Ta da! The Reveal.


Whether Sherlock Holmes , Hercule Poirot or any mystery or suspense story, the big reveal at the end answers all questions. It’s the final revelation of information that has previously been kept from the characters and/or the viewers— ”Soylent Green is people!” It’s the turning point from confusion to awareness— ”Luke, I am your father”. Oops. Spoiler alert.

In the animation and motion graphics industries, the term “reveal” has come to mean any “magical” on-screen visual effect that exposes something that wasn’t there before the effect. Acting as  a “wipe” or “transition”, it generally moves across the screen exposing the revealed message in its wake. To create the magic, particle systems (the tech term for a bunch of 3D specks) are usually employed. I use them in both 3D and 2D work. Particle systems produce dynamic fluids like smoke, fire, dust and sand, liquids and snow which are all great materials for making reveals. As the fluid passes in front of the viewer and disappears, the message appears behind it.

As one who “makes magic happen”,  I like to use them and my clients ask for them and love the results. Reveals work perfectly for presenting logos and unveiling products. They add a stimulating visual to hold the audience attention and direct focus. Ooh, shiny!


Watching a logo, or text, create itself in “real time” is always exciting, especially if it can create itself out of seeming chaos. I currently have reveals of the Linea Forma logo and our blog logo, looping on the front page of our website. The letters of the type and any other graphic elements of the logo are birthed from nowhere by seemingly random colored blobs running all over the surface until they form into the logos. It’s a powerful and hypnotic effect, even for type-only logos. Logo reveals work great for websites and trade show displays, where a static use of the corporate logo might not catch the viewer’s eye in a limited timeframe. They work because there is constant movement that is clearly building to a revealing conclusion, and the viewer has to pause for the visual reward, even if they already know the conclusion.


The product reveal is similar to yanking the sheet off a covered artwork at a gallery opening. It’s a mystery what the final image will be until the moment of the reveal. But digitally, the sheet can become anything, and become an experience in itself, extending the revealing moment, while enhancing it. On a recent project, a pair of swirling fluid shapes of contrasting colors spin upward and slowly evolve into the actual new product as the fluids disappear. The entire process is interesting and captivating, and the reveal of the product is the payoff, more so than the static product alone.

If you are considering something different to catch your audience’s attention, this might be one way. Let’s talk about it.

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Bill Giobbi (bgob1) is founder and owner of Linea Forma Design, a 38 year old design firm specializing in creating graphic content for print, web and video. He is a graphic designer, industrial designer, model maker, technical illustrator and a digital 3D content creator/animator, with a love of all things design.
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