Helvetica film World Premiere

swiss dots's picture

Greetings all, just wanted to let you know that Helvetica will have its World Premiere at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, on March 13th. I'll be there to answer questions and buy drinks, along with a few designers from the film, TBA. There will be two more screenings of the film at SXSW later that week, and then screenings at other film festivals museums, colleges, and design conferences. We'll be posting our preliminary screening schedule later this week, and planning another 100 or so screenings worldwide for the next few months, so stay tuned.

Thanks to all of you on Typophile for all your help. Look for the Typophile "thanks" in the film's credits!

Cheers,

-Gary

amyp's picture

I went to the screening at Yale last week and it was great! The Q&A afterwards was filled with questions shaming Gary for not mentioning Weingart or Frutiger or delving too much into Arial... I wanted to ask, "Gary are you sick of type nerds yet?" but didn't have the guts. ;)

Si_Daniels's picture

Amy were you responsible for the "Arial Rounded Cookies"?

http://www.helveticafilm.com/blog/2007/04/23/yale-vs-uconn/

dezcom's picture

Weingart with a Helvetica vs. AG dual would have been funny :-)
Good work Amy!

ChrisL

amyp's picture

ps: I was NOT responsible for the cookies!!! My guess is the Yale students should get the credit.... I was simply a local voyeur in the back...

dezcom's picture

Well, Amy, that's the way the cookie rumbles :-)

ChrisL

Nick Shinn's picture

Showdown at the Toronto premiere:
Eric Shinn, working the lineup promoting dad's wares and Indie Fonts 3 bumps into accessibility evangelist Joe Clark, promoting awareness of Arial's "shadow government". Patrons astonished by partisan attitudes!

dezcom's picture

>Arial’s “shadow government”.

LOL!!!

ChrisL

hrant's picture

Chris, due to a couple of developments it now makes
sense for me to show the shirt's graphic in advance:
http://typophile.com/node/33285

hhp

dezcom's picture

I like it! Sign me up!

ChrisL

hrant's picture

So I saw the movie last Friday, and it was wonderful! I was skeptical, but even without that predisposition I think I would have been pleasantly surprised. It was well-made, enjoyable and most of all superbly balanced in its commentary. Not to be missed, and the perfect opening salvo for more movies about fonts, please!

My favorite parts were Spiekermann's razor wit & insight,
and Mike Parker's amazing gushing concerning Swiss notan.

hhp

dave bailey's picture

I shall be wearing my 'Helveeta' shirt on May 15th for the showing at my school (Drexel University), look forward to seeing the film, Gary!

Linda Cunningham's picture

Gary brought Helvetica here to Calgary last night: the theatre was close to capacity and an HD projector gave everyone a great view. Like most great documentaries, you need to see it more than once -- there's just too much going on to absorb in one sitting. :-)

So the DVD is #1 on my list for Christmas, particularly with the extended interviews Gary promised. Bring on more Spiekermann!

Nice after-party, with food courtesy of Veer: I'm not keen on noisy crowds, but I stayed long enough to meet Gary and have a quick chat.

So when is the soundtrack album coming out? :-)

hrant's picture

> Bring on more Spiekermann!

Yes yes!

In other news:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6638423.stm _
Much more interesting than the article itself
are the reader comments afterwards.

hhp

KenBessie's picture

The Calgary showing, as Linda has reported, was wonderfully successful. Didn't realize there were so many type-nerds in our little city.

Thanks Gary!!

Also, thanks to Veer. More and more I am impressed with Veer's commitment to nurturing our community.

That DVD is on my Christmas list too! Must have more Spiekermann!

Linda Cunningham's picture

Didn’t realize there were so many type-nerds in our little city.

You could certainly tell the hardcore type geeks, couldn't you? There were jokes everyone laughed at, some that most people laughed at, a few that got major guffaws from several people, and one that received outright (although very scattered) applause. ;-)

mili's picture

So, is the DVD really coming? When? Sounds like a Christmas list item, especially when I doubt that I'll have a chance to see the film on a big screen.

Linda Cunningham's picture

Gary said "end of September-ish" -- from his comments last night, it doesn't sound like he's got all the "extras" totally together yet, and he's doing the festival circuit for awhile yet. The impression I got was that once he was off the road, it wouldn't take long to pull it all together though....

vinceconnare's picture

> Bring on more Spiekermann!

GET SPEAKMANED!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ccnLfGiWT4

Linda Cunningham's picture

Except they're not nearly as funny as Erik.... ;-)

blank's picture

Tickets to the Washington DC showing just went on sale:
http://64.13.231.35/festival/films/helvetica/

crossgrove's picture

"Didn’t realize there were so many type-nerds in our little city."

Seems Gary didn't realize San Francisco has so many type nerds either. Tix are long sold out.

ebensorkin's picture

Related stuff

http://www.eyemagazine.com/feature.php?id=143&fid=613

Martin Majoor
It may be the world’s most popular sans, but Helvetica has many deficiencies – not least its lack of real italics

Amoung other things he says: "The best way to design a sans serif is to base it on a serif typeface. "

Anybody want to comment on his article?

I should warn you that main body of the article may not make sense to everybody since it is dependent on having the relevant visuals available only in the printed magazine.

hrant's picture

A lack of a so-called "real" italic is secondary, because the important thing is the slant. Majoor's trademark reliance exclusively on cursiveness to mark an italic is much worse than anything about Helvetica. And that's saying a lot.

hhp

ebensorkin's picture

The first thing I thought about when I read this was that I didn't think Meta was especially designed with some kind of serif form as a starting point. Quite the opposite. Instead it was new thinking and addressed the typographic needs of the sans in a direct and unmediated way. That was and is its strength as I see it. I am not saying that Meta is some kind of ultimate golden standard* but it seems like an especially well known face that also clearly works exceptionally well - and specifically as a result of thinking outside of the box Martin sets up. It also represents a certain point in Type history when the frame for thinking about all of this shifted away from Martin's model. At least it seems this way to me.

*Actually there are myriad examples but I don't want to leave anyone out.

About the italics: When you say it's about the slant, what angle ( or range of angles ) seems more in the ideal range to you? I am keen on the slant in OurType's Amalia.

hrant's picture

I tend to like minimal slant that still works,
and I've found that around 4 degrees is good.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>the slant in OurType’s Amalia

That's a nice italic, Eben; thanks for pointing to it.

It has at least three different slants: upper case, x-height letters, and ascenders and descenders. Old style italics have even more. Here she has a variety but simplifies. It is the chirographic influence, creatively assimilated, that makes it especially nice ;)

ebensorkin's picture

Hrant. Thanks!

chirographic influence

Ha! I think you really are pulling chains this time. Partly it's the wink but mostly it's the complexity of what's going on in Amalia. It's all over the place - as you rightly point out.

Bill, What do you think of Martin's idea?

William Berkson's picture

Eben, I've never used Scala, but I've admired it in many places, and it's one of the best new digital text and sans faces, which is saying a lot. I don't however remember seeing the sans used as a companion to the serif, so I'm not sure how it well it works, though both can work well on their own.

As to the principle of the thing, I don't don't agree that it's a principle. To me, it's just a matter of what the designer can manage pull off. If you can pull off a really good serif and sans and have them work together, that's great. As I remember, Stephen Coles did a list somewhere of families with both a good serif and sans, and there are surprisingly few. Scala is one of them, maybe the premier one, so hats off to Martin Majoor.

However, people also successfully match serif text fonts with different sans headings all the time, so no, I don't see that it's a requirement or inherently wrong just to do a sans independently. Many experienced (i.e., not me) type designers say that the chances of success are much greater with a clear brief, and that seems to me enough--I don't see why it should be inherently worse than designing a serif first. Eg. Frutiger, designed for Charles de Gaulle airport is fabulous and didn't have a serif first.

Ps. "It's all over the place" doesn't quite capture it, because she is quite systematic. She chose a certain logic to the different slants and made it work.

ebensorkin's picture

I like the Scala faces very much as well.

However to clarify I think Martin's point is not that you should not do a Sans serif independently - just that it should be rooted in a Serif design. Nevertheless, it sounds like you are not having Martin's arguement either.

Frutiger, ... is fabulous

If you read the article you will that Martin doesn't think it's so Fab.

Anyway lest I sound like some kind of driven "Martin Basher" I will stop. I just thought it seemed like an espcially outsize claim to be making regardless of the quality of his work.

hrant's picture

I like neither Scala not Frutiger. So there.
I do like Amalia though. BTW, I think Nikola is a guy.

> lest I sound like some kind of driven “Martin Basher”

Yeah, god forbid...
Dude, one day just go bash something.
Even if it's just a watermellon.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

>Martin doesn’t think it’s so Fab

He actually doesn't criticise Frutiger's Sans romans as lacking because they didn't have a serif first. He does criticise their companion italics for being sloped romans instead of true italic characters. That's another can of worms, but different. It's debatable what kind of italic best with what sans designs. I don't know enough about it to have an opinion.

ebensorkin's picture

Nicola is indeed a guy.

...just a watermellon.
chuckle. Actually that was meant a bit tongue in cheek.

because they didn’t have a serif first
Not directly no. But indirectly yes, because they don't derive from romans. It was his method he criticised. I don't think there is any getting around that. Indirectly & directly he is giving Adrian a bit of a bash in the article. I am not sure he isn't correct about the real italics.

Hrant, you are in favor of slanted romans if I recall correctly. That's right isn't it?

I have to admit that I like real italics better in general if they are good. But I do think a dogmatic approach is a dubious one.

hrant's picture

I love slanted-romans. I mean for an italic in the traditional role.
But I also love highly expressive italics for stand-alone display usage.

hhp

William Berkson's picture

Eben, thinking about this further, my feeling is that Majoor is making a mistake of thinking that there is *one* best way to do things in type.

Now, there are definitely *better and worse* ways of doing italics. The sloped roman of Romulus--otherwise great face--is to my eyes a failure, in that it is dull and lifeless by comparison to the roman, and thus also is weak as an emphasis companion for the roman.

But Perpetua's italic, which is largely a slanted roman, with the only 5 italic forms in the lower case and 2 in the upper--and some additional shaping of bowls--is wonderful.

Majoor's idea of designing a serif and then a companion sans I suspect is a very good idea.

But I don't get how this is related to the issue of the italic. After all, the italic is a different alphabet than the roman. His argument that Helvetica should have had an italic based on Walbaum Italic because it was based on Walbaum I don't follow at all. It might work, but it might not. The eye is the arbiter, not a pedantic view of what historical precedent needs to be followed and what not.

I am all in favor of being inspired by theory to try new things--theory as inspiration. But when theory becomes doctrinaire, limiting possibilities, I think it can be harmful.

ps. Majoor's analysis of how following the skeleton of the high-contrast Walbaum with a relatively mono-line sans resulted in excessively closed forms is right on. And the quote from Paul Rand is great.

hrant's picture

> Majoor is making a mistake of thinking that
> there is *one* best way to do things in type.

Yes. Chirographically. :-)

> it is dull and lifeless by comparison to the roman, and
> thus also is weak as an emphasis companion for the roman.

This does not follow.

> the italic is a different alphabet than the roman.

This is not a beneficial view of things.

> The eye is the arbiter, not a pedantic view of what
> historical precedent needs to be followed and what not.

Agreed (mostly).

> Majoor’s analysis of how following the skeleton

Skeletons are for biology students.

hhp

ebensorkin's picture

Yes. Chirographically. :-)

Yup.

the italic is a different alphabet than the roman + This is not a beneficial view of things.

Bill, when you say that it's a different alphabet you mean that it's forms are distinct. That seems like an easy observation to agree with.

Hrant, when you say it's not a beneficial point of view you are just getting at the idea that the sloped roman aught not to be dismissed utterly & dogmatically correct? Or are you saying that what's wrong with 'real' italics is their greater afinity of form with their chirographic roots? Or both perhaps? Anyway what is it that you are getting at?

I think Martin doesn't support his thory well enough because his prescription of following a serif ( while it looks bang-on in terms of a speculative history of the root of helvetica's forms ) did also result in the closed forms he so rightly criticises. What I am saying is that his example seems to argue against his alter assertion rather than supporting it. He might argue that a more suitable serif would result ina better solution but I think Erik Speikermann's approach not to leave out Andre Gutler's Haas Unica seems far closer to the ideal.

Skeletons are for biology students.

When you say this I wonder about the broader picture of how a sans would be used. Martin is thinking in terms of a serif & sans family. I have been thinking in terms of a serif on it's own. Probably if you want to make a matched set of families paying some attention to 'skeletons' could have some degree of value as a starting point if not as a determanistic model. But I am not sure I like the idea of matched families all that well. It seems like matching different faces gives a more plesant complex and resonant result provided it is done well.

hrant's picture

What I mean is that seeing the italic as a "different
alphabet" is counter to how an italic should work.

> his example seems to argue against his alter assertion

This is typical of the chirographically inclined.
Think of their characteristic notan lip-service.

> paying some attention to ‘skeletons’ could have some degree of value

In terms of saving development time/thought, yes.
In terms of readability, no.

hhp

ebensorkin's picture

How should an italic work? I think of it as a way of providing emphasis or indicating difference. Maybe as an aide in hierarchy. And for style last of all. And by italic I mean either a slanted roman or a 'true' italic. Is that the kind of working you mean?

hrant's picture

Yes, I mean to highlight a snippet in a body of Roman. Enough so you can't miss it (which means that so-called "upright Italics" cannot work) but not so much that you're tempted to fixate on it from the previous line; and without skewing the atmosphere of the whole. For more on this please read my reply to the third question from the bottom in my Daidala interview:
http://daidala.com/25apr2004.html

hhp

ebensorkin's picture

I see it's that Networks thing I found the link to. It looks like a gently sloped roman in a gently lighter weight. Is this the thing you mean?

hrant's picture

Huh? What's "that Networks thing"?

hhp

ebensorkin's picture

Oh! I see. 3rd from the BOTTOM.

BTW - 'Network' was your word in the interview. You seemed to be talking about a network of forms - it did actiually seem applicable.

It sounds like the best shot I have at understanding what you mean is in "a cheap paperback novel called The Interior Life by Katherine Blake".

Got a scan?

ebensorkin's picture

This is the 1st image I found

http://daidala.com/system.html

hrant's picture

Actually it did sound a lot like you were talking about Patria's Italic scheme! Well, obviously I do like such a scheme. :-) BTW, you might also notice that: the x-height is slightly smaller; it's narrower; and some forms have been changed*. I employed such a full battery of differences between the Italic and Roman because of the slightness of the slant.

* Not because of chirography, and not to trick fellow type designers into liking it (although this is not a tactic entirely without merit :-) but because of aesthetics.

> Got a scan?

Click on "The Interior Life" in the interview.

hhp

crossgrove's picture

Hey, Surprise! A second screening was added in San Francisco Wed. June 13, at 10 pm. Get tix now!

smarks's picture

Darn, I was too slow; both screenings of Helvetica in SF are now sold out. Anybody got a spare ticket?

smarks's picture

My plea has been answered! I'll be at the 10pm show tomorrow. Are any SF typophilers going to be there? (Of course they will, it's sold out!) I'll be wearing one of Hrant's "Helveeta" shirts....

Si_Daniels's picture

Back to the Veleetica/Helveeta origins.

>If I could just remember where I heard it first...

Reading Robert Norton's Types Best Forgot on the bus today I came across an Alastair Johnston quote "Helvetica spread further like Velveeta cheese" and he also uses the name Velveetica. Although the earlier reference pre-dates this one, this might be the source of Hrant's t-shirt idea? Then again maybe people have been using it in the typo-underground since 1987 or even earlier.

dberlow's picture

" I’ve got lots of DVD extras..."

I hope that also means lots of extra DVDs too...somebody get my drool bucket, my socks are getting wet.

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