The Seven Principles of Making Motion Graphics

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The Seven Principles of Making Motion Graphics

Motion graphics are extremely powerful visual communication tools, however, their production requires a complex skill set. Unlike traditional ‘live film’, not anyone can create motion graphics. Even those who can will mostly only be able to produce amateur looking or simple effects.

Crafting compelling and engrossing motion graphics is an art as much as it is a science and if you want your video to really stand out from the crowd, then you need to work with experts.

That all being said, let’s take a closer look at precisely what goes into producing fantastic motion graphics.

1. Telling Compelling Stories

It’s important that, as much as you and your team may love the concept or idea you have come up with, it’s imperative that your target audience does as well. Even if you have only been tasked with producing a 30-second motion graphic, it will still be beneficial to work with a seasoned storyteller to shape an engaging narrative arc.

As motion graphic script writing is markedly different from other forms of storytelling, it is critical that your scriptwriter affords appropriate attention to:

  • Narrative structure
  • Pacing
  • Word count
  • Word choices

You should also endeavour to have your script copy-edited and proofread. This will avoid the accidental inclusion of incorrect information or misspelt words that could be costly and time-consuming to correct later on.

2. Organisation is Everything

Creating excellent motion graphics is complex. In addition to working through several different processes and keeping a close eye on a variety of moving parts, you will also likely be working to a strict deadline.

Just because motion graphics production doesn’t require a film crew and a set or location, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t involve proper logistical planning. Having an experienced project manager who can shape a creative brief, manage schedules, facilitate access to resources, obtain feedback from stakeholders and deliver the project on time and to budget is critical.

Ensuring everything runs as smoothly as possible will guarantee a productive working environment that will allow each member of the team to apply their skills and deliver a final product that meets and even exceeds expectations.

3. The Importance of Hierarchy

Think about your website for a moment. You wouldn’t use the same font style and size across your copy. Instead, you would emphasise key words and sentences to ensure that everything is easy to read and that it allows your audience to locate the specific pieces of information that are most important to them. Similarly, certain elements within your motion graphics will need to separate themselves from the rest to communicate what you need them to.

For particular elements to be emphasised effectively, others will need to be more understated. Forming a hierarchy of elements will help you to decide which are most relevant to the communication of your core message. This will enhance comprehension by ensuring that the eye is drawn to the visuals designed to convey the most meaning.

4. Putting your Best Font Forwards

Well-designed fonts can exponentially improve the production value of your entire motion graphic and investing in a custom font could be the thing that ties your whole project together.

It is generally best practice to utilise a maximum of two different typefaces, one for headings and one for body text. If you find yourself needing a little more variation, experimenting with bold and italicised words may produce an effective outcome. Typeface selection should always prioritise legibility and readability, but it is important to select a font that reflects both the brand and the specific project as well.

5. Art Direction and Excellent Design

It goes without saying that movement is an essential component of every type of motion graphic (hence the term ‘motion’). As such, if your animation isn’t smooth and seamless, it will always appear unfinished, unless of course, you have made a justified stylistic choice that aids the communication of your narrative, such as a retro cell animation look.

Your design team should be experienced visual communicators with an intricate understanding as to how to make the most out of the medium and the tools available. Every visual element needs to fit with the narrative, the brand and the specific campaign, which requires a skilful eye from the animator (or art director if the job is much bigger in scope).

6. Colour Matters

In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, your colour palette will also contribute to the overall tone, ambience and atmosphere of your motion graphic. Selecting the right colour scheme will enhance the energy of the piece and ensure that it feels polished and complete. If you’re looking for some colour inspiration, Pinterest and Adobe Color are both excellent resources to consult.

It is also important to remember that white space isn’t a bad thing, provided that it leads the viewer’s eye to the focal point of each frame.

7. Don’t Neglect your Distribution Strategy

OK, so you have created what you know is an engaging and well-produced motion graphic, but now what? If you took the time at the beginning to shape your distribution strategy, you will already be securing valuable views, comments and shares. Understanding your distribution strategy before you start storyboarding will ensure that your motion graphic appeals directly to the unique viewing habits of your audience.

The motion graphic production process is undoubtedly complex, however, it can produce marketing materials that will help businesses to differentiate themselves from their competition within competitive marketplaces.

Ensuring that every member of the team is fully briefed, that ideas are shared freely and that every stage is fully signed off by key stakeholders will streamline the production process and result in a final motion graphic that has the power to drive tangible results.