What is Motion Graphics?

WhatIsMotionGraphics

I received a tweet recently asking me to define motion graphics. An excellent question, and one I thought we could consider as a group. These days motion graphics is hot. More and more people are getting into it thanks to cheaper, more powerful hardware and software and an abundance of training and inspiration available online.

For me, motion graphics is the satisfaction of executing an idea that moves people

But what does motion graphics mean? Wikipedia gives the practical meaning here, but what does it really mean beyond the techniques? I remember when my mother turned 70, I prepared a montage of photos, by scanning them (around 100) and animating them to music using pans and zoom within Adobe After Effects. When the video was played at the birthday gathering, my family and friends were weeping throughout and afterwards. This was truly touching to witness and has stayed with me for over a decade since that time. So for me, motion graphics is the satisfaction of executing an idea that moves people. Getting just the right mix of vision and audio that touches the emotions.

What about you? Is it simply fun making cool stuff that moves? Is it the challenge of creating or recreating the latest cool look? Is it important to you that your work touches people? Have you ever been in a situation where your work has physically moved someone?

Discuss
  1. Marcos Silva
    Reply

    I believe, motion graphics is kind of a “canvas” for express yourself, your ideas, yours “everything you want”. Isn’t just moving typography or colored graphics and make stuff move around.. is about express and idea, is about storytelling, like a couple or not of photos, showing our Mom! is like painting a canvas to give her at is birthday. The meaning of Motion Graphics is like the meaning of ART.. everyone can have one, but in the final is about express yourself.

    Cheers!!

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Absolutely Marcos. Being able to express myself and get paid for it is a wonderful thing! Best wishes, John.

      • locotaco
        Reply

        i love you

  2. Filmochod
    Reply

    Mograph is a way to make every video special, no matter what the client, theme or distribution venue.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      I love that, it makes motion graphics sound almost magical!

    • Mohamed Zakzouk
      Reply

      yes the clients love the Mograph effects when balls or cubes falling down and they smile and say wow it’s cool can i play with it 🙂

  3. Bilal KHETTAB
    Reply

    Well !!
    Motion Graphics Or Graphics Design Means Life To Me…I Beleive That U Can Create Ideas, Change Minds And What People Think Even U Can Stop Wars Or Start Them And That’s Depends On How The Artist “Magician” He Is…
    Very Inspiring Discussion ! I’ll Write An Article In My Blog To Tell How Do i Feel To Graphics Design.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Motion graphics means life! Truly inspiring Bilal.

  4. Bob Hager
    Reply

    I do memorial videos for a local funeral home. I am a storyteller of that persons life through animated pictures and music. I will never forget the man who Called me and thanked me.for the video I did.for his deceased wife’. He said he watched it at least twice a day and said it was the only thing that kept him going in the midst of his grief. It reminded me of the power of story.

    • Marcos Silva
      Reply

      great Bob! i good to know our work can help other people and make them feel better when they see it.
      I believe you feel great in the final of the day and know your work is important for someone, important is the way they can make feel and remeber anyone especial!

      keep going Bob!

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      So touching Bob, this kind of thing gives me goose bumps. The power of the moving image to touch and move people is what it’s all about. Best, John.

  5. ged roldan
    Reply

    As for me motion design is not just moving texts and graphic elements.It is the fusion of art, design and most especially the imagination of the designer. It’s a way of life.

    • Marcos Silva
      Reply

      I totally agree with you! once a teacher told me.. “Been a Designer isn’t a profession, is a Style of Life” And now i really undestand what she said

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Imagination is so important. Copying is easy but leaves a certain emptiness. On the contrary, original work leaves one with a sense of fulfilment.

  6. Martin Lindelöf
    Reply

    It’s the stuf you do before you move onto 3d or real compositing work.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Interesting Martin. For me VFX work and Motion Graphics work are different. One need not be good at 3D or VFX to be a great motion designer and vice versa.

  7. Alae Wajdi
    Reply

    Moving things around (the motion part of the term) is eacy but the hardest part is finding things to move … hence it all starts with good graphic design , this is where the talent lies . I personally don’t have the talent to “make it (my animations) look great” because I still am struggling with compositions and colors but when I master this I will be a better motion graphics artist .. It all starts with the graphic , even with the least of tools you can create masterpieces … recently I saw a masterpiece of Mark Weaver (I think his first name was Mark) on Layer tennis and it wasn othing but a red circle on a yellow background .. so simple yet the most memorable piece for the last month or so for me . you don’t need to be very good at After Effects and Cinema 4d and Animation and compositing software to be the best motion Graphic artists , it will help but the basis should be the Graphical and artistic clarity and vision to recognize what you want to do and how it will look like and then how are you gonna do it

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Artistic clarity and vision first indeed. Nice one Alae.

  8. Chetan
    Reply

    I think I might be wrong, this is just my opinion. But yet, I feel that MotionGraphics over powers all the present fields of design. It has all the power to change one’s mood in just two secs rather than comparing it to a Print field work where you have very little option to “WOOH” someone. You can do so much with such a less options. No other field will give such a cool freedom to play around. Moving things around is fun than watching it stay right there all the time 😉
    Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m still in the learning process an would love corrections on my “Way of Looking”.

    • chris
      Reply

      I agree with you, Chetan. Motion graphics takes traditional visual design into a whole new dimension: Time! As dynamic as a print ad may look, it will never be as dynamic as a good motion design piece. And with the web, live events, TV, films and tons of other media incorporating motion graphics, are canvasses are becoming unlimited!

      However, I will mention one huge downfall of motion graphic design: it tends to be much more dated than other forms of graphic design… A good print ad can keep its impact for almost a decade, but your motion graphics demo reel will seem cheezy in a year or so…. You know how we all laugh at the corny lens flares, star wipes, and clumsy 3D from 10 years ago? 10 years from now our kids will be laughing at all the optical flares, glow transitions, particles, and extruded text in our graphics.

      Great discussion! As always, these talks really get my juices flowing!

      • Chetan
        Reply

        That was an awesome point Chris. You are so true that MotionGraphics reel always gets old where as a Print stays as good as day-1.
        Thanks for your opinion 🙂

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hey Chetan, great motion graphics can certainly change one’s mood. Don’t underestimate the power of a single image or photograph to move. Best, John.

      • Chetan
        Reply

        There is always so much to learn from you John 🙂 Thank you so much!

        • John Dickinson
          Reply

          Thanks Chetan, that’s probably because I’m always learning too! Best, John.

  9. Rog
    Reply

    Great site … learning a lot.

    Where can one get fun and fully editable templates for Cinema 4D from? Any ideas?

    • Greg B
      Reply

      Hmm templates I don’t know, there doesn’t seem to be a set place(yet) for just cinema 4d template files like there is for AE. There are plenty of cinema 4D file setups that come with cinema 4D in the content library. There’s also turbosquid that has full scenes and models(for pay and free). There also is http://www.beeple-crap.com/resources.php that has a bunch of really cool cinema 4D files to download and play with for free. Some tutorial sites give you there tut files. Probably a good Google search can turn you up with more.

  10. Matthew Coughlin
    Reply

    The short answer would be making cool shit move around in an awesome way with sound. The more detailed way of putting it would be to say that motion graphics is the art blending visual and audible elements in such a way to pluck an emotional string in the audience in hope of leaving them inspired to think about the message you are communicating to them.

    • Greg B
      Reply

      I like both of your answers, I think the key is to evoke something that stays with the viewer so they can receive the message of your animation. Your first response I think is something that Nick from greyscalegorilla.com would say too.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Well said Matthew.

  11. Frank
    Reply

    Hi John,

    Thanks for bringing this up. I like what you’ve said on your definition.

    Actually, I’m the one who tweeted you this question.

    I also asked Tim Clapham the same question, he answered:

    “design that moves”

    Also asked Chad Perkins, he came with an answer:

    ” I would probably define it literally: the animation of text and graphics.”

    The reason I asked is because when I looked up the internet, I can’t find a formal definition aside from wikipedia. So I thought I could ask you guys.

    I learned that, there might be a formal definition for this, but we can define this how we like. I love what Marcos said, that this is our canvass and our way to express ourselves.

    As Motion Designers we are problem solvers, its easy to learn and manipulate tools, but communicating and getting the ideas to the audience is difficult. Having said this, it is important that our work touches people because it means we were able to communicate to our audience.

    There are several times that my work has moved someone, this brings me satisfaction and happiness.

    For me Motion Design is a lifestyle.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Frank, thanks for the tweet. I figured it would be more insightful to hear what everyone had to say, rather than just get my opinion! Best, John.

  12. Moralles
    Reply

    At the time, and since I work at a advertising agency (design & arquithecture department), I’m the one who really gives life to all the brands, logos, spaces, moods, etc, etc. My work is what gives the extra needed to conquer the client. People are really tired of looking at stills. Movement, action, living art is conquering and its needed by more people every day, and thats a really good thing.

  13. Romain Loubersanes
    Reply

    When I think about “Motion Graphics”, I think about speed, colors, animation, ideas, sound. It’s the just the fact to animate your design, animate what you like, to animate your way of thinking.

  14. Nick Paradise
    Reply

    I feel motion graphics is one of the most powerful avenues of communication, utilizing both audio and visual senses to make a real emotional connection. Perhaps only to be surpassed by interactive design when combined with motion graphics.

  15. David Rickles
    Reply

    On a truly basic level, to me Design is where artistic form meets function. We’re part problem solvers, part artists, and the most acute of observers in the world, constantly walking the line between imagination and practicality. On a grander scale, we are the people that take everyday culture, and re-envision it into new forms, usually one that carries a message to the viewer in a way that both entertains and educates. I agree with what was said before, it is a lifestyle, because to be a designer requires you to see the world, not in any ONE way, but see it in YOUR way…

  16. Diego RB
    Reply

    Fundamentally, for me, mograph and motion design are about the same thing. So, as in almost any design discipline, wants to solve problems in the most efficient way. And also, as in almost any design discipline, is deeply mixed with our life as a whole.
    But shortly, it’s a job that seeks to answer a communication demand with the most adequate, yet beautiful, response possible, doing this trough any moving media. As many others jobs, this one also requires especific attributes, wich in this case is an artistic expertise.

  17. Darren
    Reply

    For me it is all about communicating with the audience. On a broadcast title sequence the whole point is to tell a story, give information and draw the viewer in to watch the rest of the show in the 20seconds or whatever you have. Motion graphics is an enormous array of disciplines from traditional animation, to live action elements and cgi, it’s not about the tools or techniques but rather about problem solving and giving the audience everything they need to get the most out of their viewing experience, both the graphics themselves and whatever they are supporting.

  18. AMAL
    Reply

    Hi everyone,

    It is reassuring to read these comments. Thank your John ! For me the key is sensitivity. I consider our art as electronic or multimedia poetry.

    hope u understand my bad english

    see you

  19. Stephen O'Hearn
    Reply

    I’ve been told that good design is a language

    If Design is a language then Motion Design is a song. By combining all the elements; graphic design, music, sound design and typography you create a cohesive symphony of messaging to achieve a single objective. Tell a great story, in 15 minutes or 15 seconds.

    It begins and ends with Story.

    The elements (music, graphic design, etc) are just parts of the song.

    Thats about a philosophical as I can get for a Saturday morning. Great thread !

    Steve

  20. jf z
    Reply

    i tend to think of motion graphics as an enchantment spell that you try to cast on your viewer so that he/she will pay attention to whatever your message is. by using certain shapes and forms, colors, fonts, textures, and animation, motion graphics has the ability to evoke in the viewer’s mind a certain mood, associated with a certain place or time, whether that time is morning or night, or the 1960s; this associated place and time can evoke other associations in the viewer’s mind, further enchanting the viewer’s attention.

  21. John Dickinson
    Reply

    External forces can certainly dictate the quality of the final result. The projects I’m most proud of are the one’s where the deadline wasn’t such an issue.

  22. Orcun Akman
    Reply

    Logical meaning or emotional meaning? Which one is more important?
    If it is emotional than I can say there are thousands of meanings. Every designer has a resolve for mograph. But the simplest explanation of mograph is animated graphic design, nothing more. The “Motion” word is extra I think. The main part is “Graphic Design”. So the real mographer is who gives life to a graphic design.

    • Martin
      Reply

      I couldn ´t disagree more. In the last few year I studied graphic design, and paralell to that I studied art. I learn allot about traditional art, and design as general. Later I studied animation. Nowadays Im a motiongrapher and I apply things for character animation, or things that even could be more associated to industrial design. In all my works I have applied little to no knowdledge of what i learned in graphic design (that could have been learned in a more traditional way). Motion graphics DOES contain a huge influence of graphic design, but to say that motion graphics is “animated graphic design” is completly bull.

      cheers.

  23. tvandang
    Reply

    John,

    First I like to thank you for providing such an abundance of information about motion graphics on your website.

    I just began to learn more about 6 months ago. Everyday, I am always looking for new things to learn online and keeping my brain cells working at all time. I noticed that things do look better in 3D applications such Cinema 4D and 3DS max to be composited in AE.

    I am confused to what 3D application to choose to start learning while I am learning AE in my spare time. But from a stand point of a beginner, what is the best tool for me to try out the trial version for a month?

    I would love to see the photo montage of your mother. There is nothing wrong of seeing a man weeping too. Thanks!

    tvandang

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Thanks tvandang, my suggestion is Cinema 4D, it works seamlessly with After Effects and is a tool every motion designer should be familiar with in my opinion. I’ll see if I can dig up that video. Best, John.

      • tvandang
        Reply

        John,

        I looked furthermore into Cinema 4D tutorials from yours, youtube, and greyscalegorilla, and I am totally impressed how it is much easier to learn and understand than from 3Ds Max. I really appreciate your recommendation. I am totally excited about this tool. It feels like Christmas already.

        Oh yeah, your posting on Mocha is just another excellent posting on your website. I am amazed how powerful Mocha tool is compared to other tracking tools with proven facts.

        Thanks a bunch!

        tvandang

        • John Dickinson
          Reply

          Thanks tvandang, good to hear your moving into Cinema 4D! Best wishes, John.

      • tvandang
        Reply

        John,

        I am confused on some plugins. I downloaded cinema 4d trial but it does not come with mograph random effector. is this a paid plugin or free? how do i install it? thanks!

        tvandang

        • John Dickinson
          Reply

          The Random Effector is part of MoGraph which is not included with the core Cinema 4D application. Best, John.

  24. ramesh
    Reply

    i think motion graphics is the art of sharing your visualization in form of video.

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Nicely put Ramesh, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Best wishes, John.

  25. James Brelaz
    Reply

    In a few words..
    Motion Graphics is the challenge to take an idea and bring it to life.

  26. Mario
    Reply

    Hi evrey one !!

    from me i think motion graphic is the abstraction of all the Ideas
    that included in the srory and transfer it to feeling that explain
    the meaning..!!

    Some people think if they animated some shapes Randomly and add some music.. they made Motion graphcis!!

    (( motion graphics is the satisfaction of executing an idea, with the right mix of vision and audio that touches the emotions, that moves people…))

    Great definition john !!

    Thanks..

  27. ahmad
    Reply

    Hi, thanks for the interesetig topic, I was wondering where can I find an introductory video/documentary on what is motion graphics for complete beginners ?

    Thanks

    • John Dickinson
      Reply

      Hi Ahmad, Try Total Training as a starting point. That’s where I started, along with Classroom-in-a-book. Best, John.

  28. cloran
    Reply

    hi John et.al, maybe you would be interested in a website that I recently found and especially the student work in motion graphics. Maybe a little different approach to teaching moving design! regards, cloran

    http://www.gpvd.ch/video/vd.html

Leave a Comment

  • (will not be published)

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>