What is this modern font from the Twilight Zone?
July 20, 2014 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Font question: Can anyone ID this obscure font from the Twilight Zone?

I'm not asking about the more familiar jagged and floaty Twilight Zone font (i.e. not this one).

Rather, I am curious about this more modern font, used in an alternative title sequence in the show's first season (the sequence can be viewed on Youtube here). I'm not sure whether this is a standard font or something drawn up just for the show. Any thoughts, Metafilter?
posted by washburn to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Also: if this does not seem to be a standard font, which standard font would be closest?
posted by washburn at 3:56 PM on July 20, 2014

Full disclosure: I'm not an art director. But I've been around enough fonts to say with some confidence that you may have Helvetica Bold Extended there.

I'm making this judgment based on the G, W and Z. The E in your example is slightly different than the Helvetica sample -- the arms in the original don't all meet up in a neat vertical line as they do in Helvetica. Perhaps it was slightly altered by hand. Note also the unsual (some would say sloppy) kerning between the "ILI", which is further evidence of handwork.

Everything else in The Twilight Zone -- especially in all caps -- makes this a tough one to call. Others with more expertise may have better answers. But if you're just going for a close approximation, you could do worse.
posted by Work to Live at 4:06 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

What The Font favors 1, 2, or 3, in that order. None of them has the slanted corners on the Z but they (like, on preview, Helvetica Bold Extended) are pretty decent matches.
posted by teremala at 4:09 PM on July 20, 2014

On further inspection, maybe Helvetica Heavy Extended?
posted by Work to Live at 4:10 PM on July 20, 2014

Best answer: What The Font favors 1, 2, or 3, in that order. None of them has the slanted corners on the Z...

With font questions like this, it's important to remember the technology of the day. The typeface was most likely set from cold type at a printer, then photographed and processed as an effect overlay in the film production (TZ was shot on film). This process introduces a bit of distortion to the type, and then there's the low-rez quality of early b/w television imagery, which most likely accounts for the "slanted" elbows on the cap Z. Those are simply rounded-off through processing. They could have also purposely introduced a bit of extra "extension" to the type.

None of the WhatTheFont options are correct, simply because none of the fonts selected were around in 1959 (swiss 721 was released by Bitstream in 1982 as a more-or-less Helvetica rip-off/update).

I think you're looking at Helvetica Black Extended with a bit of processing distortion. Helvetica was the new hot "modern" font at the time.

All that said, back then, print shops had oodles of generic typefaces like this. It could very easily have been "sans serif #4" at whatever shop the title designer used. I'm pretty sure, though, about it being Helvetica Black Ext., though.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:47 PM on July 20, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Folio Bold Extended
posted by Lanark at 4:49 PM on July 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

That "G" with the arrowy upswing on the lower bout throws me.
posted by Chitownfats at 10:40 AM on July 21, 2014

Lanark nails it.
posted by Chitownfats at 4:26 PM on July 21, 2014

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