The Nuance of Motion Design

By January 8, 2018 February 6th, 2018 Design Tips, Motion Graphics, Visual Communication
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The numbers continue to show how motion graphics help brands drive growth. They can increase conversions by 80%, help business grow revenue 49% faster, and connect with your audiences at a deeper level. For an in-depth look at the ROI of motion graphics, check out this postBut not just any motion graphic will do — to truly hold your audience’s attention, it’s important to consider the craft behind your video’s creation.

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There are 2 core components of most any motion graphic: Visual and audio. The visual can be separated into artwork and animation; audio is a blend of voiceover, music, and sound design. A successful motion graphic strikes balance amongst these elements, to deliver a narrative that informs, delights, and moves to action. This requires continuous mindfulness of how every little decision will impact tone, mood, and pacing.

Visual
For artwork, it’s important to consider who your audience is, and how they interact with your brand. Are they young? Old? Location-specific? Do they work in a B2B environment? Are they potential donors to your non-profit? Every audience has a unique set of motivations and desires, and the artwork you produce can connect with them at a very fundamental level.

For example, if you are creating a motion graphic to sell a SaaS platform that simplifies a complex task for your clients, consider an art direction that focuses on simple abstract imagery with plenty of empty space. This will make the process seem simpler, like your platform will transform  your audience’s stress into a calm and enjoyable experience.

With animation, small decisions can create huge impact on how your audience feels. Will your audience respond better to a fast-paced, hard-hitting visual style where art elements are constantly moving around? Or does your story require slower pacing, allowing the artwork to more calmly resolve into scenes, inviting the audience to pause and reflect? For either direction, choices on framerate, velocity, cuts, transitions, easing, and timing should all be made intentionally.

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Audio
Audio is often the unsung hero of motion graphics. Voiceover can draw your audience in and build a lasting relationship; music can set the mood, as well as complement the narrative structure of your motion graphic; sound design can tie all the elements of narrative together, applying a layer of cohesion and ambience that can unify elements.

For voiceover, it’s crucial to consider what sort of narrator your audience wants: male or female, old or young, authoritative or conversational. When it comes to voiceover production, work with your audio engineer on technical details. Should the voiceover be filled out at the low-end, and employ reverb to make the audience feel towered over, as if being lectured? Or should the voiceover feel intimate and soft, almost like the audience is being told a secret? Your voiceover talent and audio engineer have an incredible amount of power to create feeling in your story.

Music must always match and enhance the mood and pacing of your motion graphic. It’s important that your composer has an in-depth understanding of your goals, audience, and vision. Light, acoustic, and upbeat instrumentation will create an inviting and uplifting environment, whereas ambient, electronic tones will often establish a darker, more urgent mood. Whatever musical direction your motion graphic requires, your composer must always compose a track that builds energy at key moments and allows for softness and reflection after.

Sound design is one of the most versatile tools in your motion graphic toolbox. It can be used to create ambient sound — filling out a scene with noises like wind in the trees, cars passing on a street, or passersby engaged in conversation — or to draw the eye to key pieces of animation, such as an icon animating into the frame, or a button being clicked on a web form. Just like music, sound design can create either an inviting and upbeat atmosphere or a moody, subdued environment. Just like your composer and audio engineer, your sound designer must have a thorough understanding of the goals of the motion graphic, in order to build an audio environment that engages your audience and always furthers your story.

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A successful motion graphic always strikes balance, creating an audio/visual experience that engages the eyes and ears, and delights the viewer. Focusing too much or too little on any one piece can cause the narrative to unravel, and your audience to lose interest. Remember – every single decision should be made in consideration of who your audience is and what you want them to think.

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.

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