By 2022, 82% of all internet traffic will be comprised of video views, according to Cisco, a multinational telecommunications technology company. Sure, some of these are bound to be Snaps between friends or Facebook videos of that new puppy. But many of them will be content marketing videos, aimed at engaging audiences and compelling them to take an action, make a purchase, or see a concept with fresh eyes.
So how can motion graphics impact your content marketing strategy? Why are “motion graphic” and “video” used as sometimes distinct, sometimes interchangeable terms? How do you choose which type of video (or motion graphic) is right for you? And how can you create one that will engage your audience and achieve your goals?
We know you have plenty of questions, so let’s get right to it. Whether you’re a marketer, a C-suite exec, or a brand builder, this is your complete guide to understanding motion graphics and video.
Motion Graphics vs. Video: Is There a Difference?
You may have seen the terms “motion graphic” and “video” used interchangeably. There is 1 key quality that can distinguish them, though:
Live-Action with Animation Overlay
A “Slideshow” Progression of Photos/Images
A Combination of any 2 or More of the Above Techniques
The bottom line? Every motion graphic is a video, because a video can use any of the above techniques, including being solely live-action. That said, not every video is a motion graphic, because a motion graphic can’t be solely live-action.
When to Use Motion Graphics and Video
How do you know whether a motion graphic is the right choice for your visual content? The decision comes down to a combination of factors, including what audience(s) you’re trying to reach, potential use cases, and your vision of success for the content.
Here are just a few of the many reasons you might choose to make a motion graphic.
You Want to Fully Curate the User Experience
When looking at a static infographic, viewers can skim to pick and choose what they prefer to look at and learn about. The same is true in a piece of interactive content, where details are often just a click or hover away.
With a motion graphic, it’s true that viewers could fast-forward or rewind, skip sections, etc. But that’s not how most people interact with video. Coming into a voiceover mid-word, or seeing the remnants of an image just as it’s fading off the screen, is a jarring experience.
This means that as long as your video is both brief and engaging enough, a viewer will probably just watch the video from beginning to end. If they do that, they’re likely to see and hear everything you wanted them to. This is a great fit for organizations that are trying to tell a complete story, or that may need a little more time to explain the value of their product or service.
Luckily, well-crafted motion graphics and videos are so effective at keeping audiences’ attention, you’re likely to be successful in getting your story across. According to Wistia, videos up to 2 minutes in length have a strong viewing completion rate of around 70%.
You Want to Increase Engagement and Conversions
Let’s say your marketing efforts have been falling flat. People are bouncing from your landing page, or just not following through to convert. Perhaps they’re not able to understand at a glance what your company does, how, or why. Or maybe your site doesn’t stand out from the competition. For any of these concerns, video could be the answer.
If you’re looking to see real results from your marketing spend, investing in high-quality videos and/or motion graphics as part of your overall content strategy could be the answer.
You Want to Draw Attention at an Expo Booth
You’ve seen basic conference booths that feature brochures and business cards on a display table. You’ve also seen the ones with TV screens showing dynamic, fast-paced animation. Which ones looked more exciting to visit? We’re willing to bet the booths incorporating video sparked more interest. But not just any video will work in this environment.
It’s been found that 85% of videos posted to Facebook are watched on mute. But 76% of Facebook video ads also relied on sound to communicate their message — meaning marketers aren’t optimizing their content for the ways people are truly engaging with it.
What does this have to do with a booth? Think of the huge crowds and noisy ambiance of a trade show or exposition hall. You’re surrounded by conversations, overhead announcements, and the general din of a high-attendance event. Is that an ideal environment for a video that depends on audio components to be understood? Definitely not.
If you design your motion graphic for its use case, you’ll find optimal ways to tell the story in its viewing environment.
The 3 Types of Motion Graphics
Videos can achieve success no matter what kind of story you want to tell.
Yet the intended effect of nearly all motion graphics can be distilled into 3 main categories. Whether you want to motivate the audience to take action; describe the details of your company, product, or service; or drive sales first and foremost, there’s a type of motion graphic best suited for your story.
Emotive Videos Move the Audience to Feel Something
The primary aim of these videos is to elicit a powerful, emotional response from the viewer. This could be a positive or negative experience, depending on the root of your story. Regardless, upon watching your video, a viewer should be driven by that emotion to take a specific action.
Explainer Videos Help Define a Concept, Product, or Service
To simplify a concept, explainer videos distill the essence of that concept into a clear picture. This approach is often the right choice when your story is highly detailed, technical, or involves many steps to complete or explain.
Promotional Videos Help Sell a Product, Service, or Event
Driving conversions is the ultimate goal for a promotional video. This type of video or motion graphic is often more recognizable as a sales piece than the other categories. Any details that help motivate a viewer to a purchase decision should be positioned front and center in these videos.
You can read more about the 3 types of motion graphics and when to use them in our free ebook.
The Making of a Motion Graphic
The process of creating a motion graphic is multifaceted, but every step has a key purpose that contributes to a successful end product. Here’s what to expect.
Any creative project should begin with a kickoff meeting. This can take place on the phone, over video conference, or in-person. However it’s hosted, it should be live. A kickoff is an irreplaceable step in ensuring that client and vendor, department head and in-house team, or whoever is engaging in the work, discusses key goals and mandatories in real time.
The information exchanged during this meeting would take far more time to gather over email. Yet, even if those details were efficiently squared away by written exchange, emails also don’t allow for the level of rapport-building that hearing real voices — and ideally, seeing real faces — affords in a working relationship. In fact, MIT ranks face-to-face interactions as the most effective form of communication; these are followed by video conference and phone communication. So plan to have at least a phone call, if a video chat or in-person meeting aren’t feasible for your kickoff.
Scripting and Scene Direction
Often the first deliverable in the production of a video, the script and scene direction are highly important — and interdependent. First, some quick definitions:
- Script: Voiceover and/or onscreen text
- Scene direction: Written descriptions of what will be shown on-screen during each part of the script
Since the content and storyline are the backbone of any video or motion graphic, it’s best for scripting and scene direction to be a highly collaborative process.
The team producing the work will need to elicit feedback from key stakeholders on the client side. They’ll also probably involve as much of their own production team as possible during this phase. That means getting designers, content writers, researchers, animators, and project managers all in one room to brainstorm and plan. This approach ensures that the storyline touches upon key messages, is engaging, and plays well with the design and animation styles to come.
Upon approval of the scripting and scene direction, the team moves on to storyboarding. In this phase, the script and scene direction are combined with sketches that help bring them to life.
Depending on a number of factors, including budget, timeline, and chosen production process, the sketches may vary in complexity. They may be displayed scene-by-scene alongside the script and scene-direction notes. Or they may be animated, with very rough cuts of sound direction and/or voiceover to show timing.
Likewise, in some scenarios, this may be the first time that key art direction elements like colors, fonts, and illustration style are proposed — unless those decisions were established upfront.
In whatever form it takes, the storyboard gives the team something visual to react to. It ensures that the scene direction described in the previous phase is fully getting its message across. What’s happening on-screen is essential to telling the story in a way that engages your target audience — and you must keep them top-of-mind when reviewing. Personal preferences can come into play when reviewing any deliverable. But at the end of the day, your motion graphic needs to resonate with your audience more than anyone else.
As is the case at the scripting stage — and every stage in the motion-graphic production process — you’ll probably want to revise your storyboard at least once based on feedback to make sure you’re on the right track. If feedback is minimal, you may be able to move straight into the artwork phase, and incorporate feedback then.
Developing the artwork for a motion graphic is generally more time-intensive than any of the previous steps on their own. All the revisions and approvals up to this point — on script, scene direction, sketches, and art direction — have ensured that the project is on the right path. Together, they add up to a sign-off that the team can now invest significant time into production.
Whether your creative team delivers 1 fully illustrated scene for you to give feedback on, more than a few, or the complete set of artwork for your motion graphic will be determined by many of the same factors as your storyboard’s format. No approach is wrong, so long as it’s thoroughly communicated and understood by all parties.
That’s because once your motion graphic enters animation, any changes to what’s being shown will require not 1, but 2 time-consuming stages of editing: artwork edits, then animation edits. This can compromise deadlines and budgets. So always ensure that the artwork for your motion graphic meets your benchmarks for success before giving the thumbs-up to start animation.
Visuals aren’t the only component of your video. The script developed at the start of the production process will often include a voiceover. This isn’t always the case — if your video is being developed for viewing on mute, the words may be communicated as on-screen text instead. But if your motion graphic is designed to be played with the volume up, a recorded voiceover may be 1 component of the sound in your video.
Selecting the right voiceover artist is critical to perfecting the overall tone of your video. The voiceover must appeal to your target audience, and it must match the art direction — which was also tailored to that audience. Should the narration of your story be lean and professional, or whimsical and exciting? Should you opt for a youthful sound, or a mature voice? Low tones or high tones? Your production team will lead the way in sending you only the examples that will appeal to your audience, so that you can make an informed choice.
The animation phase is the final step in the visual design of your motion graphic. By this point, you’re confident and excited about the script, scene direction, art direction, and artwork.
Among the most commonly requested elements to include in motion graphics is character animation. Some illustration styles are suited to character animation, but others are not — so whether you’re going to include animated characters must be decided early on. Your production team should discuss options for this with you at the style guide and/or storyboard phase, and again as artwork begins. Moving from a style that doesn’t support character animation to one that does will definitely increase budget if it’s not requested until the artwork stage or later. Again, the team you’re working with should discuss all of this with you as early as the kickoff and/or scripting stages.
As you watch the artwork come to life in animated scenes, you can suggest a variety of changes. But when you’re not an animator yourself, it can be difficult to know which changes are relatively easy to make, and which are more involved. Ask your creative partner to explain the scope of different types of changes so you can stick to your timeline and budget.
Custom Score and Sound Design
Up to this point in the process, your motion graphic has a carefully crafted script and scene direction, custom-made artwork, and unique animations. So why spoil all that custom work with stock music and uninspired sound design?
Your score and sound design should punctuate and emphasize your message. Even if your video will often be played on silent (such as at an expo booth), if it will ever be viewed in a sound-friendly setting, these custom details will only enhance the impact. A disharmonious score and clunky sound design are far worse than no score or sound at all.
To learn more about crafting the audioscape of your motion graphic or video, read this fundamental guide to motion graphic music and sound design from Killer’s president and chief creative officer, Josh Miles.
Ready to Make a Motion Graphic?
If you’ve made it this far, you’re clearly excited about the potential of motion graphics and video to transform your content marketing and internal communication efforts. We’re excited, too!
To find inspiration for your next motion graphic project, check out our motion graphics portfolio:
Looking for a creative partner to help you produce a motion graphic that engages, inspires, and converts? Reach out to us today.