What are Motion Graphics?
Motion graphics are usually pieces of illustration, text or footage which are edited to give the illusion of movement. These are usually then inserted into multimedia projects to illustrate points or information, abstract concepts or themes, and generate intrigue. They are essentially representing information with graphics that move.
Avid motion graphics
Avid motion graphics allow the user to create dynamic graphics that can be updated in real time. This is especially useful for broadcast media, and is a preferred method used by news casters and journalists.
Interactive motion graphics
Interactive motion graphics are representations of information that allow the viewer to interact with what they are seeing. They require extensive “behind-the-scenes” data in order to make them work. A good example of this is in a simpler sense is the way a Prezi presentation works, i.e. graphics are placed on a canvas and then a sense of movement is created by the user to navigate between sections of the graphic.
2D motion graphics
2D motion graphics have been in use for many years – Saul Bass worked alongside Hitchcock, Scorsese and Kubrick to make title sequences and intro graphics. Arguably there is a bit of a renaissance happening with this at the moment in the world of animation, as game makers, animators and filmmakers alike are choosing to represent content on a 2D canvas.
Motion graphics are created using a method of image or footage creation using programs like Photoshop or Illustrator which are then animated within After Effects or similar. This is then exported and inserted into wider multimedia projects and either overlaid on other footage or inserted specifically into the sequence and combined with audio. Typically motion graphics are used in films for title screens, or as animated content to enhance footage and provide visual information.
Motion graphics can be made in a variety of ways, though perhaps a market leader for their creation is a program called After Effects, an Adobe licensed product whose sole purpose is to create motion graphics.
Motion graphics need assets to start with, to which movement can be applied. Typically, they will use text, illustrated items, pictures or film footage to act as the basis of content.
3D motion graphics
3D motion graphics are essentially the same as 2D motion graphics, though they use 3D objects with which to apply the same movement principles. Fixed 3D objects are given motions in order to create the illusion of dynamism. Strangely enough, a lot of animators and motion graphic creators are choosing to build assets in 3D before treating to appear as if they are 2D. This is particularly useful as it speeds the process up, rather than having to re-draw every side of a shape in 2D, an object can simply be rotated and reinserted into the piece. Clever stuff!
How are Motion Graphics created?
All motion graphics start with an idea. It is important to dream big. Motion graphics give the opportunity to elaborate, to tell a story to bring ideas to life. We suggest you start this by writing a script: remember to ask yourself, who is this for, what do I want them to take away from this, and do I want them to take this seriously, or is it light hearted and amusing?
Motion graphics animation & Story telling
The real bonus of motion graphics animation is it allows you to tell a story or make a point visually without necessarily needing to spell it out or include voiceover. People respond to imagery and stories very well. Try to focus on the key points rather than cram every ounce of detail into the script. Be direct. Allow the voiceover to help tell the story. Imagine explaining something to a friend; you’ll find that you animate your hands and your body to tell a story. Motion graphics when working in tandem with a voiceover or soundtrack work in the same way – they visually explain facts, figures or concepts to your audience.
Once the script and tone are established, this leads into the phase of storyboarding. This is where the motion graphics artist works their magic. They are allowed the time to visualise the information and create a visual narrative that will demonstrate the flow of information.
Once storyboards are approved, this translates into the design phase, whereby the colours and style are fully developed and specific components (assets) are created. They become the building blocks of how to create motion graphics. The design is often handled by the designer who sketched out the storyboards for continuity, finally these assets will be inserted into the preferred software to start moving, fading and manipulating the objects.
What are Motion Graphics Used for?
Motion graphics can be used in a large variety of ways. They’re most commonly used in multimedia projects likes films – everything from big budget movies to YouTube videos. They can be long or short and can highlight sections of information or represent the entire script. They are there to aid you as the storyteller. They can be combined with text, music and voiceovers to add layers of meaning and importance. They can reveal something that live action footage may struggle to show.
Good motion graphics are: well planned, well designed, necessary, integral, intriguing, funny, serious and poignant.
So why use motion graphics? Because they can be just the thing you need to bring impact to the viewer. They can highlight information, demonstrate the application of that information and lead the viewer into a deeper quest for more information. They can tell a story in a few simple moves rather than a thousand words.