Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"The Perils of Indifference"

Project: Speech Visualization

The purpose of this project was to create two typographic visualizations of a famous speech from the 20th Century—to capture the mood, tone, emphasis, and personality of the message being describedin print and in motion.

The design solutions for print and motion are distinctively different. To create visual hierarchy in print, typographic color in the form of scale, spacing, orientation, and placement are important in leading the reader from one sentence to another. On the contrary, other elements like sound and the ability to control how type enters and exits the composition influence how the viewer responds and even emotionally connects with the motion solution.

In "The Perils of Indifference," Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, talks about the grave consequences of being indifferent to another human's suffering. For my print solution, I stressed how he articulated his words by exaggerating words typographically to help visualize his thick Romanian accent and distinct pauses. In my motion graphic, I wanted to focus more on the emotional impact of Wiesel's words, my goal was to create an ethereal and enigmatic composition that matched his somber recollection of his fellow Auschwitz prisoners.

The Perils of Indifference, April 12, 1999 (Speech examination in previous post)

Elie Wiesel

From his first book, Night, which records his experience at Auschwitz:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

The Mood of the Speech

Grave despair, enigmatic, somber thoughtfulness, serious

Print: There is a grave quietness about the message behind Wiesel's words. Though there were distinct changes in scale throughout the composition, the type was relatively small on the page, and I made subtle changes in spacing and orientation to stress his breaks and pauses, and the articulation of certain words in his accent.

Motion: With the freedom to incorporate photography and music, and the ability to manipulate time, I concentrated on articulating the emotional impact of his words. This particular part of his speech talks about his memories of the Muselmanner in Auschwitz, so I wanted stress the element of memory, how enigmatic his words are, and how thoughtfully he expresses himself.

Research: Motion

One of my favorite motion graphic pieces is the opening credits for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, even though sound is an important element in this piece, it is good with or without sound. It is the smoothness of the transitions, how size and placement is unpredictable, how type enters and exits the page, the variation of fast and slow movements. All of this creates an environment that has a distinctly pop art, crime mood that is unexpected and exciting. The subtleness of typography sliding in and off the screen and the choppiness of the graphics make it memorable and successful. I also really enjoyed the cheerful playfulness of the Herman Miller "This is You" advertisement, it was an excellent example of how subtle movements and motion changes can create a distinct tone.

There are a variety of typography movies on YouTube, and for the most part, they are similar in design style. The design is loud, exaggerated, and tries to overuse the camera tool in AfterEffects as a go-to effect. With or without sound, most of these graphics look identical and are uninteresting and are the best example of how using several preset effects can make a motion piece look cliche and tacky. I personally just don't like the drastic shifts in orientation, the large type, the lack of scale changes, the bending and twisting of space. Honestly, one of my favorite typography motion pieces was by Michael Selby and his JFK eulogy speech. It was a perfect example how, when done correctly, sound is a great tool in creating an emotional response in your audience. The type was interesting, it entered and left the screen unexpectedly, and the stark white text on black background made the type really stand out and stand on its own.

How Media Effects Message: Motion vs. Print

In general, I think there there more control in motion. In print, you have no control over whether or not your reader jumps to the last page of your book, whether or not they take the time to look over every page, notice the subtleties of every one of your typographic decisions. Emphasis is created by stagnant size and scale, your color and typographic color choices, the composition on a single page layout. Though there is beauty in this single "snapshot" of the speech, there is more that can be done with motion because the elements of time and sound, which are dynamic in themselves, are introduced. In motion, you decide exactly how your audience perceives each word, each line. Mood and emotion are engrained in how transitions occur, whether they are ethereal and smooth or whether they are choppy and playful, how the audience perceives depth and the passage of time—all of these things are capable of manipulation. On the other hand, even though motion is more dynamic, there is a tactile emotional relationship between print and the viewer, the designer can use paper choice and print size as effective tools to create a visceral impact. Here is the difference between a book that you can smell and leaf through, and a book you might read on the computer, something that you can't physically touch. Both are great medias and they can greatly impact how the viewer responds to the message, which one you choose should be specific to the project and message you are trying to communicate.

Project Overview

I loved this project, absolutely loved it. Even though I really enjoyed experimenting and exaggerating my speech in print by syllable, making the words "sound" like my speech on audio, I loved the motion part of this speech the most. It was totally different than anything else that I've done and I really loved having the control of how everything came on and left the screen. I wanted both solutions to be tasteful and I really wanted my audience to have some sort of emotional connection with the words. So when I did my motion piece, I wanted to translate how I interpreted the speech visually. I chose "The Perils of Indifference" because I Wiesel's words were heartbreaking yet hopeful, it made me question myself and my actions. His words are grave and filled with sadness, and I wanted to show the weight of his memories and experiences in my motion piece. There is something so blurry and untouchable about his experiences in Auschwitz for me, since I can not even fathom such treatment, such indifference, it is something that I honestly can't concretely understand. So that's how I approached my motion, I choose a map of Auschwitz for my introduction with billowing black smoke from the gas chamber transitioning to the words of Wiesel's speech. I chose transitions that made the words blend and melt into the background so that it felt untouchable. I also chose to use quiet text so that my viewer really focused on Wiesel's articulation. This one of my favorite projects all year because I find motion so interesting, so dynamic, and honestly (when done well) so unpredictable.