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Developing original motion ideas


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#1 _gl

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 07:54 PM

Where do you come up with your ideas for motion/movement for objects? 

 

As a designer, I have been sketching and concepting with a pencil for many years for layout, logo, illustration, etc. What I am finding difficult to translate this process to is actually moving those objects - especially when they don't have an obvious motivation. Primarily this comes up when I get a client that wants the standard mograph deliverable, logo animation, I find myself struggling with ideas on how to make it interesting. I hate the standard camera moves that feel unmotivated yet, that seems to be what happens a lot. I just wondered what others do in ideation especially when the project doesn't really call for specifics "ACME Widgets, Inc.".

 

-gl


Edited by _gl, 07 January 2013 - 07:55 PM.


#2 jaypeeare

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 10:15 PM

I've came up with a recent workflow that helps (with myself and the company I work for) with that process. Typically my director will come up with some sketches, just a general storyboard with little to no timing in mind. I'll go in Cinema as fast as possible to get the general camera moments, simple animation, rough timing that I feel is appropriate and try to get the energy the project is trying to produce, pretty much a previs. I'll render hardware renders & pop them in to After Effects, make some timing adjustments, cut some ends here & there. I'll show it to my director then well usually just keep chugging away at it with iterations with the camera movements & more specific animation points in the spot trying to ignore the littler pieces that can be added in later once the edit is pretty much locked.

 

I'm sure a lot of other people work like this but it's become more apparent that this works for me best. I always thought it was best to really sit down to conceptualize & storyboard on what would happen in the piece but in the end those storyboards & ideas can only go so far till you have to get animating & laying down the pacing of the whole piece. I'm not necessarily saying conceptualizing & storyboarding aren't important, they are in fact really important but you eventually got to get grinding cause this is motion graphics & we usually don't get a lot of time. Most times the small things that happen to the concepts & storyboards don't actually end up happening in the end cause we eventually figure out what works better once we start seeing it in motion & that there is where the better ideas come out with iteration after iteration. I can see this not working everywhere but for the smaller places I think works well cause you're able to get everyone in together after each iteration to throw some more ideas at it that may or may not work.

 

That's my two cents I guess.



#3 Binky

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 10:46 PM

In doing animation for abstracted things like logos, you're really asking yourself some of the same questions as when you're designing the logos themselves. You're representing some entity, or some set of ideas, which may be very broad or nebulous, so you have some strategies that help you communicate something simpler, or more personable or relateable about that nebulous thing. Maybe the logo design makes a reference to an external idea that seems relevant, or maybe it's a metaphor for an ideology, or maybe it's a pastiche, or a simple pun, or an anthropomorphic character, etc. Whatever that logo design strategy is, the end result is a single, contained image which tells the viewer something relevant.

 

The animation of that logo can really follow a similar design process, where one of many strategies can be employed. Say the logo is for a rock climbing gym, and is an illustration of a small rock. The design isn't a literal strategy, because a small rock doesn't represent a rock wall, or climbing, or gyms. It's a slight pun (a stupid pun, granted, gimme a break). The question you ask now is: what can I communicate about this climbing gym by using animation, with this rock logo as a main element? And those ideas that you want to communicate, typically in support of or in juxtaposition with those inherent in the logo, will tend to suggest different strategies. And the balancing act you'll play will be to do it in a way that is still fitting for both the logo and the gym itself. So you might make a reference to climbing by animating a bunch of small rocks falling, as if down a steep surface, with the hero rock coming to rest in its place, all in a way that implies that someone's foot just loosed gravel, or that there's a micro avalanche on a rock face. That idea is contingent on your ability to animate finely enough that you can convey the specificity of the situation, but if successful, takes the visual pun of the logo and adds a new spin to it, with new meaning.

 

It's important to note that some strategies are going to require more or less work than others, but that once you have a strategy or solution in mind, you're already in a better position than if you were just winging it with some camera moves and a combo of wipes and slides and other arbitrary bullshit. When you build arbitrary motion, most importantly you're not really doing anything for your viewer, but you're also not helping yourself much because it's hard to tell whether your design is succeeding if you don't have a goal against which to measure it. So find a motivation for your animation by looking at it as a design problem, and accomplish the goal you set by looking at what the animation is actually communicating. If the motion isn't conveying much, it probably isn't motivated, and you just need to dig into the problem like a designer until your goals are really clear to you.



#4 iline

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Posted 07 January 2013 - 11:13 PM

I just spent the day watching Ren & Stimpy episodes on youtube. If someone briefs me tomorrow on a logo treatment, it's going to be animated a lot better than if I hadn't.

 

Sad as it may be, animation is a neglected area of motion graphics theory (being the nascent field that it is) and so any movement that can be added to your scenes should be considered and well keyframed. The problem I face with motivation in motion graphics is the fact that it is primarily object-based (a camera revolving around a floating object, with hero-centric mis-en-scene) - so ultimately the challenge you face is using an extremely limited palette to convey a variety of meanings. Binky's sage enough - design is communication. But that doesn't mean it has to be a solemn reflection of your client's values, or a hard sell, or less than fun to build in software and render out. The fun lies in putting life into otherwise quite dull scenarios. The majority of motion design showreels reflect this - with usually quite heavy-handed approaches.

 

What you can do is get arty on the way things move. Have you ever seen how motion graphics freelancers react when tasked with character animation? Either child-like curiosity or fear ensues. But the way things move can bless a scene that is devoid of spirit with an element of life - animation - that is pretty rare in extruded-vector logo stings. I have a bit of beef with the dynamics-obsessed direction things have headed of late, people seem to hate keyframes for some reason. But giving your objects an unnatural, exaggerated movement could well give your projects the swagger they need. It's hard working with the shit logo of a clueless client, so putting the time into the animation rather than trying to set up GI will likely win the day.

 



#5 _gl

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:20 AM

Wait, this is supposed to be fun? :)

 

I agree with the sentiment and that is reason I ask the question. I want the animation to add to the communication. There needs to be an idea evolving from each frame. Otherwise, it's a distraction.

 

On the process side, how do you 'sketch' out these ideas? Do you draw quick thumbnails of storyboards? Animatics? Flipbooks? I am curious how others develop their ideas.

 

-gl



#6 destro

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 12:52 AM

For motion graphic camera work I get a lot of inspiration from watching how real cameras are used in feature films. How the camera itself is used to communicate a mood.

 

For the process of developing ideas I tend to work directly in Cinema 4D or After Effects using basic place holders that I'll later swap out for the fully worked models. It would be nice to sketch things out on paper so I get a break from the screen but the interfaces are so fast now I find I can capture the idea faster straight inside the software.



#7 Binky

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 07:21 AM

Yeah, AE isn't necessarily the most pliable animation environment, but it's still pretty fast for roughing stuff out, and there's an advantage in being able to finish there as well. So you can fiddle with your rough until your rough is your final. And you can do that motion tweaking to a simple shape and apply that easily to your elements if choice. By contrast, flipbooks have none of these advantages. Y'know, in case you needed reasons. (Also I was bored of sitting in a hospital. Still am.)

#8 levante

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 11:37 AM

Animating means putting something to life. Thats why i usually try to imagine how it feels to be the animated object. Does a bouncing logotype feel happy - or does the bouncing cause some serious headaches? How does a camera feel, that is rigged to a racing car at 270 kph etc.? Then i “simply” try to express this feelings via keyframes. (And since simulations are made to simulate the behaviour of “dead” objects, i rarely use them for “hero” objects).






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