MK12 Create Custom Type for Quantum of Solace Title Sequence

  • Fonts in Use
Fonts in Use, ScreenFonts | Yves Peters | December 19, 2008

A little over a month ago I received an e-mail from fellow Typophile Robert Farrelly. He alerted me to the fact that the new James Bond movie Quantum of Solace had some interesting typography – specifically the location cards that designated where the action was taking place. The choice of typography was adapted to the geographical location. When researching this the first people I stumbled upon were MK12. The self-proclaimed “full-service lateral hyperthreaded tactical design and research bureau” created the opening credits for the most recent James Bond movie. They also did a bit of R&D for the cards but were responsible for the creation of only the Port Au Prince, Haiti location title card out of the set.
Read more about the type-sensitive location cards on Unzipped.

My Unzipped piece further led me to the British collective of artists, designers, musicians and writers Tomato. Yet the opening sequence of Quantum of Solace by MK12 is definitely worth mentioning as well. After the remarkable stylised opening titles for Casino Royale the newest sequence is a return to Maurice Binder’s typical vintage James Bond opening credit titles featuring scantily clad and often discreetly naked women. MK12 take over from Daniel Kleinman who was responsible for the opening credit titles for all of the James Bond movies after 1989’s Licence To Kill. The James Bond franchise has proven to be remarkably loyal and seem to value long-lasting relationships – MK12 are but the fourth name in the list of title designers spanning 46 years and 22 movies.
See Ben Radatz and Tim Fisher talk about creating the iconic Bond film title sequence.

The type treatment in the title sequence for Quantum of Solace is very interesting. Seemingly random sequences of vertical strokes and circles appear and are subsequently completed to form words and names. MK12 custom designed the typeface which looks like a classic Helvetica-like grotesque. The type, created from scratch, was modelled around the perfectly circular O’s, which were originally meant to symbolize bullet casings. The animation style incorporates the classic travelling dot from the barrel sequence, which precedes the opening titles in almost all of the Bond films. Also, by utilising the sporadic blinking of basic shapes, the font animates in tandem with the staccatos of the main title score and pays homage to the opening titles from Dr. No (1962) and its designer, Maurice Binder.

Binder designed the opening credit titles for almost all of the James Bond movies up to Licence To Kill. Only for From Russia with Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964) another designer was hired – 50s and 60s graphic design legend Robert Brownjohn.

MK12


Watch the opening credit titles of Stranger Than Fiction on The Art of The Title
MK12 was founded in 2000 by four friends (Timmy Fisher, Ben Radatz, Matt Fraction, and Jed Carter) who met at the Kansas City Art Institute. They previously worked with Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster, designing opening credit titles for the movies Stranger Than Fiction (2006) and The Kite Runner (2007). Their help was enlisted by visual effects producer Leslie McMinn. Although they are still pretty new in the motion picture business, their ground breaking opening credit titles for Stranger Than Fiction propelled them into the spotlights. The sequence is a fascinating blend of live action and animated typography and information graphics morphing across the screen. News Gothic works wonderfully well in this context.

The end credits for Stranger Than Fiction are a bold and colourful variation on the same theme, with white type over a palette of intense red, yellow, green and blue.

Casino Royale


Watch the opening credit titles of Casino Royale on The Art of The Title

The opening sequence for Casino Royale by Daniel Kleinman is a glorious achievement as well. The inventive use of motion capture transforms the actors in striking black and white (James Bond) and red (his adversaries) silhouettes who engage in fierce fights. I particularly like how knife cuts effectively split the silhouettes in parts, and how defeated adversaries disintegrate in myriads of spades, hearts, diamonds, and clubs. These playing card suits grow like leaves on tendrils and multiply like Mandelbrot sets, and are even used as lethal projectiles. Adrian Frutiger’s Avenir – his take on Futura – is a very good choice, as its non-intrusive geometric character shapes complement the highly stylised graphics perfectly well. The only thing I find odd is that the movie logo is set in Century Gothic, the Futura redrawn by Sol Hess for Lanston Monotype. Combining both Futura variations in one sequence doesn’t seem like a sound idea.

Daniel Kleinman was discovered by the James Bond producers halfway the nineties with his music video for Gladys Knight’s theme song Licence To Kill, proving he had paid close attention to the work of Maurice Binder. This led to the commission for creating the main title sequences for GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002) and eventually Casino Royale (2006).

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15 Comments:

  1. thanks yves, as usual great post. i was wondering about the titles as i just saw the moive a week ago. is the logo for QoS a modified Neutraface?

    do you know why MK12 didn’t just use Neutra?

    are their any more details about the custom type they created? will it ever be available retail?

    thanks!

    ps, the first vid is no longer there… youtube has removed it…

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Dec. 20, 2008
  2. MK12 is hot.

    Posted by Joe Pemberton on Dec. 22, 2008
  3. ps, the first vid is no longer there… youtube has removed it…

    Goshdarnit, again! I’ve asked MK12 if they were going to add it to their online portfolio, but I haven’t heard back from them yet. :/

    is the logo for QoS a modified Neutraface?

    There’s more about the Quantum of Solace logo in my Unzipped piece. It is indeed Neutraface 2 Bold with a custom tail on the Q and of course both O’s substituted with the zeros from the 007 logo.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Dec. 22, 2008
  4. OK I relinked to another YouTube upload of the opening sequence, so you should be able to view it again. Just let me know if it is removed again.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Dec. 23, 2008
  5. Oops, forgot to answer part of your question, Simon:

    are their any more details about the custom type they created? will it ever be available retail?

    I doubt they will — this typically is a project which was specifically made for these typographic animations. Furthermore it treads ground that has pretty much been covered already, by Chalet New York 1960 for example

    Posted by Yves Peters on Dec. 23, 2008
  6. cool, my work has the chalet collection and i love it.. so i’ll check it out again when i get back from holidays!

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Dec. 24, 2008
  7. oh and they changed the 00′s for the logo:

    http://www.sonypictures.com.au/movies/quantumofsolace/

    it looks more like a thin neutra…

    happy christmas too by the way!

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Dec. 24, 2008
  8. we usually make our fonts available after we make them, im sure it’ll pop up online at some point :)

    Posted by james on Dec. 30, 2008
  9. Happy Christmas indeed, and a wonderful new year for the fans of the title sequence font it seems. Great news, James. :)

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 1, 2009
  10. that is good news james! i’ll keep an eye out for it. btw, the titles in QoS are amazing, and so are the graphics in Stranger than Fiction!

    Posted by Simon Robertson on Jan. 3, 2009
  11. Thanks for the mention Yves, great post. I knew you would be the right man to do all the research while I sit back and relax! haha!

    Posted by Rob on Jan. 6, 2009
  12. I’m a fan of MK12, but beyond the typographic work in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, I found the motion graphics to be rather generic and poor. The timing and colors, especially in Casino Royale, just did not seem to fit.

    Perhaps I just find their style to clash with the classic James Bond opening as I loved the similar style in MK12′s History Of America.

    Posted by Peter on Jan. 7, 2009
  13. I must say I quite like the rough cut-out style of the human shapes in Casino Royale, as it emphasises the brutality of the fights against the sophistication of the intricate, richly detailed backgrounds. The flat three dimensional style suited the subject nicely; the only thing that threw me off were the bullet holes in the playing card near the end which indeed looked rather generic.
    (FYI Casino Royale was not done by MK12 but by Daniel Kleinman.)

    You’re right about the style of the Casino Royale opening titles being quite a departure from the classic James Bond opening, but personally I’m not sure this was such a bad thing. As far as the style of the Quantum of Solace opening titles goes I tend to disagree, because it has all the classic ingredients, doesn’t it? I feel it simply has been updated.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 8, 2009
  14. I knew you would be the right man to do all the research while I sit back and relax!

    Yeah, I know – I still haven’t figured out how this “blogging” thing is done properly. I think I got it all wrong. Am I not supposed to simply write: “This is cool. See it here.” and then link to some website or YouTube? ;-) :-P

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 8, 2009
  15. The Art of The Movie Title published a post on the Quantum of Solace opening titles sequence, with a high resolution version of the sequence, and an interview with MK12.

    Posted by Yves Peters on Jan. 27, 2011

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