Background: Adobe makes tools that enable artists and creative professionals to bring their ideas to life, but the “magical” part really lies in what the community does with the tools. So, we wanted to inspire and equip them with resources that they can take, use and learn from. Many Adobe users haven’t come from a traditional design school background; many are self-taught or still learning, so we’re setting out to provide some fundamental knowledge—ideally in an entertaining format. Part of the Creativity Explained series, “On Type with Erik Spiekermann,” which explores the subject of type, is just the beginning. We’re following this up with other design subjects like color and layout and also plan to expand into our other creative segments. This “hero” video plays at the top of a page on Adobe Discover and provides a much deeper dive into the subject matter—it’s the launching pad for more material on the subject.
Reasoning: We wanted these pieces to feel personal and spontaneous, and we also needed to provide a lot of useful information in a pretty compact form. So, we landed on trying to cast lively and knowledgeable narrators. And we kept it unscripted—the script is derived from a conversational Q&A. In the type world, it’s hard to find a more lively or knowledgeable person than Erik Spiekermann. Then we just wanted to bring something special to the visuals, and oddfellows was our first choice because they have a unique and lovely style and body of work.
Challenges: Creating a consistent storytelling approach and wrapping it in an aesthetic unique to each topic while feeling like part of a cohesive series. It was also no small task to cut two hours of conversational interviews down to two entertaining and information-packed minutes.
Favorite details: There is a lot of attention to subtle shadows, textures and imperfections in the designs that create an overall handmade quality. This carries over to the animation, which pulls from traditional stop-motion techniques. It can be difficult to create something that’s intentionally a little bit “off,” but that’s what makes this style compelling. To us, this piece hit a sweet spot that is relatable and charming, but that charm was born out of a very intentional process.
Visual influences: The art direction itself was challenging to establish. We were aiming for something that felt fresh and modern, yet rooted in the history of typography and design. We were inspired by classic graphic design that was subverted with unexpected colors or by breaking some compositional rule. Or modern design that had a timeless look. We landed somewhere unique, and a lot of the credit goes to our art director Ben Hill, and to Adobe for allowing us to veer a little experimental and off-trend.
Specific demands: The duration of nearly two-and-a-half minutes was a challenge just due to the sheer number of shots required. In the world of looping GIFs and Instagram posts, it’s not often we see a longer form piece that dives deeply into a subject and takes you on a journey. To keep up the pacing and a fluid animation style for this amount of time is a whole different animal than a five-second clip or even a thirty-second spot. Duration isn’t a big consideration to today’s audiences, but from the studio side, it can affect scope considerably.