Didot: Type & Motion

c studio mini: fall 2020

Sarah Xi
8 min readOct 23, 2020

10/10/2020 Project Introduction:

  • Design a 60 second video that introduces and highlights unique characteristics and personality of selected typeface.
  • Look back at the adjectives and 50 word statement/list you created in the last project as a guide for your video.

10/11/2020 Finding Music:


In deciding what type of music to pick, I brainstormed a few qualities I wanted the music to touch on:

  • Fashion-like, runway music but has variation in beats to pique interest.
  • Not too slow-paced, but not too fast either.
  • Up beat, not too subtle.

When I searched for ‘Fashion Runway Music’ or ‘Fashion House Music’, the beats didn’t have much variation (since it’s meant to be played for a long time) and felt too cliché. I wanted something that had the feel of a fashion show, somewhat dramatic with the bolder beats to grab the viewer’s attention.

(above) example of fashion house music I listened too

I then turned to Spotify and Youtube, finding potential songs from my own playlists and branching out on the platforms recommendations.

List of songs I put down as potential picks:

Top Picks:

“Virgin Pina Coladas” by Labrinth:

  • Has a nice punch to the beats.
  • Satisfying clicks.
  • Too short, no extended version :(

“Match” Instrumental by Alltta (20syl & Mr. J. Medeiros):

  • Has the ‘fashion runway’ feel but with a twist.
  • Has variation in the beat, some parts feel sporadic.
  • Easy to trim at 1 minute.

“Violence” Instrumental by Grimes & i_o

  • Has a stronger fashion runway feel than “Match” by Alltta.
  • Slow start, first minute has no variation in beats — will be difficult in staying interesting.

“Peek-a-boomer” by 20syl

  • One of the songs in 20syl’s minute tunes created for the whole alphabet.
  • Has fun synths and variation in beats.
  • A song I’d listen to honestly aka working with this song would be most enjoyable.
(above) created a playlist on Spotify of songs I found on both Spotify and Youtube

In the end, I ended up going with the first minute of the “Match” Instrumental by Alltta (20syl & Mr. J. Medeiros). Even though “Violence” by Grimes & i_o had stronger associations with fashion runway and “Peek-a-boomer” by 20syl had more auditory appeal to me, I thought “Match” was a good in between. Not only did it keep the vibe I imagined Didot to have, it also didn’t bore me.

10/12/2020 Script + Storyboard:

Prior to starting my storyboard, I went back to the 50 word statement I wrote in the previous project. Reviewing the key points, I then rewrote it into a proper script.

Original Statements:

  • Rarely used in body copy, mostly for display purposes.
  • Has horizontal unbracketed serifs, along with upright/vertical stress.
  • Strokes within each letter have abrupt thickness modulation, distinct to modern styles.
  • Iconic uses/variations of Didot were created for companies like CBS, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar.
  • Creation of Didot was inspired by John Baskerville’s process for the Baskerville typeface.
  • Didot was the first modern typeface created, made with the purpose of idealizing written calligraphy rather than emulating it.

Edited Version:

From a family known for printing and type foundry,
Firmin Didot kickstarted an era of Modern type.
In creating Didot, a serif typeface made with the purpose of emulating (strikethrough) idealizing letters.
Now, a modern elegance known for its presence in fashion…Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar.
Didot is sophisticated, with a hint of grandeur.
Classy, but also different.
Best used for display, to better see its high stroke contrast, horizontal, vertical stress, and teardrop terminals.
This is Didot

(above) revisions of script


Initially, I struggling coming up with a graphical theme for my animation. I wanted to pull inspiration from the spread I previously made, but unlike many others’ spreads, mine was very simple and used minimal graphical elements. It had most emphasis on the image, minimal color and negative space, which made it a bit difficult to think of moments in the video where there’d be a moment of ‘wow’ or uniqueness besides just transitioning text.

(above) storyboard 1

I then looked back at what characteristics Didot had that was prominent of its personality. As such, I decided that I wanted to used thin lines in the video to hint at Didot’s personality (which is especially seen by its hairline serifs and stroke contrasts).

(above) revised ver. of storyboard 1

In revising my storyboard, I aimed to plan out all the transitions as I listened to the music to get a better of sense of timing. I wanted a general idea of whether I had enough time to include all the content in the script. In addition to that, I wanted to make sure that none of the same transitions are used right next each other too often. In both storyboards, I focused on a structure where everything builds up in the beginning before introducing ‘Didot’ and its characteristics.

Meeting Jaclyn for Crit:

  • “Hash”, “Peek-a-boomer” by 20syl were interesting song choices, but agreed that “Match” by Alltta fit nicer.
  • It’s okay to put emphasis on color throughout the video, doesn’t have to have some super distinct graphical element
  • If color is used effectively, the video can be equally as impactful.

Other notes made by Vicki:

  • Remember to consider the things we’ve learned in the past: grids, flow, and hierarchy.
  • Read script out loud as you play your music, helps check if the sentences in the script is too complex/hard to process if video is faster paced.
  • As you animate, also read it aloud as it plays to check readability and pacing.

10/14/2020 Starting the Animation:

Even though Andrew has mentioned how it could be helpful to first lay everything out and go back to refine, I still ended up refining as I went. This personally allowed me to gauge how much time each transition took and whether I could fit the whole script in minute time frame.

Meeting with Vicki: Thursday Crit. Session

  • Too fast paced, if you tried reading it out loud, it’s hard to process.
  • Type size is too large, consider shrinking it down.
  • “Modern” transition/effect is too thick, Didot is buried under stroke weight of Proxima Nova.
(above) crit. notes Jaclyn was kind enough to take for us 😮

10/16/2020 Full Draft:

After getting feedback on the first part of the video, I got a better idea of what direction I needed to take in completing the first go at this animation. I referred back to my storyboard, and edited my script as I went along (revisions seen on 10/12/2020 section). The revisions on my script were mostly to help readability with the face pace of my music choice and the animation elements I wanted to add. (i.e. zooming in on ‘different’ so I could emphasize the letterform ‘t’).

(above) even though I strictly stick to a certain module/grid layout, I used guides to keep transitions consistent.
(above) adding image with multiply layer; Image Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/hy1R37C1ypk

Critique with…


  • Some parts of song is high pitched weirdly??? watch out for the transitions?? maybe its Zoom.
  • Recommend translating image into other parts of video.
  • Date was a millisecond too fast, very thick line between dates (can get distracting).


  • Exaggerating the emphasis on letterform ‘t’ in ‘different.’ can make message more clear.
  • Thinner horizontal + vertical stress dotted lines at end would look more consistent with the hairline lines I’ve been using.
  • Can consider music fade at the end of the video if concerned about music ending too abruptly.


  • Show more of Didot, characteristics, sneak peeks in middle of video.
  • Reminder to watch out for kerning/tracking!!! (i.e. DIDOT and Didot) (Think Optical vs Metric Kerning)
  • Use type as image.
  • “Grandeur” can consider having it ‘grow’ with the beat for a change in pace??
  • Concern with abrupt ending: Didot ending on the ‘dropping’ beats, pause, credits roll, then coming back with last few beats can provide a sense of closure.

10/22/2020 Final Critique:

(above) final video for critique — subject to potential changes after



  • Good music choice.
  • Has a fashion show vibe but not cliché.


  • Struck by music even though sporadic, type was handled well.
  • Fashion show vibe was definitely strong.


  • Pacing overall was too fast??? (couldn’t hear him oops)
  • Including moments where its intentionally slower can maintain interest while watching the video, especially when the whole video is consistently fast paced. i.e. If video was slowed in some parts at 10–15 seconds in.
  • Multiple stroke weights + size makes some parts feel random(??), if want to make consistent, keep type size consistent to make it more harmonious.


  • Watched it three times, and couldn’t really read it a single time haha
  • But was visually informative which kind of makes up the pace. (i.e. the ‘wooshes’ at “different” scene).
  • Super informative video.


  • The pause in music (the “best used for display” part) was very effective in giving a break that puts people on the edge of their seats.
  • Use of color is very effective in highlighting.
  • Use of color and motion does a lot to make this succeed.
  • Wonders how I might give “more detailed views of the face’s characteristics in lieu of other imagery”.


  • Agrees with comments made about color use and music choice.
  • Also agrees with considering using more and/or different images throughout video.

Revised Final Video + Spread:


Like in the previous project, I started off feeling a bit unsure of how to approach this animation, especially when determining what ‘visual theme’ I wanted to do. I wanted this to be inspired by my spread, so I knew going ham on color backgrounds was off the table. Since I was worried that the video was going to be too minimalistic and boring, I decided to focus more on the motion transitions and color use to highlight certain elements (also occasionally blink in and out of a white colored background to a full colored one). Overall, I’m glad that I picked the song I did when I was on the fence between this one and another that personally fit my tastes more. Especially after completing this project, I feel like the music really brings out the vibe of Didot I imagined it to be.

Personally, I also really like doing motion graphics. I do hope that in the future I’ll have more opportunities to try different styles of animations using After Effects in both my own time and class time. I’m glad that this was our final project of the mini, since seeing this and the previous project together is very rewarding in the end. After working with Didot for so long, I’m glad I’ve learned so much about this typeface, but also relieved that I don’t have to play it back for the nth time!



Sarah Xi

Hey! I’m currently studying design @CMU with a focus on communications design + minor in HCI. You can find some of the projects I’ve worked on here.