6 Ways to Create a Dynamic Motion Graphic

By November 13, 2019 December 5th, 2019 Design Tips, Motion Graphics, Video Marketing
Illustration of desktop computer showing icons related to motion graphics

Whether you’re creating your first motion graphic or looking for new ways to elevate your video marketing output, it’s not easy to know which design decisions will set your motion graphic up for high engagement and measurable success. After all, the right elements and techniques can take your motion graphic to the next level, and hold your audience’s attention in a sea of distractions.

Video Marketing for Your Audience

In order to choose what’s right for your brand, make sure you know your audience. What defines them? This will impact which kind of story they’ll relate to: 

  • An inspiring adventure
  • A thought-provoking deep dive
  • A fast-paced overview

The same question applies to art style. Depending on your audience, you might choose: 

  • A friendly cartoon
  • Precise, technical line art 
  • Evocative, painterly textures

Regardless of which kind of story structure and art style you choose, the following 6 techniques can keep your audience engaged and motivate them to act on your message.

1. Incorporate Visual Metaphors to Strengthen Meaning

First things first. Motion graphics are a visual medium. Video marketing content needs to entertain while also sending a compelling message. Maybe you want to introduce your company for the first time. Or maybe you need to raise public awareness about an important issue. Either way, high-quality visuals give readers a reason to keep watching. 

A striking visual metaphor can also help readers understand your message. This motion graphic for NPR uses grasshoppers and locusts to portray complex ideas about how humans perceive themselves:

Notice how two distinct color palettes heighten the visual metaphor. Even sound effects and music play a part. Acoustic melody contrasts with dark tones and insect clicks. Two moods collide, but the concept is unified. The right visual metaphor can unite every aspect of your video.

2. Use Dynamic Motion Graphic Transitions

Transitions are more than just the seconds in between your scenes. They’re actually one of the most important elements to your visual story. Why? Because they’re the secret key to dynamic video marketing. 

This motion graphic for Cognizant shows how people use mobile technology while traveling. Its transitions pick up on this theme:

Using the smartphone motif, the transitions mimic zooming in or out on a mobile screen. Shape transitions also link scenes together by transforming one object into another. A hexagon tile transforms into an airplane. A house turns into a map. The result is a motion graphic that always feels like it’s going somewhere. 

3. Think About Camera Movement

Your motion graphic should do more than make objects move on screen. One way to create momentum and keep the viewer engaged is to move the camera. 

This could involve a simple pan across a scene. Or it could incorporate a swooping movement that shows multiple angles. Just keep things moving. Remember, the “point of view” represents your viewer. If you can move them through your story, your motion graphic will have an edge over the competition. 

This motion graphic for Google G Suite is a roller coaster of perspective-shifting. It’s fluid and fast-moving. Above all, it takes the reader on an exciting ride:

4. Show, Don’t Tell

For some types of video marketing, the voiceover will play a large role in communicating your message. And in some cases, you’ll use on-screen text, or a combination of the two. But you should only be incorporating words and text when they’re necessary for elevating and complementing the visuals. A well-made motion graphic, or any other piece of visual content, should be able to get its basic message across without any words at all. Think about it. Would a viewer rather read the words “moon landing,” or watch an astronaut’s boot hitting the dusty surface as stars twinkle in the background? 

This short-form motion graphic is inspired by the Netflix show Stranger Things. Notice how it builds an entire world without voiceover or on-screen text:

Dark shadows and neon light cultivate a moody atmosphere. Texture and detail create depth. The visual callbacks to the show are instantly recognizable to fans. No words needed. 

5. Punctuate Your Motion Graphic with a Visual Motif 

These techniques work whether your motion graphic is data-centric or based on a narrative. A repeating image, shape, or idea can weave scenes together so they tell a satisfying story. Viewers like to see visual links. 

When thinking about how to incorporate a visual motif, keep in mind that you want to create connections without being repetitive. A visual motif can be a particular object or recognizable shape, but it can take other forms as well. 

This motion graphic for GE uses visual motifs to bring a new perspective to the historical Apollo 11 mission:

Of course, the motifs of space exploration are easy to spot. But this motion graphic also repeatedly uses the motif of 2D collage elements: black-and-white photography, print halftoning, and even a coffee-stained paper napkin. Starry skies and rockets share the same screen as graph paper, blueprints, and pencils rolling across a desk. Not only do these touches add a retro look, they also make a story of space exploration feel more personal and down-to-earth. 

6. Establish a Hero Character to Create an Emotional Response

Motion graphics can evoke an emotional response in a variety of ways. One way to get your audience invested in your story is to include a hero character. Like a visual motif, a hero character will appear throughout the video, linking scenes together. A hero character can act as a guide who leads a viewer through complex information. Or the character may be the main focus of the story, giving the audience someone to get to know and empathize with. 

This motion graphic for GeekWire celebrates innovators in technology. It takes a cinematic approach, following a single character from childhood into the future:

Subtle visual changes to the hero show the passage of time. But she’s still easy to recognize as the same person. This ties the narrative together. Motifs of hexagons, leaves, and glowing blue light are repeated, showing how the character sees her world and how she changes it. 

Ultimately, there’s no shortage of choices when it comes to elements and techniques that can take your motion graphic to the next level. The best way to find a winning combination of those elements is to keep your viewers in mind. If you focus on your audience at every step of the creative process, your next motion graphic will not only engage them, but inspire them to action.

Sheridan Prince

Author Sheridan Prince

Sheridan Prince is a content editor for Killer Visual Strategies. She grew up in Indianola, WA, often exploring the woods with a book in her backpack instead of a map. She has a BA in English Writing, a collection of beloved plants, and a passion for concise, evocative communication in all forms. Before joining Killer, Sheridan worked as a content strategist in the sphere of higher education, and as the editor in chief of a journal for emerging authors and artists in the Chicago area. As part of the Killer team, she believes that the keys to crafting powerful stories and forming strong client relationships are to ask the right questions and listen well. On the weekends, she gets her creative fix from watercolor painting and floristry, and gets her fresh air by gardening, hiking the outdoors and learning about the native flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest.

More posts by Sheridan Prince

Leave a Reply