Type in film; more than just a silent characterby Renée Lam on 16/07/2012
Back in 2006 there was a film released that became a personal favourite of mine. It was entitled ‘Stranger Than Fiction’, starring Will Ferrell as the protagonist. Although Ferrell’s turn at a more serious role was done surprisingly well it was essentially the mixture of animated type with live action that made the film so memorable. For me this was the first time I had witnessed such a specific use of type to aid the narrative and have direct interaction with the characters. Subsequent years have brought increasingly more pieces which use this interaction as a method of bringing in another dimension of story telling to the screen.
Stranger Than Fiction
Of course, this dynamic use of type has only been afforded by the technological advances that have occurred in recent history, in the beginning type and film was a much simpler affair.
At the dawn of the silver screen it was a practical solution with the lack of sound requiring text for a coherent narrative and the ability to spin more complicated plots.
Blackmail Alfred Hitchcock 1929
In more recent years however its part has evolved, no longer just a supporting character but one with more of a major role. In some films, the level of its involvement goes as far as directly reacting to its current surroundings.
Scott Pilgrim VS The World
More recently, animated type has been taken a step further (in this case in television) where the affect of its presence is no longer solely relative to the characters inside the story. The BBC series ‘Sherlock’ works to heighten the viewer’s engagement with the narrative by keeping their understanding of unfolding events in step with the main character through type treatments appearing alongside the action.
With the continual development of technology and our ever widening perception of visual entertainment only time will tell how far this integration of type will go.