Words in Motion

Time, Motion and Communication :: CMU 2014

The challenge was to represent voice and dialogue visually, through time, motion and
communication, using a script, text or piece of our choosing.

If you would have described your idea for this piece before you started, most of us would have said you were crazy! But there’s something mesmerizing about watching your piece—truly kinetic typography—and one that succeeds in an odd way. Persistence of vision coupled with hearing the spoken words makes “reading” the words possible. It helps that the two voices are pretty distinct and you’ve represented them with two different typefaces, sizes, and colors. Good decisions there. And the pace of the dialogue, if that can even be called a dialogue, is frantic, which is matched by your scheme of showing only two letters at a time per word, which happens to be a crazy idea. The whole affair is madcap, silly, and lots of fun. This is a first for TMC, so thank you! Thanks for taking the chance.
— Dan Boyarski


I had this idea of working with a recipe. I looked for cooking shows on YouTube and chanced upon this one (Conan O'Brien derails Gordan Ramsey). I thought – this would be a good piece to work with because of it's playful humor, no doubt, but also because of it's two very distinct voices!

After watching (and listening) several times, I wanted to figure out who says what, when and how and create a 1 min. piece from the full 5 mins. A lot of audio editing involved. I listened to the audio, typed out the script and highlighted keywords of the two voices. Gordon Ramsay in blue and Conan O'Brien in orange.

I wanted to visualize this exchange using only typography, color + audio. A classmate showed us a piece called Dakota by Heavy Industries (Young Hae Chang) which was the inspiration behind not showing every single word. 

I wasn’t that excited by showing each word. I decided to start translating what I was hearing by listening to the audio very closely. As I did this, “a tacko, ok, a taco, a taco” stood out. I then played with large type and 2 letters at a time ('o-k' or 't-a' and 'c-o'). I tried a few variations and continued to literally 'chop up' the words into pairs of letters. I thought this worked well to express the madness of the exchange and wasn't as predictable as showing entire words. 

Refine and complete 
Once I had a concept, I figured out typefaces and style (all caps for Ramsey and lowercase for O’Brien) and colors. I also created the solution for their two voices overlapping each other at certain points, pauses and sounds that are not words.