Filmmaker & Designer Collaboration: Graphic Elements by Superfad for the Project Nim Documentary

June 28, 2011

Filmmaker & Designer Collaboration: Graphic Elements by Superfad for the Project Nim Documentary

Design and production company, Superfad wrote over to share some of the typography-based graphic elements they created for the documentary Project Nim. Combined with some storied information they shared, this forms a nice case study of work between designers and filmmakers.

Project Nim, from Roadside Attractions/HBO Documentary Films, is the tale of a chimpanzee's journey through human society and the impact on people's lives he makes along the way.

Jinx Godfrey and James Marsh (editor & director team behind Man On Wire) contacted Superfad to produce design elements "that spoke to the acquisition of language by Nim, the documentary's chimp protagonist."

Design, superfad, nim
Design, superfad, nim

“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,” Superfad Creative Director Kinda Akash says.

During Project Nim, vast amounts of data accumulated "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.”

Design, superfad, nim
Design, superfad, nim

The Superfad team developed a design strategy for the documentary over the next six months. To channel the foundations of language, they used "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."

Design, superfad, nim
Design, superfad, nim

Superfad members enjoyed the collaboration with the film creators: “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.”

Some other hand-picked posts you might enjoy on our Design Blog:

Music and Movie Posters by Matt Needle
Post-Apocalyptic orDowntown Detroit? Photo Documentary
See Spain and Morocco Stop-Motion Style through 4000 Stills from Mike Matas

Jessica Patterson

Jessica Patterson

Hi, I'm Jessica. I'm a Designer and Writer at Drawbackwards and write for the Design Blog at I enjoy vintage things, letterpress, publication design, and long walks around the Cesar Chavez Park pond. You can follow me on twitter at @jessdoodled for lots of fun randomness.

Featured Job

Sr. UI Designer / Palo Alto, CA

Join the Conversation

  • Facebook

    Like on Facebook.

  • Daily Inspiration Email

    Receive a daily email with Design Blog highlights. Subscribe

  • Newsletter

    Our monthly design newsletter delivered straight to your inbox.