Sign Language - Superfad Designs Graphics Treatment for Feature Documentary Project Nim

Sign Language: Superfad Designs Graphics Treatment for Feature Documentary Project Nim

Design and production company Superfad created graphic elements for the compelling documentary Project Nim (Roadside Attractions/HBO Documentary Films). In theaters July 8, Project Nim is the riveting story of one chimpanzee's extraordinary journey through human society and the enduring impact he makes on people along the way.

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Jinx Godfrey and James Marsh (the editor & director team behind the Oscar-winning Man On Wire) previously collaborated with Superfad on the titles for Red Riding: 1980. For Project Nim the duo contacted Superfad to produce design elements for that spoke to the acquisition of language by Nim, the documentary's chimp protagonist.

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"We initially met with James and Jinx a number of times to brainstorm over the role of typography and language in a documentary that ultimately had more to do with the humans involved than science and linguistics," said Superfad Creative Director Kinda Akash. "Reams of data had been accumulated during the length of the actual Project Nim, including charts illustrating Nim's progress and eventual plateau in learning words. The vernacular of these were the basis for the animated charts in the film; but a simple piece of white type on black from a Godard film served as the spring-board for our design inspiration."

Over the next 6 months, working with James and Jinx, the Superfad team developed a design strategy for the documentary: bold, simple, large scale typography juxtaposed over footage for words Nim learned to sign; simple, repetitive, accumulative animation to speak to his progress; and subtitles for silent, signed exchanges with humans.

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"Collaboration is something that runs through all of our work at Superfad, but with this project we had the opportunity and honor of working closely with two incredibly talented people over an extended period of time," noted Akash. "It is the sort of project that keeps us all inspired, and reminds us why we are graphic designers first and foremost. We are thrilled to make a contribution to such an amazing film."