What is motion graphic (and how everything started)

It’s easy to say moving graphics … Let’s discover better the characteristics and history of this form of art


Many years ago, there was a time when the only known graphic design was only that flat and static.

Then motion graphics broke into her, and from then on nothing was as it was before.

As you can guess by translating the word itself from English, motion graphic means moving graphics: the art of design transported on a multimedia level, thanks to the combination of space and time factors. In other words, practically every project in which there is a moving graphic element is a work of motion graphics.


What a motion graphic designer does

Motion graphics artists are therefore able to give life to static graphics with the use of visual effects, animations and cinematic techniques, in order to create an interesting and engaging product.

Their goal is only one: to communicate a message, or to provoke an emotional response, from their audience.

To succeed, of course, they need to constantly look for original and innovative ideas to move their graphics, combining audio components, videos, photographs, animations and illustrations. The results, on the other hand, can be the most varied: from the credits of a film to music videos, from TV graphics to DVD menus, from commercials to videogames, from animated logos for websites to interactive web pages, up to company presentations.


Motion and software


The skills that a motion graphic artist must possess are vast and varied: not only the basics of graphic design, but also a deep knowledge of the latest specialized software, as well as the ability to interact with other artists and designers and, obviously, with the computer.

But the main gift remains that required in the production of any work of art: that is creativity.

The main software used by the designers of motion graphics are certainly Adobe After Effects, Flash or even Cinema4D.

What they all have in common, however, is the ability to combine video, text, music, speech, data visualization, special effects and even 3D animations.

This is the most modern way in which, today, motion graphic artists continue to realize their goal: to infuse a breath of life into a graphic content that, without them, would remain sadly and inevitably static.


History and evolution of motion graphic


If we want to start from afar, we could also trace the history of motion graphics long before the invention of electronics and new media.

Think of the presentations on animated books or zootropes, already in use in the nineteenth century, which certainly can be included in the aforementioned definition of moving graphics.

Naturally, it was the cinema industry that began its evolution towards a more precise and refined art form: especially thanks to the pioneers of the headline sequences such as Saul Bass and Elaine Bass.

Their works (featured in some of the big screen classics of the 50s-60s as The Golden-Skinned Man, The Woman Who Lived Twice, Psycho, Storm on Washington) had indeed the ability to communicate the atmosphere of the film through the use of very simple graphics.

But the first to recognize the role of this form of art and to begin to indicate it with this term was John Whitney, one of the fathers of computer animation, who in 1960 founded his company that was responsible for creating his own theme for the television and the cinema, whose name was, precisely, Motion Graphics Inc.

Already in the ’70s, Whitney began to use digital processes for his work: the modern motion graphic was officially born.

Of course, even after this date, motion graphics did not stop being made even with traditional animation techniques, but while these still remain very expensive and slow to be put into practice, the spread of computerized tools has progressively and fortunately made this form more and more accessible art.