When fonts take over

Because movies are such a star-driven medium, a lot of movie posters blindly follow suit: you Photoshop the lead actors' heads into the sky, probably superimposed over an evocative landscape (if it's a chick flick) or an explosion (if it's a dude flick), then slap the title of the movie and the date it's coming out in there somewhere, some gushing quote from a local-rag nobody about it being the "best (genre) of the (season)," and you've got yourself a movie poster!

But wait a sec -- stop the large-format printers! -- before you start stripping heads and pasting them into skies, there's another breed of movie poster out there; it strives to be simple and iconic at the same time, it doesn't rely on faces, and it makes font nerds everywhere salivate. (We know you're out there -- just check out the passionate responses to this post by Higgins and this one from David. You people love fonts!) A great hot-off-the-presses example is pictured above: the movie (27 Dresses) is a rom-com starring Knocked Up's Katherine Heigl that'll be coming out sometime in January, about a woman who fashions herself a magic dress made of words. (Kidding! But it's a cool poster, no?)



Stranger Than Fiction
A great movie and a great fonty poster: Will Farrell is literally overwhelmed by the type on the page. (Another favorite exclamation of mine: the band !!!.)stranger_than_fiction_ver3.jpg

Malcolm X
Perhaps the most iconic and recognizable of text-only movie ad campaigns, the Malcolm X image spawned a line of "X" hats, shirts, and other merch. (By the way, can anyone name this font?)malcomx.jpg

Little Miss Sunshine
This clever teaser for LMS plays on the titular protagonist's brooding, voluntarily mute brother, who communicates primarily via scribbled notes. Something about the angry scrawl and the insanely happy canary-yellow background makes this poster subtly hilarious.little_miss_sunshine.jpg

The Illusionist
More word-clothes! But this time it's Ed Norton in 2006's The Illusionist, and the font of his language-suit gives this poster a distinctly turn-of-the-century feel (as opposed to the modern teenage-girl feel of 27 Dresses).illusionist_ver2.jpg

The Simpsons Movie
The Simpsons being probably the most famous TV show on earth, and thus its style one of the most recognizable anywhere, all Fox needed was a few simple elements for people to immediately get it (and empty their pockets at the box office).simpsons-movie-poster-0.jpg

There are certainly great ones I haven't mentioned -- what are your favorite font-tastic posters?

Stradivarius Violins Get Their Distinctive Sound By Mimicking the Human Voice

Italian violinist Francesco Geminiani once wrote that a violin's tone should "rival the most perfect human voice." Nearly three centuries later, scientists have confirmed that some of the world's oldest violins do in fact mimic aspects of the human singing voice, a finding which scientists believe proves "the characteristic brilliance of Stradivari violins."

Using speech analysis software, scientists in Taiwan compared the sound produced by 15 antique instruments with recordings of 16 male and female vocalists singing English vowel sounds, The Guardian reports. They discovered that violins made by Andrea Amati and Antonio Stradivari, the pioneers of the instrument, produce similar "formant features" as the singers. The resonance frequencies were similar between Amati violins and bass and baritone singers, while the higher-frequency tones produced by Stradivari instruments were comparable to tenors and contraltos.

Andrea Amati, born in 1505, was the first known violin maker. His design was improved over 100 years later by Antonio Stradivari, whose instruments now sell for several million dollars. "Some Stradivari violins clearly possess female singing qualities, which may contribute to their perceived sweetness and brilliance," Hwan-Ching Tai, an author of the study, told The Guardian.

Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. A 2013 study by Dr. Joseph Nagyvary, a professor emeritus at Texas A&M University, also pointed to a link between the sounds produced by 250-year-old violins and those of a female soprano singer.

According to Vox, a blind test revealed that professional violinists couldn't reliably tell the difference between old violins like "Strads" and modern ones, with most even expressing a preference for the newer instruments. However, the value of these antique instruments can be chalked up to their rarity and history, and many violinists still swear by their exceptional quality.

[h/t The Guardian]

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