Animography Interview

Animography is a typefoundry who has designed a range of amazing animated typefaces, perfect for motion designers. Some are for sale, while others you can grab for free, and are shared in the form of an After Effects file, with easily editable animations, colour and design. Not only are these typefaces animated, but they are also great as just the static version. Motional got the chance to ask Animography a few questions about their ideas and processes behind the typefaces. Read on for some great insight into Animography....

Who is behind the face of Animography?

Animography is a side-operation of Calango. And Calango is a small motion/design studio from Amsterdam. And small means just me, Jeroen Krielaars, and an ocassional freelancer. I guess I am doing a lot of work for one guy. I’ve never had a proper design education. Instead I have a degree in visual marketing & branding for the fashion industry. I dropped the fashion part as soon as I finished school and tried to train myself in graphic design. After a lot of trial end error I’ve managed to built up a steady circle of clients who I love working with. Luckily I also have a trusted network of freelancers at my disposal to help out where needed.

Why did you decide to create animated typefaces?

It started out as an experiment. I like to have a systematic approach to design, and I thought it could be interesting to animate an alphabet, and use it as a system to create animated text. I designed and animated the characters all in one week, and I got a real kick out of it. I made an animation to showcase it on vimeo. It was soon picked up by major blogs, magazines and it even got a full page article in the Globe and Mail. It was clear to me that I wasn’t the only one who liked the idea of animated typefaces. That’s when I decided to make more.

Is making animated fonts a hobby or something you do within your working hours?

Since I became a father two years ago I try to shut my computer down in the evenings and weekends. So I try to get as much work done in between projects at Calango. It is not nearly enough time to execute all the ideas I have.

Where do you get your inspiration for the fonts?

This can be anywhere, since typography, shapes and colors are omnipresent. It’s annoying sometimes, because a single graphic on a beercoaster can spark ideas for 3 new animated typefaces that I have to find time for to make them. It really bugs me to have too many concepts on the shelve, waiting to be brought to life.

Do you base the fonts on an existing typeface or do you create them from scratch?

Both. Sometimes I design everthing from scratch. This was the case with Moshun, Spirograph and Typogami.

Other times I see an existing typeface that’s really suitable for animation. An example of this is Binary 2.0. I contacted the designer Maria Jose Torerro Heredia from Mexico, and we teamed up to create an animated version, as well as an outlined static version and some extra glyphs.

I also connect type-designers with motion-designers to team up. A result of this is Fat Frank. It’s a collaboration between Jeff Schreiber (type) and Oliver Dead (motion), two really talented guys. I animated the promo myself and Sonosanctus donated his skills for the audio. A lot of love went in to this one!

What processes do you go through to create the font?

The first step is the type-design. When I design, I already have a clear vision of what the animation should be like. This goes hand in hand with determining what features should be customizable and what should not. For me, pen and paper is the quickest way to turn my idea into something visual.

After a really short and clumsy sketch session I move into Adobe Illustrator to start the digital process. This usually involves a lot of math and guidelines to get all the dimensions right. Sometimes I have a dozen of suitable e’s but I can’t get the q to look right. In that case I make a lot of different words to determine what looks best. When I am happy with the static version, I move on to animation. The golden rule is: if it does not look good to begin with, it won’t look any better when it’s moving around.

Once in Adobe After Effects, I copy or recreate the whole thing with shape layers. That way, everything is infinitely scalable without any loss of quality. Now it’s time to animate. Most of the time I animate one word to determine if I like it or not. Once I’m satified, I animate all the remaining characters. I try to avoid keyframes wherever I can. Instead I try to animate with expressions. This allows me to parent certain things to the controller composition. This sounds easy but it takes a lot of time to get all the expressions right, and get them working for all the characters. 

The pt_ExpressEdit script is a huge timesaver for me in this stage! Be sure to check that out. Once finished with the animation, I move on to the promovideo. This is the first time the animated typeface is put to use, and this is an ideal chance to filter out any bugs. At the very end I clean up the files. I get rid of anything unneccasary, name all the comps and colorcode everything. A very important step because the end user should not have to figure out how the file is structured. This should be clear the second the file is opened.

The final step is to make compatible files for older versions of Adobe After Effects. For this I use another script called, pt_OpenSesame.

Now it’s ready to go up on!

What do you do to ensure that the fonts are easily editable?

Each typeface comes as a neatly organized Adobe After Effects file and has a controller composition that is connected to all the characters with the use of expressions. This makes it possible to change the look of the entire typeface from one central place in one go. For some typefaces, this means just changing the colors, for other typefaces it means changing stroke width, easing, tempo, etcetera.

Example of flexibility

New Font, Webster




Do you ever have to comprise on design to enable them to be flexible?

Not really. It’s more a question of finding the right amount of customizable features to built in. Too much can result in an overcomplicated file for end users. It’s a delicate balance.

Have they proved to be popular?

I think so. Some of the promovideos have a lot of views. Moshun has more than 115.000 views untill now. To me, that’s huge. Also the free downloads for Typogami, Anodine and Fat Frank Static are going really great. The paid versions are going steady as well, but of course I hope it will be even more in the near future. I can’t quit my dayjob just yet. I’ve also read reactions on blogs that people are horrified by the thougth of seeing animated type everywhere. Those people are probably traumatised by the animated gifs of the 90’s. Those spinning chrome @’s on every website, remember? I understand their feelings, but I think it should just be used with moderation and in the right way. But that goes for any display font. And in the end, there are even people that manage to make helvetica look terrible.

Have you seen your fonts be used in anyone’s work and have you used them in your own work?

Lately I’ve seen Anodine pop up in this sweet music video for Mary’s Flower Superhead.

And Typogami was used in some product video’s for the shoebrand, Camper. Unfortunately I don’t get a heads up everytime an animated typeface is used. So if anyone knows more than me, drop me a line!

Do you think that animated fonts are the next ‘big thing’ in animation?

I don’t think so, and I hope not. The next big thing usually means it will be the next big cliché. Like shiny spheres two years ago (as made popular by greyscale gorilla) and those miniature 3D globes popping up last year.

Do you have any future projects lined up?

My to do list is filled with new typefaces, new collaborations, and some decent tutorials that go over all the features of the typefaces we have so far. I hope that can clearify some of the mysteries in using the animated typefaces on

We would like to thank Animography for talking to us about the great animated typefaces they design. I find it particularly interesting that they don't have any previous education in design, including typography, yet are still able to produce typefaces which are beautifully designed and can be used in many different situations. I always like getting an insight into the working process of a designer, and am excited that Animography still turns to pen and paper to design typefaces rather than go straight to the computer. Seeing the raw versions of these typefaces made from paper makes me appreciate the fonts more, knowing that they are thoroughly thought through rather than just experimenting in after effects to see what one can come up with. We look forward to future projects from Animography!

I would love to see any more example of these fonts being used in projects, so please send them our way!

If you would like to see more from Animography, then please visit their website here.

By: Lisa
Posted: Tue 30th Oct 2012

Tags: Interviews, After Effects, Afx, Animated typeface, Animography, buy, Calango, chat, design, Fonts, Free, interview, process, talk, Typography


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