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Kinetic Typography Assignment

This is your major assignment for the Animation section of this course. It will count for 10% of your final grade. You will produce 2min of text animation using Adobe AfterEffects, at least 30 seconds of which is "production" quality. Some form of sound must accompany the text animation. You'll upload your video to YouTube or Vimeo, and turn in an accompanying Designer's Statement.

Assignment details

  • 2 minutes of animated text. At least 30seconds of this text must be "production quality," that is, it must look pretty good and be pretty close to your intended design. The rest can be footage of you trying out interesting techniques in AfterEffects. It should be exploratory but it can be messy and glitchy.
  • Your production quality animation must have a sound accompaniment. Your sound could be spoken words that line up with the text, or it could be more abstract or musical. It could be both, say, if you choose to animate a song.
  • The sound, text, topic and theme are all entirely up to you.
  • You can choose to use copyrighted text or music or sound, but know that your video stands a chance of being pulled offline if you do. I think that this is fair use, and I've never seen that happen, but be sure to have your raw files backed up in case.
  • The end of your video should include credits for you, your featured text and sound, and any other pertinent information.
  • Designer's Statement of 500-750 words that describes your composing process, triumphs, frustrations, things you learned, etc.
  • Rough cut of your animation is due for workshopping in class 11/17. (I don't have a deadline for an optional draft due to me for feedback this time, but feel free to ask me for feedback in class workshop time and in office hours.)
  • Final versions of your animations and Designer's Statement to be graded due 12/1 (11:59pm), linked in a blog post and tagged #kinetictypographyproject.


For this assignment, I'm asking you to produce a piece of kinetic typography, or animated text, similar to what you've viewed in class. Your text should enhance the sound that you've chosen or it should stand on its own to create a particular feeling or effect. You need to turn in 2 minutes of text animation. At least 30 seconds of your work should be pretty good, production quality, roughly what you want it to be like. You can turn in up to 1min 30sec of animations where you're playing around with effects. I expect that this stuff will be glitchy or messy but I want to see geniune exploration here, not just some simple animations or preset animations.

This assignment also includes a 500-750 word Designer's Statement of 500-750 words that describes your composing process, triumphs, frustrations, things you learned, etc. You can write about how the animation of text contributes to the sound you've chosen, your choice of font, transitions, color, etc. Included in this Statement should be the link to your Vimeo or YouTube upload, as well as your List of Sources (which doesn't count toward your word count total). You will turn this in to Pitt Box, in doc/x, md or pdf format.


I will assess your animation project based on these criteria:

  • Do you follow the terms of the assignment, including turning in your files in the correct format?
  • Have you included your Designer's Statement and explained your choices well?
  • Have you included credits on your production animation that indicate where you got any outside source from, including audio?
  • Does your text animation enhance the context of the words or the sound of the words you've chosen? (production quality only)
  • Is the text legible and paced well with the sound? (production quality only)
  • Have you considered your font and color choices thoughtfully? (production quality only)
  • Do your animations have some variety and fit the words they're matched with? (production quality only)
  • Have you tried to do some interesting animations, not just presets or simple moves? (experimental and production quality)

Where and how to turn in your work

You will need to do your project in Adobe AfterEffects, which is available on all Pitt lab computers.

You will upload your final versions of both experimental and production quality clips to either YouTube or Vimeo. You'll need to upload it in mp4 format with H264 compression. See here for Vimeo guidelines and here for YouTube guidelines.

You will turn in your 500-750 word Designer's Statement in your Pitt Box folder with a link to both your experimental and production quality clips.

A few tips on composing this assignment

You might want to choose the audio first and storyboard the kinds of effects that you'd like to do. Keep in mind that AfterEffects is a complicated program, and the examples you've seen are usually done by people who have spent a lot of time with the program. Yours probably won't look as good, but that's ok.

Choose a sound that you won't mind hearing over and over and over again because you will. Exercise your fair use rights if relevant, and note briefly in your Designer's Statement why you think it's fair use.

Ideally, your production quality clip might be around 1min long. Good kinetic typography takes a really long time to produce, so I've only asked you to do 30sec. The experimental clip is designed to give you credit for the messing around that you will inevitably need to do as you learn about animation.

Note that there are thousands of AfterEffects tutorials on the web. If you want to do something with AfterEffects, google some key terms and learn how to do it.

Goals of this assignment

I hope that this assignment will help you:

  • Gain a basic understanding of some key ideas about animation, such as keyframes, easing, pacing and syncing motion with sound.
  • Introduce you to AfterEffects as an industry standard program to do animation and video effects.
  • Think about animation as a way to get across ideas.
  • Understand a new way to look at words through their kinetic and aesthetic potential.

Good luck and come see me in class or office hours for feedback or questions on your work.