Conan O’Brien Meets Kinetic Typography

By far, my favourite form of electronic literature that we’ve looked at in class has been kinetic typography. I’m guessing a lot of other people in E.Lit found this form interesting as well since after we had to read DAKOTA for class, two other classmates wrote posts that mentioned kinetic typography (links here and here).

First off, what is kinetic typography? I feel that we briefly discussed what it was during class, but let me just provide some more gritty details. Kinetic typography is essentially text combined with animation and specific timing to create some sort of emotion. This type of electronic literature began to get really popular in the 1960’s, especially in the film industry. One of the first films to use this new form was North by Northwest by Alfred Hitchcock (1959).

So for this blog post, I decided to go on a quest to find other types of kinetic typography. One of the best ones (in my opinion) that I had found is one of Conan O’Brien’s last speech on the Tonight Show:


The creator, Jacob Gilbreath is a student at Okalahoma State University. As you can see in O’Brien’s speech, he is full of positivity, confidence, and hope even thought he was going through all of that drama with NBC. On Gilbreath’s site, he says how he used kinetic typography to “show Conan O’Brien as the monumental entertainer and solid wall that he is.” He even goes on to explain how “[the contrast between old and new] emphasizes time to create a sturdy and timeless object.”

One of the reasons this specific video is my favourite, besides the fact that I thought O’Brien was really funny, was that it showcased all of O’Brien’s best characteristics. The varying fun grey font, the orange pictures, the whimsical transitions all embodied his creativity and optimism. The one criticism I would have is that although I found the transitions between texts to be creative, I also found them to be so crazy and it was swaying so much to the point that I did get dizzy at some points.

Also, just for fun, I’m also just going to include some of the other kinetic typographies I found really entertaining that range from iconic songs such as Jet’s “Are You Gonna Be My Girl?”


to one of the best movies ever, “Wedding Crashers”


The key concept of kinetic typographies is to combine spoken words with the element of timing to evoke a specific emotion. Although I did perceive certain emotions while viewing the O’Brien kinetic typography and knew I was being manipulated to feel like that, I wish I could explain why I felt how I did. By researching more about the complexities of kinetic typography, I feel as if it would really create a fruitful discussion. Studies conducted in other fields such as perceptual psychology have concluded that the use of time-manipulated animated text is effective in grabbing and maintaining the audience’s attention as well as improving reading comprehension in certain cases (information from here).

Overall, I really do appreciate the effects of kinetic typographies. If you’re interested as well, or know of any other really cool ones, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

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