Tag Archives: kinetic text

Kinetic Text

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For my kinetic text video prompt, I struggled with what exactly I wanted to animate. “Men are trash” and other short phrases popped into my head… Ideas of a visually creative video with strong repetitive sentence or saying was what I was leaning towards. After a bit of brainstorming and planning, I came to the conclusion that maybe that wouldn’t be the most engaging video to animate. At least it was not in my opinion. In the end I chose to animate a poem I wrote in January of last year, after struggling with bouts of depression and choosing the right anti-depressant. The tone of the poem is hard to decipher, I think it may be different for every one that reads it. So, choosing the right song to fit it took a bit a time. I shuffled through the Submarine movie soundtrack by Alex Turner, through the album of my fellow New England native Lin Tullgren, and even some weird chillwave tracks. Nothing quite fit right. It was only until I stumbled upon an old favorite song of mine from the soundtrack of Spirited Away, did I feel like my poem had a certain tone. The song is called “The Sixth Station,” it comes on during the part in the movie when Chihiro and her small group of unlikely companions silently take a train across a lake. The feeling of the track is not necessarily sad, nor hopeful… I would say overall the song is categorized as deeply emotional and beautiful.

In this poem I specifically focus on the condition of my pillow on my bed, and how it is affected by the going-ons in my brain. Due to that topic I chose to use a watercolor painting of a bedroom from the Studio Ghibli film When Marnie Was There. I put the opacity on low and made the bottom layer a dull moss green. I chose this shade of green due to its peaceful demeanor, but also because the color green represents growth, renewal and rebirth. From a psychological perspective, the color green helps create an equilibrium between the head and the heart. Green is an emotionally positive color, that helps give us the ability to love and nurture ourselves. The message or purpose of my poem is to say that I am working on getting better, that after every hardship I go through I will get up and clean up the mess.


I would like to preface this by saying that not every animated word was timed accurately in combination with the song. The file was so large due to the text and the length of the video that the song would often not play back while I attempted to watch the animation while working on it. So there are a few parts in the video where a word may take up too much time on its own on screen, which makes those parts a bit boring and uncomfortable. I did not foresee the program moving so slowly for this studio prompt, however, I had to make do with what I had and try my best to anticipate changes in the music.



Throughout the video I wanted to animate the words or sentences with certain effects that complimented them and perhaps even emphasized them. In hindsight, this was not really doable. Therefore I had to be more creative and straight forward with my animation. For example, throughout the entire video I kept every word at 65% opacity, but when I wanted to really emphasize the feeling or image of a word I put the opacity to 100%. I chose to fade out a lot of the words and sentences because it felt appropriate in conjunction with the song, as well with the overall emotion of the poem.



With some words I was allowed to use an effect that fit the meaning or action of the word appropriately. For example, for the word ‘tingling’ I used an effect that spun it onto the screen letter by letter, and spiraled it all the while. Some other words I wanted to use an certain effect but couldn’t find the right one. So instead I would simply play around with a trim line to have it come on screen in a more interesting way. With other words I would animate them onto and off of the screen in unison with a change in the music. Luckily this was not difficult to do as the entire song consists of only piano.


More later on in the video I decided to stop focusing so much on the relationship of the animation effect and the meaning of the word, and to focus more on the animation of words and sentences with the movement of the piano playing. Despite not being able to hear the changes in the song while animating most of the poem, I somehow still managed to sync them up. However at the point of these next two screenshots, the song had ended and I was unaware. In a way it is fitting but I wish I had known so I could have been able to go back to the beginning of the video and shorten the screen time of some unimportant words.



Unfortunately this animation took 13 hours to render to a video file, so it would take a bit more time to go back and edit all of the things I had unintentionally animated. Overall, I am happy with how this video came out, despite how difficult and frustrating it was, I think it paid off mostly.


Kinetic Text: Roses


The sheer variety and depth of detail that can be created through text animation in After Effects is one of the aspects of the program I find most appealing, so this particular project was quite exciting. In choosing what text to work with, I knew I wanted to use one of my original poems, as animating my own writing struck me as a fascinating challenge. I began by quickly selecting three of my already written and polished poems for more detailed consideration. Two of the three are slam poems in a very direct, personal, confrontational style. One of these, Bias Society, is a reflective piece on gun violence, and the other is an untitled piece in the style of an open letter, written as an assertion of self-identity in claiming the label autistic. Both of these poems are deeply personal and rather emotionally fraught, and once I determined that I was more interested in working on lighter subject-matter at the time, I decided to work with the third poem, Roses. Roses is a Shakespearean sonnet, written as a playful allegory, and is one of my favorite poems I have ever written, so it was a rather ideal choice overall.


In my ideation process, I began by going through the poem line by line, thinking about how I would visualize the feelings and rhythm that the sonnet evokes in my mind, and making notes on how I might go about animating those things. While brainstorming for the animation of my poem, I focused on emphasizing motifs in the imagery I sought to create. These motifs include that of the sprout effect indicating that text refers to one of the types of flowers, and the background reflecting the shift in seasons over the course of the poem. I was extremely conflicted over what sort of sound to use in this piece. I normally strongly prefer to work with music, but my sonnets have a very definite sound and rhythm in my mind, one with which any music would inevitably conflict. Eventually, I settled on using subtle background sound effects, in order to very gently reinforce the theme of changing seasons, without detracting from the poem’s inherent rhythm.

I personally find that every font feels different to me, and so I put a lot of thought into what fonts I would use. The baseline font, Nueva Std Italic, is meant to be smooth and flowing, like the patterned structure of a sonnet, without being too complex, so as not to distract from animations and other imagery. The two accent fonts, Script MT Bold for emphasis and Courier New for orderliness, are each used very sparingly, in order to better convey the meaning of specific phrases. The roses font, Lucida Calligraphy, is one that I find evocative of aristocratic mannerisms, chosen to subtly convey that the roses in the poem are representative of a ruling class, in the poem’s allegorical structure. As I was unsatisfied with any fonts available on my computer already for the wildflower and weather fonts, I went looking for fonts which are evocative of nature online, eventually deciding on LiveLaughLove for wildflowers, and Virginia Sky for weather. The irregular size and sans-serif letters of LiveLaughLove, along with its slightly rough edges, felt just wild enough to evoke the transgressive feeling of encountering wildflowers, while still being readable. The plentiful loops and feathering of Virginia Sky felt evocative of clouds and the sense of changing weather to me, making this font perfectly suited for weather.


Once I moved from ideation into animating this poem in after effects, I found it was both incredibly time consuming and highly engaging. Most of my time in the software was spent working without sound, as the rhythm of the project is fundamentally independent from the sound elements. Through this process, I noticed that I tend to compress my effects over a shorter amount to time than I initially anticipate, which made my project short but very dense.

Figuring out how to animate text around the path of an irregular image in a way that looked sufficiently smooth, as I did for the phrase “By touch of human hand”, was especially challenging. I first tried to convert the image of the hand to a path in illustrator, but quickly realized that the outline without the image made for a very strange looking animation in after effects. I then made several iterations of the image of the hand in photoshop, eventually determining, through trial and error, that leaving whitespace inside the hand for contrast, and some whitespace between the fingers to smooth the path for animation purposes, worked best.


The animation of the line pictured above was also quite challenging. I knew from the start that I definitely wanted the phrase “The roses’ shadow” to be in ray traced 3D, which was a bit of a pain to work with, but not the main challenge. I originally intended to use the shadow of the actual words “The roses’ shadow” as the shadow element in this scene, before realizing while working with the image that that isn’t how shadows in after effects work. I improvised, making the shadow shapes from inverted, curved star shapes, and lowering the opacity of the shape layer so it looked like a shadow. This improvisation allowed me to layer text on top of and underneath the shadow layer, creating a subtle darkening effect on certain words.

Upon reflection, while this project has been incredibly time consuming, I am reasonably happy with the result. I was able to produce a satisfactory approximation of what I imagined in my ideation, and did not encounter any problems that I found insurmountable along the way.

Update: Conference Edits

My goal in editing my Kinetic Text project was to refine the composition, making it more fluid in general, and making the transition section smoother and less awkward. The first step I took in doing this was to get feedback on the first version of the composition from several people. This feedback indicated that text transitions were too fast on two of the lines, such that I needed to extend their animation over more time, some of the green text did not contrast enough with the background, the transition section was too long and slow, and the sound transition was not noticeable enough. Implementing changes based on this feedback was straightforward, the challenge coming from learning how to change the timing of one section, while not impacting the timing of subsequent sections. I also realized I could pre-render individual precomps during this process, and this was extremely helpful, as it allowed me to reduce the strain on my computer’s resources from such a large and complex composition, drastically reducing overall time spent rendering, and preventing further After Effects crashes. Overall, I’m quite satisfied with the finished composition. As it was my first time doing detailed text animation work, I’m very pleased at the degree to which the composition resembles what I initially imagined while brainstorming, and look forward to using the skills I learned in future projects.

Kinetic Text: Tillandsia

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I am not a writer, but I chose to write text that describes myself so that I would be happy with my words. I decided to explain “where I am from?” through this work because this question has bothered me and my family all the time. I felt awkward, embarrassed, annoyed by answering this question because my answer is so specific and detailed that might put stress on the people who are asking. However, it is necessary to explain myself to meet new people as I move to different places almost every year. I thought creating a video for this question I encounter frequently could be a wise and fun solution.

The title and the palette are representational of the text. I named the piece “Tillandsia”, the Latin name for Air plant, a kind of plant that has no root. I thought I share the similarity of not having a fixative “root”, or a “home”, with the plant. In addition, I had one air plant in my room. I appreciated its accompany, so I want to dedicate this piece to my air plant too. I kept the palette for the piece to be black and white because these colors are either a result of mixing all the colors or having no “color” in it. This is the same as my hometowns. I can from everywhere, but nowhere.

I kept the whole piece the minimalism style because I wanted to try making something “clean” instead of the complex effect combination in the first prompt. I find limiting myself with certain fonts, effects, pattern and motion to be very useful in organizing a long piece. It can make my piece feel more polished and finished instead of a project made by a beginner in after effects who wants to try out all the cool things. I intended to let the audiences to focus on the meaning of the words and the graphics. Moreover, by doing this, the visual effect will incorporate with the music very well. In this video, I used regular and alternating rhythms frequently. I have my words contrasting in the direction of up and down, left and right, clockwise and counter clockwise. I repeated the rotating and typewriter motion throughout the piece. These strategies make reading text in various directions more dynamic.

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 In the beginning, I organized my text into four sections so that each section will have its own signature motion. The first part is the conversation between the asker and me. Originally, I was planning to use two different colors to distinguish the asker and me, but I gave up the idea because I wanted to keep my video as simple as possible. I decided to layout according to the messages on our phone with the same font. I adjusted the pace of typewriter in “…” to strengthen my hesitation in answering the question, just like how I feel in a normal conversation. For the part where there are multiple detailed questions, I used variations of grey and eight different fonts to suggest that they are asked by different people. Still, I insisted on organizing them into vertical lines and using the same trim line effect while introducing the questions and fading out them. Toward the end of the first part, I changed the reading direction of the text to circular. The crossing and almost unreadable text is to suggest that I am a combination of the answers and the answers are not important to me. It also became the transition to the third part of the piece.


The second part is the explanation of places that are important to me. I struggled about the layout for the text for the origins of my family members. At first, I wanted to create paths with outlines of provinces on the map, or making a shape of the map of china, or using signs that marks locations on google map, or making a family tree. Yet, I reminded myself not to over design the video, so I continued using the same effect from the last section and modified a bit. I varied the fonts and changed the size and pattern of the circle to keep the piece connected and moving. It was difficult to layout the circles on a diagonal in rectangle too. I’ve thought of multiple ways in putting them. When it comes to introducing my story, I brought back the typewriter effect and enlarged the locations to fill the screen. This was inspired by Young Hae Chang. It should be noted that each line with the typewriter effect follows order throughout the video. The asker is always on the left. I am always on the right. The latest sentence is always closer to the bottom of the screen than the previous one.

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The third part is my reflection on the experience. I kept the keywords, Home and 家, large because they appear frequently in the text of this section. I incorporated rotation on 3d layers to bring in some changes. The keywords rotate by themselves instead of following a path of a circle. Toward to the end of this section, I introduced the particle effect to create changes on the background. I lost some patience in keeping the text graphical so I just threw in a number of animation presets that follow the meaning of some words. The last part is my own ultimate answer to where my home is. I laid them out on the central axis, kept each word far away and used three languages.

The only other two difficulties I haven’t mentioned are deciding where to use masks and adjusting the speed of key frames on the text. Especially, at the end of the third section, I rushed on some lines. I am planning to make my video smoother this week.

Kinetic Text: As I Begin

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From viewing other work in class, I liked the idea of  using background images to keep the composition cohesive as the text changed.  I wanted to recreate the colors and textures that I was seeing when I wrote this poem.  I wrote the text sitting by the ocean in San Francisco last summer.  I wanted to use the ripple effect to explore animation patterns which mimicked water.  I like the way this animation simulates the light on the edges of the rings and how the movement makes the piece dynamic.  I was also simultaneously working on another video project for a performance media class, and these two pieces definitely informed one another in color and texture.

I struggled to fill four minutes before the deadline.  I started by breaking up my source text into stanzas and worked only with the first stanza.  I have been thinking recently about the differences between still and moving images.  Gotthold Lessing says about the difference between painting and poetry that “signs existing in space can express only objects whose wholes or parts coexist, while signs that follow one another can express only objects whose wholes or parts are consecutive”.  This made me think about how reading a sentence is different from looking at an image.  I realized that language is a time-based art form, just like video.  (And if we are talking about video as a medium for expression of ideas, then obviously language is also a medium).

I was introduced to the idea of “radical digital painting” by a friend recently, through this webpage: https://schloss-post.com/manifesto-radical-digital-painting/.  This made me think about the work we are doing as paintings that can be run.  I think these works have a lot to say about objects existing in space and time.  A section of Scudder’s Ten Minute Painting states that “repetition is the only thing that makes something less random than it already is”.  I see a connection between this quote and the way I have been using patterns in my work.

This project tested my patience and taught me much about when things go wrong.  I spent a frustrating evening with the Media Encoder, which taught me more about how the Dynamic Link works.  This knowledge was useful when I was rendering my second draft of the project.

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In refining my initial sequence, I decided to add the second stanza of my poem.  I thought a shift in color was needed to reflect the tonal shift of the text.  The bright pink seemed like a strong contrast which would still exist harmoniously together with the blue. I also tried to incorporate the general notes given in class about smooth transitions between sections and at the ends of pieces.

The piece has a gentle rhythm with slow and gradual transitions between sections. I wanted to let the text sit without much adornment on the screen.  I am still not fully satisfied with the finer technical points of my animation.  In critique, I received notes about making the transition between phrases more smooth, and that is something I could work on.  I also would like the sequence where I make the letter “c” rotate to be more lively and seem like one concrete element.  I do think I was successful in choosing a font which complemented the mood of the piece.

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Kinetic Text

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For the kinetic text prompt, I decided to animate a poem that I wrote last year, called “free.” Originally, I was going to put this text to my own music since combining my different art forms has always been part of my interest in this class. When I starting sketching out my ideas though, it became apparent to me that a song whose tone fit the piece much better than my own music (maybe because my music is electronic, but jazz is always at my core) is the jazz tune, “Black Narcissus” by Joe Henderson. Since the version I wanted to use is five minutes long, I started out by mapping approximate placement of frames, how long each one would last, and how many there would be, in order to make sure that the text could fill five minutes. It seemed like it would, as long as the text’s pace was relaxed. I wanted a minimalist aesthetic for this project, so it seemed to fit.

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Once I started building the project, I realized how surprisingly long it takes to animate what feels like a short piece of text. This poem is 70 words, which is one of my shortest poems. Once I was in After Effects, it became apparent that 70 words is a lot to keep track of — especially timing-wise, when trying to coordinate animating them in and out. I had gone into it thinking that maybe some words could be in the same text box or layer, but since my vision involved making each word stand on its own, with its own personality and timeline, I realized they each had to be edited in their own layer and every word had to be given more consideration than I had recognized when I began this process. To deal with this, I split my workflow into steps. I made a background layer, and then made a layer for each of the 70 words. Once I imported the music track, I spent a long time listening and relistening to the track and marking where each word would enter and exit, and taking notes on what kind of transition would bring the word in (a fade? an abrupt entry? a dissolve?). It was tricky figuring out how to pace the words so that they suit the flow of the music, but could also still fill out the length of the song, not leaving music or words over at the end. I wanted the words to speak to the music, and since timing is crucial in jazz, the timing of each word’s entry with a cymbal hit or saxophone note was important to me. I based conceptual ideas of timing and flow around what the instrumentalists in the song are doing.

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Once all of my word layers were in their proper time places, I moved on to the next step in my workflow which was to position them all on the screen, in relationship to each other, as well as in relationship to their timing in the overall context of the piece. This piece has a lot of open space which left a lot of room for play. I went through and arranged the words in different configurations, trying to figure out how to place them on the screen in a way that accented the tone. This piece isn’t supposed to look tidy or advertisement-like, so I tried to find a way to place the words randomly, while also still keeping it clean and have it legibly make sense. Once they all had their places in time, I went in and made all the transitions. Most of them are opacity fade-ins/fade-outs that I hand-animated because it felt like the best way to get everything to line up with free-flowing nature of the music. On certain hits, where the instrumentalists all hit a note together, I found it interesting to not use a transition to bring words on, but to abruptly bring the words onto the screen, so that they “snap,” into existence in imitation of the cymbal hits, and then “snap” away in time with the hits as well. I tried to make these kinds of juxtapositions between slow fade-ons and hard snaps, to keep the viewer engaged and feeling the right vibe.

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Once the basic transitions were done, I interspersed a few interesting textural ones where I thought there needed to be a change or motion to keep the piece fresh. I was determined to keep the piece minimal, so I tried to avoid drastic effects, but went more with ones that added a subtle flow or motion change that enhanced the relationship with the music. One in particular, the “Raining Characters Out” effect seemed like it might be too grandiose, but then I ended up liking it and feeling that it really suited what the sax did at that point in the song. I incorporated more of these presets as the song went on, trying to subtly build new visual ideas and reflect what was happening in the story of the text and the music of the song.

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After all of the words had been positioned where they would come in and out, I moved back to thinking about overall composition and what elements I still needed to add. In my original sketches, I had a shift in the tone in the middle of the piece, where the sax solo comes in and the person in the text story is gathering their possessions to leave the place they are. At that point, I had a word scale up, to play with how the viewer was perceiving the space. I also changed some transitions so that the words move into their places via motion paths. I found that a change in the type of motion was effective in breaking up the sameness and keeping the eye engaged, while still remaining authentic to the tone. At this stage in the project I considered other words to scale and other types of motion to bring in to continue building up the engaging details.

In the time that I had to finish this, I was unable to clean up the project and add the other engaging details like more motion and color changes. For me, underestimating the time it would take to complete was the biggest issue with this project. I thought a minimalist poem would not take as long as other work I have done in After Effects (the last prompt was much more maximalist), and I just did not have enough time to stop and edit again or to add the final touches. Other than that, I had few issues, and found it to be fairly easy to come up with and animate my ideas. I plan on editing this piece and trying to incorporate some of my ideas about color, scale, and motion, as well as change the font in a few places and add a trim pat. I hope to experiment a little with how to make a minimalist piece more interesting, hopefully without changing the tone too much.


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Edit: Post-Conference

For my conference work, I decided to keep editing my kinetic text project. After I finished the original draft, I felt that it was still lacking in personality and wanted to introduce color changes and more dramatic effects to make it more interesting to the viewer.  Around 1:30 is where the piece begins to depart from its old identity with a stagnant color theme and very little motion. Here, I start to grow and wiggle the word “gather,” and as I do that, I slowly shift the background color and the word color. I feel like this change breathed a ton of life into the piece. Going through and adding animations to places where the words sat to long and added color shifts not only kept the piece visually interesting but enhanced the narrative journey expressed in the poem. The work now takes the viewer on a visual journey as the character in the story has her own journey. I feel like this enhanced version expresses my poetic sentiment and personality much more and liberated the piece from the flat world where it was trapped before, which makes a lot of sense considering that the title of the piece is “free,” and there should be a sense of freedom in the way the piece travels through its formal elements like color and motion.

Kinetic Text: Grief


I’ve written poetry since second grade, it is the art form that comes most naturally and the one that I am most well versed in. However, attempting to convert a spoken word poem into visuals was the most challenging project I’ve had all semester. In some of the kinetic text videos we watched in class, I noticed that if I missed what some of the words said, it wasn’t a huge deal. It seemed like how the font moved and changed was equally important as what the word said. However, the poem I choose is a narrative piece. I had to figure out how to ensure that the continuity of the piece came through visually. Originally I tried to have lines that go together on the screen at one time, but after watching videos on google drive, I noticed that pieces with a lot of text on screen at once did not keep my attention. I felt pressured to read the text quickly, so I then realized I needed to give each phrase more time for the audience to absorb it. I cut out some parts of the poem but was limited in how much I could cut without losing the entire point and message of my poem. Even though I was careful with what text I cut out, a new piece ultimately emerged. In the original poem, the first few stanzas all begin with the line ‘I love’ and they describe various parts of my body. It means that the moods of the poem are a bit more balanced. The animation, however, comes across as much darker and depressing than my original poem. Eventually, I think I want to make a much longer video that contains my poem in its entirety so that the sense of coming to a place of acceptance with my body and my eyes comes through in the animation and the poem.IMG_9189

A constant theme throughout my process was struggling with how to turn a spoken word piece into a visual piece. At first, I wanted to re-create the poem I performed at the poetry slam. I planned on using the recording of my performance instead of music. However, since I drew out lines such as ‘I’ve surrendered’ in the animation, but not in the performance, the timing did not work out. I re-recorded my performance trying to speak the words in sync with the animation, but I didn’t like the sound. The song that I chose was a last minute decision. The song is utterly depressing. I like this at the beginning because it hints to the audience that even though the poem is not yet sad, it soon will be. However, I don’t see this poem as merely sad. It’s a complex piece that touches on various topics and feelings, so I think I need to find a song that better represents that. This change in plans ultimately impacted how I made the animation. If I had planned to use music the whole time, then I think I would have drawn out more lines in the piece rather than worrying about syncing the animation with my recording. Also, I could have sync transitions with the music. Ultimately, I realized that my spoken word piece had to exist as a separate piece of art from the animation of the poem. I couldn’t merely re-create art I had previously made. I had to think of this assignment less as turning a spoken word performance into an animation and more as merely animating text.A constant theme throughout my process was struggling with how to turn a spoken word piece into a visual piece. At first I wanted to re-create the poem I performed at the poetry slam. I planned on using the recording of my performance instead of music. However, since I drew out lines such as ‘I’ve surrendered’ in the animation, but not in the performance, the timing did not work out. I re-recorded my performance trying to speak the words in sync with the animation, but I didn’t like the sound. The song that I chose was a last minute decision. The song is utterly depressing. I like this at the beginning because it hints to the audience that even though the poem is not yet sad, it soon will be. However, I don’t see this poem as merely sad. It’s a complex piece that touches on various topics and feelings, so I think I need to find a song that better represents that. This change in plans ultimately impacted how I made the animation. If I had planned to use music the whole time, then I think I would have drawn out more lines in the piece rather than worrying about syncing the animation with my recording. Also, I could have sync transitions with the music. Ultimately, I realized that my spoken word piece had to exist as a separate piece of art from the animation of the poem. I couldn’t merely re-create art I had previously made. I had to think of this assignment less as turning a spoken word performance into an animation and more as merely animating text.


In addition to struggling with how go about making this piece in a bigger picture sense, I also struggled with the technical bits. I became really overwhelmed with text. Since I’m largely not a page poet, I don’t worry much about text, because usually my ultimate goal is to perform it out loud. Therefore, I type my poems in a default Word font. However, when deciding to animate a poem that’s really important to me, I wanted the font to reflect exactly what the poem meant to me. I tried so many different fonts. At one point I tried using a different font for each line, but it felt too chaotic. I settled on using one main font and then emphasizing particular parts of the poem with different fonts.


I also was overwhelmed by the variety of text effects. I felt like if I used an effect on a sad line I couldn’t use the same effect on a happier line. I always tell myself I’ll stick to a few effects, but I never follow through because I become so interested in what each effect can create. I felt like I needed an effect or shape that I could use to mark the end of each stanza. I was worried that the audience would lose track of what I was saying and what lines went together. However, I later realized that if the piece was engaging enough, then people will remember the previous lines. I largely used transition effects to animate the text on and off screen, but I did use various other effects to go along with the content of the piece, such as the movement of the word ‘basketball’ and the glow and flashing-like effect on the word ‘flashlight’.


In addition to text effects, I used changes in the background as a transition between the different moods of the piece. I used the white background with a noise effect to give the feeling of a hospital. I used the yellow at the beginning to signify joy and blue later on when the mood of the piece shifts. I was worried that my color choices were a bit too obvious. Red is such a cliché color for love and anger, yellow for happiness, and blue for sadness, but I think when paired with text that’s more ambiguous, it works, at least I hope so. Color might also be something that I go back and edit when perfecting this piece.

I revised my kinetic text piece as part of my conference work. For this revision, I made small adjustments throughout the piece and assessed the music that I picked. I took the ‘surrender’s’ off-screen more carefully. I changed the transition from ‘basketball shorts’ to the line about 8th grade so that if was smoother and just continued the bouncing of ‘basketball shorts’. Something happened with my software, so the bouncing is no longer there, but I will put it back eventually. This piece is still not completely perfected to how I want it to be, but it is complete for the purposes of this class. I took out the tile effect on the ‘baby dykes’ because I felt like it was too chaotic and brought too much focus to this piece when the core of this piece is not about being queer. After watching videos in class, I noticed the value of not filling up the entire screen and leaving time to appreciate each text animation, so I took of some of the lines in the stanza that begins with ‘I hate’ off screen and then put brought them on screen more slowly. Besides mechanical adjustments, I had some qualms with the music I chose for this piece. Many of these qualms came from wanting to re-create my spoken word poem. When I perform this piece, I feel so empowered because while parts of it are sad, there are other parts that touch on working towards a place of accepting my body and vision loss. The music I chose is incredibly sad, but my class thought that it fit the piece. I worried that the music didn’t fit the beginning of the piece when I’m talking about being a gay and wearing ‘boys’ clothes. However, I now like this music at the beginning because it provides a foreshadow and a warning sign.

Kinetic Text

Kinetic Text


This project combined text and fonts. While I struggled with creating a visual storyline, I do feel like I was able to play around with fonts and sizing. The text is a poem called “The Wine Dog uh Drools Over Froot Loops”, which I wrote my sophomore year in a class with Matthea Harvey. The poem is from a series of similar poems, with the “wine dog” as a central character. This poem has childhood references as well as a prevailing theme of speech disfluencies. Matthea’s class was called Checkpoint Fact/Lyric. A lot of our pieces had to be an extension of a fact. That’s why there are a lot of facts in the poem. This poem was central to connecting my speech disfluencies and loving my “ex-step mom’s” dog. The dog’s name is Vino.


I struggled with producing 4 minutes of movement—harmonious and opposing. I feel like in After Effects it’s easy to start using a bunch of effects rather than making your own content. I also struggled with rhythm and felt like I used the same text format throughout the piece. I also struggled to include a 3D effect—my laptop kept crashing After Effects and it wouldn’t load onto my screen. 


In the project itself, I had a lot of fun with fonts, color, and movement. First and foremost, the colors and solid layers had to be bright. I’m writing about two bright things: Vino the dog and our mutual love for Froot Loops. At first, I tried to implement a green and peach color palette within the Froot Loop text. I also tried to emphasize the speech disfluencies like um, uh, and like with a pink text and using the Engravers font. Furthermore, I learned some new effects like adding a wiggle and scaling just a part of the word.


I came out of this project with a few favorite fonts. While there are some really wacky ones out there, Arial Narrow Bold and Futura turned out to be my go-to’s. These fonts worked well with stroke and fill, whereas the wacky fonts were harder to work with stroke and fill. 


I also wish there was a way to copy and paste more than a few words into a text box. It was nice that I could use different text boxes to create different animations on each word. However, it was harder when I had entire sentences where I felt the whole sentence needed an effect. It was tough fitting the stanza inside a text box so I had to split up each line into a different text box.


If I had had more time I would have tried really hard to pursue a visual storyline with this piece. I’m disappointed that I could not find a way to do that. I also want to stop using effects as a primary visual effect. The video also took an incredibly long time to render in ray-traced where it would just stop in the middle and not continue rendering. I changed the render setting back to Classic 3D. I left it rendering all night on ray-traced and it still did not completely render. However, once I set it back to Classic 3D it was able to do so.

Kinetic Text: Davi Has Problems

Davi Has Problems

As I was searching for the words to include in my kinetic text project, I scrolled through the many notes saved to my computer. I wanted the text to read in the style of a diary entry. As my notes have always been very sporadic and personal, I felt that I would be able to find a suitable collection of text within that selection. A note I’d made in regards to the many problems my dog Davi has, with the goal of reading it off at the vet, stuck out as a nice contrast between the comedic element I was hoping to convey and the personal anecdote. Throughout my piece of kinetic text, I list off the various issues I had discussed with Davi’s vet, as well as other identifying factors I tell people when discussing Davi’s personal narrative.

He Cries

For the design of this project I was very interested in creating an aesthetic that would be attractive and engaging, something that could be appreciated on it’s own, if one weren’t paying attention to the text. For the look of the piece and the aesthetic of the text, I was inspired by the title sequence that appeared at the start of HBO’s Girls. I chose my usual color scheme of pale pinks and pastels. I felt it complemented the playful nature of the next while satisfying my need to create something visually appealing. It was very hard for me to decide whether or not to create the whole piece in different shades of pink or to work along the color spectrum. I frequently rely on shades of pink as a color palette, as I find it to be so aesthetically pleasing and have grown to see it at as a constant in my work.


I struggled with motion. I was very certain of the text I would use and the aesthetic I wanted to achieve, but I found my engagement with motion was less inspired than the rest of the content of the piece. I would’ve liked to have created more intriguing motion, motion that could be appreciated outside of the text.


Choosing fonts for this piece was very difficult. It would have been very beneficial to do some research ahead of time, gathering a list of fonts I found to be aesthetically pleasing and unified. Instead, I scrolled through the option of fonts in After Effects upon the addition of each section of text. I found it difficult to choose fonts that were complimentary but not too similar. I find it can be distracting to have two fonts, one after the other, so similar they become almost indistinguishable. I was eager to utilize simple and modern fonts that would be both complimentary to one another, while remaining distinguishable. I am not sure I succeeded, but I found I am a big fan of Pt Sans Narrow.   Transition

As always, I had some trouble with maintaining momentum throughout the whole piece. I found the first minute to be very instinctual, while the last three minutes were somewhat difficult to maneuver. When dealing with something as delicate and simple as text, it can be daunting to try and create an engaging piece without being overly repetitive. I had to remember that some elements of repetition can be appreciated when they are conscious decisions that aim to encourage a sense of design.

I had trouble with restricting my use of preset text effects. As tempting as they were, I found that they were easy to fall reliant on. This led me to experiment with font, size, placement and movement to create my own sort of effects. I found it was difficult to distinguish when the text had enough going for it and when it could benefit from a few more elements to make it more engaging.

Cutting to music is always tricky. I find great satisfaction in rhythmic editing, but I can become easily distracted when cutting to the tune of a song and I tend to start cutting to different beats and tempos rather than keeping with one rhythm. I found that working with the 3-second rule encouraged a more uniform rhthym. This was a very helpful discovery that I will be sure to utilize in future projects. Going about rhythmic editing it in a mathematical way can save time and can ensure a more cohesive rhythm.

Overall, I had a wonderful experience creating this piece.  Though it was strenuous at times, I feel this studio prompt really tested my hand at After Effects, while challenging my ability to engage with text in video, resulting in a stronger understanding of both skills. Although there are some elements of the piece that I feel could be improved upon, such as my use of color and my implementation of motion and change, I am very happy with what I came up with.Ow

Kinetic Text: Untitled

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 8.05.18 PM

For my kinetic text assignment, I decided to animate motion-related words to follow the motions they describe. First, I will describe my animation and the process used to create it.

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 8.05.56 PM

The animation opens with the word “reveal” horizontally sliding to the left to reveal itself from behind a mask layer. “Reveal” fades away and two instances of the word parallel slide across the screen in a parallel but opposite motion. The word “split” appears, and, using the “cc split” effect, it splits in two. Each piece of the word stretches until it is off screen, and a spinning, three-dimensional “spin” rotates as the background shifts from a solid red to an orange and black gradient ramp. This spinning effect was created by keyframing the Y-rotation on the 3D text.

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 8.04.15 PM

“Spin” fades away, and the word “zoom” appears on screen, growing increasingly large. I created this zoom effect by simply keyframing the scale of the text layer. Once “zoom” has zoomed so far that the text is no longer legible, the word “scatter” appears.

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 8.04.48 PM

I keyframed the position of each separate letter to move off the edges of the screen. This creates the effect of the word disassembling into scattered letters. Then, the word “underline” appears from behind a mask layer, and a line grows, underlining the word. I animated the growth of this line using a key framed trim path. “Underline” disappears and the background turns black. The word “disintegrate” enters the screen using the “raining characters in preset”. Then, using a combination of linear wipe and several layers of particle animation, the word disintegrates into dust. Then, the word “repetition” repeatedly types itself across the screen. Once “repetition” disappears, “slice” appears.

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 8.05.41 PM

The “slice” text consists of two layers, each with a mask either obscuring the bottom or top portion of the word. The layer with the bottom of the word visible slides off screen. The background shifts to a gradient ramp of a light blue to dark blue. Finally, the word “reflection” appears on screen, and its reflection slowly appears beneath it. To create the reflection, I duplicated the text layer and applied the cc composite and linear wipe effects.

For me, this project was an exercise in animating the transformation of text. The words I chose describe themselves, each serving as an example of the effect being demonstrated. I feel that I’ve been very successful in achieving what I set out to with this project. The only area of this project which I feel I could have better executed is its length. I struggled to create an animation as long as the 4 minutes required by the prompt.

Kinetic Text

Frame from work.

Frame from work.

For my kinetic text piece, I animated a short narrative about how I put a word to my gay and trans identity, focusing on my young crush on Freddie Mercury.


For this piece my main focus was simply the text.  Because in previous years I have only used visual forms to represent concepts, the use of text as graphics was new and foreign to me, especially since all my life it has been drilled into me that the only use of text and letters was for extremely rigid writing. 


Because of the exact nature of the project, I found that using primarily text was liberating.  I focused on aesthetics, how the letters looked and felt with different fonts, and also keeping everything cohesive. 

Because of the subject matter, I wanted to allude to two time periods: my youth in 2011 and the glam rock era of the late 70s.  Because I wanted to focus solely on the text, I kept my visuals at a minimum.  In fact I only used two effects: fractal and noise HLS on the wild layers, used glowing trim paths, and only changed the colors on the soil layer every 30 seconds to a minuet. 

In fact I relied on visual repetition for the trim paths and just remixed the same key frames manually.  My only other visual component was live footage from a Queen concert, which I put put a mirror effect on so it would only “open” when Freddie Mercury was on screen.


The text itself is a mix of 3D and 2D animated text.

While I would have loved to render all my text layers in 3D, in truth I was scared that the file would take too long to render and that my computer would overheat, leading me to 3D animate any text sparingly.  However I know with the right equipment, 3D rendering all the text would have been possible, and would have led to a more compelling reading and viewing experience.  However within the film, I male use of animated text intros and decoder effects to keep viewers interested in the screen.   I animated different parts of text to change color, as if it were rainbow for the very obvious reason: this film is about being gay.  In fact, as a gay man, I make use of a censored LGBTQ+ slur targeted at gay men, and make change to all colors of the rainbow.  In this way I am simultaneously reclaiming and asserting my identity with a slur which is in relation to this story of putting words to my identity.  I also stuck with a prose style for this film, namely because I wanted the work to feel personable, as if I am talking to you at a coffee shop about this, and thus take away a layer of accessibility.  I also found that as prose, the narrative flowed more easily than not.  I also tried to use a loose narrative structure,the film has a clear beginning and end, even though both do not amount to much and they shouldn’t, to me my attraction to other men and only men is part of my everyday life and at this point, normal, why should’t I portray it as normal in my work?

Frame from film.

Frame from film.

This film also deals with the beginnings of something that I currently cannot explain any better with language: the fact that men who love men (gay, bi, pan men) experience love and attraction differently from straight women.  I have no idea how else to go into detail about it but one of the reasons I know why its different is this: I have not met a straight woman who was attracted to Freddie Mercury ever in my life. Are there women who are attracted to queer men? Yes, and they sometimes get into relationships if the man is also attacked to women as well.  However, for some reason, no straight women has ever expressed her attraction to Freddie Mercury while many queer men have.  Through my personal experience, and hopefully through more art, I hope to explain how the phenomenon of love between men and lust between men works.



In all this project challenged me to think very differently from my usual.  I am used to thinking in form, color, and shape in a the context of pictures, never in fonts, words, or text in general.  I truly tried to tone down my use of imagery to three main components and use repetition as an effective visual device and keep the mood of my piece effective and consistent throughout the film.  Awakening is probably one of the firsts of unknown firsts of many more works of art to come that explicitly deal with identity, gender nonconformity, attraction, and love that come with being a gay man, especially a gay trans man in 2018.

Kinetic Text: Wait

Kinetic Text by Izzy Singer




The song Wait by M83 is from an experimental series of music videos that I have hardly watched. They tell a surrealist story involving industrial America, folk lore and space. I haven’t watched it in years, not since the song was featured on the ‘The Fault In Our Stars’ movie soundtrack (no matter the film movie soundtracks are goldmines for sound). At the time I saw the movie I was having trouble developing emotional attachments to pieces of art. The medication I was taking for depression/anxiety had a numbing effect that made seeing movies and hearing music frustratingly dry. This song plays at the very end of the film when the main character goes through a transformative experience which leads her and her family to accept a harsh situation. The song made the end of TFIOS into something powerful enough that I felt satisfied when I exited the theater. Powerful enough that I could feel a lot when I listened to it on repeat after I got home and 5 years later when I listen to it now.

I am on better medication now. Art effects me and the song has lost none of its beauty. So for this process I did not make any sketches. I listened to the song on repeat and kept it as simple as I could. Particle and Scatter are good for this. I slowed them down and lowered the opacity very slightly. I timed the scatter of the first two “Sings” at the beginning of the video catch the viewer’s attention in the beginning so they would be more inclined to stay on. The rest of the video is, however, fairly low-key apart from the Kaleida effects. The opacity on those were also played with. The word “Wait” which stays in place for the entire video goes in and out of focus as an additional eye-catching motion. I could not decide how fast or slow to make it and I have submitted it with uncertainty.


I created a pink particle layer and added three masks over top it to give peeks at its slow journey into a twist. I also included the words, Wait and Sing. The moving kaleidoscopic effect was the result of me applying Kaleida to a text layer that read:




I think adding those subtleties to the work helps it to match the song. There are so many layers to it and slow turns. The Kaleida adds the unexpected to ready the viewer for the end which is when the climax of the song occurs and it makes all kinds of turns. My worry for this was making it too languid. My own attention span is very short. I have to be in the right headspace to even listen to the song completely, though I enjoy it so much. However, in the end, I feel the particles and extra additions made it interesting enough.

Conference Project Proposal: Liquid Light Show

liquid light show

Glenn Mckay stands in front of his liquid light show “Glenn Mckay’s Headlights”

lucifer rising gif

Still from Kenneth Anger’s film “Lucifer Rising”

For my conference work, I am incorporating kinetic text with a 1960s-inspired liquid light show. Numerous musical acts, in the 60s and today performed with liquid light shows, such as 13th Floor Elevators, Jefferson Airplane, and Jimi Hendrix. Filmmaker Kenneth anger, while he didn’t necessarily utilize the exact liquid light technique, had an aesthetic sensibility in his films that i wish to evoke here.

The liquid light show itself will be made by putting two-three dishes filled with water, mineral oil, and food coloring on the surface of an ELMO overhead projector. This will create a psychedelic, swirling projection of colors that I can manipulate in real time as I digitally project my kinetic text.

liquid light show projector

Bill Hamm’s Light Show in Avalon Ballroom SF


In the combination of the liquid light show and my poetry-based kinetic text, I hope to create an atmosphere, or even a separate world that the viewer can enter by looking at the projection, or even stepping in front of it.