Helvetica

A documentary film by Gary Hustwit

See what is in the Helvetica typeface. Listen to interesting typographer personalities, like for example Matthew Carter, who designed Georgia for Microsoft: “When I start designing a typeface, I´d probably start with the lowercase h. It tells me whether this is a sans serif or a serif typeface. If it has serifs, are they heavy? Are they light? What is the nature of the serifs? Is there a lot of contrast in the letterform? What are the proportions of the overall height, the ascenders and the x-height. Then because h is a straight-sided letter, I would do a round letter, the lowercase o, alongside it. I can get a sense of how the weight of the curve-part of the o relates to the weight of the straight-part of the h. And then already there is a huge part of the DNA of the type in just a couple of letterforms. I´d then probably would do something like the lowercase p, because it´s half-straight and half-round. And also it has a descending stroke, which is another vertical dimension that I´d been interested in. I would then build on that. If you´ve got an h, you´ve got an awful lot of information about n and u. You´ve got p, then you´ve got q and d. And so on. And then as soon as possible I would get them into words, or something that looks like words. For me the experience of reading something is so critical in judging it as a typeface.”

Helvetica from Film First on Vimeo.