What Exactly are Motion Graphics?

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What Exactly are Motion Graphics?

If you know what to look for, Motion Graphics can be spotted in almost everything from adverts, films, television and more. Videos are no longer just about audio and video, and even the smallest, most amateur video production needs that little something extra to add dimension and a level of professionalism to their film. Using Motion Graphics is one of the most popular ways to do this.

Not just relegated to title and credit sequences, Motion Graphics now play an integral role across the spectrum of visual storytelling. And, with the advances made in technology over the last decade, Motion Graphics are becoming the focal point own productions, rather than just the supporting act. An accessible and comprehensive mode of short storytelling, Motion Graphics are being capitalised on by brands looking to capture and engage their digital audiences.

But Motion Graphics can be a tricky term to understand. Acting as an umbrella term across what appears to be multiple practices without a clear definition, knowing exactly what Motion Graphics is, what it covers, or even what a Motion Graphics designer does can often seem slightly opaque.

What is Motion Graphics?

In the most basic of terms, all that Motion Graphics means is graphics in movement, but we’re aware that doesn’t really answer your question. In reality, it’s the process of applying design knowledge and factors of space, time and dimension to graphic elements, in order to bring it to new mediums.

Essentially, Motion Graphics takes what is naturally stagnant and, through a combination of animation and graphic design, produces a digital film. Motion Graphics can be used to enhance an animated or staged film, adding in effects like making your titles pop or design moving backgrounds, or to create a project in its own right. With the rise of video content marketing, Motion Graphics has extended from the reaches of film and TV to heavily populate digital media channels. With brands utilising the medium to communicate and engage with their potential consumer base, with infographics, explainer videos and viral campaigns.

Video of Motion Graphics done by Xero

Whilst Motion Graphics can technically be done by anyone with an ounce of creativity and access to the professional tools of the trade, access doesn’t necessarily correlate with mastery. To create beautiful and realistic Motion Graphics, it takes a level of expertise, passion and knowledge of animation and motion graphic design principles.

Recently, some designers have argued that the term Motion Graphics is outdated. The name conveying a limiting concept, a practice solely relating to stiff business presentation titles and the glossy logos of news channels, downplaying the temporal aspect of the practice and its relationship to filmmaking and animation.

In actuality, motion graphic design doesn’t just relate to the disciplines relevant to the large field of graphic design, such as typography, illustration and fine art, but extends outwards, with reference points in branding, advertising and more recently, 3D visualisation.

The History of Motion Graphics

Before Motion Graphics conceptualised into the huge creative industry it is today, it was a practice initially limited to creating opening titles for movies.

It wasn’t until the 1940s that the industry has a marked beginning when artists Oskar Fischinger and Norman McLaren began producing experimental works, and in turn, inspired designers Maurice Binder, Pablo Ferro and Saul Bass almost a decade later. Whose work gave Motion Graphics a spectacular rise, and is still referenced today.

This early work presented words and graphic elements in a creative way that people had never seen before, providing an entryway into the Cinema and TV industries and compounding Motion Graphics growing popularity.

Now, with the prevalence of video as a method of communication, and the multitude of channels, industries and economies devoted to digital storytelling, Motion Graphics are everywhere.

Is Motion Graphics the Same as Animation?

Motion Graphics and animation are often mentioned in the same breath, occasionally even used interchangeably, and even if you’ve been in the industry for years, defining the difference between the two can be one of the most difficult things to clarify. The fine line dividing the two practices working on an instinctual understanding, rather than a clarified, written distinction.

However, there are a few distinguishable differences between the two.

Motion Graphics begins with graphics or graphic designs in motion. The pieces consisting of design elements like typography, composition, and shapes translated from a static object to one in motion.

Animation is much broader, whilst it can encompass Motion Graphics, it also involves a lot of other styles, techniques and purposes. Whereas Motion Graphics was born out of the Design field and has kept its primary preoccupation on the function, and efficacy of its practice for communicating specific messages. Animation lends itself more towards the artistic and entertaining. Although these distinctions are becoming increasingly blurred.

The most definite distinction between the two practices is that Motion Graphics, unlike animation, tends to be driven by animated abstract forms and shapes, rather than characters or stories. Due to this, Motion Graphics extends further beyond the commonly used methods of animation and frame by frame footage.

But that’s not to say that they’re two polar opposites.

A strong motion graphic will combine voiceover, text, sound design with animation to form an engaging story. Whether the intention is to provide education on a critical issue, inspire, drive action or introduce a new service or product, these components should work in harmony to deliver a clear and cohesive audience experience.

What Does a Motion Graphics Designer Do?

Motion Graphics designers create the moving words, logos, numbers and text on the screen during a film, television show, commercial or other media project. The credits of a movie, the phone number on an infomercial, the logo of a business during a commercial – these are all created by Motion Graphics designers.

A Motion Graphics designer will use their knowledge of current design trends, advancements in the industry and their own creativity to help conceptualise, storyboard and create videos that can draw the attention of your intended audience, whilst be supporting your company’s brand and intent.

Drawing on knowledge of Motion Graphics programmes, like Houdini, typography, style, illustration and digital art, a Motion Graphics designer can help you put your brand into a story that will translate to your customers.

Why Do You Need Motion Graphics?

To understand why you need Motion Graphics, you first need to understand what exactly you should be communicating.

To interact with your customers, your brand needs a compelling story, a reason why, in an oversaturated marketplace, customers should come to you and only you.

Motion Graphics enables you to communicate your story and your brand in a way that is not only accessible but can permeate more wholly than a written statement ever could.

Through the creation of visual assets and additional images, we can create motion pictures that from their colour scheme to their animation, sit alongside your brand position and represent your brand in a total and unique way.

Video content is no longer an up and coming marketing tool, but a requirement for all businesses, with consumers hunger for it growing rapidly – an estimated 43% of people want to see more video content from brands.

With the highest ROI rate across all marketing tools, the success of translating your brand into moving pictures is not to be understated.

For more information on what Motion Graphics can do for you, don’t hesitate to contact our designers on +44 (0)117 209 0199


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