Typography Nerds: Here’s the Story Behind the ‘Stranger Things’ Title Sequence
Everyone knows the written word can be a powerful thing. Less discussed — except perhaps among a distinct, proud, self-identifying group commonly known as typography or font nerds — is how a typeface choice can shape a reader’s feelings about the text’s meaning.
Need proof? Just ask the black sheep of the font family, Comic Sans. On the other end of the spectrum, one study showed that printing your manifesto in Baskerville is your best bet for getting followers to trust you.
And if you want ’80s nostalgia-riddled adults worldwide to look at a title sequence and suddenly be overcome by a swell of emotion toward the sci-fi novels and films of their youth? Apparently, you make a beeline for ITC Benguiat, a font used on everything from Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books to the Smiths’ record Strangeways, Here We Come to Paramount Pictures’ FBI piracy warning (which, if you remember VHS tapes, is almost certainly emblazoned onto a tiny corner of your consciousness somewhere).
In a fun explainer video for Vox, the creative director of Imaginary Forces — a Los Angeles studio responsible for creating title sequences on some of the best-loved TV shows of the past decade — details how her team took this careful font choice and ran with it when tasked with creating a title sequence for Stranger Things, the retro-tastic, runaway Netflix hit of the summer.
Using somewhat outdated methods to create a typeface that blends the gritty, organic feel of pre-digital-era lettering with a bit of computerized trickery, the company conjured the precise feel of the series, which is to say: brand new yet very, very familiar. (You can play around with creating your own sequence right here.)
The result? It doesn’t really matter what year you were born. When you settle in for an episode of Stranger Things, the part of your brain that feels warm and fuzzy about, say, E.T. or The Goonies is activated long before you see Winona Ryder even pick up that wall-mounted landline. Give the video a watch below.