Depicting Digital Interfaces in Film & Television

Showing interaction via text, the internet and other devices can be a challenge on film.  You are faced with a few choices.  You can shoot the screen on the device in a live action shot, use graphics or typography to overlay the messages in post, or even supplement a shot of a character typing an email using a cheeky voiceover like in You Got Mail.

Thankfully, that example isn’t studied in this excellent video created by Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting. Filmmakers are increasingly taking the motion graphics route when depicting text and the Internet in their films for a few reasons:

  • It saves money –  later can save a lot of time vs a live shoot
  • It is artistically efficient – Combine action and reaction in the same frame
  • Creative text and title design can add a new element to the story

A purist may argue that using titles and graphics can break the 4th wall and possibly pull the viewer out of the story.  If you feel this way, you are validated and you should take the extra time to shoot the device (or at least make it look live) in your films.  In certain examples (The Social Network) I wouldn’t have it any other way.