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Helvetica: the DVD

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gary hustwit's picture
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006 - 10:17pm
Helvetica: the DVD
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Hello all, just a note to let you know that the Helvetica film DVD is now available for pre-order. More info here: http://www.helveticafilm.com/shop.html

The DVD includes 95 minutes of bonus material... we basically edited 41 short interview segments, each around two to five minutes long. If you've seen the film, you'll have an idea of the format of these.

We'll definitely post Quicktimes of several of them in the next few weeks... any requests?

Cheers,

-Gary

Helvetica DVD Bonus Features:

Massimo Vignelli:
On his introduction to graphic design
The 1972 New York Subway map
Post-modernists and the “flower children”

Wim Crouwel:
His “Proposal for a New Alphabet”
Pencil vs. Mouse
The audience for good design

Matthew Carter:
How technology has affected type design
The Neue Haas Grotesk specimen book
On the reader’s awareness of typefaces

Mike Parker:
On Helvetica and Jackson Burke

Otmar Hoefer and Bruno Steinert on how they got involved in type

Bruno Steinert on Helvetica and the Macintosh

Hermann Zapf:
On his career
Thoughts on Helvetica

Hoefler and Frere-Jones:
Font stories
Their specimen book collection
The Gotham project

Erik Spiekermann:
Typomaniac
My favorite letter is…
His approach to design
On Arial…

Neville Brody:
The Face and Arena
The role of typography in advertising

Michael Bierut:
On Helvetica and branding

Paula Scher:
The “mean” Modernists
Technology and her design process
On record cover design

Stefan Sagmeister:
On music packaging
One typeface is not enough
On designing for an audience

David Carson:
His approach to design
Thoughts on Helvetica

Danny van den Dungen:
The origin of the name Experimental Jetset
The relationship between designer and subject matter
On punk rock and Modernism

Michael C. Place:
The value of good design
On the public’s awareness of graphic design
Brockmann gets in the picture

Norm:
The Simple typeface
Favorite letters

Rick Poynor:
The future...

Geoff Riding's picture
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Joined: 22 May 2005 - 12:53am
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Great news! Just one question though.

"English and German language subtitles"

Is that English captions?

gary hustwit's picture
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Joined: 16 Feb 2006 - 10:17pm
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Is that English captions?

Yep.

Dan Gayle's picture
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I could do without Spiekermann's "Typomaniac" nonsense, but more of Stefan Sagmeister and David Carson would be interesting.

Blank's picture
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Erik Spiekermann:
On Arial…

Why do I get the feeling that part had to be cut to keep the movie from ending up PG-13?

Andrew Sipe's picture
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Joined: 25 Apr 2005 - 10:44am
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When will this all be available?

Craig Eliason's picture
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When will this all be available?

The above linked page says the release date is November 6.

Don McCahill's picture
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Joined: 30 Mar 2006 - 7:55pm
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Nov 6, according to Gary's link.

I dunno if I want to fork over $75 for the collectors edition. I'm a type nerd ... but maybe not that much.

For $20 I will definitely buy the regular version. It would have cost me that much to get to Toronto to see if shown there, if I had known it was coming.

Linda Cunningham's picture
Joined: 26 Jul 2006 - 3:55pm
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Erik Spiekermann:
On Arial…

"Why do I get the feeling that part had to be cut to keep the movie from ending up PG-13?"

ROFL! Well, one quick f-word made it into the final cut: when I worked at CBC, you were allowed one a year without any sort of retribution, but it had to be in context. :-)

Perhaps the Helvetica extras with Herr Spiekermann are rated R!

(And how soon will someone come up with a YouTube video of him rapping it? Inquiring minds....)

gary hustwit's picture
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The official street date is November 6th. But folks who order from the film website will get theirs shipped a week early.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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HD DVD or Bluray?

One of the interesting features of HD DVD is that extra sets of subtitles can be downloaded, and that actual OpenType weights of the font could be included on the disc for the menus.

Cheers, Si

Stephen Coles's picture
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> I could do without Spiekermann’s “Typomaniac” nonsense, but more of Stefan Sagmeister and David Carson would be interesting.

Hmm, I beg to differ. Carson's was the only segment that could have been left out of an otherwise perfect set of interviews.

Simon Daniels's picture
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>and that actual OpenType weights of the font could be included on the disc for the menus.

Should add "if properly licensed from Linotype"

Linda Cunningham's picture
Joined: 26 Jul 2006 - 3:55pm
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Given how well our dollar is doing these days, I figured I better order now. :-)

I'm sure if it shows up here at the specialty vid order store, it's going to be a lot more than $32.46 Canadian.....

Dennis Hill's picture
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I can't find the bug thread, but I wish that a bad /cite wouldn't have to carry over to all successive posts. (hint: Geoff)

gary hustwit's picture
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Since the film was shot in hi-def, I'd love to do a Bluray or HD DVD edition... it will definitely happen at some point down the line, but probably not till summer 2008 at the earliest...

Blank's picture
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You could always try finding a direct download distributor for an HD version. I can’t speak for other type designers, but I have no problems playing HD content on my HDTV via my laptop, but I don’t plan on owning an HD-DVD or Blu-Ray player any time soon.

Simon Daniels's picture
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I'd forwarded this http://www.createspace.com/hddvdindie a while back, but can certainly understand not wanting to go down this route (ie. mainting control, etc.,) esp as it will become increasingly easy to own the means of production in the future.

fiction:nonfiction's picture
Joined: 16 Mar 2007 - 10:23am
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Very excited about this... I pre-ordered my copy this morning. The geek in me would have splurged on the 'deluxe edition' but $20 USD for shipping to Canada (over 25% of the cost of the item) is a bit too much.

Gary -- if you have a spare moment before the end of the year, care to tally up the audiences and give us an idea of how many people saw Helvetica?

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I'm particularly interested on Carter, Spiekermann and Norm first for the quicktimes... november is not that soon!
Thanks

Dennis Hill's picture
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The So. Cal. beaches are very nice this time of year, if you'd like a tax write-off reason for coming back with the expanded version.

Mili Carr's picture
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Aah, good news! Pre-odered mine already (the cheapo one, though, not sure how the local customs will like it, had some bad experiences when buying products from the US).
Oh, I hope the DVD coding is international, so that one doesn't have to change the DVD player's country code.

Dan Gayle's picture
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@Stewf:
"Hmm, I beg to differ. Carson’s was the only segment that could have been left out of an otherwise perfect set of interviews."

Carson looking at that set of index cards with words on them was very good, I thought. It really showed the opposite end of the spectrum advocated by Wim Crouwel or Vignelli, as represented by Helvetica. It was a nice way to show that, yes, Helvetica does have it's purpose, but no, it's not for every purpose.

Remembering the post-movie questions at Typecon, it's good to remember that not everyone who is going to see the movie is in Spiekermann-lingo a "Typomaniac". At least Carson wouldn't put the audience to sleep.

But that's why the DVD extras will be nice, for those of us who actually want to hear the Moderns rambling on about the virtues of Helvetica.

I only wish that there were some mention about Univers, which should possibly make it into the extras?

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>I only wish that there were some mention about Univers, which should possibly make it into the extras?

Yes about that, why isn't there an interview of Frutiger also?

Simon Daniels's picture
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>why isn’t there an interview of Frutiger also?

The original "you should have..." thread

http://typophile.com/node/27479

Joe Clark's picture
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There is some dispute at present over whether or not what you will get in English will be captions, and of what quality, or “subtitles” in Arial Narrow.

--
Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

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>Only time will tell if it’s better than “Cooper Black, behind the typeface” or that Frutiger movie. But it looks promising.

Thanks, i didn't read that post. Still, it doesn't explain why he is not in the movie.. Maybe they didn't wanted to make something too much "swiss", more international?

Bob Cummings's picture
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Joined: 30 Oct 2006 - 12:18pm
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I understand that
"The History of the No 2 Pencil" will be coming out next month.

Simon Daniels's picture
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>Maybe they didn’t wanted to make something too much “swiss”, more international?

I think the key section from the old thread is this one...

"One of the challenges putting this film together was my desire not to make it a standard talking-head film, where dozens of people chime in with one quote about the subject..."

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Also, while we all have our pet type topics we would like to see addressed on Film the topic was Helvetica not Frutiger or to my disapointment Haas Unica - much less Modernist Typography. Gary's suggestion ( as I recall it ) is a good one: Make your own type Movie!

I just ordered my copy. Oh the glee!

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Oooh, I never new that someone did a movie about Frutiger. Now I just have to figure out how to get a copy of it. Too bad Amazon.de won’t ship to the USA.

Russell McGorman's picture
Joined: 25 May 2006 - 10:01am
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@ joe -

It's not like the audience, made up almost entirly of designers is blind, Joe.
;P

@ zzi -
The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance

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>“One of the challenges putting this film together was my desire not to make it a standard talking-head film, where dozens of people chime in with one quote about the subject...”

I can imagine there was a lot of people Gary had to put off the list because of that reason but as a great type designer, as the designer of univers and frutiger and also as a swiss type designer who's work is making the link beetween the swiss modernism (represented by helvetica) and the more "traditional" approach of typography, i'm pretty sure Frutiger's views would have been more than one quotes among others.

Anyway i'm sure the movie is interesting and i'll get the dvd :)

ps: sorry, my english isn't perfect, i hope it doesn't sound too bad.

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russellm At least someone has a sense of humor.

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“One of the challenges putting this film together was my desire not to make it a standard talking-head film, where dozens of people chime in with one quote about the subject...”

But that's just it. Univers is NOT Helvetica. But it came out at the same time, had a similar purpose, was revolutionary in the amount of original weights, is arguably subtler, and...

Is not as popular as Helvetica and wasn't even mentioned in the film.

The Modernist stuff that was discussed in the film used Univers as much as or more than Univers.

It deserved at least a passing mention, and only Carter in the Q&A briefly hinted at it when he referred to the "distribution" of Helvetica, as opposed to Univers', as being responsible for its success.

Russell McGorman's picture
Joined: 25 May 2006 - 10:01am
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@ zzi -
yeah - But that all I got.

Russell McGorman's picture
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@ zzi -
yeah - But that all I got.

@ Gary
Thanks for the notice.
I was hoping to see the DVD released soon.

gary hustwit's picture
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Maybe someone can speak to this further, but I got the sense when I was originally contacting people about the film that Frutiger wasn't doing interviews anymore, for health reasons... or maybe he's just plain reclusive now. And his nephew did do that piece for German television about him a few years back.

I'll have to go back through the extras and check on Univers shout outs. Crouwel discussed it, and of course there were mentions of Univers during the other interviews we did, but getting into Univers in any sort of in-depth way in the film required a lot more back-story, showing examples, how it differs from Helvetica, who Frutiger was. There's only so much you can do in 80 minutes, and in order to try to keep things focused on Helvetica, we decided not to go down that route. Ditto with Arial.

But I'm sure there are several examples of Univers in the film anyway, on street signs, etc... a few had to have slipped in. So get the pause button on your remotes ready...

Cheers,

-Gary

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Thanks Gary! A reasonable answer, certainly. I'm looking forward to the Director's Cut!

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I often read people that don't like helvetica and oppose univers to it, just saying it's so much better. For me, this is the result of a misunderstood of modernism and what swiss designers where trying to achieve at this time, and still. There has already been a long talk here about helvetica and i don't want to start the fight again :)

What is really really interesting about a Frutiger interview is that he could help people to understand what modernism was looking for. For me, one of the most interesting thing (i think it's in the movie his son made) is the comparison with water. The look for the purity of the form is an essential idea in modernism. With helvetica this purity has been sold as neutrality, meaning you can use it for anything what, i agree, is wrong. But helvetica and univers (and most of frutiger faces) achieve to reach this purity, this "universality" of the shape, each by different ways. I like both.

Edit: okay Gary, thanks for the explanation. My point was absolutely not to say something was missing or incorrect in your movie and i hope you did not feel it this way.

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RussellM, a name and initial that seems vaguely familiar in some hard-to-define way, blind people don't watch captioning. The question of audio description is a different one and I can assure you that visual artworks are described all the time (check many U.S. museums). If we can describe Solaris we can describe anything.

--
Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

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joeclark: There is some dispute at present over whether or not what you will get in English will be captions, and of what quality, or “subtitles” in Arial Narrow.

Hmm, I asked whether it was English captions just to make sure it wasn't English language with German subtitles, i.e. subitles only when German is spoken but no captions for English dialogue. This happens often on foreign films, "Japanese and English subtitles" displays only Japanese subtitles. Frustrating for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

russellim: It’s not like the audience, made up almost entirly of designers is blind, Joe.

There are 2 million Australians who are either deaf or hard of hearing out of a population of 21 million, we're not exactly a minority market-wise.

Russell McGorman's picture
Joined: 25 May 2006 - 10:01am
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@ Joe + Geoff Riding

yes, of course.

:P I really didn't imagine anyone would take that comment seriously enough to offer a thought-out reply.

I was plainly referring to what one might imagine is the demographic for this film. I do believe it's most obvious appeal is to people with an active interest in visual design, which kind implies a certain lack of serious visual impairment - Granted, exceptions exist, but I just went ahead and made a vast over-reaching generalization anyhow. And, yes, attention should be paid to the design of captioning and subtitles. I thought that here, that would be obvious.

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> Oh, I hope the DVD coding is international, so that one doesn’t have to change the DVD player’s country code.

On the site it says 'NTSC Region 0', which is International. :)

Mili Carr's picture
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Thanks Quincunx, for clearing it for me. I'm not that clever with the tech text, so I missed that :^P

Joe Clark's picture
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Since the accessibility issue has taken a life of its own even without me, I thought I’d write a Helvetica accessibility manifesto, though I wonder why I had to.


Joe Clark
http://joeclark.org/

gary hustwit's picture
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Wow... Joe, I truly appreciate your opinions on this, but the tone of your manifesto is really disappointing. You're basically venting on the entire home video industry's approach (or lack thereof) to accessibility, and focusing it on me and this film. When I said I'd discuss DVD accessibility with you when I met you at the Toronto screening, I meant excactly that, that we'd discuss it, that I wanted your input. But I refuse to feel that if I can't incorporate every single one of your "suggestions," then I'm irresponsible and uncaring.

In the manifesto you've woven in comments and attitudes from other people, not me, including some quotes from others in this thread. Again, you're venting on others here, but blurring it and transferring it to me. Every time you use the term "you," you're accusing me of something... like I've been oppressing deaf and blind people for decades??? Jesus, I just made a little film about Helvetica. C'mon, Joe. I know your heart is in the place on these issues, but I don't like getting publicly attacked for things I haven't done, and for opinions that aren't mine.

The plan has always been to have subtitles on the disc, and I'll do the best I can to take your suggestions into account regarding their quality and legibility. And I guess I forgot to mention in the email I sent you that I personally transcribed the film for the subtitles, so there won't be any spelling errors. I'll make the DVD as accessible as I can, given the budget and time constraints that any independent film producer is always under. And on that front, are there any documentaries on DVD, self-released by independent producers, that have adhered to every one of the requirements of the Clark Manifesto?

Again, I think your heart's in the right place here, Joe. But blaming me publicly, with the tone you've taken, for all the frustrations of disabled people when it comes to enjoying films is misplaced.

Cheers,

-Gary

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DanGayle wrote
"At least Carson wouldn’t put the audience to sleep."

The last thing Spiekermann could ever be accused of is putting people to sleep!

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I should have separated my comment about Carson from my comment about Spiekermann. I noticed it afterward, but I was hoping that no one would notice ;)

So yeah, you're right. Spiekermann's interview was thoroughly entertaining in its irreverence for the subject matter. Audiences should certainly like him, as well as Carson, if only because they don't represent that cool, detached modernism of most of the rest of the flic.

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Wow... Joe, I truly appreciate your opinions on this, but the tone of your manifesto is really disappointing

Danger. Do not feed or starve Joe Troll. Danger. Do not crit his content. Danger. Your web site could be attacked if you engage. Danger. Do not discuss typography. Danger.

Chores!

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David- Too right.