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It’s More Than Just Words On The Screen – It’s A Message

January 11, 2012 1 comment

Over the course of an edit session, you may spend hours or longer fretting over a number of edit choices. Tempo, music, colour tinting, which take to use…the list goes on and on. Let me throw in another decision that, whether you realize it or not, can have a huge impact on your project.

Choice of font.

Now, before you write this off as just a perfectionist nitpicking, have a quick watch of this video, then we’ll continue.

Admittedly, this is completely overboard, but the wrong font choice can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of what you’re trying to accomplish. The problem is, with so many font choices out there, you could agonize over which font best works for your piece. Add to that, the choice of bolding the font, or writing in italics, the placement on the screen, upsetting the visual balance of an image…all of this goes in to adding font. Here are some thing to consider when it comes time to putting words on the screen.

1) Does the font match the feel of the piece?

If you’re doing a fact board about deaths caused by second-hand smoke over the last 5 decades, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to write it in Comic Sans. You laugh, but some people really like that font. The truth is, not all fonts are universal. Think about what you’re trying to convey, then really look at it typed in a number of different fonts. Here’s a few examples for you…a simple message, but notice how the change in font can completely change the impact.

You see how just a simple change in font can change the meaning intended by the words? The font you choose can convey more emotion into your message than your choice of words. Just having the words on-screen isn’t enough anymore. Consider this…how many times have you been waiting in line somewhere and there’s a TV on that you can see, but you can’t hear? Or in a restaurant or bar? You need to be able to convey the same sentiment visually as you do audibly. Also…choose one font and stick with it. If you have 5 different fonts on the screen, by the time the viewer has deciphered and read everything, the font is gone. Simple and clear are the key.

2) Does your screen have a proper balance to it?

Belive it or not, where you put the words on the screen in relation to what’s behind the font can affect what people see. It’s called screen balance…creating a weighted symmetry to your screen, so that not one thing overpowers or is overshadowed by something else? Consider this…you have a picture of a person on the right side of your screen, and you have some font you need on the screen. If you put it across the bottom of the screen, the left side is empty, making your picture right-heavy. It`s the same reason why, when you shoot a sitdown interview with two people, you make sure the framing is the same on both shots. That way, going back and forth from one camera to the other is not jarring. Also, if you have a tight, close-up shot on the right, use a bigger-sized font. A looser pictrue…smaller font size. The key here is symmetry. Make your screen balance so avoid skewing the message.

3) Watch out for what’s behind the words!

Have you ever wondered why there are options for drop shadows and borders/edges on your font? Allow me to enlighten you…

You should be conscience of the colour scheme of the shot, and keep it in mind when choosing your font colour. A simple drop shadow and edge can also help differentiate the font from the background. The last thing you want is for the message to be lost in the medium…or worse yet, misinterpreted, as in the video example above.

Above all else, though, is clarity. Here is a good time to bring in the buddy system. If you bring in a friend and they have to openly question what is written, or ask you to bring it back so they can re-read it…change the font. TV is a visual medium…make the visuals clear and easy to read, and the piece will be better for it. But, above all else…have fun!

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