Moving content: spotlight on motion design

How to innovatively tell stories with the power of images and sound

There are all kinds of possibilities for the visual presentation of products, stories or services. Motion design is one of them – and it’s becoming more and more of a household name. That’s why we asked Gerulf Dösinger, motion design expert at elements: What does the term actually mean? And how do you successfully make use of the technology?

Motion design

In two sentences: What is motion design?

Motion design is a discipline that uses audiovisual techniques to add movement to stories and ads in 2D and 3D space. And that’s my passion.

More than moving images

2. What’s the difference between animations, motion graphics and motion design?

Motion graphics and motion design are two different terms with the same meaning.

Animation is a technical aspect of my field of activity. Simply put, motion designers are not only concerned with how to move something from point A to point B on a screen. They also deal with the graphics or illustrative design that moving images require. 

This means, for example: Do I need characters to tell my story? Then I need to develop them. Or do I rely on a technically abstract representation because that is more suited to the product? Do I represent something in 2D or 3D? What about voiceover, music and sound? Which visual styles are appropriate for a certain topic? These are the questions that I deal with in my work. Animation is only the technical part that allows me to give movement to something.

A powerful impact

3. When does it make sense to use motion design?

For one thing, if you want to go for targeted emotionalisation. The combination of visuals, music and possibly voiceover triggers more in people's emotional world than a static image. That makes it more memorable. 

What’s more, it helps in presenting solutions to a problem: As soon as the standard means of advertising and design can no longer capture or describe a product or service, it is time to give the motion designer a call. With the toolbox of "motion design", you can make use of tools like storytelling, character animation, 3D and more. It allows you to present even the most difficult concepts in an informative and entertaining way.

What motion design should not do is simply "beautify" a static design through movement. This tends to backfire, because consumers have an amazingly good eye for mere attempts at grabbing their attention.

Individualised results

4. Which benefits (and drawbacks) does the use of motion design have?

With the help of auditory and visual elements, the viewer is able to absorb a lot of information in a short period of time. But apart from the purely informative aspect, it is also possible – using 3D, for instance – to create impressive videos that leave the viewer in awe. 

Let me give you an example: To explain how a complex machine works, motion design can be used to “immerse” the viewer in the device in order to make the mechanisms understandable. A virtual flight through a region or good stories that are told in an even more powerful way are conceivable as well. 

And the drawbacks? Motion design is very technical, and no two projects are alike. With many animations, you start from scratch. So you have to find out a few things beforehand: How should I give movement to the content in general? Motion design takes time – and quick "one-size-fits-all" solutions cannot and should not be the objective.

An audiovisual allrounder

5. Which depiction options do you have in motion design?

The applications range from simple 2D animations, which briefly present a topic, to much more comprehensive 360-degree visualisations. In fact, there are many overlaps with current technologies such as augmented reality. Users can immerse themselves in real or imaginative scenarios with the help of a headset, for example. Motion design is also increasingly being used in combination with experimental user interfaces. Additionally, it is possible to combine real-life images with animations. This technique is called compositing.

The foundation for successful implementation

6. What should be considered in planning and conceptualising a motion design project?

It’s important to take the planning and conceptualisation process seriously and not to skip any of the phases! This applies to both the customer and the designer. The project must be built on a solid foundation that works when implemented. Not only because motion design is technically demanding, but also to achieve the desired intention of the visualisation. A good concept leads to a clip that convinces viewers with emotion, charm and wit and guides them to the intended destination. If you skip the planning process, you often end up with a video that is too long and bores people – rather than one that captivates them.

Future developments

7. What current trends are there in the use of motion design?

It is difficult to identify a specific trend, as motion design is an extremely flexible medium. In general, audiovisual technology can react to trends faster than other disciplines because of its broad range of applications. 

One thing is clear, though: Motion design is at the forefront of the social media sector. Creative animated visuals are attention grabbers. More importantly, motion keeps the viewer entertained longer. This gives you a better chance of standing out in the world of short attention spans. New specialty disciplines are developing in the area of 360-degree visualisation and virtual reality. And that’s where nothing works without motion design.

In fact, I would say: Motion design starts the trends. For instance, many people are more likely to remember the impressive series openers of Netflix or the emotional final credit scenes of Hollywood blockbusters. Standard roadside advertising posters, on the other hand, are forgotten rather quickly. "Out of sight, out of mind.", as they say.

Do you already have a motion-design project in mind? But you’re not sure about its implementation yet? We at punkt & komma and elements are always here for you! We are happy to advise you on the topic or to implement your project for you – from an initial concept to the finished product. We look forward to hearing from you!

About Gerulf Dösinger:

Gerulf Dösinger studied information design. Since 2011, he has been working as a professional designer. He has worked for companies like Red Bull Media House and mindconsole. His focus is on illustrative techniques, conceptual work and storytelling. At elements he works as a senior motion designer on everything to do with digital visualisation.

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