper-based magazine or poster. The early example of kinetic typography used for the purpose of advertising appeared as early as 1899 in the work of Georges Méliès. The most commonly seen examples of this technique today including opening sequences and credits for movies and TV shows.

The explosive advancement of digital technology greatly enhanced the importance of kinetic typography in recent years. In addition to catalyzing the popularity and ubiquity of kinetic type, digital technology also enabled designers to explore exciting new possibilities by combining movement and interactivity. Advertising designers and graphic designers today are responsible for applying their kinetic typography skills to screen-based design projects such as web sites, banner ads, digital presentation, information kiosk, multi-media display, digital user interface, as well as media contents for mobile devices.

Suggest Readings

  • Meyer, C. & Meyer, T., After Effects Apprentice: Real World Skills for the Aspiring Motion Graphics Artist
  • Brownie, B., Transforming Type: New Directions in Kinetic Typography, Bloomsbury Academic
  • Lupton, E., Type on Screen: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Developers, and Students (Design Briefs), Princeton Architectural Press
  • Yeh, C. J., The Principles of Interaction Design in the Post-digital Age.
  • Yeh, C. J., Digital Aesthetics?
  • Yeh, C. J., The History and Development of Digital Art.


  • In-class exercises: 20%
  • Active Class Participation: 20%
  • First Project: 10% (2% style frames, 2% check point, 6% presentation)
  • Second Project: 10% (2% check point, 8% final presentation)
  • Core Project: 40% (5% research, 10% midterm, 5% check point, 20% presentation)
  • (A: 91% or above, B: 90% - 71%, C: 70% - 61%, D: 60% - 51%, F: 50% or below)

Department Policies

Attendance is not optional. If you are going to miss a class, you must contact me via email ASAP. Due to the quantity of material covered in the course, I will not be able to spend class time explaining missed assignments or redo lectures. If a class is missed, it is your responsibility to get information regarding missed assignments and lectures from one of you classmates. Two tardy marks equal one absence, and three absences may result in failure of the class.

  1. Students are required to attend all classes, be on time, and remain for the entire class.
  2. Students who are absent for 4 classes will receive a grade of "F."
  3. Student who arrives 10 minutes after the start of the class will be considered late
  4. 2 late occurrences = one absence
  5. A student who arrives over 1 hour late or not returning from the break will be consider absent from the class
  6. An excused absence is still considered an absence

Weekly Outline

Session 1

  • Introduction of the course
  • Distribute syllabus
  • Lecture:
    - Branding in the Digital Age
  • Project#1: Brand in Motion / Brand Emotion
    Each student will select the best (or worst) branding project from his/her own design portfolio, and create an online pre-roll brand awareness video (duration: maximum 30 seconds, resolution: 1920x1080, frame rate: 30 FPS, format: H.264). Students must successfully repurpose their existing design into a time-based format and stay within the professional guidelines. The primary goal of the assignment is to inspire students to think beyond traditional print layouts and truly take advantage of the unique attributes time-based medium has to offer. The focus is to evoke emotional responses from the audience; therefore, the question that instructor must constantly challenge the students with are fundamental kinetic typography concepts such as “What kind of movement is appropriate for this concept?” “How do I tell a story or deliver a message in the appropriate sequences?” “How can I use motion to evoke a particular emotion?” “How do I use time to establish a brand personality?”
    - sample: Lia Sfiligoj
    - sample: Lynn Albrinkwitt
    - sample: Laura Arnold
    - sample: Mariko Nishimura
    • - bring the chosen design(s) to the next class (image source files, text, photoshop, InDesign, illustrator or whatever you have)
    • - prepare a brand position statement(s), brand mantra(s), prepare 5 brand personality emotional keywords

Session 2

  • Lecture/Demo:
    - AE Terminologies: .aep, comp, footage
    - workspace layout and general interface
    - Setting up a comp (Commond+N)
    - Edit composition settings (Command + K)
    - Aspect ratios and screen resolutions
    - Frame rate (frame frequency)
    - Demo: speed control
    - Type Tool basics
    - Primary transform properties: Anchor (a), Postion (p), Scale (s), Rotation (r), Opacity (t)
    - Setting up keyframes
    - Go to Time, Time Navagator, Time Ruler, Work Area, and Curent Time Indicator
    - Preview: Spacebar vs 0
    - Set workarea (B, N)
    - Easing basic (Easy Ease: F9)
    - Trim comp to workarea option + click
    - Center anchor point Command + double click pan behind tool
    - Render basics


  • Labor Day - College Closed

Session 3

  • Due: source files, brand mentra, brand positioning statement, and 5 emotional keywords for Brand Personality
  • Demonstrations:
    - View Ruler (Commond+R) and Grid (Commond+")
    - Title/Action Safe
    - Trimming layer (In Point: "Option+[" Out Point: "Option+]")
    - Preview / RAM Preview (0 on numeric keypad* or Control+0 (zero) on main keyboard)
    - Demo: motion path basics
    - Import basics (Commond+I)
    - File management and organization
    - Photoshop vs Illustrator
    - Edit Original (Command+E)
    - Convert to editable text
    - Create shapes from vector layer
    - Continuously rasterize
    - Parenting layers
    - Navigationg AE Timeline

Session 4

  • Demonstrations:
    - deselect all (Command + Shift + A)
    - set keyframe (Option + transform property short-cut)
    - Review import
    - Graph Editor: scale
    - Graph Editor: bouncing ball
    - layer mask basics
    - modify motion path
    - import customized motion path
    - Layer/Transform/Auto-Orient

Session 5

  • Due: Moodboard and storyboard drafts
  • Demonstrations:
    - layer mask
    - review graph editor
    - rove key frame

Session 6

  • Due: Moodboard and storyboard drafts
  • Demonstrations:
    - shape layer basics
    - shape animation basics
    - review layer mask
    - track matte
    - stencil
    - trim path

Session 7

    - replace footage
    - import and working with sound
    - sound related shortcuts
    - add layer marker
    - Pan behind tool
    - sound volume: fade in/fade out
    - Basic 3D

Session 8

  • Demonstrations:
    - pre-composition basics
    - add expression option + click stopwatch
    - first expression - loopOut();
    - cycle, pingpong, continue
    - enable time remaping
    - puppet pin basics
    - expression - wiggle();
    - puppet pin + expression

Session 9

  • Due: Style frames (individual critic) (2%)

Session 10

  • In-class Workshop

Session 11

  • Due: check point, first 15 seconds of animation (individual critic, 2%)
  • In-class Workshop
  • Due next week: Project#1

Session 12

  • In-class Workshop

Session 13

  • Presentation: Project#1 (6%)
  • Project #2: Quick Fire Challenge - More Than Words
  • A two-week project. Each student will pick one word that is meaningful to him/her and create a short but expressive typography animation using only type, shapes, and sound. At the time of the presentation, the student must be able to communicate which animation principle(s) were used in the animation and how these principles emplify the meaning of the word.
  • Assignment Objective: Communicate the visceral meaning though the choreography of shape, text, design, and motion, modulating rhythm, and dynamics and animation principles: 12 basic principles of animation Students will have the foundational elements and basic training needed to now focus on conveying emotion to their audience. The objective of this project is to challenge students to think conceptually and to make time-sensitive decisions. Students are given the opportunity to use their intuition in order to make those decisions on how to evoke emotion through visuals / motion graphics in a 15 second animation.
    - sample: Gabe Ribes
    - sample: Danielle Gosda
    - sample: Dora Maya
  • Duration: maximum 15 seconds, resolution: 1920x1080, frame rate: 30 FPS, format: H.264

Session 14

  • Chosen Word for Project #2
  • Demonstrations:
    - review trim path
    - introduce shape repeater
    - review nesting composition
    - effect: bulge
    - Convert audio to keyframes
    - review pick wipe
    - Layer Label
    - Shy layer
    - write-on effect

Session 15

  • Check point Review: music, storyboard, style frames (2%)
  • In-class Workshop

Session 16

  • In-class Workshop

Session 17

  • Presentation: More Than Words (8%)
  • Final Project: Data, Information, and My Message to the World
    The goal of this assignment is to create a time-based quantitative infographic (duration: minimum 90 seconds (maximum 6 minutes - 360 seconds), resolution: 1920x1080, frame rate: 30 FPS, format: H.264) that is universally understandable and self-explanatory. Students will define their own research topic based on one of the sociological issues facing their own city/country today. The instructor will guide the students through the professional process of research, concept developments, storyboarding, and the final production.
    - sample: Gabriel Ribes
    - sample: Aaron Cheng
    - sample: Danielle Gosda
    - sample: Lia Sfiligoj
    - sample: Tyler Fields
    - sample: Alexis Gallo
    - sample: Si Weon Kim
    - sample: Margaux Le Pierres

Session 18

  • Demonstrations:
    - import image sequence
    - expression: loopOutDuration();
    - effect: color correction- hue/saturation
    - effect: perspective/drop shadow
    - expression: simple math to adjust shadow direction
    - expression: spining at differnt speeds
    - effect: radial swipe
    - expression: from 360 degree to 100 percent

Session 19

  • Due: Research Presentation: 2-3 possible topics and preliminary data (5%)
  • In-class Discussion
    - each student will present 2-3 possible topics and 3-5 key researching findings for each

Session 20


Session 21

  • In-class Workshop
  • Advance Draft: Script for Final Project (2%)

Session 22

  • Mid-term Review: Final research, script, moodboard(s), storyboard(s), and music(s) (10%)
  • In-class workshop
  • Style Frames begin

Session 23

  • In-class workshop: Style Frames review, animation begins

Session 24

  • Class Canceled

Session 25

  • Class Canceled


  • Thanksgiving - College Closed

Session 26

  • Demonstrations:
    - After Effects Paint Basics
    - Window/Workspace/Paint
    - Animate Paint Strokes
    - Paint Channels: RGBA/RGB/Alpha
    - Paint Mode
    - Write-on
    - understanding render order
    - swap footage in timeline (Option + drag & drop)
    - review stencil/silhouette
    - Camera preview
    - Clone Stamp
  • In-class workshop (check point review, 3%)
  • In-class Workshop

Session 27

  • Final Demo:
    - Working with 3D space
    - Camera basics

Session 28

  • In-class Workshop

Session 29

  • In-class Workshop

Session 30

  • Presentation: Data, Information, and My Message to the World! (20%)
  • Final Files Due

Final Words

Keep and backup all the exercises and projects that you have done through out the semester! I will ask you to burn all the project files on one DVD at the end of the semester and give it to me for the final grade.