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What is Motion Graphics?

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.

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Felippe Silveira

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