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From graphic design to motion design: Biggest challenge?

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For those who went from a transitional graphic design background into motion design, What was the most difficult aspect of the transition? Translating design concepts to motion? I find that I sometimes struggle to be really creative with my concepts when considering motion. I have been so focused on a defined canvas.

 

-gl

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I struggle with that too.

As an experiment, try to start with motion design and move "backwards" to: what-it-should-look-like kinda thing.

Maybe that's just moving planes around, then deciding later that they should be "rocks" or "clouds" etc

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Biggest challenge for me was realizing that motion design is essentially a filmmaking medium that utilizes design theories. That's a long way from thinking that it's animated graphic design. You can certainly animate graphics, as a lot of people do, but the outcome is typically pretty forgettable.

 

So you can take all of your accumulated knowledge about typography, hierarchy, composition, visual metaphor, etc., and put it in your back pocket while you go about your study of storytelling through editing, pacing, story structure, and all of the myriad filmmaking concerns. That way, you're more likely to start thinking about a project from the standpoint of communicating the story through flimmaking means, while the construction of your images will utilize your design knowledge. Then when you get better at using both together, they'll kind of meld into one giant toolset.

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What Binky said, plus buy a pad and pencil and draw everything before you start (but you're a designer, so you're doing that already, right?). Storyboard with little sketches. Compose shots with little sketches. Study colours and grading too.

 

Most of all, when you look, see.

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Why would a graphic designer go near motion? The pay is no longer middle class, the hours are beyond belief. It's a blue collar field. We were always jealous the way PSD artists made so much more, and have a faster path toward art directing.

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Why would a graphic designer go near motion? The pay is no longer middle class, the hours are beyond belief. It's a blue collar field. We were always jealous the way PSD artists made so much more, and have a faster path toward art directing.

 

 

Kinda have to disagree on being a blue collar job. We are not digging ditches or roofing here. I think there is plenty of money to be made well above middle class in some situations, and more and more seems a lot my gigs are going toward web and other video multi-platforms videos like ipads youtube tv etc. even projection mapping its def. expanding and replacing some print mediums. For the hours issues yea it can suck but grow some balls and put your foot down and not works those crazy hours. I feel if you let the studios run you over they will so don't let them it up to you to hand over the power to them anyway to do that and having graphic design background from print to motion can be a excellent resource. Blinky kinda nailed it study moving images film etc. they all mesh together well.

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Why would a graphic designer go near motion? The pay is no longer middle class, the hours are beyond belief. It's a blue collar field. We were always jealous the way PSD artists made so much more, and have a faster path toward art directing.

 

I feel that you are only looking at it from your point of view. I saw motion graphics as an evolution of graphic design, the next level... and for me nothing compares to the sheer enjoyment of making great looking films that you can be proud of, which I see as being like the next level of design. But like I said this is not going to be everybodies cup of tea, some people get just as much enjoyment out of making static designs or creating concepts.

 

I agree with CoinStar though that there are so many applications for it and if you get yourself in the right situation you can do some amazingly varied stuff, I find it very exciting that new techniques are being harnessed all of the time and the field is constantly evolving.

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Motion is fun and as far as the money goes I can buy more bananas than I could possible eat.

 

I think Blinky is right. It's more about story-telling than animated design. The tech is new but the craft has been around as long as we have.

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It's more about story-telling than animated design. The tech is new but the craft has been around as long as we have.

I think a lot of people making their way in motion design are in the same struggle to understand this. They mostly come from either the design world, where the term for how you communicate something is called "the concept" and is executed as one image, or they come from the technical/software world where communication is a non-issue and the concern is typically how they're going to achieve a designated effect.

 

Developing a rich understanding of the weird operating principles and possibilities of motion design is even harder when there's really no history of the medium to look to, and little established theory on how it functions or what its place is. There's no bible of motion design, no standard curriculum. Mograph as a medium is the youngest child in a family of giants including film, tv, print, the written word, illustration, photography, and even web design. It's still working on its own self-identity while being thrown around by its older brothers.

 

All of that said, as individuals we're struggling to understand a pretty ill-defined thing. And for lots of practitioners, that struggle is taking place in the context of making shit like lower 3rds or endtags, or having been plopped down in front of a computer and asked to "add graphic elements" to some 30sec spot because it's a turd that needs a thick coat of polish. Where does the motion design begin and end? What the fuck is it?

 

I don't know if there's a good answer to that question just yet, but when there is, it'll probably refer to methods of storytelling via filmmaking principles while utilizing design methodologies. That's sort of a mouthful, but if you look at examples of good work that you really like, even if it's just endtags and menu systems, you can probably discern inherent design principles AND some semblance of narrative. If it's good, it's likely in there.

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My biggest challenge with motion design has always been General Binky. The secret is to punch high and once he blocks that, immediately knee him in the nuts. Watch out for the uppercut or whatever the hell he does. Bob out of the way and then hit him low again. Once you get past Binky, the rest of the levels are pish.

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The one thing i found was a big challenge was mastering the workflow. I wouldn't know how to properly start a project, and take the appropriate steps to get the work done right and let things fall into place.

Fast forward 7 years, and I have such a better understanding on workflow. I'll sit down and write out the problem and my attempt at the solution. I'll do the research and concept development (this could be styleframes OR just sketches). Then I'll prep the media. Whether it would be creating models and setting up renders, or roto'ing shots, or building PSD comps/ AI comps. The whole time, I will have frames to go by. I'll know what is coming up next this way. Then actually animate. Start putting comps together and timing it.

 

Basically, everyone does it a little differently, but having a proper understanding of workflow and organization will help your project get off the ground and into doing the core work smoothly...

And also wrapping your mind around timelines helps..

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My biggest challenge with motion design has always been General Binky. The secret is to punch high and once he blocks that, immediately knee him in the nuts. Watch out for the uppercut or whatever the hell he does. Bob out of the way and then hit him low again. Once you get past Binky, the rest of the levels are pish.

You sassy bitch.

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Along the lines of what Binky has been saying, check out these books. They are pretty general and I think a lot of the topics they cover translate well into motion graphics:

 

David Mamet, On Directing Film. Mamet drives me nuts. He's an Eisenstein disciple and everything else is shit. I don't always agree with him, but he talks very clearly about the process of telling a narrative sequentially in a succession of discrete images. Just because you can fly your little 3D camera around for a full 30-sec doesn't mean you should. Learn to make each shot/image matter and advance a narrative.

 

Try to find a book on animation by Chuck Jones (can't remember the name offhand). He discusses how they developed all kinds of techniques to convey emotion from the simple limitations of the cartoon medium. Jones is a really strong person to look at for how to express emotion and personality with simple techniques. Also check out his Story of the Dot and the Line (it's on YouTube I'm sure). Brilliant.

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booyakasha.

 

motion design is essentially a filmmaking medium that utilizes design theories.

 

please stop fucking around with spheres and pointless fucking geometry. dubstep is not your toy so stop with the text in fracture object shit. yes it looks cool and momma's happy for ya. next.

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Why would a graphic designer go near motion? The pay is no longer middle class, the hours are beyond belief. It's a blue collar field. We were always jealous the way PSD artists made so much more, and have a faster path toward art directing.

 

well the pay depends on how much of a badass you are. if you are a level 1 badass, obviously you will get paid like a chump. if you are a level 10 badass, then you bathe in fiji water, or whatever level 10 badasses bathe in.

 

hours are going to suck no matter what high paying job you should find yourself in. whether it's wall street or the ER.

 

but yes, designers get the fast track to directing. that's just the nature of the beast. no house has the budget or time to send clients full animation tests for 11th hour pitches that can compete with flushed out boards. the product is red not blue? ok well just give me an hour to rerender.

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Actually, that is helpful for me to think of this more along the lines of story rather than a series of static designs. I have been on both sides - filmmaking and design - and the former is easier for me to use as a framework. I will say that I chose Graphic Design as a study pursuit in college because it felt more based on principles than most film programs (those seemed more interested in how to push buttons). My intention was always to apply it to film and storytelling though.

 

-gl

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Why would a graphic designer go near motion? The pay is no longer middle class, the hours are beyond belief. It's a blue collar field. We were always jealous the way PSD artists made so much more, and have a faster path toward art directing.

This brings up an interesting point. Has anybody decided to go the other way; from motion graphics to graphic design? What have been your experiences? Do you have any advice? I've found myself recently wanting the fruits of my labors to manifest themselves in some physical thing (package, product etc..), not just pixels on a screen.

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The funny thing is that I have said the same thing as a graphic designer to a client who is a landscape design firm. Talk about creating something that has a physical impact. Then they get to see it mature and become. Most designers see their work expire with trends and ad campaigns - Milton Glasier and a handful of others notwithstanding.

 

The constant need to visually reinvent in order to catch the attention of the low-brow buyer is invigorating and depressing at times.

 

-gl

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I for one think it can only help to have some sort of graphic design background when working in motion.

 

I've worked with some technically amazing motion people who struggle to lay out a simple line of text correctly. Since a lot of motion work can be text based it really helps to have the basic foundation of type/layout at the core.

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