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froj

Essay - Do musicians make better motion designers?

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Hi, forgive the slightly high-jacked old thread idea. For an essay I am currently writing for uni I am looking at sound within motion graphics, including the correlation between audio and visual and the 'audio-visual' that is born out of all those elements. But also how my knowledge of music relates to my transition from graphic design to motion design. I obviously looked around here quite a bit and came across an old thread in the lounge were it turns out there's a fair few musicians/engineers/producers among us including c.smith and graymachine, and a comment was made that perhaps that already developed sense of timing helps with animation and translating visuals to a time-line.

 

There's plenty of quotes and theories relating to how using musical terminology can aid the development of visuals etc. but I thought it would be cool to get some more real-world thoughts on this...

 

Any opinions would be great, sorry to go over this question again but I suppose if I make it more specific and ask everyone (musicians and non-musicians) if you think being a musician at any point in your life/career has directly influenced or helped your career in/transition into motion design? Also sorry if this has come across verbose and bullshitty I'm in academic writing mode

 

Thanks in advance, Matt :)

Edited by froj

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I think its a huge help. I produced electronica semi-professionally before animation school, and the process of keframing animation in After Effects or 3D is astoundingly similar to sequencing beats in Logic/ProTools/Reason. The lead character animator for the Stuart Little movies visited my animation class and he said being a bass player helped his character animation chops.

 

I think musicians tend towards a more nuanced understanding of phrasing and instinctively avoid setting their keys to the big, obvious song moments or peaks in the .wav file, knowing the real magic of making the phrase "swing" is somewhere inbetween. Hard to specify, but I can tell by some reels the artist is not a musician, although they're good at mograph. Of course, I might just be smug musician/animator.

 

However, I've also noticed that being a musician can get in the way of animation and storytelling. When it came time to make my thesis film, I fired myself as a composer. I'd get too caught up in making a cool groove instead of a score that moves the story forward.

 

I also think that music and film have different innate rhythms. I saw lots of student exercises - music videos of a favorite song - and usually by the second verse, the shots got boring and you were waiting for the chorus to kick in so something would happen. Stories classically have a 3 act structure that has to move forward and surprise you, pop music has a 4 bar structure that you want to anticipate and repeat.

Edited by reason808

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I dunno, but I've discovered alot of great tunes from watching demoreels. :)

 

Here is something interesting.

I've had some clients describe animations to me with strange sounds "make it go like whoooosh....ping!.....errrrr".

Then I've seen clients describing the sound they want to audio guys with wacky animated hand movements.

Edited by ynaka

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I Totally agree.

 

I was a recording engineer and a musician before I got into motion design.

 

Music theory and song writing theory really helped me wrap my head around "telling a story" with my animations early on. ( Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus, End )

 

Animating to audio really helped try different animation techniques.

 

Also, because I was already familiar with Pro Tools, I already had my head wrapped around a timeline. That really helped with learning After Effects.

 

Final observation... Almost all of the people I work with are musicians.

 

Therefore..... Do musicians make better motion designers? Yes

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I'm going to say that it may help with the transition into motion design, or with editing, but it doesn't give you a clear advantage as far as creating work is concern.

 

I come from a moving picture background and I think that gave me a stronger foundation than music. Color theory, visual rhythm and tempo, composition, image systems, storytelling(real storytelling not the beginning, middle, and end type,) ect, ect... was something I was very familiar with. All I had to do is work on the graphical and typography side. My brain was trained to observe natural motion, which is far more helpful than any kind of artificial rhythm pattern. Not that the former is not helpful, buth rather that if your able to emulate real life motion on a screen it will be more convincing than something that moves to a groove. I found it to be a very easy transition, I didn't have to create metaphors to help me understand the key concepts, which in term help me focus on learning the tools.

 

To speak in music jargon, audio functions very much like chord progressions do in songs, it is there to support the message, so it should fit the images not the other way around. Obviously music videos are different beast, but the same principles of film making apply.

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Guest Sao_Bento

Do people who do well in arts related to timing and rhythm do well in arts related to timing and rhythm? Does it make them more likely to have a sense of timing and rhythm?.

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it could be..

 

both have to think about composition over time.

 

in pop music it's much of the same (verse, chorus, etc) but when practicing more 'experimental' or abstract music there is a lot of variation going on.. some simple stupid example: starting violent, a silence for 21 seconds, then a high pitch, some reverbish deep sounds, abrupt ending.. visual oriented people might immediately get an image inside there heads..

 

if you master audio composition over time - that is, not a boring sequence of sounds, but actually a thought through interesting music piece - i am sure you can come up with the greatest moving pictures ideas. (and visa versa!)

 

i don't see much of a difference between the two, just different parameters.

 

 

(it is only the technical/software/instrument knowledge that gets in the way..)

 

my 2 cents.

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By saying that musicians make better mograph artists because of their sense of rhythm & timing, wouldn't you also have to include professional dancers & athletes as well? Do performance artists make better mograph artists? Or how about film & video editors? I'm just playing devils advocate here. all of the above require a good sense of timing & especially rhythm. You could play an instrument and still not have any rhythm or timing...what then?

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By saying that musicians make better mograph artists because of their sense of rhythm & timing, wouldn't you also have to include professional dancers & athletes as well? Do performance artists make better mograph artists? Or how about film & video editors? I'm just playing devils advocate here. all of the above require a good sense of timing & especially rhythm. You could play an instrument and still not have any rhythm or timing...what then?

 

Yeah exactly, I'd definately considered dancing, as that's another crossover to visual rhythm etc. Obviously to consider yourself a 'musician' though there must be some proficiency there, I'm crap at piano so I wouldn't call myself a pianist, but I know how to play a major chord. I'd say it was more than just timing and rhythm though, it's composition over time, dynamics, contrast (again all still apply to dance, perhaps not so much athletes). I'd roll film/mograph editing into the 'similar practical techniques different application' group though. As we need knowledge of those things visually

 

Sao, I obviously think that's the case otherwise I wouldn't be posing the question to back up my point, but as shown by some thoughts here there's more to it than just the cut and dry of timing is timing etc. Also I was hoping to get some opposing thoughts even if they were from a devils advocate perspective which I need to consider, which I have!

 

Got some nice points from here thanks guys. Much appreciated. :)

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I think it's a case of correlation not equaling causation. A sense of rhythm and timing and flow comes from studying an art that requires those skills. Studying dancing will enhance rhythm, studying music will enhance timing, and studying motion graphics will enhance flow. You can draw parallels between the rhythm and timing required in each activity but an artist's sense of it comes from practice, not from the art form itself.

 

Ultimately someone with a sense of the rhythm will have a leg up in any of these activities but that doesn't cause better mograph.

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Do people who do well in arts related to timing and rhythm do well in arts related to timing and rhythm? Does it make them more likely to have a sense of timing and rhythm?.

 

 

I think this sums up the problem here, froj, which is that the question you are asking is too simple, too obvious, and probably not very helpful. The only place these results will matter are those news reports encouraging parents to put their kids in music classes, etc. Other than that, I can only see it as a way to be self-congratulatory to people who already are musicians. We either have or have not studied music well enough to make it beneficial, and the people who study music will continue to study it and the people who don't study it, probably won't.

 

Instead, a better idea would be to study how to apply that musical talent to motion graphics. There are ideas above about the structure of music, pop and experimental. I would suggest looking into classical structures as well (A B A B C D A, etc). Sound, tone, melody, harmony, rhythm, and composition can add a lot of insight into what we do. But, it all doesn't necessarily translate directly. But that allows for fun exploration, rather than boring 1 to 1 logic.

Edited by spritelyjim

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I tend to think that one doesn't really have much to do with boosting the other. They are both creative endeavors, so where you find creative type people there are most certainly musicians in the mix. But I would be dubious that one helps the other. I would think that something at the root of your interests in creativity and timing spawned aptitude for both. Maybe on some small trite level it made you better prepared for the other, but I wouldn't say that being musically inclined elevates you higher than designers that are not into creating music.

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Guest Sao_Bento
I think it's a case of correlation not equaling causation.

Exactly.

 

 

I can't remember the last time there was a post by someone doing a paper that wasn't based on a spurious premise. (no offense to the OP)

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It helps to a musician but doesnt guarantedd that you will be succesful in mograph design, is just too many things at the time color,composition,motion theory, is just too many things to be encapsulated into i am white therefore i am must be more powerful than my black friend.

By the way i am south american so no offense to the afro americans.

 

It helps to be a musician but you need more than music or all the above mentioned specially if you are a freelancer than you have to get some communication skills,etc...

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