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   MICHAEL BETANCOURT NEWS
   movies: AESTHETICS
   movies: NEWS & REVIEWS
   movies: SHOWS & SCREENINGS
   random art notes
   random how-tos
   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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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


 


PreOrder Cinematic Articulation in Motion Graphics

story © Michael Betancourt | published May 25, 2021 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



research: MOTION GRAPHICS

Michael Betancourt's Cinematic Articulation in Motion Graphics develops a critical and theoretical approach to the semiotics of motion pictures as they are applied to a broader range of constructions than traditional commercial narrative productions.

This interdisciplinary approach begins with the problems posed by motion perception to develop a model of cinematic interpretation that includes both narrative and non-narrative types of productions. Contrasting traditional theatrical projection and varieties of new media, this book integrates analyses of title sequences, music videos, and visual effects with discussions on classic and avant-garde films. It further explores the intersection between formative audio-visual cues identified by viewers and how viewers desires direct engagement with the motion picture to present a framework for understanding cinematic articulation. This new theoretical model incorporates much of what was neglected and gives greater prominence to formerly critically marginalized productions by showing the fundamental connections that link all moving imagery and text, whether it tells a story or not.

This insightful work will appeal to students and academics in film and media studies.


PreOrder from Routledge here




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Order my new book, Ideologies of the Real

story © Michael Betancourt | published September 2, 2019 | permalink | TwitThis Digg Facebook StumbleUpon  |  Print



research: MOTION GRAPHICS

My new book Ideologies of the Real in Title Sequences, Motion Graphics and Cinema is now available! This book presents a new theory of cinematic realism appropriate for the digital age.

This book explores the question of realism in motion pictures. Specifically, it explores how understanding the role of realism in the history of title sequences in film can illuminate discussions raised by the advent of digital cinema.

Ideologies of the Real in Title Sequences, Motion Graphics and Cinema fills a critical theoretical void in the existing literature on motion graphics. Developed from careful analysis of Andr Bazin, Stanley Cavell, and Giles Deleuzes approaches to cinematic realism, this analysis uses title sequences to engage the interface between narrative and non-narrative media to consider cinematic realism in depth through highly detailed close readings of the title sequences for Bullitt (1968), Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974), The Number 23 (2007), The Kingdom (2008), Blade Runner: 2049 (2017) and the James Bond films. This analysis develops a modal approach to cinematic realism where ontology is irrelevant to indexicality. His analysis shows the continuity between historical analogue film and contemporary digital motion pictures by developing a framework for rethinking how realism shapes interpretation.




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Typography and Motion Graphics: The 'Reading-Image' - Now Available!

story © Michael Betancourt | published December 19, 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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