Josh Krauth-Harding is an animator and designer based in Detroit and working worldwide. Info ︎︎︎


Currently at Hobbes, previously &Walsh. Freelancing with You Vs. Jesus, Other Studio, & you? ︎︎︎
Client
Internal

Project Type
Typeface, Animation

Year

2022

Studio
Hobbes
Design + Animation
Josh Krauth-Harding, Eddy Nieto, Dan Stack, Evan Kempinksi, Nick Forshee, Adam Zimmer

Production
Tess Harris

Sound Design
Ambrose Yu


Aerial is Hobbes’ custom-built solution for typesetting in the sky, and began as my internship project when I started at Hobbes in 2021. Inspired by Futura its forms are balanced and geometric in nature. It varies in fidelity across three weights to accommodate for a range of available drones and boasts a total of 132 drone-accessible, flight-ready characters. Alongside the Drone Count Utility tool, Aerial serves as an additional step in refining the first-ever workflow for bigger and better typographic drone shows.

The full family was about 300 characters total, which is a lot

As a part of Hobbes ongoing relationship with Firefly Drone Shows, typography emerged as a constant and tedious step in the drone choreography process. While other “off-the-shelf” typefaces served as a powerful reference point, none accounted for the specific constraints of drone regulations or enabled Hobbes to quickly glean how many drones any particular messaging might need.



Drones require a maintained distance of 6.5 ft between each other in order to comply with Firefly’s safety standards. For this reason, we designed Aerial with perimeters built-in, removing them later on once drones were equally spaced and safely distanced. Design wise, this presented a unique challenge: some letterforms translated easily to equidistant dots (such as the letter I or T), while others required creative solutions to optically appear as the letters they represented (S, W, and symbols such as the ampersand).


Fleet size was another crucial consideration when creating Aerial. Given different quantities of drones to work with and an inconsistent number of characters per message (“U.S.A” vs. “Happy New Year”), Aerial needed to be able to adapt to different levels of fidelity. Our solution to this was to create three “weights” – one that represents the essential barebones of each letterform, one that acts as a standard middle ground, and one that is bold and expressive in instances where enough drones are available.


Once the typeface was complete, the last step was to develop a method of quickly calculating the number of drones required for any given phrase in any of the three weights. The Hobbes Drone Count Utility was my solution: a simple and easy-to-use tool that determines the total number of required drones in real-time.