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jayfaker

Woe is Mograph.net

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Lately I've noticed some of the old crew returning to Mograph.net and bemoaning the forgotten Glory Days of a Mograph.net That Once Was. Back in the day before the giant meltdown of '06 (mograph.net started in '04-ish) everyone had something genuinely important to talk about. Everything was idyllic and there were no stupid questions mucking up the pristinely pink waters of this ivory-tower-of-a-forum.

 

Of course, that's not really true. You go back and check out all the forums, and they were asking so many of the same practical questions that people are asking now (what computer do I get? How dow I do this effect?). The difference is that back then, those questions were original. Now, you can go back and search the forums for the answers to those questions.

 

The thing is, back in '03 (Really? Only 7 years ago?) this whole motion-graphics thing was new! It was fresh! This was a new medium with so much potential, and new design styles and grammar to be discovered and exploited, all facilitated by Adobe's distribution of accessible (read: cheap) motion-graphics software to the masses. After Effects was amazing! And we designers pushed and prodded that new program to it's limits! 2advanced, Gmunk, Motion Theory and Brand New School! And Justin Harder. They were ROCKSTARS! ...And then we sorta lost interest in it. It was just graphic design in motion, you know. BUT THEN, we discovered 3D SOFTWARE that got us beyond all the limitations of After Effects! This was NEW! Now we had NO limitation to our creative output. Psyop popped out and blew us away in all its cell-shaded glory! Tronic brought a fresh perspective from architects to the game. Lobo, Buck, it would never end!

 

But then it did.... Not motion graphics. Motion graphics hasn't ended, as you can see on the well-saturated pages of motionographer.com. No, it is the NOVELTY that was motion graphics, that is gone forever. Not only is it gone to the people who make motion graphics, but to the people who watch them. Think about it, we as a general audience were amazed when we first watched Jurassic Park, in total awe. But as the years have gone by, we've become desensitized to CG, to the point where Avatar's glory was very short-lived. "Eh" we think, "the story really sucks," and it does. And now Tron. Cool looking, we guess, but nobody really cares, because we don't care about the characters. CGI, it's all been done before. Even when we take CGI characters beyond the uncanny valley, it'll be the total anti-climax. And motion graphics is but a minute sub-section of that CGI story. Yes, we can put type up on screen and move it. We can make it 3D and have interesting textures. We can make it TRANSFORM(!) from a movie title to a date! Cool! And then we've done it all. Sure, whiz-bang that once informed concept has evolved into concept that informs what-used-to-be whiz-bang, but until anyone in the general public really cares about graphic design again, who is going to care about motion graphic design, especially now that the wow-factor is gone from its wings? And if the general public doesn't care anymore, and we've lost our audience, do we really care anymore? How do we care about it again (beyond an occupational point of view)? Is the VISUAL part of visual art the lost cause? The aesthetic part, is it gone? Is it storytelling that ultimately comes through? Is that what really matters?

 

So back to mograph.net. I don't think the glory days are gone because the only people who come here are newbies who want answers to technical questions. The glory days are gone because we've lost interest in motion graphics as a distinct medium. The novelty is gone. Therefore, the excitement of the participants of mograph.net has waned. The "old crew" is gone, most likely because they are busy with the now common work, and it is just work. The forums are littered with the same-old topics, brought up by the few who may have just discovered the medium. It is novel to them, but no one else.

 

How can we be passionate about a medium that has lost its newness? Especially one embedded in the field of graphic design, a field where trendiness and novelty seem to be the only places where much passion exists? Oh novelty, where art thou?

Edited by jayfaker

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Sorry about the post above waxing poetic, that's just how it came out.

 

But really, what can we do do reinvigorate mograph.net, or even motion graphics in general? You know, so people want to come and talk about motion graphics again, what do we do?

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Great post. I also wonder what became of a lot of the old pros that used to hang around here. When I think of strong forum communities, 12 oz prophet always comes to mind. When you check out the active users on that forum, it's always in the 1000's. The forum format definitely isn't dead, but I wonder if, like you mentioned, forums and social networks tend to attract the youngest, newest people. The older more experienced ones fade away and pop in with the occasional comment.

 

Then there's CG talk, which has a huge active user base, but they have an actual staff as well, directing interviews, contests, featured galleries, etc. Like you said, CG is no longer a novelty either, but they seem to be busy as ever.

 

I think one key is that this industry is tiny, and very specific. It would be like having a cooking forum just for cake decorations. Our field is easily grouped with a number of larger fields like CG, VFX, Design, Animation and Illustration, and I think most people fall into one of those categories moreso than motion graphics.

 

Strangely, I believe there is probably a lot more motion graphics work than there is true CG work, but there are so many CG hobbyists (and unemployed) that the overall CG community dwarfs the motion graphics world.

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How can we be passionate about a medium that has lost its newness? . . . Oh novelty, where art thou?

 

Lost it's newness? Who cares? Cinema is over a century old but people still make films that can shift your perception, alter your awareness. What about painting? Photography? Drawing? Architecture? How about music? Things don't loose their novelty, people do loose their sense of wonder in new things because they change, get older. The lies with you/us/me, not the medium.

 

Novelty means nothing anyway, it's a distraction, a dead end. A medium that truly matures sloughs the shallow integument of novelty and starts to delve deeper into itself, finding new ways to express what it's practitioners want to articulate meaning the work will become more considered. Like you said,the novelty of Avatar wore off quickly because it was just that - a novelty. The whole film, the story and the concepts were complete crap - shallow, boring and derivative. Like the more commercial side of modern art the lack of imagination and integrity comes shining through. The CGI was accomplished to be sure, but without any meaningful content it, like so many of it's contemporaries, soon becomes little more than a techies eye-candy.

 

There's some great stuff happening on the fringes, in the crossover between disciplines; all of this will feedback into the loop eventually. At some point a new and exciting piece of work will come out with genuine heart, shift the paradigms and off we all go again.

 

We need to look beyond the corporate snake oil salesmen like Adobe, Autodesk and whoever else to provide the tools to realise these new approaches. These firms were good back in the day (or were they - hmmmm, Metatools anyone? Remember their blue sky discussions on usenet? Way beyond what most software companies have ever done to engage with their customers) but their interest is in satisfying shareholders and paying directors rather than pushing boundaries as they once did. It's a natural cycle.

 

Heck, we're all just getting older and wiser.

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I have to agree with jay, I was pretty much thinking the exact same thing this morning. When I started this site, I was in my mid-20's, doing crappy flash animations for crappy e-learning courses and was just BLOWN away by the mk12's, lobo's en gmunk's of this world. It felt like a brave new world, with possibilities all wide open. I used to spend whole nights leeching animations and reels from sites, going over the best stuff frame by frame.

 

I recognize the feeling of not getting excited anymore by most new mograph stuff. Not that it's all bad work or derivative, but I guess I've just seen too much of it. It's why I don't really keep track of reels anymore, but rather look at nice photography or drawings. Motion design is a mature field now, it's mainstream status means it's now in every video game, TV show, movie, cellphone app, etc. Trends will change, new technologies will spawn fads, same as always. But that special feeling of being at the ground floor of something completely new won't come back.

 

New forms of internet social interaction will always continue to be invented. And despite the onset of twitter, vimeo groups, etc. I still think forums have value. This site, c4dcafe and cgsociety have regularly taught me new things I didn't know.

 

As for mograph.net, I'll keep the site alive for as long as people want to use it. A heartfelt thanks to all the users and mods for all the thoughts, ideas and crazy rants they've posted (and deleted ;) over the last 7 years.

 

Merry x-mas! ;)

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Thanks for this thread people.

 

I'm pretty new to this all and I still love this industry =)

 

i just love the massive amount of new stuff that this industry always has to offer.

 

Merry X-mas people, and thanks for all you have done =))

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Been thinking a lot of similar stuff to Jayfaker recently too. Don't know if it's just to do with getting older but I find I am bored with a lot of mograph I see, all flash and no heart. Zook has a lot of good points but I think there is a fundamental difference between for example movies and mograph, for the most part a movie is the final product but mograph is just used to sell the final product (more short term and disposable). I think mograph is never going to be as mature a medium as film, painting, photography, etc. until it can break free from it's close association to advertising. A lot of studios definitely do really great "personal" projects for arts sake but it's not their main focus.

 

One thing that kills me every time I go to a museum is how so much video art still looks like it was shot in the 1980s, there is so much potential for mograph to be used to make beautiful video art but nobody's doing it (or at least I haven't really seen it in any museums). For me it would be this kind of stuff that would really stretch the medium and make things go in a new and exciting direction. I am no art snob but I just think when at the end of the day the people commissioning 99.99% of all the work are marketing execs the medium can only go so far. In music and Movies there is a spectrum for all the boybands out there, there are also people doing free jazz, for every Avatar there is a Breathless. Just don't see anywhere near that kind of spectrum in Mograph.

 

I guess that's a fairly cynical take on the whole thing but hey I am burnt out and badly in need of my vacation...can't wait...Merry X-Mas peeps.

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We need to look beyond the corporate snake oil salesmen like Adobe...

 

Hey!

 

Give us a little credit. When have I ever tried to sell snake oil here?

 

I'm not arguing that you need to look beyond the tools to the art that you can create with the tools---and then beyond the art to the ideas that motivate the art. But don't slag the toolmakers and those like me who work tirelessly to make sure that you have all the information that you need to use the tools. That's not fair.

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By the way, my gut response to the initial question is that Mograph.net is a victim of the increased number of websites---including forums---dedicated to similar areas. It's not that motion graphics isn't cool any more; it's that there are lots of places to talk about it.

 

Also, this is a less friendly forum than many (and I actually kinda like that, since I'm a curmudgeon myself), but I think that it has prevented much uptake of new blood.

 

Just my hunch.

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I don't think mograph or mograph.net are losing their intrest and uniqueness. YOU are just getting tired, bored, and jaded. And then you move on, and others take your place. Its a cyclical thing.

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Todd - I certainly do not mean your good self, you are a massive asset to this community and I certainly don't mean to be personal, to yourself or many others that work for big companies (which I did myself for years). However it's easy to be disillusioned when your software suppliers treat you as an inconvenience, a source of income rather than a valued customer (you are the sole shining light in customer service Todd). I've been using Adobe software for well over 23 years now and I have seen the changes. But once again, it's really not personal - please believe that.

 

Mograph.net is a brilliant resource and long may it thrive. My personal ability is totally outshone by many of the people who show and share their work and knowledge on this forum and I doff my cap to you all. My suggestion - switch off the computer, go to an art gallery, see a gig or two, attend a workshop in a different subject completely, learn a musical instrument and you will find new inspiration beyond the reel trawling that Firemind mentioned and I realised I don't do either.

 

Have a great Christmas - I'm off to work all through it :blink:

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pfft.... kids these days, they get bored and jaded at the drop of a hat. I still love this stuff, it's always changing and always will. Cycles and phases ara a constant. Remember back in '97 when EVERYONE was doing the SE7EN graphic style. Then God rays reigned supreme.... then growing vines....etc.

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@Todd: I love you guys. I still have a Photoshop 1 for Mac floppy disk somewhere.

 

I think the excitement in 2003 when I joined had a lot to do with the rapid evolution of this field. Naturally that pace can only be sustained for so long. Not that things aren't constantly moving, of course. The people behind many of the rapid leaps in that evolution were available online, such as in this forum. Of course, now that it's all hit the big time, people are too busy to sit on forums. It's treat day here at our office.

 

Cf

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Thanks for your replies, everyone.

 

Just so you know, while my original post reflects some of my own feelings, I wrote it more from the perspective of those who had once been an active part of the mograph.net community and are now gone. Personally, I am the type to cling to an old hangout until the bitter end. Though, I don't think mograph.net is at an end, it's just between spikes of real interest. I think I agree with Beaver and Firemind that it is mostly the newer, younger, less-experienced professionals, students, and hobbyists that frequently visit forums like this. The professionals doing the super high-end work are too busy to hang out and pontificate about what mograph is and where it is going. That leaves us who only wish we were busy doing awesome work to fill the forum trenches. Is that the key, then? Is it the younger generation that will start actually talking about mograph in forums?

 

Zook and anothername, you both referred to the maturity of film. As a film major, I've studied film history and I know that film also has had its shares of ups and downs. Some of the ups were associated with technological advances and novel gimmicks, sure. But many of the more meaningful rises in interest are associated with rising young generations of new film-makers. In the 1920s it was Soviet filmmakers experimenting with film grammar and deciding what style should define the Revolution. In the 1940s-50s it was the French New Wave, where angry young film-critics wrote manifestos about how film should portray life as it is, unstructured and difficult, and then made their own films based on those ideals. In the 1970s the first generation of American film-students came into Hollywood with an academic knowledge of film theory, film history, and foreign film, and pushed Hollywood itself into a more artistic realm. And then, as some of my professors believe, Star Wars introduced the blockbuster film to Hollywood and ruined much of the artistic value it had gained. The film industry returned to novelty as special effects became the driving force of the Hollywood economy. In many ways, film as art has yet to recover from that blow.

 

So, we are (for the most part) the younger generation of motion-graphics artists, because we are still visiting this site. What do we do as a younger generation? Do we write manifestos? Do we point out everything that we don't like about the current trends in motion graphics and then make our own reactionary work instead? Do we do that here on mograph.net, because hey, here is a space that no one is putting to much use, so let's use it? Do we purposefully make a change to our current circumstances? Or is it better to stay calm, go with the flow, and let what will happen happen?

Edited by jayfaker

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So, we are (for the most part) the younger generation of motion-graphics artists, because we are still visiting this site. What do we do as a younger generation? Do we write manifestos? Do we point out everything that we don't like about the current trends in motion graphics and then make our own reactionary work instead? Do we do that here on mograph.net, because hey, here is a space that no one is putting to much use, so let's use it? Do we purposefully make a change to our current circumstances? Or is it better to stay calm and let what will happen happen?

 

Although I love pontificating on mograph.net/talking shit as much as the next guy I don't know that really get's us anywhere. I am trying to do more short film, video installation etc. kind of work. Not that I really expect to be doing anything revolutionary or push the medium or whatever, but I just think it would be cool to use whatever mograph skillz I have in a medium with a little more emotional depth. Trying to get a few of these projects off the ground now, I'll see how it goes....

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Although I love pontificating on mograph.net/talking shit as much as the next guy I don't know that really get's us anywhere. I am trying to do more short film, video installation etc. kind of work. Not that I really expect to be doing anything revolutionary or push the medium or whatever, but I just think it would be cool to use whatever mograph skillz I have in a medium with a little more emotional depth. Trying to get a few of these projects off the ground now, I'll see how it goes....

 

Yeah. Don't get me wrong, I don't have any delusions of grandeur. I'm no rockstar designer, and I definitely am no salesman. I just think generating a small amount of momentum around these parts could do a lot of good, maybe in the long run. Like you said, 99.9% or so of projects are commercially based and so it's difficult to expect motion graphics to mature into something deeper. But if the notion gets out that motion graphics in a film could be put to better use than just credits, GUI animations, and comic-book styling, then maybe people would start funding film projects that use motion graphics for a higher purpose.

Edited by jayfaker

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Doesn't seem realistic to me to compare mograph to film at all. Film is at its best when it gets out of the way and just lets the message & feeling through. Any piece of creative work will have lasting and true impact when it does that. Mograph in its very nature is more in the way. When was the last time you saw motion graphics that didn't, no matter how subtle and appropriate, draw your attention over and say "hey, I'm motion graphics! look at me!"

 

Looking for the next phase in mograph that's going to take it deeper seems to me like looking for a cake frosting recipe that will make a great substitute for cake.

 

Not saying it's a craft that can't be made more powerful, but I think it's like anothername said, mograph's potency isn't going to go anywhere as long as it's tied to advertising. thank goodness.

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this post it`s soo merry xmass mograph style, (or c`mon bitches, let`s do some talk before changing the dial :)

 

Let us hope for a sexy 2011!

 

 

PS: Maybe mograph spectrum got wider and wider and got to be implemented in more than just commercials.

 

PS@PS(5days later): Where is Govinda :unsure:

Edited by stoiqa

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Doesn't seem realistic to me to compare mograph to film at all. Film is at its best when it gets out of the way and just lets the message & feeling through. Any piece of creative work will have lasting and true impact when it does that. Mograph in its very nature is more in the way. When was the last time you saw motion graphics that didn't, no matter how subtle and appropriate, draw your attention over and say "hey, I'm motion graphics! look at me!"

 

I agree with you for the most part. Motion graphics and graphic design are presentational by nature, and that usually conflicts with a narrative storyline. Most motion-graphics put into films has taken away more than it has given. But isn't that also because the motion-graphics are more ancillary in the films they ARE put in, and so when they call out for attention they are distracting you from what you really should be watching? The effects in Stranger than Fiction distracted, because they were so in the foreground, yet they revealed so little about the character. They didn't really have much reason to be there. They were there for fun but little else.

 

But look at this: http://www.autofuss.com/001/ That isn't distracting is it? I know it's a very short film, and maybe doesn't show much, but what if a film had stuff like this throughout, where the mograph actually revealed things about a character, or where it illustrated the stream of consciousness of a character and how that character makes decisions that on the surface would seem illogical and out of place? I think there would be a way to do it where the mograph is so integral that it is what you should be looking at rather than a distraction in the periphery.

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