1st Edition

Typography and Motion Graphics: The 'Reading-Image'

By Michael Betancourt Copyright 2019
    160 Pages 47 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In his latest book, Michael Betancourt explores the nature and role of typography in motion graphics as a way to consider its distinction from static design using the concept of the ‘reading-image’ to model the ways that motion typography dramatizes the process of reading and audience recognition of language on-screen. Using both classic and contemporary title sequences—including The Man With the Golden Arm (1955), Alien (1979), Flubber (1998), Six Feet Under (2001), The Number 23 (2007) and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)—Betancourt develops an argument about what distinguishes motion graphics from graphic design. Moving beyond title sequences, Betancourt also analyzes moving or kinetic typography in logo designs, commercials, film trailers, and information graphics, offering a striking theoretical model for understanding typography in media.

    List of Figures


    Motion Typography

    • A History of Formalist Approaches
    • Legibility
    • The Technical Lineage
    • Typography and Titling

    The ‘Reading-Image'

    1. Kinetic Action
    2. Graphic Expression
    3. Chronic Progression


    1. Motion versus Static Design
    2. Reading / Discourse
    3. The Role of Kinesis
    4. Constraints on Semiosis



    Michael Betancourt is a research artist/theorist concerned with digital technology and capitalist ideology. His writing has been translated into Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Persian, Portuguese, and Spanish, and published in journals such as The Atlantic, Make Magazine, CTheory, and Leonardo. He is the author of The ____________ Manifesto, and books such as The History of Motion Graphics, and The Critique of Digital Capitalism, as well as three books on the semiotics of motion graphics: Semiotics and Title Sequences, Synchronization and Title Sequences, and Title Sequences as Paratexts. These publications complement his movies, which have screened internationally at the Black Maria Film Festival, Art Basel Miami Beach, Contemporary Art Ruhr, Athens Video Art Festival, Festival des Cinemas Differents de Paris, Anthology Film Archives, Millennium Film Workshop, the San Francisco Cinematheque’s Crossroads, and Experiments in Cinema, among many others.