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Matt Normand

INTERVIEW: Matt Normand

Tell us a little bit about yourself as an artist and designer. What is your practice like; how do you work?

I spent some time in an engineering school - I basically have a math minor. Saying that, I put a lot of planning and research into my work. I study the need, materials and consider the implications of the outcome. I use geometric means to resolve grids, hierarchy of composition and typography. The Scientific Method is a fantastic template for solving design problems as well. Sometimes I abandon all of this completely and just go with what pops into my head.

When I work in motion graphics, I go directly to the script and search for details. I look into the content to derive my ideas. It could be things as simple as glass breaking, or as complex as redacted CIA documents. I then develop concepts around this, and attempt to visualize it. At the same time, I am researching type. I choose as many typefaces as possible to set the title. It could be hundreds, depending on the need. The internet is a great tool for this since I can take screen shots and place the type over picture to get a sense of how it might work. If the client picks the type, the studio purchases it.

There is no limit to my sketches and developed ideas. I try to make as many as humanly possible, even if it is wrong. I like to exhaust stupid ideas until they become clever ideas.

Please describe your work on the opening titles for “Dawn of the Dead,” from your point of view.

I was involved with this project since it started. From the go, I was doing a lot of research on Emergency Broadcast System. Also looking at the way video breaks up in both analog and digital feeds. I love the digital zombie monster from the movie, The Ring. I tried to incorporate that look without making it obvious. This was part of one of the original storyboards that was absorbed by a design that the client chose.

Since my idea was not used as much as one of the other designers, I helped fill in the gaps to make some of the effects as needed by Kyle Cooper, founder of Prologue. This included breaking glass with a pellet gun and activating a heart monitor.

My main role at Prologue was typesetter, so I typeset the titles for the most part. This involved setting the type in illustrator, composing it in such a way that was interesting and handing it off to another designer to make it bleed.

We did not use 3D software or Adobe After Effects as much as you would think. A lot of this title was hand-done. There was one corny news bit we made in Cinema 4D, but that was it.

At the moment, it was very fast and demanding. It was amazing to be a spectator. Watching the titles come together from a digital print Kyle held in his hand to seeing the finish thing the size of a house is astounding.

Have you had any memorable responses to this piece? And if yes, please describe.

A guest at our house wanted to show me videos that his Rocky Horror Troupe made. One of these was a nod to Dawn of the Dead, credits and all. He had no idea that I worked on them. Of course, I only mentioned that I was very familiar with the titles.

Please name three artists you are influenced by and why.

Jan Tschichold

He is the authority on typography. He wrote the book on modern type and then tossed it, and went back to traditional typesetting. Mr. Tschichold reinvented himself, going back to his first job typesetting for a local paper. Not only does his lessons effect my students and I, it also aligns with my outlook on life. To not be afraid to reinvent yourself.

Otl Aicher

When I was in grad school, I read Otl Aicher’s Philosophy and Design. His words had been a real breakthrough for me since he described something I was doing my whole life. Drawing as thinking. I never really thought that the scribbles that I made at the same time as I was studying anything added up to anything other than meaningless doodles. It made me realize that I was trying to take notes. Now I am hyper aware and make a conscious effort to draw and write as much as possible when I research any design.

Jeff Keedy

This guy is not afraid to tell you exactly what is going on with your work. He will not praise anything that you have made well. His theory is that if he does this, he is wasting your time and money. I was a TA for him during my second year of Grad School. It was almost as if he was training me. I admire the fact that he can be quiet during a critique and does not say anything until he collects his thoughts. Jeff has been a major influence on my teaching style and thought process

What are you currently working on?

I am heading a new 6-month intensive course in Korea called the Kyle Cooper Academy.

This is a test run. It is interesting to see motion graphic design transpire into different cultures.

What is your dream project?

The future 007 titles.

What is one of your favorite 4D artworks, or pieces of design, and why?


This title is obviously before computers, yet it incorporates the best part of what 4D and movie titles are. A woman painted gold provides a challenging surface to project images on. The images appear and disappear based on her shape, and position in the frame. In the title the footage interacts with the surface of the woman. In relationship to the title, the woman, and the song, it appears as thought the footage was created for the titles rather than the movie. Most scenes of the sequence are clever and witty. I cannot imagine the organization and timing that went into this. There has never been anything like this challenged with computer technology. Robert Brownjohn is a master of the trade. I am always enthralled by this title, and to me, this is the definition of 4D art.

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