One side effect of the digital design revolution is motion graphics. More and more information is being created, and more and more of it moves. With so much content, motion graphics is a great way to say to your audience “Hey, look at this!” Motion graphics combine A and B into a living, breathing concept that connects with audiences. But, with any form of design, styles and tastes are constantly changing. Here are some popular and upcoming techniques and some predictions about new applications for motion graphics.
|SWOOSHES AND SWIPES
This has been a growing trend for a while. Once popular in the heyday of Disney and Looney Tunes, it’s making a strong comeback. This is mostly thanks to the accelerated production timelines that digital animation offers. No longer printing on film, animators can add back in flourishes and small details. The benefit of this technique is mostly emotional. Swooshes and swipes can add a lot of personality to a brand and make the subject seem friendlier.
This is very, very popular thanks to the autoplay feature on most social media sites. If you’re planning to advertise on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, plan on that ad to loop. Audience attention spans can be as small as 8-12 seconds, but they’ll stick around and re-watch the loop if the information and animation is compelling enough. In fact, all the animation samples in this article are loops so that you can have a chance to view and study the concepts presented.
|ABSTRACT AND PATTERNS
High fidelity and 4K monitors are allowing us to see more and more detail on digital screens. Flat colors can become gradients, and backgrounds can include complex patterns. Patterns and abstract imagery can be used to subtly brand a product without investing in a character or photography. Especially in text-heavy motion graphics, abstract/patterned animation can distinguish it from less sophisticated competitors.
|2D AND 3D COMBINATIONS
After Effects (comes bundled with a lite version of Cinema 4D. This makes it an even more powerful tool for meaningful motion graphics. Sometimes we need to highlight a specific object and elevate it from the flat world of motion graphics. 3D is also great for devices and titles/text. Note: It can greatly increase render times and should be used sparingly. Just a few seconds could take hours to render.
Same as patterns, grain is becoming more popular for one simple reason: better quality screens allow more detail to be seen. Grain can add a subtle “handmade” feel without having to spend money on costly frame-by-frame, hand-drawn animation. After Effects and Photoshop offer numerous filters that can add noise and grain to an image. This look translates great to big screens and high def presentations.
LIVE MOTION GRAPHICS
Facebook and YouTube are both experimenting with live video. And it’s only a matter of time before we can use a similar workflow at sporting events to load motion graphics in real time as the action plays out. Keynotes with branded lower thirds, and demos with live, on screen graphics (like a Q+A pop-up), are some of the ways this could play out. The graphics would be designed ahead of time, but connect to real-time text editors to export and print new information on the screen.
Right now, it’s easy to film a 360 video. A 360 video loaded into a VR headset doesn’t give any context or support deeper understanding of the subject. Motion graphics will be useful in adding that context. Some VR experiences do include on-screen text, and this category will continue to grow.
CSS animation, animated SVGs, and responsive design—creating fluid, organic experiences. Websites are poised to become less like static newspapers and more like immersive, interactive conversations between audience and author.
3D WITHIN WEB EXPERIENCES
3D animation still takes a long time to render, but some off-the-shelf products are making it easy to make lightweight, quickly generated, 3D animations. This can expand the third dimension of websites and turn them into captivating new worlds. Browser-hosted 3D animation can make concepts, devices, and processes clearer to users.
Whatever areas motion graphics expands into, it will continue to be a powerful tool for connecting audiences and ideas. It’s expected that any brand will have a website, and that most websites will have some sort of video. Before long, every website will need to go beyond static information and incorporate motion graphics in their style lexicon.