Sherlock – storytelling through visual text

The BBC’s Sherlock has proved to be a hit. Much of this is surely down to a clever re-imagining of the characters placing them in a modern setting with modern technology. Those of you who have watched it will know this already but I wanted to share something a little off topic. What I really enjoy in watching the episodes is the way that visual clues are displayed to the viewer in a creative way with text graphics. Whilst this is not closed captioning or subtitling it is on screen text and so I am including it in this blog.

For example, this Sherlock makes constant use of his and other people’s mobile phones to carry out his work. Rather than have an obligatory camera shot of someone holding a mobile phone followed by a close up shot of said message on the phone, the text is creatively added in post production to the shot and placed in a prominent position on screen. Far from being distracting I really felt it added to the story telling.

Sherlock sends a text message to DI Lestrade:

Sherlock - text message - on screen typography

When Sherlock sent the same text message to all journalists at a press conference, the text was displayed multiple times representing all the mobile phone text messages being read:

Sherlock - text message - on screen typography

Although not obvious from the screen caps the text was animated on and off screen but in a simple and effective way so not to draw any more attention to it than is needed.

Watson reads a text message on his phone:

Sherlock - text message - on screen typography

This technique is repeated in all episodes and is also used for non-text clues including a graffiti tag. I hope this style of storytelling continues when the series returns. For the record, the region 2 DVD does come with subtitles/closed captioning available. The making of is also subtitled. However the commentaries are not. *sigh* Very frustrating!

And to get this blog a little bit more on topic I recently came across a tweet with a link to a Flickr account containing selected key scenes from movies and TV with the closed captioning also screen grabbed to illustrate the key impact of the dialogue in the chosen scene. Check it out here. I like the idea. I could have a lot of fun doing that with my own DVD collection. What scenes of closed captioning dialogue would you choose as a key scene/dramatic impact?

I chose this one for Sherlock:

Sherlock - English subtitles

Edit: Not related at all to the BBC’s Sherlock series but thought I would share this Russian animation for Sherlock Holmes subtitled into English on You Tube. Enjoy!