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Design | R&D

Motion Design Inspiration of the Month!

When introducing my professional self, the title ‘Motion Designer’ is always met with bemused expressions. Motion design is a strange creature; it spills into a host of disciplines and its end product can come in endless shapes and sizes. From tiny smart phone screens to storey-high electronic billboards, a ‘standard’ day for me working at The ICE Agency can be anything from designing a 1 second loading bar for an app, to directing a lengthy photo-realistic 3D animation. Anything that moves falls under the motion design umbrella; the question is the way it moves. My professor at university used to describe it as ‘dancing, but with shapes’. Motion can really bring a piece together. It can add a naturality that can make an audience empathise and engage with even the most inert PowerPoint presentation. But no matter what I’m designing, the lessons learned from one brief can always transfer to another. For example, seeing how a stylish website menu moves can inspire an idea for how an animated character walks. So, with a voracious appetite for all things innovative in animation and motion graphics, it is a habit to seek inspiration. Here are some that have inspired my work this month…

1. Creative director, Gareth O’Brien, helped to bring this looping assembly together to honour the release of the new season of Twin Peaks by merging objects from the show through swimming, meticulously hand drawn frames.


2. It can always be tricky to master the technique of altering your animation style to match each specific client brief. It’s important to let each animation to be driven by the client’s message (rather than the other way around). Motionographer, Sander van Dijk, is an expert in this and this month he allowed a peek behind the curtain by releasing behind the scenes videos of his workflow, leaving in all the anchor-points and markers that are invisible in the final version. Even though these aren’t designed to be seen by the public, the level of complexity revealed in such a simple looking animation makes this a work of art in itself.


3. Motion maestros, Giant Ant, were given a virtually impossible brief: advertising a new piece of cereal that has no distinguishing characteristics or core concept. They took this challenge and brought it front and centre by making a video about it being… something.


4. Designing motion for a website is always a challenge. How do you find room for creative flourishes when the constraints are so tight? The web designer is driven by two steps:
1) Clarify what needs to be conveyed
2) Find the simplest way to get that across to the user.
The real achievement comes when both of these marks are hit while still finding room for personality. This search bar animation struck me as a perfect example.


5. Often a client will want to convey an abstract feeling rather than a message they can put into words. For the new Assassins Creed game, Ash Thorp, was asked to visualise the abstract feeling of intense data. An incredibly prolific motion designer, he works on high-profile films and games that seek to capture that elusive, cutting-edge feel. And, lucky for motion designers, each project is accompanied by a medley video, condensing and showcasing everything he has created!


6. A Million Times by Humans Since 1982 is a kinetic installation in Changi Airport Singapore, comprised of 504 clocks all spinning by their own individualised motors, rotating to create pulsating patterns that shift seamlessly between geometric grids and spell out large words. A great example of the complexity that can emerge from simple, well thought-out design.


7. Buck Design are monsters of the industry. They have perfected a carefree style that makes their clients seem approachable and friendly. This animation they created for Bankwest, with its soft comforting textures and welcoming rounded shapes, is the culmination of their approach.


8. Finding a perfect blend between live action footage and 3D animation can result in something that seems like genuine magic. Gentleman Scholar are regularly creating advertisements that make the viewer stop and think ‘Hold on, how did they do that?’.


9. Even the little things can inspire. Loek Vugs creates short looping motions composed of simple colours and shapes that are endlessly watchable. Making little animations like this has gained him a substantial following and he’s since been working with big-name brands.


10. MTV approached designer and animator, Joel Plosz, to create fun 15 second pieces using his trademark style. He uses simple, strong colour schemes and angular graphic designs to make his work stand out from anything else out there. He shows that making a bold stylistic statement can result in a distinct identity that any client would be keen to harness.

"Motion design is a strange creature..."
By James McDonnell
Posted: 17th September 2018
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