01 Dec 2022
Motion Graphics for Filmmakers [Guide]
If your skills lie solely in filmmaking, the world of motion graphics can feel daunting. However, when used effectively, motion graphics can add an impressive element to your film, transforming your work from intermediate to advanced. Graphics can add significant depth to your story, help to explain complicated concepts, and above all, keep your viewer engaged and entertained throughout.
With the help of this guide, you will develop a solid understanding of what motion graphics are, the different types of motion graphics, and how you can incorporate them into your filmmaking. For those looking to boost their skill set, look no further!
If you’re a filmmaker looking to include eye-catching motion graphics into your work, understanding their definition is crucial. Motion graphics involves graphics that move, and can often be referred to as Graphics in Movement, or Motion Design. Motion graphics transform graphic design that would otherwise be static.
Different elements such as acceleration and speed are used to achieve this, and these variables can be set using keyframes on your timeline. Inserting motion graphics offers a whole range of impressive advantages: it can transform the viewing experience by inserting humour, creating powerful narratives or visualising complex data and text.
When it comes to motion graphics, there is an abundance of specialised programmes and tools available to help create seamless animation and movement on-screen. Here at Frender, we’re here to give you insights into the incredible world of motion graphics, how to recognise different visual effects, and how to create your own incredible sequences.
From commercials to news reports, motion graphics can be found everywhere. With today’s extensive catalogue of motion graphic styles and trends, we want to also share our very favourite examples.
Recognising the differences between visual effects and motion graphics is an important part of understanding the post-production process. Whilst there are clear differences between visual effects and motion graphics, both concepts intersect when creating movies, music videos and commercials. As specialists in VFX here at Frender, we are always on hand to provide consultation on any project you may have, so feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.
Whilst some filmmakers may think visual effects and motion graphics are the same, they are in fact very different. As previously mentioned, motion graphics means animated graphic design. Combined with additional elements such as text and music, motion graphics can add a captivating level of depth to your film.
Meanwhile, visual effects (often abbreviated to VFX) use existing footage with computer-generated images to create realistic sequences. This means that animation is inserted into real-life footage. An example of this could be adding an explosion to a building, adjusting a skyline or removing a body part. With visual effects, the possibilities are endless!
Starting a motion graphics project can feel daunting, especially when your skills lie solely in filmmaking. However, having an established background in filmmaking sets you in good stead to learn motion graphics quickly. There are various stylistic and practical considerations to make when creating and inserting animated graphics.
For example, consider at which points of your film motion graphics will have the most impact. If your film features voice-over or music, consider making your graphics appear, move or disappear in correspondence. You should also consider the amount of motion graphics you wish to insert: less can often be more in the world of graphic design.
To make things easier, we’ve compiled our top five tips to help you incorporate dazzling graphics into your films. Our variety of technical and practical advice is sure to provide you with a solid foundation to get started.
Before beginning your project, think carefully about what the end goal of your film is. Establishing what you want to achieve with the addition of motion graphics at the start will enable you to stick to the plan throughout. If you’re working on a team, ensure to brief your colleagues on your creative vision, tone and story involved for the film too. How do you want viewers to feel after they’ve watched the film? What do you want them to do afterwards? For example, you might your viewer to click through to a website or be inspired to search for a topic.
Motion graphics is an excellent solution to increase engagement with your film, so be sure to consider these important questions beforehand.
When creating motion graphics, a simple yet highly effective tip to consider is to colour code your clips when organising your media. When there are multiple layers sitting on your timeline, it can get confusing. Using simple colouring can categorise your clips and make them easily distinguishable from each other, particularly when you pick your composition up after a few days away from your screen.
This may seem like an obvious step, but it is something even the most advanced filmmakers can forget. Whilst After Effects does remind you to save often, we recommend enabling its own AutoSave feature by clicking on Preferences and then AutoSave. In general, when working on your graphics, get into the good habit of pressing Ctrl/Cmnd+S to frequently save your work. This prevents you from making the mistake of losing hours of work when your computer crashes. We highly recommend saving at least every 30 minutes to avoid disaster.
There are plenty of quality design programmes available to create high-quality graphics, such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. Improving your illustration skills is key to creating the best graphics. For a motion designer, practice makes perfect, so get into the habit of creating illustrations often. This could even include sketching and drawing in real life: get out and about for inspiration!
When it comes to motion graphics, it is more impactful to include a few well-done graphics in your film, rather than trying to fit many graphics in Often, it helps to take a ten-minute break from your screen and come back to your work afterwards. A fresh pair of eyes always helps, and so if you have a friend or family member who can look at your film to give constructive feedback, ensure to reach out to them to help! You might have missed a crucial jump cut, but the speed or style of your motion graphics might also need some critical feedback.
When it comes to high-quality software for creating motion graphics, look no further than Adobe After Effects. This advanced software enables you to animate titles, logos and backgrounds into dynamic compositions. A major advantage of using Adobe software is that it enables you to import files from Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro. The ability to seamlessly bridge between projects makes your animation process even smoother. Cinema 4D is also an intuitive motion graphics interface, offering flexible and powerful software to create stunning sequences.
We’ve compiled some of our favourite motion graphics that are nothing short of inspiring for filmmakers looking to boost their animation skills. The variety of industries, messages and tones of voice in the below examples demonstrates how no matter what content you are looking to create, motion graphics always make a versatile addition.
This catchy film by Google provides a stunning example of how motion graphics can visualise complex processes into digestible visual stories. In this example, Google uses bold primary colours and simple shapes to make the concepts of data and storage look appealing and watchable.
This moving film by Childline provides a perfect demonstration of how motion graphics can be used to enhance your storytelling abilities. The film is tackling a sensitive subject and effectively uses smooth animation, text and slow movement to portray a sombre yet captivating tone that keeps the viewer engaged throughout.
This compelling film demonstrates how visuals can be combined with motion graphics to add engaging elements. In this instance, the film’s goal is to explain a process to the viewer, and motion graphics do this perfectly.
Reddit’s vibrant blend of motion graphics is an exceptional effort. This example provides some perfect inspiration for filmmakers wanting to use motion graphics to promote a new website or mobile application. Reddit also shows us that alongside smooth keyframes, bright colours are everything!
With this handy guide, you can take your films to the next level and incorporate motion graphics into your next project. For help advancing your motion graphics, get in touch with our expert team at Frender and we’ll be happy to help you.