Brendan Shick | Freelance Film, Broadcast, & Digital Media

4 Must Watch Director’s Commentaries – Even if You’re Not a Film Geek

4 Must Watch Director's Commentaries - Even if You're Not a Film Geek

4 Director's Commentaries for any sensibility or taste! At least one of these will appeal to you...
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Learning the Pitfalls of HFR

Learn the Pitfalls of HFR

Don't make the mistake of paying more for a lower quality theater experience. Here's a look at what HFR really does to your image straight from a cinematographer's mouth...errr...pen...err...whatever.
Baseball Broadcasts: Behind the Scenes

Broadcasting Baseball

Ever wonder how the game gets from the field to your television set? We're sharing a behind-the-scenes look.

The Importance of Type (Part Three: Having the Eye)

Aug 09 2011 by Brendan Shick Add Your Thoughts

NOTE: This post is part two of a three-part series. Click here for Part One and/or Part Two.

Time for the last installment of this series. Now that we’ve looked at the process and options available to those creating text onscreen, it’s time to wrap it all up – does what you’ve created actually look good?

As you practice the art to creating good text over time, you’ll develop an eye for determining this.

Function Over Form

It should seem obvious, but make sure what you’ve written is readable:

It’s simple, if you can’t read the text, don’t use it.


Adding text is, in many ways, like framing a shot. You can use most of the same composition rules when typing in the frame as when composing a frame on set or location – and you should. This can be especially helpful when choosing where to place your line breaks.

Rules for balance and composition are quite helpful when choosing where to place the text. If you’ve got a large empty section in your frame, consider placing the text there to add visual weight to that region of the image – otherwise, text should mostly be centered and balanced with itself.

If there’s nothing about the composition of the background image that motivates setting your text to left or right justify, don’t do it.

Final Steps

If you’ve followed all the tips from these last three posts, now’s the time to take one last look at your text. Does it look good?

When asking yourself this question, you should be holding the quality of the text to the same professional standards of quality and originality to which you are holding the rest of your project.

Does the text look bad and thoughtless compared to your cinematography? story? editing? acting? If the answer to any of these is “yes,” then go back and fix it. One frame of bad text (which can probably be improved in an hour or less, even by a rookie) will ruin the months of hard work you’ve put into the rest of your project.

Unlike fundamental story flaws or shooting too little coverage on location, improving text is one flaw that can be fixed at the last-minute, when necessary. So, there are really no excuses here.

For Further Reading Watching

If you’re looking for more inspiration on creating visually pleasing text, take a look at some kinetic typography videos. They’re usually pretty good.

Also, be on the lookout for an upcoming post on the art and purpose of a good credits sequence – just one of many blog topics I have in the pipeline for the upcoming weeks…

NOTE: This post is part two of a three-part series. Click here for Part One and/or Part Two.

Brendan Shick

Brendan Shick is a freelance DP, gaffer, and sports broadcaster serving primarily the Chicago, IL; Pittsburgh, PA; Grand Rapids, MI; and Fort Wayne, IN, regions. You can find out more by following this blog, his recent work on Vimeo, or by connecting with him on Twitter or LinkedIn. Brendan is also an occasional contributor to the Project Updates feed for one of his most recent films, To Turn Back Time.

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