Math Magic

SYMMETRY. Metamorphosis from the digits 0123456789 to the title.

INSPIRATION. Video title lettering for Math Magic, a video plus book course by human calculator and math evangelist Scott Flansburg.

STORY. I first met Scott in 1996 when we were both presenting at the annual MathCounts award ceremony. MathCounts is a national mathematics competition for middle school students that culminates in an event where every state sends four students and adult chaperones to compete in a national playoff. Wanting to impress Scott, I wrote his name so it inverted into "The Human Calculator."
     Scott is a human calculator, meaning that he can perform impressive calculations like squaring a many digit number entirely in his head, quickly and accurately. The Guinness Book of World Records lists him as the fastest human calculator. Scott has parlayed used his ability to become a media celebrity, on a mission to let kids (and adults) know that everyone can "embrace numbers and enjoy mathematics." The methods he uses are nothing more than smarter ways to do arithmetic than the ways we learn in school, and by learning these methods students of all ages can gain confidence in their ability to handle numbers.
     A decade ago Scott released a book and video course teaching his calculation methods, and promoted it with infomercials and a national tour. Now he is at it again, and with the popularity of Harry Potter he decided to give the new incarnation of his presentation a magical theme. You can learn more about it and order the product at his web site humancalculator.com. He asked me to do title lettering, and here is the result.

The animation above morphs the digits 0 through 9 into the title. It appears at the beginning and end of the video. Originally I used the numbers 1 through 10, which is more familiar to most people, but Scott is insistent that the proper way to think about counting is to focus on the ten digits 0 through 9, so I redid it to match his wishes. The lettering style is based on medieval calligraphy, which is appropriate for the theme of magic and wizardry. The morphs of the ten numbers start in rapid sequence with considerable overlap, to create an effect that makes visual sense but is impossible to fully comprehend.
     You may have noticed that the final lettering is almost, but not quite, a perfect inversion. That is because it is based on an inversion I did originally for the book title, shown below. In the end the book designers decided that it was not legible enough to be the main title, and included it instead on an inside page. For the video title I wanted a title that appeared to be the same as the book lettering, but I made a few modifications to untangle spots that were hard to read, especially the AG ligature in MAGIC.


Copyright 2002 Scott Kim.
All rights reserved.