DESMA 155: Dynamic Typography
Fall 2004
UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts

Casey Reas (reas at ucla dot edu)
Office Hour: Wednesday 5-6pm

Peter Cho (petercho at ucla dot edu)
Office Hour: Thursday 1:30-2:30pm

Monday & Wednesday. 9:00–11:50
Kinross South Room S122

Static visual elements communicate through their form, color, texture, and orientation. Kinetic visual elements communicate through their speed, rhythm, and quality of motion. Combining these communication layers with the powerful expressive potential of letterforms opens an extraordinary potential which is the focus of this class. Through analyzing historical and contemporary examples of dynamic typography and creating their own explorations into dynamic type, participants will begin to reveal their own potential for expression through moving typography.

There are four exercises in the class. The first two focus on principles of motion and communication through movement. Exercise 1 involves animating a dot to express changes in emotion and Exercise 2 involves animating a relationship between a line and a dot. Exercise 3 focuses on animating letterforms with each participant animating a transition between two alphabetically adjacent letters. Exercise 4 is five weeks in duration and focuses on animating speech, either fiction or non-fiction. Each participant will select an excerpt of a dialog and animate it to reveal its dynamics and essential meaning. Each participant is free to select the tools and techniques they want to work with, but the same tools must be used for the entire quarter. Example software tools include Flash, Maya, and Premiere and techniques may range from hand animation to editing video footage.

The grading is based on the weekly exercises (90%), and on the participant’s comments, feedback, and active participation during the class meetings (10%). Exercises will be evaluated based on their originality, aesthetic qualities, and conceptual sophistication. Feedback will be primarily qualitative but numeric scores will also be given for each exercise. If an exercise or project is turned in late, points will be taken off each day so that it will receive a zero if one week late. More than two absences without the Professor or TA’s prior permission will lower the participants final grade by one unit (e.g. an A will become an B). With each additional unexcused absence, the grade will drop an additional unit. All exercises must be completed to pass the course. In addition, participants must attend at least three D|MA sponsored lectures during Fall Quarter 2004.

The grade breakdown follows:
10% Participation
60% Exercises 1–4c (10% each)
30% Exercise 4d

Recommended Reading on Typography:

Bringhurst, Robert. The Elements of Typographic Style. Hartley & Marks Publishers (2nd edition). 2002

Gerstner, Karl. Compendium for Literates. MIT Press. 1974

Gill, Eric. An Essay on Typography. David R. Godine Publisher. 1993 (Originally published in 1931)

Ruder, Emil. Typographie. Verlag Niggli AG, Zurich. 1967

Spiekermann, Erik and E.M. Ginger. Stop Stealing Sheep & Find Out How Type Works. Adobe Press. 2002

Tschichold, Jan. The New Typography. Translated by Ruari McLean. University of Calfornia Press, Berkeley. 1995 (Originally published in Berlin as Die Neue Typographie, 1928)

Weingart, Wolfgang. My Way to Typography. Lars Muller Publishers, Baden. 2000

Places to look for fonts: