What are Motion Graphics | Moburst

Motion Graphics – Explanation & Examples

Avatar Jess Ailion | 27.8.21

Motion graphics, like 2D animation or Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), is a type of animation. It’s commonly used in marketing for its ability to highlight particular actions on an app or website, to bring static images to life, emphasize call-to-actions and generally make textual and static graphic elements, anywhere, more engaging.

Without even realizing it, you will see examples of motion graphics nearly every time you use your computer, smartphone or watch TV. Do you ever enter the wrong password and watch the password box shake before “incorrect password” appears on your screen? That’s motion graphics. Do you ever make it to the very end of a TV show when the rolling title credits appear? That’s motion graphics.

What are Motion Graphics? 

Motion graphics transform static graphic design with animation and movement, e.g. spinning a logo or making titles pop. It usually refers to shapes, objects or text that are set in motion. Motion graphics can also be combined with audio, e.g. music or voice-over narration. It’s a great means of communication and a great way to tell a story with depth. 

Motion graphics sit somewhere between animation and graphic design on the spectrum, but are generally considered a type of animation. The goal of motion graphics is to use graphic or animated texts to display information for a specific communication purpose. In a nutshell, it’s graphics in movement.

Motion graphics goes beyond typography, illustration and fine art into branding, advertising, marketing and 3D visualisation. Interested in motion graphics for your brand? Our in-house animation experts from our Video Production Team can help. 

Motion Graphics vs. Animation

The endless debate: what’s the difference between motion graphics and animation? Simply put, motion graphics is a type of animation. It’s a particular category that falls under the animation umbrella. Motion graphics refers more specifically to animated graphic design, whereas animation refers to the whole umbrella of moving imagery – any technique that takes static images and shows them in a sequence to give the illusion of movement, e.g. cartoons, anime, claymation, CGI, etc. 

Motion graphics is known for bringing objects, text and static graphic design elements to life with motion. These elements could be anything from an infographic to a graph or logo. The aim is usually to highlight something particular, either a marketing message, a new feature, a call-to-action, etc. On the other hand, other types of animation have more potential to be storytelling art or cinematic productions, such as stop motion or CGI. An animated human character is generally considered animation, whereas a moving word or logo is considered motion graphics. 

Animation is more expensive than motion graphics because it’s often more complicated and time consuming to produce. CGI and stop-motion, for example, require intense skill and time. Motion graphics come into the picture when the video doesn’t need to tell a story, but just make a specific point or perform a particular purpose. 

Motion graphics has traditionally been used in marketing because of its ability to present your products or services in the most memorable, engaging way possible. It uses visuals to help explain complex concepts. 

Motion graphics comes from the world of design, where it needs to serve a purpose and have a function – in this case delivering a specific message – whereas animation comes more from the art world, where its purpose is to entertain and tell a story. That’s not to say there can’t be overlaps between the two. Often, explainer videos combine the two.

Motion graphics features abstract objects, shapes, forms, etc. Animation features more characters and stories. 

The two biggest differentiations between animation and motion graphics are the finance and narrative. Animation has a much stronger narrative focus where motion graphics has much stronger focus on bringing static elements to life with a commercial purpose. You’ll find animation more commonly in films. 

How to Create Motion Graphics

As with any element of your marketing strategy, there are do’s and don’ts for achieving the most success. Keep reading to discover our list of best practices when it comes to making motion graphics. 

Identify Your Main Message

First thing’s first, you’ve got to identify your main message(s) and go from there. Ask yourself how you can convey the message using expressive motion? You’ve not got characters or narration to help you, so how else can you make a static object seem alive in a way that both seems fitting to the overall branding and is compelling. Consider incorporating visual metaphors to help you. 

Consider the Details

Then, you’ve got to take into account the smaller details that are easy to forget. For example, when you’re adding movement to text and getting it to either move around the screen or appear and then disappear, you have to ensure it stays still for long enough for it to be read. In order to make the content digestible each bit of text needs enough time to be read and understood/ processed. If you don’t factor this in, you’ll miss the chance to deliver the message and add a sense of chaos to the content. 

Rhythm

Another thing to think about is the rhythm of the motion graphics. How fast or slow do you want the movements to be? Where do you want your elements to move across/ sit when you add motion to them? You don’t want everything to be the same speed, all move in the same direction or end up sitting in the same place. The more you think about these things and synchronize them with the overall vibe, the more polished your motion graphics will seem. You need to combine the visual, audio and motion elements together for a seamless and high quality produced video. 

Think about what each type of movement connotes, and what space you want to leave empty and what space you want to fill. Naturally, slower movement has connotations of calm and peacefulness, whereas fast movements and lots of them portray a higher energy. Often, a good motion graphics video combines both to strike the perfect balance and to highlight certain elements. The parts you want to highlight should be the higher energy parts. Whatever you decide, make every decision with intention. 

Programs

To create motion graphics, you can use software such as Cinema 4D, Adobe After Effects, and more. The program you choose will largely depend on budget and personal preference. Here at Moburst, we’re fans of Adobe After Effects to create our client motion graphics. 

Goals

Just like any other marketing strategies, when beginning to strategize for your motion graphics videos you need to establish your goals. These goals will inform the messaging of the video, and help you measure the success in the end. Which device you’re creating the video for will determine some of the goals since user habits differ across devices. What is the best length for a social media video – at what point in the video do users tend to drop off? You need to deliver the message beforehand. At what point are users most engaged? 

Motion Graphics Examples

Motion graphics has been used on the TV for decades, long before it found its way to the online world (or online was even a thing). It’s used to deliver the branding of TV channels, to highlight upcoming shows and specials, to deliver weather forecasts and much more. You wouldn’t recognize a TV experience today without the inclusion of motion graphics. 

Other examples of motion graphics include drop down menus on websites, the swipe right feature on Tinder, moving logos and title credits at the end of films.

Beyond that, motion graphics is now used when building apps and websites to provide a better, more straightforward user experience and to strengthen the interface. 

Motion graphics excels on social media, whether that is on an ad that tells a story or an animated Instagram post intended to stand out. 

How to Use Motion Graphics in Marketing?

You’ve got a complex, abstract idea and you need to explain it in the most engaging, easy-to-understand way. This is where motion graphics is your friend. In just a few seconds, you can use motion graphics to clearly explain what would otherwise be unexplainable with a static image. 

In the social media/ digital era, where the number of shoppers who are influenced to make their final purchase decision by online videos sits at 92%, motion graphics are the perfect means of engaging them. They work well on social media and in more traditional advertising such as TV ads. Because of this, motion graphics can help you achieve a higher ROI and strengthen your branding. 

You probably have your static branding down – your logo, website color scheme and layout, etc. But what about making it even more exciting, and still on brand, with motion? Motion graphics allows you to do this while maintaining the same color schemes and branding in every aspect. 

Motion graphics can be effective at delivering a commercial message at a fraction of the cost of other forms of video marketing such as animation or live action videos. 

What is the Role of a Motion Graphics Designer?

It’s pretty self explanatory. A motion graphics designer is the person responsible for adding the motion to static graphics, whether that’s spinning logos, moving words across the screen or making numbers appear to jump out. 

Motion graphics designers must be on top of current design trends to inform their work, and combine that with their technical skills and personal creativity in order to be successful. Their job requires brainstorming concepts, creating storyboards and the final videos. 

FAQs

What is motion graphics?

Motion graphics transform static graphic design with animation and movement, e.g. spinning a logo or making titles pop. It usually refers to shapes, objects or text that are set in motion. 

How to create motion graphics?

In order to create successful motion graphics, you must consider:
1. Your main message – what are you trying to convey?
2. The details – does this movement highlight a particular action button long enough to increase conversion?
3. Branding – does this motion graphics fit into the brand’s overall aesthetic? 
4. Rhythm – do the visual, audio and motion elements all work together seamlessly?
5. Goals – what do you want to achieve with each movement? 

How is motion graphics different from animation?

Motion graphics is a branch of the larger animation tree, it’s a particular type of animation. Animation is an umbrella term under which motion graphics falls, among many other categories. 

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