Cities in Motion — An eye-catching and moving custom variable typeface


Studio Dumbar/DEPT® was commissioned by Exterion Media – the international outdoor advertising experts – to create a series of motion graphics for screens on railway station platforms across the Netherlands. The idea was to introduce something unexpected, to break the rhythm of the advertisements and intrigue passers-by. Studio Dumbar devised a simple creative solution: using motion graphics to portray the name of a station’s corresponding city in a fun, welcoming way.


Our aim was to introduce a flexible, creative concept for mainline railway stations across the Netherlands. People today have short attention spans, especially when they’re on the move – arriving, departing or transferring from one train to another. With this in mind the motion graphics had to be simple, quick and easy to ‘digest’, but also eye-catching and memorable.


Seeking to portray the name of each city in a playful way, we designed a variable typeface, the shape of which changes according to a self–developed script (written with Python in DrawBot). Any word entered into the script has its own vibrant, animated character. While the grid is constantly in motion, the letters adjust to its changing framework perfectly, because each letter is designed for every possible framework. In this way the letters are never distorted.

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