January 22, 2006

Words at Play

Typography + animation come together beautifully in Words At Play, the companion site to Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich & Matteo Bologna’s book of the same name. The project, a “many-splendored, multi-layered typographic tour d’amour,” showcases de Vicq’s typographic portraits of 21 renowned writers (plus Al Capone and Napoleon Bonaparte). After snagging a pair of Webby awards, the site is up for the People’s Choice award at next month’s Flashforward. It’s got my vote.
Words at Play was built by animating type in After Effects, then exporting keyframes to Adobe LiveMotion as XML (.amx). As it happens, I’ve seen speculation recently about Adobe resurrecting LiveMotion. That strikes me as quite unlikely, but there were some cool concepts (e.g. data exchange via XML, animation applied via styles) that I’d love to see revisited.
If you like Words At Play, check out Roberto’s earlier Bembo Zoo, an abecedary featuring animals drawn in letters [Via]. These guys also did a terrific portrait of Adobe co-founder John Warnock, using the Warnock Pro font created in his honor. (Random aside: I also found a portrait of Dr. Warnock rendered in PostScript, the language he invented.)
Tangentially related:

  • I’m captivated by the typographic paintings of Paula Scher [Via]. She discusses her work in the video Adobe commissioned from Hillman Curtis.
  • TYPEDRAWiNG uses Flash to enable drawing with letters.
Posted by John Nack at 10:00 PM on January 22, 2006


  • mike smick — 12:06 AM on January 23, 2006

    Oh I wish LiveMotion was brought back and worked within aftereffects. It makes so much more sense to have it in there, though it wouldn’t be bad embedded inside adobe illustrator either, since many tools are the same. Steve Holmes (the words at play site designer) and I have had this conversation several times. LiveMotion was a bit buggy, but is in fact a lot easier than annoying flash for many things.
    Now on the other hand, if flash was able to handle 2 timeline modes and could be chosen like one used to choose timeline modes in premiere, that might make solve the issue too. Keep the symbol library and AS the same, as it wasn’t implemented properly in LM anyway.

  • John Dowdell — 8:14 AM on January 23, 2006

    Mike, is it mainly the timeline you’re seeking?
    Or did LiveMotion’s asset management, or some other interface element, also fit your workflow better than the library in the Macromedia Flash authoring tool?

  • michael briney — 5:50 PM on March 06, 2006

    too bad about Live Motion
    I’d love to see it come back in some major form or another…

  • Laurens — 1:04 PM on June 30, 2009

    That link to the history of PostScript no longer works because the URL got changed in a move to another web publishing platform. Try http://www.prepressure.com/postscript/basics/history
    Sorry for the inconvenience!
    [Ah–thanks, Laurens. –J.]

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