A Motion Graphic Composer Abroad

Think about your favorite movie of all time. What does it sound like? We’re willing to bet that the soundtrack and the ambient music playing throughout the movie made a huge difference in how you felt from the opening scenes to the closing credits. That’s why it’s no surprise that original music can have a huge impact on how viewers react to a video or motion graphic.


Daniel L.K. Caldwell has composed original scores for several of Killer Infographics’ most successful motion graphics. Now, Daniel is on the road, somewhere in the middle of a three-month trek across three Asian countries. So we thought this would be a great opportunity to introduce some of Daniel’s work, and explain why we think original scores can make a good motion graphic great.

Read on to hear some of Daniel’s music, to watch videos featuring his work, and to learn how his travels have influenced his work as a motion graphic composer.

A Few Examples of Daniel’s Work

One of Daniel’s first videos from Hong Kong offers up a powerful example of just how well music can set the pace for a video:

Music is just as powerful when it comes to setting the pace and tone in motion graphics, and Daniel has proven to be very versatile. He’s committed to finding the right sound for every piece. Here’s just one example of his motion graphic work, a video for the 2014 GeekWire Awards. Bright, inspiring tones evoke the innovation for which Seattle is famous in this motion graphic:

Another video about the history of vaccines features a subtle crescendo inspiring a sense of discovery and, eventually, of hope. Meanwhile, a piece for Cognizant features an energy and momentum that will naturally inspire excitement in any viewer — and that’s pretty useful if you’re trying to get viewers excited about your product.

Here’s another example from Daniel’s portfolio, which you can check out for yourself at daniellkcaldwell.com:

A Motion Graphic Composer Abroad: Q&A

Daniel has just moved on to Japan, but we caught up with him while he was still in Hong Kong to ask him a few questions.

Q: Where have you traveled so far, and where will your trip take you?

Daniel: I’ve spent almost two weeks in Hong Kong so far and I’m going to be heading over to Japan next month (October), followed by Vietnam in November.

Q: What drew you to travel to these places?

Daniel: I’ve always had a love for Japan (half Japanese and grew up with Japanese culture/food). And I wanted to do a trip in that incorporated different parts of Asia. Hong Kong was attractive partially because English is very common here. And it also is just an incredibly exciting city. Lots to do and see.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the music you compose, and how you approach creating music that truly complements a video’s aesthetic and message?

Daniel: Since I’ve started working as a commercial composer, I’ve had to write a large variety of different styles of music. It all depends on the specific project and the emotion the client wants to represent. Based on that, I decide what type of mood, timbre, instrumentation, and overall impression I want to relay.

Q: Has your travel influenced your music, and if so, how?

Daniel: So far my travel has influenced my music in that, I want to write more in my free time. I’m finding myself itching to write more. Mostly just for fun, which is a good feeling to have.

Why Use an Original Score in Your Motion Graphic?

As our Motion Director and Digital Producer, Josh Miles, explains, original compositions ensure that a motion graphic has the exact tone, rhythm, and pacing required for maximum impact.

“Stock music can sound generic, and generic sounds cheap,” Josh says. “If the viewer thinks you’ve skimped on quality, they’ll then question the content in your video — and this undermines the story you are trying to tell. Music composed specifically for your motion graphic will add new narrative levels, rounding out the viewing experience, legitimizing the argument your video makes.”

Josh Miles

Author Josh Miles

Josh Miles is president and chief creative officer at Killer Visual Strategies. After a youth spent in the farmlands of NW Washington, he moved to Seattle to study English and philosophy, during which time he developed a passion for storytelling and narratology. He put this passion to work with a Seattle-based film production company, working on multiple award-winning productions before joining Killer Visual Strategies (then called Killer Infographics) in 2012. He has since held numerous positions within the company, always driven by the passion to craft visual communication that helps clients better connect with their audiences. He now works with the executive and creative teams to define Killer’s creative and strategic vision for the future, while also meeting with clients and project teams to identify creative solutions and build lasting partnerships.

More posts by Josh Miles

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