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Trajan at the Movies!

April 19, 2012
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In the blog I Love Typography (which has only a slightly less cool name then my blog) John discusses the prevalence of the typeface Trajan in movie posters. Whether movie posters designers are getting lazy or not doesn’t seem to be the sole reason for this. Trajan is a very great choice for many movies that need a strong typeface for the title with a nice sharpened/angular serif. Here are some examples from the past.

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There is an entire set of photos on Flickr devoted to finding movie posters that use Trajan. However, after looking through them, it seems the 163 posters they have is blown out a little too much. Many of the posters in the collection aren’t even close to Trajan.

Looking at this trend, I have to believe that movie poster designers need to get more clever with the typefaces they either chose to use or have made for the movie. Movies these days are huge endeavors, often with budgets in the nine-figures. The movie Avatar had it’s own typeface designed for the films native language that was used for subtitles (which looked surprisingly akin to Papyrus). Trajan is a beautiful typeface that has been around for over twenty years, but it is absolutely time to move on.

When looking at a new movie, I would imagine it would be easy to use Trajan. The great weight distribution on the stems of the letters, the beautiful serifs that scream edginess and sophistication all at once, and finally the fact that it’s completely in caps and small caps. It really does make a great type for a movie. But with the money being tossed around in that field, there is no reason that more thought shouldn’t be put into them, resulting in less similarity among typefaces chosen.

One of my recent favorite typefaces is a beautiful serif typeface named Archer. I tend to resort to it when designing something for myself, or even writing something. It has nice even weight serifs that are modern, yet classy. Really a beautiful typeface. But when I see myself using it, I force myself to examine why I’m using it, and if not for a good reason, to examine a new one to select. It’s all part of the process of expanding your design repertoire.

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Just because a typeface looks good in a situation doesn’t mean it’s the right one for it. All type faces had personalities, and just like people, you have to make sure the personalities of the type and the project mesh, or you will get a chaotic final product.

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Nolan Do These Himself?

April 19, 2010
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Minor poster for the Christopher Nolan film “The Dark Knight”

Poster for the upcoming Christopher Nolan film “Inception”

If you may have noticed, these posters from two different Christopher Nolan films are sort of similar. And while Dark Knight was one of my favorite films, and I am very looking forward to seeing Inception. But with a high budget film like Inception, the poster designers could have gone with a poster different then the main character (DiCaprio) standing in a city center with water around his ankles. With subject matter as psychological as Inception, the designers could have done so many different posters. Here is my favorite poster designed for the Dark Knight, incorporating elements from both Batman and the Joker.


Promoting the Mad Hatter

March 3, 2010
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Movie posters are simple in their purpose, to create interest in the movie and to ultimately get as many people as possible to see it. Since the dawn of the digital age the ways to promote a movie have increased to far more than just a creating a poster. But sticking to just the poster, there have been several design phases that movie poster designers have gone through; from illustration to copy heavy to simple photographs. Today however, movie poster designers are going with the theme of individual character posters.

More and more movies are going with specific character posters to advertise their movies. This approach diversifies the designs that film studios can take when promoting a new movie. If a man tends to identify more with Johnny Depp than Orlando Bloom, then that person can see the Captain Jack Sparrow poster. This also leads to far more sales opportunities, I know I’ve personally purchased a few character driven posters in the past.


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