March 5, 2020

The resize monster: Adapting video content to reach more people

Illustration for a blog post showing a man branding a sword in front of a monster made of screens

Content creation can be pretty challenging, especially for agencies and marketing teams who have to put brands and products in front of the right consumers every day. There are many ways to do that and repurposing content is definitely the most effective one. You can turn videos into podcasts, articles, and social media posts…  Still, offering the right type of content that relates to the platforms customers consume your content is what conquers their hearts.

Dealing with videos of different sizes and proportions is like fighting a monster with many faces. The ability to adapt makes powerful each point of contact with the brand you’re working with. Adaptation in video format doesn’t mean cutting it down to fit different durations. It isn’t something to think about later in the process. It must be defined in the early stages of the strategy and development of the story. It’s the “preparation for the battle.”

Before jumping in on that, let’s understand better how video changed in the last years.

Creating video content in the past

During the transition from SD to HD resolutions, we would produce a video or animation at the 16:9 aspect ratio(widescreen) paying attention to keep the vital information inside the 4:3 ratio. This attention to  the Safe Areas, allowed early adopters of widescreens and digital signal TVs to consume better and crispy content without harming those who were still with their old TVs.

By that time, the orientation we recorded video was always the same as the output. Besides the safe area in mind, everything else was pretty straight forward and ready to go.

Well, nowadays, we don’t have that “luxury,” but we are living in an era that brings video content closer to customers than ever before.

The different types of media we have nowadays

Nowadays, if we want to explore its full potential and have people, in fact, watching it, the same content needs to work, at least, in the following proportions: horizontal(16:9), vertical(9:16), square (1:1) and in the “social media standard”(4:5). But not only the “shape” of our videos requires adaptation, their length also changes according to where the videos are being shared. It can sound quite scary, but there’s more coming.

Talking about duration, traditional TV ads would run for 15 or 30 seconds most of the time. When explainer videos started to gain some traction online, the 1:30min to 2:00min mark become a standard for internet videos. However, with the increase of video consumption in social media, additional videos of 5 to 10min (YouTube content), 60 sec(Instagram Feed posts), 10–15 sec(Snapchat and Instagram/Facebook Stories), and also 6 sec( non-skippable YouTube ads) are becoming the new norms.

Below, I made a list to make it easier to visualize the challenges and different types of content required to win the game in today’s content battle:

Ratios:

  • 16:9 ratio — TV, Embed website videos, YouTube, IGTV
  • 9:16 ratio — Stories (Instagram and Facebook), TikTok, Snapchat, IGTV
  • 4:5 ratio — Social Feeds(Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds)
  • 1:1 ratio — Alternative Social Feeds(most of the social media feeds work better in the 4:5 aspect ratio, but 1:1 has been seeing as an alternative in some cases)

Durations:

  • 5 min to 10 min — Youtube Videos (that scores higher inside their “algorithm”)
  • 1:30 min to 2:00 min — Website Videos in general (most of the Explainer Videos)
  • 60 sec — Social Media feeds (It’s Instagram’s maximum duration at the moment)
  • 15–30 sec — Ads for TV or Internet
  • 10–15 sec — Most of the vertical Snapchat and Stories(IG and FB) content type
  • 6 sec — Bumper, non-skippable YouTube ads created to extend the reach of a campaign

What does this adaptation teach us

Our mission is to put great content in front of people. Knowing how each platform and type of content is better received by your audience is just the first step.

The key here is to plan for this adaptability as early as possible, seeing it as a necessity, instead of doing everything and then making some "cuts".. It can be a positive constraint and opportunity if you have enough time to come up with smart solutions to solve those aspect ratio requirements.

In the last years, we saw a banalization of the term storytelling, but the 2020’s decade is here to challenge us to prove we are real storytellers. 

Adapting a story to fit and thrive in the different formats is not an easy task, but having time to train and prepare your arsenal accordingly can make any battle a lot more feasible.

Another thing to consider is that the kind of video plays a huge part in how difficult this adaptation might be. Live-action stories have a lot of restrictions in comparison to animation and any change further down the road to make something fit into a specific size or duration can require an absurd amount of work, time and money.  That's why choosing the best way to create an accessible and adaptable content is gold! The perfect video must carry the core of the message and the heart of the brand with the same visual impact across all aspect ratios and durations.

I’ll talk more about adapting stories in my future articles, but for now, what I want you to take out of this is that video content needs to live naturally on the platform it’s aimed to be shown. The sooner you define where your video will play, the more time you’ll have to plan your story right.

Don’t be afraid of the challenge. Embrace it so you can deliver something people will love to watch in the place they love to consume content.

January 29, 2020

The 2020s – the Decade of Animated Content

Header for an article about animated content showing a calendar showing the year of 2020

2020 started and as at any beginning of a decade, we all ask ourselves "How will the future be?". Well, the future of content marketing has motion graphics as its main characteristic. My objective with this article is to touch on some relevant topics that will help you see how your content is expected to be animated or to have some kind of movement from now on.

Something that inspired me to write this was listening to one of the latest episodes from School of Motion's podcast released in 2019. It's a 4-hour long show so we won't be talking a lot about it here, especially because most of it was focused on the motion design community itself. If you're interested in all things related to motion design though, it has a lot of great tips on conferences, courses and favorite projects and studios of the year – we were featured with our project for Anymotion 🙂

My objective here is to discuss how online and conventional media has changed and how animation is becoming an integral part of that, with possibilities that might impact multiple verticals in this new decade.

Are explainer videos dead?

The traditional Explainer Video structure that we have all seen over and over is more than dead, and that's also a unanimous opinion among School of Motion's roundtable. 

The “recipe” of a script that presents a character, shows its pain, brings the solution, and ends with a call to action, is nowadays as silly as infomercials back in the ’90s. If you're starting your script with "Meet John" and ending it with a poor Call-to-Action like "Subscribe Today!"... you're doing it wrong.

It was a tremendous success in the early Tech Startup boom, but nowadays, our brains easily turn off when approached with something like this. With that being said, a good and fresher story is more necessary than ever to make brands stand out. The message of an AD needs to connect on a deeper level, instigating the viewer in a way that an obvious call-to-action shouldn't even be necessary. Storytelling may sound like a cliché word now but whenever you immerse yourself due to a well-told story, you understand how vital it is.

Supply and demand

The demand for animation not only increased in the last years but is expected to become even more significant. With every new year, the number of screens we interact with grows more and more and all of this demand requires quality animated content that can entertain, engage and communicate. 

We can easily see this demand happening inside many tech companies that started most recently to build their own motion design departments. It goes even beyond tech, Marketing Agencies and even more traditional businesses are building teams of editors and motion designers to help them produce content more constant.

This new decade brings changes and challenges on how to supply the big demand for this upcoming market. Internal teams will be used a lot more to fulfill constant and low-complexity demands while studios with either bigger or more focused expertise will be responsible for larger and more complex ADs related to product launches, positioning statements and other branding-related content.

A new and improved industry

Animators from the industry are starting to get more and more specialized rather being just someone that "makes things move". We saw this happening to ourselves a while ago when we started to combine strategies from both creative and marketing fields as a way to differentiate ourselves. Agencies gain a lot when working with professionals that can bring relevant inputs to support and improve the ideas their teams have.

The battle of video specifications

With every new Social Media – and sometimes, update – we see users consuming content in different ways. For example, five years ago, when talking about animation for the internet, the recipe (besides the "dead" Explainer Video structure I mentioned above) was to have 60 to 90 seconds, horizontal 16:9 animation. Who would have ever imagined that a few years later we would be producing 60 to 90sec animations in horizontal, vertical, and square formats, including 30sec, 15sec, and even 6sec versions of the original video.

Nowadays, it is not an option to have one or another format with one or another duration. Basically, every piece of content is tending to have at least 3 different output formats to allow the animation to better engage with viewers across all marketing channels. 

With the crescent growth of screens, the content will be consumed in formats and durations we can’t even imagine now. The ability to adapt, as technology and human behavior evolves, is essential for any brand, studio or agency to survive.

What’s next?

The future is always up to discussion, but it's clear that there’s more necessary than ever for industries to absorb animation inside the core of their businesses. At MOWE, we like to inquire about the future because the best way to "predict the future" is creating it and there's no way of doing so if you don't reflect on the current state of technology, human behavior and media consumption.

If you also find this subject interesting and would like to discuss it further with us, feel free to leave a comment or contact me at felippe@mowe.studio.

October 7, 2019

The Story Behind “Can’t Beat Me”

Can't Beat Me by MOWE Studio

This article is a Case Study of Can’t Beat Me, MOWE Studio's first short film.


When you watch something you like, do you ever wonder how people were able to arrive at that specific story? I always did. That’s why I wrote this behind the scenes of how everything shaped up to eventually become “Can’t Beat Me”.

The idea initially came from the women of MOWE during a briefing discussion, back in March 2019, of what could be done to celebrate International Women’s Day. The idea was great but too close to the deadline we had of March 8th, so we decided to make it a personal project.

Defining the story

The boxing idea started as a desire our illustrator had of working in an action piece, with lots of movements and cameras. Also, we all considered it would be nice to portray women in a sport usually associated with men.

still image from the animation called Can't Beat Me. It shows two people fighting in a boxing rink
A fight that happens inside the ring, between her and her own fears

During our first brainstorming, our producer brought up the issue of having women fighting each other and the impact it could have on our message. Since we wanted to show the women’s strength and not the competition between them, this led to a more significant discussion on what was the central message of the story.

After many conversations, our final briefing for the script was:

  • The video had to be short, between 30 seconds and 1 minute.
  • It should be done mostly using cel animation so we could play with all the possibilities the technique allowed us.
  • Our objective was to show that women are stronger than society usually portrays them to be.
  • Women couldn’t fight each other during the story.
  • We wanted to showcase the arousal and disbelief common to women on a daily basis.
  • The character had to feel real and authentic — both her character design and her actions.
  • She couldn’t be a superwoman because she’s human, she had to go through ups and downs like everyone else.

Since the initial idea was from our illustrator, she grabbed the team’s briefing and came back with a story around 2:30 minutes. Great! We had something… but it was too long. That’s when I started to work on the project, to understand how we could fit the most important things from the script draft into the final one.

I started to rewrite a few segments to understand how things could be chopped into smaller parallel events and how we could play with the flashbacks — which had been a central point of the story since its origin.

In terms of art and creative direction, those four completely different references were what impacted the shape of the story as it is today.

Ping-Pong Animation Tatsunoko
Shudo by Gobelins
Mob Psycho by One
Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse by Sony Pictures Animation

Creating a character that feels natural.

We didn’t want the character to fit a beauty standard, but we all knew she had to be slightly muscular due to her constant training. Also, we want to make sure that the details were adding up well, so we made sure that the character was using the right clothes, the right equipment, and doing the right movements. Oh! She even has cauliflower ears, which is a deformity caused by constant trauma on the area due to punches.

illustration for the animation about boxing called Can't Beat Me. It shows some character design options
Initial studies related to the character's body shape
illustration for the animation about boxing called Can't Beat Me. It shows some character design options
Facial expression studies
character design sheet from the animation about boxing called Can't Beat Me. It shows some character design options
illustration for the animation about boxing called Can't Beat Me. It shows the final character design
Early sketches of the character and the final version we decided to move forward.

Defining events, timelines and emotions

One of the solutions used to fit the script in the duration we were aiming was using panels to represent different moments attached to the same environment, emotion, or event of her life.

This allowed the creation of complex scenes and the build-up of emotions, using the removal or addition of new frames as a tool, according to the music and the natural rhythm of the video.

The colors also played a big part in the video. We wanted this story to feel raw and honest, the black and white version of a story common to many women. The red color helped both as a highlight on complex scenes that had many different elements and as a tool to create deep and heavy atmospheres when needed. The two flashbacks of pain and suffering that she goes through during the story bring an emotional attachment that is too strong not to be felt by the viewer.

Creating an atmosphere with Sound Design

The Sound Design is the final ingredient for every story and it couldn’t be different for this one. We wanted the experience to sound empowering but at the same time, raw and sensible. Based on that, we decided to utilize the Sound Design in a non-diegetic way, as an integral part of the music. Each sound evolves to become part of the music, and each repetition connects it to the daily grind that our character has to endure.

illustration for the animation about boxing called Can't Beat Me. It shows the main character receiving a punch in the face
Frame from the initial stage of the Frame-by-Frame Animation

In the end, this is not about boxing

When she's in the ring, she's fighting her own fears and society, who feeds women daily with fear and judgment in an attempt to make less of them and their dreams. At the end of the day, she fights a monster and when she wins, she's proving to the entire world that she's bigger and stronger than any obstacle.

All the details of this video are intended to spark a fire in our belly, incite a reflection, and show to the whole world that women fight, every day, way harder than anyone can imagine.

The dedication and passion of our character showcase the strength required to fuel her perseverance, and the strength achieved as a result of this daily battle.

A woman’s real weapon is not her fists; it’s her mind and her heart.

To all the amazing women in this world. With ♥️ from MOWE Studio.


Special afterword: Surprisingly, it all tied together with something we wanted to do for many years. It has always been a personal goal of our studio to create a short film of an original story. This project checked all the boxes laid out a long time ago, allowing us to explore new ways of storytelling. We couldn’t be happier with the result and the team involved.


Did you enjoy the article?
Subscribe to our newsletter and receive not only our articles but much more content before everyone else.

Do you have any question or opinion?
Share it! Let’s make this a starting point for more meaningful discussions.

February 11, 2017

What is Motion Graphics?

illustration for the motion graphics article showing a question mark

Motion Graphics is a term we often use in our posts and our work. For those that are inside the industry, it can be easy to understand what we are talking about. But if you just arrived here, or are starting in the Motion Graphics world, you probably may have asked yourself once in a while what does Motion Graphics really mean? Especially, when you see it referenced in different ways, like just Animation.

I’ll make things clearer for you now, so you can be on board with us for our following conversations.

From Static to Moving Designs

There was a time, before Motion Graphics existed, that Graphic Design pieces only worked in a flat and still format.

Motion Graphics, as a composed word, means Graphics in Movement. This is the simplest definition you can get. When we get the design knowledge and bring it to new mediums adding the time and space factor to it, we are talking about Motion Graphics. In a more simplistic way, almost everything that moves and that involves a graphic element is Motion Graphics.

First Appearances in Cinema

Motion Graphics follows the evolution of science and technology. Like Web Design, which was only possible with the development of the Internet, Motion Graphics was only possible due to the development of moving pictures, especially Cinema.

Initially, you could find this kind of work as opening titles for movies. They were used in many different ways and explored to its maximum.

It was around the 1940s that Motion Graphics actually started through the experimental works from Oskar Fischinger and Norman McLaren. In the 1950s, amazing designers as Saul BassMaurice Binder, and Pablo Ferro gave Motion Graphics a specular rise.

The films where those artists worked are — still today — a huge reference and inspiration to all Motion Graphics Designers. It represented a creative way to play with words and graphic elements that people have never seen before, and it was the entrance point for Motion Graphics further popularity, reaching not only the Cinema but also the Mainstream TV by that time.

Where we see it today

Like it was in the Cinema, since the technology advanced, Motion Graphics has reached the most important era of its existence so far. The amount of video content and screens we have nowadays is the perfect match for the growth of the field.

Internet, TV, Cinema, mobile apps, video games… all of them become alive through Motion Graphics. Every text, every graphic you see moving in any of those platforms and any media, is conceived by the Motion Designer work. As technology grows, we will see a lot more space for Motion Designers to work.

Humans are attracted to movements. Not only that, we also learned and experienced that it’s essential to send the most effective message.

Motion Graphics vs Animation

For me, this is the most difficult thing to define. There’s no scientific research of what is right and what is wrong in terms of how we should name what we do. From what I’ve read throughout the years, and what I’ve talked with other Designers I met in the industry, there’s basically a fine line that divides both of them and that most of the time is invisible.

As I explained above, Motion Graphics comes from the idea of Graphics (or Designs) in movement. Motion Graphics pieces contain design elements like shapes, typography, composition, etc. Especially on its origins, you can think about that as how to translate a print or any other static visual design work, and add movements to it.

Animation can be broader. It can englobe Motion Graphics itself, but also other styles, techniques, and purposes. Since Motion Graphics derives from the Design Field, it has more a preoccupation on the function of its piece, and how it can be effective for what the message is supposed to send. Animation, on the other hand, can also have a meaning like Motion Graphics, but it can also be more artistic and with entertainment purposes only.

At MOWE, we don’t restrict ourselves inside Motion Graphics only. Even though I’m a Motion Designer by nature and by formal education, I believe animation can be used for a much deeper meaning than just selling a product or a service. For me, animations is capable of sending deeper messages, and triggering emotions like no other media can do.

September 21, 2016

What the Hell Is a Keyframe and How to Use It Properly

illustration of after effects keyframes

Digital Animation is all about Keyframes. Inside After Effects, you’ll find a variety of those guys and knowing the best way to use them will help your animations to achieve the results you are aiming for.

We’ve talked before about how to improve your skills and craft better animations, and presented some of the animation curves you can use to get different animations. Besides that, the type of keyframe you use for each moment, tells a lot about the result you will get.

For those beginning in Animation and After Effects keyframes can sound very weird and understanding all of them can be difficult. In fact, there isn’t much information on the program about what each one of them does. Also, the way you apply Keyframes is very different from each other, making it harder to memorize in the beginning.

Even for those who already have some experience with After Effects, some Keyframes can be “new” since they are all somehow “hidden” at the same place.

That’s why we are here. I’m going to teach you about all the Keyframes you will encounter inside After Effects and how each one of them will affect your animations.

What The Hell is a Keyframe?

Keyframes are the most important moments of an animation. As the name says, they are the “Key” of all the frames of an animation. They are the ones that show a difference in the acting of a character, a crucial change in a movement or even a great pose.

In Motion Graphics, or Digital Animation, they act the same way — they determine what change from a previous pose or moment, and it’s where the actual animation is done.

Its difference from traditional animation is that animators make the interpolation between keyframes one by one, and they are responsible for creating the correct timing and pacing for the movement. In Digital Animation, the software is responsible for calculating and interpolating itself the animation. One of the things we can control on digital animation is how this interpolation will happen.

By knowing and applying the correct type of Keyframe, you can achieve the full power of automatic interpolation, making sure your animation will occur as you had in your head.

Keyframes types

I like to separate the Keyframes in three categories that make it easy to understand and visualize each one of them.

LINEAR

Linear Keyframes are those that create a linear velocity. It means that there is no change in speed during the movement.

Linear Keyframe

The Linear Keyframe is the default of AfterEffects. Whenever you begin to animate, the first Keyframe will always be Linear until you change them to another type. When you have an animation that starts and ends with a Linear Keyframe, it will act as we mentioned before — the animation will start and end with the same velocity.

Continuous Keyframe

Shortcut: Control (CMD) + Click (on the keyframe)

The Continuous Keyframe or Continuous Velocity — when talking about interpolation — works between two Keyframes, which can be Linear or of any Keyframe. What they do is to add a third moment without changing the previous velocity of the two keyframes.

For example, if we have an object going from the point A to point B in the Scene, and we want to add a Point C, between them, the “normal” way is to have the animation starting at point A, moving and ending at point C, then starting again at Point C, moving, and ending at point B. It can be very confusing, but the image below will make it better to understand.

When we change the Point C Keyframe to a Continuous Keyframe, what it does is that now, instead of having those starts and stops in the animation, we have the animation beginning at the Point A moving and ending at Point B but passing by the Point C in the middle of that. Instead of having Point C as a Start/End point, now it’s more like a “detour” of the movement.

EASES

The Eases Keyframes are the most interesting kind of Keyframes. They are the ones associated with the sensation of both acceleration and weight, which are essential in Motion Graphics.

There are two basic Eases that comes from the concept of Traditional Animation — Ease In and Ease Out. Depending on your source of animation principles, you can also find them as Slow In and Slow Out.

However, most of the traditional resources about those Eases can explain it as the opposite of what they mean in After Effects. Since we are relating the Keyframes here to Digital Animation, we will use the concept from Ease In and Ease Out presented in After Effects.

Ease In

Shortcut: SHIFT + F9 (with the Keyframe Selected)

Ease In means that the movement will “come in” slowly to this Keyframe. For example, if we set a Linear Keyframe as the first position and them an Ease In Keyframe as the second one, the animation will start in a linear velocity and gradually slow down until reaching the second position — Just like our guy above.

Ease Out

Shortcut: Control (CMD) + SHIFT + F9 (with the Keyframe Selected)

The Ease Out is the opposite of the Ease In. Instead of having the animation slowing down into the second position (how it was with the Ease In Keyframe), the animation will “come out” slowly from the first position and end up linear, or whatever way you set the second Keyframe to be.

You can visualize the Ease Out as acceleration and the Ease In as a slowdown movement. No matter if you use an Ease In or Ease Out Keyframe, the next or previous Keyframe can be of any type. You can even have an Ease Out Keyframe to an Ease In, what will mean an object to start moving slowly, getting faster in the middle of the movement, and then slow down until reaching the final position.

Easy Ease

Shortcut: F9 (with the Keyframe Selected)

The Easy Ease is the combination of Ease In and Ease Out in one single Keyframe. Sometimes you have entire animations made only with that kind of Keyframes.

The Easy Ease means that the animation will come in slowly to this Keyframe and also go out slowly from this frame to the next one. The animation reaches some Start/Stop points like in the Linear Keyframe, but with moments of acceleration and deceleration.

HOLDS

The Hold Keyframes are the ones that in fact “holds” the movement. When you need something to stay static or a particular pose to maintain as it is without moving, you should use a Hold Keyframe.

Hold Keyframe

Shortcut: Control (CMD) + Alt + Click (on the keyframe)

The Hold Keyframe symbol says a lot about it. It makes no animation to happen. It “blocks” the animation in this element or character. It’s also very used when you want to “freeze” a particular frame of a movie you’ve imported, and also when “blocking” a character animation.

One method of character animation is to start by positioning the character poses over time to analyze the timing and spacing of the whole movement. When done in After Effects, we always begin working with Hold Keyframes instead of the Linear or Ease ones.

Hold In and Hold Out

Shortcut: Control (CMD) + Alt + Click (on the keyframe)

The Hold In and Hold Out are two Keyframes that relates to the Ease In and Ease Out Keyframes I’ve mentioned above. You can have an animation happening in an Ease In Keyframe and turn it into a Hold Keyframe or the opposite.

It’s most of the time used to prevent some bugs After Effects can make when interpolating Keyframes.

A common way to “hold” a position when you don’t need an animation by that time is to duplicate the last Keyframe and place it further on the timeline.

However, After Effects can misunderstand that it should hold the animation, and instead, he creates some weird interpolations that will generate animation between these two identical poses. The Hold Keyframes are there to help you prevent this from happening and avoiding undesired movements.

Keyframes names are related to its interpolation and most of them don’t have a specific name besides their interpolation mode. Even though I like to name them the way I did, It’s not a formal naming convention but one that I find easier to understand.

The shapes and names of the different Keyframes tell a lot about themselves. Play with them and see for yourself the different results you can achieve by mixing different Keyframes.

Combine it with the Animation Curves. It will expand your possibilities and also allow you to make whatever movement you want.

USA, Spain, Portugal, Brazil.
We're everywhere

New Business
Discuss your ideas with our 
Co-Founder, Creative Director & top-notch Animator

Join the team
We're always looking for talented people to work with us on amazing projects.

Press or General Inquiries:
Get in touch if you’re interested in interviews, press kits or a quick chat.

MOWE is the specialized creative studio that brings ideas to life through motion graphics and animation for innovative agencies.

Receive insightful articles about animation and marketing – and occasional highlights from us.

No spam. You receive it once a Month and that's it.