This Studio Transforms the English Alphabet through Motion Graphics

Award-winning motion graphics design studio based in London, Mr Kaplin, goes above and beyond to transform the English alphabet into fun and crazy typography animation designs with their latest video A Month of Type.

The studio wanted to expand their creativity and pursue a challenge within a trending topic called the 36 Days of Type Project, and so, for the alphabet portion of the challenge, produced a unique theme and feel for each letter – all to the mesmerising music and sound design of BXFTYS.

We took the time to discuss the process with one of the studio’s lead designers, Robert Glassford, and learned about what goes into these animations.

THE PLUS: What was the story behind this project? How did it come about?
Robert Glassford:
At the start of last year, we were discussing how to create more studio-driven work. We wanted to try new things, but we also wanted to turn projects around quickly so settled on the idea of having a monthly theme or challenge. The idea was to produce a series of animations based around that theme all of which we aimed to design and animate within a day. The first month was character design and then this one, a typography challenge inspired by the 36 Days of Type project, was the second. Typography was something we’d been wanting to play with for a while but hadn’t had the opportunity to in client work. It was also a design challenge we knew the whole team could get involved in so it seemed like a good fit.


TP: How did you approach each letter? Did you work on each as a team? How was the brainstorming process?
It was a team project though we did work on the letters individually. After brainstorming together to get the broad strokes of what would be happening with a letter we allocated them out to different members of the team to develop and animate. We are only a small team so working on letters individually and keeping the rest of the team free for other projects made it easier to schedule and also gave each animator a bit of space to experiment.

We focused on a few letters at a time so that we could keep reviewing what we felt was working and what wasn’t so there was a lot of back and forth and discussion! Initially, the plan was for each letter to reflect a word beginning with that letter – A for ascending, B for balls and so on – but we did let that slide a bit towards the end if we had an animation approach that we were all excited about but that didn’t fit a word association so well.


TP: What was the funniest moment in the process of making this project?
Not sure there were many laugh out loud moments though I suppose now we can look back and laugh at the number of heated debates we had about what a letter should look like!

TP: Where do you draw your inspiration from for such varied motion graphics?
We do find a lot of inspiration online, seeing all the amazing work other designers or studios are doing but we try to actively look outside of motion design as well. It’s easy to be swayed by current trends within your own industry either because of the temptation to explore the styles that are getting the most likes on Instagram or because you’re deliberately trying to make something that stands out rather than just exploring ideas and designs that interest you. Films, television animations and video games are all media that we consume pretty heavily which though not a million miles away from our industry give a slightly different perspective and we’re lucky enough to live in London which offers an abundance of exhibitions and events to draw from.


TP: Were any of the letters difficult to work with?
The first couple were tough, not really because of the letters themselves but because it took a while to get into the swing of things. We had decided that we wanted to experiment with a mix of styles rather than create a unified set which definitely helps sustain our interest in the project as the month wore on but it did make the first few trickier – it’s hard to make a decision when the options are endless!

TP: Is there any letter you’re particularly happy with?
Yes, there is a few we really love. “P” was one that worked really well both as an animation and as a representation of the word so that’s definitely one of our favourites.


TP: What do you think is the main benefit of creatives setting themselves challenges like this?
There are so many benefits but the main one for us is probably the opportunity to try new things and showcase the range of what we can do. Client projects always offer unique challenges but they don’t always allow time for creative experimentation and as commissions are generally based on your previous output it is easy to get stuck producing similar work.

We are still a fairly young company so having the space to develop and learn is very important to us and these challenges have been an extra creative outlet we can use to do that.


TP: What’s your opinion on creating work within a set of limitations?
Limitations can definitely be beneficial. With commercial work the brief, budget and other considerations usually place their own limitations on a project but for studio work having no limitations when you start can sometimes be a hindrance. We’ve never had a problem generating ideas for our own work but they were often quite ambitious.

Obviously, that is great is some ways but we kept finding that we needed to put aside these larger projects when we got busy with commercial work and would then struggle to pick them back up again – we’d be too excited by a new idea by then! After realising how long it had been since we had produced a new studio project we decided that we needed to take a different tack and working within limitations, particularly on time, was a big part of helping us create more work.