The Cunning and Continuing Power of Motion Design

The Cunning and Continuing Power of Motion Design

Discover why motion design is here to say, and the basics you need to know in order to start growing your own motion skills.

In the Before Times, motion design was already in ascendency and had been for quite some time. However, when the pandemic hit, as other design disciplines started to falter with projects shuttered and contracts cancelled, motion just kept on soaring. But why? And, will it keep going? And, if it does, should you care?

Thankfully, even total newcomers to 3D design, animation, user interface design, and more can grasp the essentials and start building their skills today. As the field continues to grow and innovate, motion designers will find new—and better—opportunities to demonstrate just how useful motion can be.

The Shift Toward Motion Design and Animation

Motion design and animation have been around for a long time. However, it often seemed like they were either an afterthought—crammed into a project at the last minute. Or, if you did intentionally include motion design in a project, to get something of quality was so expensively prohibitive that you’d need to remortgage the house. And, the neighbor’s.

Pre-pandemic (remember that?), things had started to shift. Motion was already rising to the challenge of more demanding needs, especially—as with everything these days—the continuing rise of social media. Once the preserve of blockbuster movies and VJ screens with Glastonbury-sized budgets, motion is now being reinvented for the masses through the lens of Instagram and TikTok.

I mean, let’s be honest, most of it isn’t much better than Clippy of Microsoft Office fame. But still, it’s clear that you don’t need millions of dollars to create something that holds people’s interest.

Motion Design in PracticeMotion design is now possible with the most simple of tools, which opens its possibilities to more and more people. Image via FrameStockFootages.

When COVID-19 stalled the world, movies didn’t escape. So, the only way to express creativity through movement was with motion design. Whereas before, producers would turn to videography, given mixing with people was strictly off limits, motion designers were instead called upon to fill the void.

This confluence of social clips, filters, and ephemeral content at one end, versus high-end motion design at the other, has led to a world of rich possibilities and choices, with styles, aesthetics, and budgets to meet everybody’s needs. And, now that the public has a taste for the power and delight of motion design, there’s no going back.

Looking to the Future of Motion Design

Smartphone 3D Cyclist Create 3D objects with just your iPhone. Image via Rocksweeper.

In the future, we can fully expect to see motion appearing in places that pre-pandemic wouldn’t have seemed possible, or “correct,” and created by individuals who previously may have had little skill or interest in the subject.

For example, this week Apple revealed its latest crop of new developer tools. One tool has the ability to create 3D objects on-the-fly using only your iPhone. You can then manipulate them to your heart’s content, including via animation.

Think about it. We now live in a world where you can take pictures of a real-world object, convert that into a vector, and use that to create motion pieces that wouldn’t look out of place in the studios of professional motion designers. Mind. Blown.

What This Means for Creators

Character DesignAlmost anything is possible through the medium of motion design. Image via Chaosamran_Studio.

For the discipline itself, this is a massive boon. Motion designers have never been busier, and there are no signs of it slowing any time soon. As a designer, if you’ve been thinking about adding another string to your bow, you can do a lot worse than looking into motion. Animating logos, character animation, building entire fictional worlds—the breadth of motion design knows no bounds.

For creators, the continuing democratization of motion design tools is yet another way of expressing yourself, capturing people’s attention, and delivering experiences that are beyond what audiences expect. It’s never been easier, and as we’ve already discovered, could quite soon be as simple as owning a smartphone.

For business owners, motion is yet another way of communicating your values, goals, and aspirations. It’s almost expected that motion will turn up in more creative industries, but for less obvious professions—lawyers, opticians, etc.—motion is as useful in these disciplines as it is anywhere else.

And, it doesn’t need to be superfluous content either. Serious motion graphics, such as in a medical setting, perhaps explaining to patients how a procedure is conducted before going under the knife, or guidelines for how to look after yourself back home post-op, absolutely has a place and is increasingly becoming more commonplace.

Diagrams and charts to support a presentation or a promotional piece, titles and overlays to give context to a video, or interactive, dynamic, and (yes) fun marketing content, splash screens, and intro pieces are all valid use cases for motion design.

Why Motion Will Stick Around

3D Rocket Don’t let the nay-sayers fool you. Motion design is here to stay. Image via babycat23.

As humans, we get bored easily, and we’re constantly on the lookout for new, shiny things. Especially, it turns out, things that move.

When Facebook talks about the need to create “thumb-stopping creative,” that increasingly means seeking out motion design to break through the monotony of the feed. The beauty is, in a world that’s upside-down right now, the rules aren’t what they used to be. In fact, more and more, there are no rules. To that end, using motion in unexpected and imaginative ways is something almost anybody should be considering, no matter where you work or what you’re wanting to communicate.

Despite all this excitement, some say that motion design is still too expensive, or that it takes too long to create, or that it’s not needed and doesn’t play a serious role in how we communicate our ideas. Frankly, some are wrong. As designers we all love working on print for the sheer novelty of it. However, the world has moved on, both due to the technology and capabilities we now have at our fingertips, and because world events demanded it.

I bet that if you walked out onto the street (perish the thought), or looked through your many feeds (more likely, let’s be honest), it wouldn’t be that long before you found an example of motion design. It’s exciting. It opens up otherwise entirely impossible possibilities. It’s dynamic. It has enumerable applications. And, it’s here to stay.

I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love an animated paperclip?

Not ready to stop learning? Check out more design elements with these inspiring articles:

6 Summer Color Palettes We’re Loving That Aren’t YellowIncorporating Fabric Backdrops into Outdoor Portrait PhotographyThe Rise of Minimalist Illustrations: Why We’re Attracted to SimplicityPantone Colors: What They Are and How to Use ThemMake Photos Look Vintage in Photoshop, Pixlr, or Shutterstock Editor

Cover image via Chaosamran_Studio.

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