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   movies: AESTHETICS
   movies: NEWS & REVIEWS
   movies: SHOWS & SCREENINGS
   random art notes
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   research: AVANT-GARDE MOVIES
research: MOTION GRAPHICS
   research: VISUAL MUSIC
   theory: CRITICAL OBSERVATIONS
   theory: DIGITAL CAPITALISM
   theory: GLITCH & POSTDIGITAL
   theory: working notes

 

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archives begin in 1996

  
 
Motion Graphics: research and publication
 

These are previews Michael Betancourt's current research into cinematic form, as well as excerpts from his publications on motion graphics:


His trilogy of studies on film theory using title sequences as a model uniting avant-garde, documentary and commercial motion pictures were published in the Routledge Studies in Media Theory and Practice series: Semiotics and Title Sequences, Synchronization and Title Sequences, and Title Sequences as Paratexts.

The History of Motion Graphics: From Avant-Garde to Industry in the United States includes a thorough examination of the history of title design from the earliest films through the present, including Walter Anthony, Saul Bass, Maurice Binder, Pablo Ferro, Wayne Fitzgerald, Nina Saxon, and Kyle Cooper. This book also covers early abstract film (the Futurists Bruno Corra and Arnaldo Ginna, Leopold Survage, Walther Ruttmann, Viking Eggeling, Hans Richter, Oskar Fischinger, Mary Ellen Bute, Len Lye and Norman McLaren) and puts the work of visual music pioneers Mary Hallock-Greenewalt and Thomas Wilfred in context. It is the essential textbook and general reference for understanding how and where the field of motion graphic design came from and where it's going.

More articles and translations are posted on MichaelBetancourt.com


 


Pre-Order Typography and Motion Graphics: The 'Reading-Image'

story © Michael Betancourt | published October 21, 2018 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



research: MOTION GRAPHICS
Pre-order Typography and Motion Graphics: The 'Reading-Image' on Amazon.com
This title will be released on December 11, 2018.

In his latest book, Michael Betancourt explores the nature and role of typography in motion graphics as a way to consider its distinction from static design using the concept of the reading-image to model the ways that motion typography dramatizes the process of reading and audience recognition of language on-screen. Using both classic and contemporary title sequences―including The Man With the Golden Arm (1955), Alien (1979), Flubber (1998), Six Feet Under (2001), The Number 23 (2007) and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)―Betancourt develops an argument about what distinguishes motion graphics from graphic design. Moving beyond title sequences, Betancourt also analyzes moving or kinetic typography in logo designs, commercials, film trailers, and information graphics, offering a striking theoretical model for understanding typography in media.






 
Notes on the "Reading-Image"

story © Michael Betancourt | published April 27, 2018 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



research: MOTION GRAPHICS
You can order Typography and Motion Graphics: The 'Reading-Image' on Amazon.com

Reading is a particular engagement with letterforms guided by the audiences familiarity with written and textual languages, a distinct and parallel mode of engagement from their visual perceptions: an encounter that resolves the visuality::legibility dynamic into a natural hierarchy where legibility always dominates. In contradistinction to how motion graphics overlap with some of the concerns established in graphic designs use of typography, their superficial relationship to established methodology does not alter the essential difference that movement and development-over-time makes for lexical recognition. Motion typography allows a delay in this assertion of order without undermining or challenging it by presenting the process of lexical recognition as the emergence of legibility: the separation between the recognition of language, and the ability to identify and read the contents presented. This procedural demonstration expands the autonomous and internalized activity of recognitioninterpretation into the emergence of letterforms, allowing the transition from illegible to legible to become an expressive subject. This excess arises in the three modes kinetic, graphic, and chronic that define this semiotic process immanent in/as the making sense of letterforms in motion. The distinct engagements with non-lexical dimensions of typography and design these modes provide have their foundations in static typography and the printed page, but exceed them because the addition of motion is transformative, allowing the presentation of interpretive processes through animated motion.




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Realism and the Credit Sequence

story © Michael Betancourt | published October 1, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



research: MOTION GRAPHICS

This is an excerpt from my book Title Sequences as Paratexts published by Routledge.

Hollywood has viewed the credits or title sequence as a distraction for decades, an interruption interfering with the dramatic realism of the motion picture. This conception can be seen in the ideological force of realism that promotes the elimination (or minimization) of the title sequence to start the fabula immediately. However, the invisibility of titles has been an ideal for commercial cinema since the Silent Period, as the film historian and documentary theorist Paul Rotha observed in 1930: a well-titled film is one in which the titles harmonize with the visual images so perfectly that their presence as titles is not remarked. The crediting function for openings cannot be avoided. Since the title sequence conventionally signifies the start/conclusion of the narrative, the role of narrative in title sequences is always already a given, unavoidable because narratives must begin and end. The conception of text on-screen as a abstraction, stylized, explains the elided title sequence in motion pictures such as Sherlock Holmes (2009) that leaves only the required credits which start the story, the production company logos, but embeds them within the diegetic space on screen; an elaborate main-on-end designed by Danny Yount comes at the conclusion, providing a dramatic ending beyond what appears in the narrative. It is a formal construction guided by the ideological concerns of realism. The attempt to disappear the credits into the narrative demonstrates a desire to produce motion pictures comparable to reality, able to displace lived experience and in the process make its idealized fantasy real.

Danny Yount, studio logo graphics from the opening to Sherlock Holmes (2009)

How the audience understands the distinction between the credits and its role for narrative when watching any title sequence is not an either/or opposition. The propositional conflict between peritext::text makes the degree of realism the critical focus, conceiving of the audience as passive, easily manipulated, uncritically accepting and embracing whatever they encounter in the motion picture, the ideological and political aspects of traditional viewership makes the manipulated complicit with their own manipulation, but powerless to challenge it, and possibly even unwilling to consider it is happening. It reifies this historical assumption that audiences are not sophisticated readers consciously choosing their critical or uncritical engagements with the text. Such a passive conception of viewership is incorrect. The audience interprets these designs as part of a state of information where meaning develops from the lower-level dcoupage. These articulations form the title sequence as a particular enunciation in the motion picture as a whole. The range of naturalism::stylization is another lower-level marker for these same issues of narrative function. How closely integrated peritext::text are determines whether the audience will interpret the title sequence as a distinct section, as a introduction flowing into the narrative, or as entirely absent. The relationships between these sequences identify the ideological dimensions of realism::stylization as an interpretive constraint.




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Design in Film Exhibition - Block Museum, Evanston

story © Michael Betancourt | published September 30, 2017 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



research: MOTION GRAPHICS

I will be attending a day-long conference that is to help organize the 2018 Designers in Film exhibition at the Block Musuem of Art in Evanston on October 5. It looks like a great exhibition and I'm glad to see they will be publishing a catalogue to accompany it. The exhibition presents the work of Chicago-based design firm, Goldsholl Design Associates, (Morton and Millie Goldsholl and the associates affiliated with their firm) showing these practitioners extensive impact on design and film nationally from the 1950s through the 1970s.

image: Millie Goldsholl, Morton Goldsholl, Wayne Boyer, Larry Janiak, and Dick Marx, Still from Kimberly-Clark Corporation Fortune and Faces, 1959, 16 mm film, 12:48 minutes. Mort and Millie Goldsholl Collection, 19421980, Chicago Film Archives.






 
Traditional Conceptions of Title Sequences

story © Michael Betancourt | published July 1, 2016 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



research: MOTION GRAPHICS

The title sequence has been a common element in the presentation of motion pictures throughout their history in the United States. The organization of title sequences has varied greatly in complexity, duration and distinguishability from the central drama over the more than 125 years of motion picture production in the United States; the earliest examples were produced by Edison's Black Maria studio in the 1890s. These title sequences were minimal, a simple title card that served as a unique identifier for purposes of copyright registry; however, with the shift to dramatic, feature length narratives the need for text on screen became increasingly necessary to present dialogue and other narrative information.




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