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Kinetic Hand Luke

I tried my hand poorly a few weeks ago at the ds106 Kinetic Typography assignment. There is a reason maybe only 3 or 4 people have braved this one.

Kinetic typography (“moving text”) is an animation technique that allows a creative entrepreneur to mix text and motion. Your job is to take a speech or bit of dialog (try audiobooks, movies, TV shows, etc.) and animate it like this example from Sherlock Holmes. Consider how you could visually enforce the speech’s underlying themes… or subvert them. Be creative!

Without too much fanfare, and a nood to my fellow ds106ers who dig Cool Hand Luke, the classic line by Strother Martin’s aptly named character “Captain”, but more with the lines around it. The whole thing of putting people in their perceived places? What we have here…

I got hooked on thie film a year ago, and did a minimalist poster as well as a Macguffin. It’s just a classic on many fronts, and not just for Paul Newman’s larger than life performance, but many others in the mix. “A night in the box”?

I really fumbled around with this in Adobe After Affects. I swore I had the full version on my old Mac, since I had the CSS 5 full suite, but apparently in some fit of file cleaning, I sapped some key files, and it would not load. So I went for the student approach, the 30 day trial run.

While I ought to give a full blown process run down. I watched a few tutorials, and got the key tip on control scrubbing the audio to match the word entrance. After Effects is not for the feint of software. There are so many settings, effects (duh) and ways you can put key frames and ween things. I did not get as far as playing with the typing effects or the camera effects, so it was pretty much popping the words up in sync with the sound. I did a few position tweens, some with a box blur effect.

It was alos a fumble fest with rendering it. But I bulled through it, and now have some awareness of when I might reach for this large hammer again.

Some men you just can’t reach.

Maybe because they are fiddling with key frames or lost in renderland.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. I swear we could do an entire semester on just Cool Hand Luke. We’d make sure we ‘reach’ every student, even if they have to spend nights in the box every time they fail to post or comment enough.

    ‘Go three days without commenting on someone’s blog, you spend a night in the box.’

    ‘You don’t do the daily create, you spend a night in the box.’

    ‘You don’t tweet new blog posts with the hashtag #ds106, you spend a night in the box.’

    Can we teach this way please?

  2. Ironically enough, despite creating this post, I have yet to do it, partly because I know how hard it is to create.

    You did a great job here! I’m impressed!

  3. I would LOVE, love, love a brief video tutorial on getting started making kinetic typography videos, have any spare time? 🙂

    1. Wish I could oblige, Ben– I doubt I remember plus I probably can’t get the trial version again of After Effects. I will see if I can rummage the tutorials I used to get started.

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