Motion-graphics designers are the magicians of modern video production: with their bag of digital tricks, they can make photos pulse and dance, give boring network logos fresh life, basically anything you can dream up. But the designers at No-Domain did something much more interesting than push pixels for their latest creation, a title sequence for a documentary about cult-famous Spanish comics publishing house Editorial Bruguera: they made pixel-perfect motion graphics out of physical materials instead.
If you didn’t know No-Domain’s process, this would look like any other sleek animated clip, full of minimalist sets and fluttering typography. But to pay homage to Editorial Bruguera’s distinctive 1960s visual style, No-Domain printed its onscreen graphic elements onto transparent lithographic film and manipulated them by hand in front of a camera — a more physical, vintage process that “represent[s] the invisible soul of the graphic editorial print process of the era,” according to the designers.
It’s an intriguing way for a distinctly 21st-century art form to come full circle: with desktop supercomputers running powerful software that can simulate photorealistic “physical” effects like lens flares, camera shakes, and subtle surface textures with ease, there’s something immensely satisfying about seeing “digital”-looking visual effects done with physical props. No-Domain’s team simply hung the transparencies from a metal frame on clamps in front of a DSLR, and moved them with their bare hands. The effect is just as crisp as any motion-graphics rendering, but with just the right amount of chaotic physicality to make it feel human. If there’s an uncanny valley of typographic visual effects, No-Domain has found a way to soar out of it.