A 60-second video that introduces the viewer to the Cholla type family.
Originally commissioned by the Art Center College of Design, Cholla was created in 1998-1999 by Sibylle Hagmann with the aid of Denise Gonzales Crisp and Carla Figueroa. Described by Crisp as "[connoting] hybrid, of interconnection, of human and machine growing together", it was designed during a time where technology was transforming the typographic world.
Intrigued by Cholla's history and unusually expressive letterforms, I developed this video to bring the type family to life.
Motion graphics, Storyboarding, Kinetic typography
AfterEffects, Adobe Illustrator, figma
Introduce viewers to the Cholla type family in a way that can be appreciated by non-designers and designers alike.
Arid, Alien, Futuristic
A product of the 1990s, Cholla seemed to draw from the newfound freedom of digitized design to push the boundaries of type conventions. It's namesake, a cactus from the Mojave Desert, also alludes to a strangeness that is evident in the letterforms of its 20 typefaces.
I distilled these influences into three central adjectives that shaped the aesthetics and narrative of the video: Arid, alien, and futuristic
One of Sibylle Hagmann's original design considerations was to create a unified type family where each type variant still kept its own distinct personality.
This idea of unique personalities resonated with me. How might I highlight those different personalities? How might they move or look?
An Expressive Approach
My initial approach involved writing a precise (and somewhat verbose) script; however, I quickly realized that sticking to a rigid script betrayed the fundamental essence of Cholla.
Rather than tell the story of Cholla using the type family in a functional manner, I needed to bring out the expressive qualities of the type family and give the letterforms time to shine.
My color choices and compositions were heavily inspired by science magazines of the 90s. Like Cholla, these had a futuristic yet also timeless quality, just in-your-face enough to be unsettling and alien without being overly loud.
To highlight Cholla's alien and organic qualities, I framed the letterforms as specimens being catalogued or analyzed under a microscope.
Since I was cutting out a lot from my script about type moving from print to screen in the 1990s, I thought an RGB color palette could be a fun nod to the digital medium that influenced Cholla.
These colors helped amplify the futuristic aesthetic.
Sequence + Motion
Over the course of the video, I sought to build a narrative arc that gradually exposed the oddities of the Cholla type family.
I began with an introductory tone, showing Cholla used in a functional context and providing details about its origins and history. In the latter half, I gave Cholla's letterforms more and more of the focus, trying to create the sense that it was taking on a life of its own.
In a similar vein, I chose to animate the letters growing and duplicating in an industrious and cellular way over the course of the video.
The video's soundtrack, "Intrigued by Conspiracy" by Stefan Belrose, provides a subtle and ominous undercurrent.
I chose this track because of its dramatic double-bass and lush/jungle-y use of the xylophone. I felt like I could use it to amplify my building narrative arc while also setting the mood for an experimental and alien type family.