If you’ve watched a movie, television show, documentary, or vlog, you have probably seen graphics in motion. It can be as simple as a title and a list of names that slip in from either side or as complex as an infographic that dances around the screen. Motion graphics is essentially animated images and text. Movement and sound add interest to the story a video is telling by intensifying the message and capturing the attention of the audience. How many droning, boring PowerPoint presentations have you sat through that would have been vastly improved by some movement and sound?
What Do Motion Graphics Designers Do?
Motion Graphics Designers create the computer animations that bring text and graphics to life on the screen. They often work as part of a video editing team to produce a video, film, television show, documentary, or advertisement. Motion Graphics Designers work in the movie and TV industry, the music business, advertising, and create infographics for businesses and nonprofits, large and small. Motion graphics are most often used in title and credits sequences, as well as sections of videos that explain concepts.
Video Editors take raw footage shot by a Videographer and put the best shots together to tell a particular story. Motion Graphics Designers add special effects to these videos to capture the attention of the audience and enhance the message.
Careers in Motion Graphics
People with motion graphics skills work in the film and television industry, but they can really work for anyone that needs to add animation to videos. Motion Graphics Designers work in advertising, video games, large businesses, small businesses, non-profits, and more. Some land full-time, salaried positions, but many work as freelancers. Jobs in motion graphics pay an annual median salary of $77,700, and the field is projected to grow by 16% by 2030.
A very impressive portfolio of work is the key to getting a job as a Motion Graphics Designer. While it is possible to build a portfolio without going to college, many people who work in the field get bachelor’s degrees in computer animation and art. These degrees require classes in drawing, painting, and sculpture, as well as computer animation and video production. You can also find training programs that offer in-person or online classes covering aspects of motion graphics. Some people start out as Video Editors and then specialize later in their careers. It is also possible to work in jobs as art director, producer, or director.
Important Qualities of Motion Graphics Designers
People who want to pursue a career in motion graphics need some artistic ability and an affinity for technology. They need to be able to interact effectively with clients and meet deadlines. Here are some skills that will put you in a good place for motion graphics:
- Artistic skills - Artistic ability is a must In order to work as a Motion Graphics Designer. You will need to make sketches for storyboards and mockups, and you will also need to translate a client’s ideas into art. Designers should also have a good understanding of color theory, textures, light effects, and typography.
- Computer skills - Motion graphics is all about technology, so designers need a strong technical background and an interest in keeping up with new developments. You will spend most of your time behind a screen, so enjoying that aspect of the job will make it much more fun.
- Communication skills - Whether working alone or as part of a team, Motion Graphics Designers need to talk with clients and/or team members during projects, and get their ideas across effectively. They also need to be able to understand what clients or employers are expecting.
- Time-management skills - The ability to set and meet deadlines is crucial in the film and television industries and other areas where Motion Graphics Designers work. The hours can be long when a project is close to the deadline, and the ability to make and meet realistic schedules is an important part of the job.
Motion Graphics as Part of Video Editing
Motion graphics is part of the larger field of video editing and, as such, it has been around since long before digital photography and video were created. In the early days of editing movies, the film was physically cut, and Editors moved frames around, spliced them into the film, and then made a new physical copy of the whole thing. This was known as linear editing because the Editor worked from the beginning of the film to the end in a line or linear fashion. Motion Graphics Designers at that time created title cards that dropped into the shot or looked like the pages of a book that turned every few seconds. Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Psycho from 1960 is a good example of successful motion graphics before computers. The combination of the movement of the title sequences and the soundtrack foretell the intensity of the film, which is exactly what motion graphics are meant to do.
As digital photography and computers came onto the scene, video editing became a non-linear process. An Editor can look over the raw footage and decide what should go where, and with only a few keystrokes, a different video is created. Another big change for video editing and motion graphics was the introduction of the personal computer along with editing and motion graphics software. These powerful tools became available to anyone with this interest to learn to use them, and this gave rise to the hugely popular video blogging, or vlogging, landscape.
The Video and Motion Graphics Production Process
Video production is a three-part process. The first part is pre-production, where planning takes place, and Video Editors and Motion Graphics Designers might be part of this planning phase. This is where storyboards are created and the general plan of the production is set. The second phase involves shooting the footage, and there is generally no editing or animation in this process. Post-production is where editing and motion graphics come into play. The Editor watches the raw footage, chooses the best frames, and then puts them together to create the story. This is where the Motion Graphics Designer comes in. With the ability to create objects and text and make them move, the Designer adds depth and interest to the finished product.
What is the Difference Between Motion Graphics and Animation?
The difference between motion graphics and animation is a hotly debated topic.
Motion graphics is predominately moving text that may include shapes and images, while animation can include any kind of moving image. More often than not, animation includes characters. Another difference between motion graphics and animation is that the purpose of the graphics is often to grab an audience’s attention or to support the narrative in a video. An animated video tells a story on its own. It can use motion graphics to highlight parts of the story, but the story is recognizable without the graphics. Motion graphics are an addition to a video and are often layered on top of the footage, while animation stands alone. Finally, animation can be either two-dimensional or three-dimensional, while motion graphics are usually two-dimensional, although the ability to create three-dimensional elements is becoming more common.
How Are Motion Graphics Used?
Motion graphics are used any time text is introduced into a video. The most common use is for title sequences at the beginning of a video and credits at the end, but they can also be inserted anywhere in the file. For example, many videos on YouTube, Tik Tok, Instagram, and other social media sites use title graphics at the beginning and sometimes use credits at the end, but are also filled with motion graphics that act as asides, explainers, or corrections to the video content. Sales videos add pricing and ordering information, and videos meant to educate and persuade often insert infographics that move among the footage. Motion graphics are used anytime a person making a video wants to call particular attention to the subject by inserting movement and sound.
Popular Motion Graphics Software
Adobe Creative Cloud
Ever since the introduction of Photoshop in the mid-80s, Adobe Systems, Inc. has been an industry leader in the area of photography, graphic design, and video production. Adobe’s Creative Cloud offers an enormous package of products for all aspects of video editing and motion graphics, including:
- Premiere Pro
- After Effects
- InDesign and more
You can purchase Adobe Premiere Pro on its own, but for a few more dollars a month, you get the whole collection of Adobe editing and graphics products. With Adobe Creative Cloud, you pay a monthly subscription fee after a 7-day free trial. This lets you use Premiere Pro to import video footage, edit it, and upload it to social media sites. Premiere Rush is a version of the software designed to allow you to easily edit video and upload it in a format that works on all devices from smartphones to laptops. After Effects lets you create and insert motion graphics and Audition helps you edit and mix professional-quality sound.
Cinema 4D is a powerful tool for creating 3D graphics and inserting them into videos. It is popular with professional and amateur video editors, freelancers, and vloggers alike, and Maxon offers a free version—Cinema 4D Lite—that has fewer capabilities but is still very useful.
It’s easy to learn motion graphics design and start a new career. Check out Noble Desktop’s motion graphics courses. Choose between in-person sessions in NYC at Noble’s location or sign up for live online motion graphics courses and attend from anywhere. Use Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me to find other courses in motion graphics in your area.