Is it animated or is it motion graphics?

posted in: Business of Design 0

How do you tell the difference?

I throw the terms 4D, animation, and motion graphics around here a lot. So here’s a little primer on my own definition for each term.

When I use the term 4D, I’m referring to the fourth dimension: spacetime. Movement requires time. So 4D is motion.

Animation is a broad term for all things that are animated both digitally and stop action (as in claymation). For my own purposes, I use the term to refer to creating a 3D software model, character, or special effect, and then animating its movement or changes over time, and rendering the 24-30 images of movement to disk for each second of animation required in the sequence. The end results are turned into a movie or video clip with post-production software. You can see examples I have created in my animation portfolio.

Motion Graphics is the term I use for animation that is created in a hybrid “2.5”D space that creates an illusion of 3D by using different layers in video editing software. A typical example would be television advertising or videos in which words and objects fly in and out from the edges of the screen, apparently in front or in back of each other. Motion is also used to distort and modify elements, for additional effects. In our increasingly digital world, movement is essential to hold the viewer’s constantly searching eyes and mind. Motion graphics are ubiquitous in advertising today. The video clip above illustrates motion graphics by layering 2D images from foreground to background and creating the illusion of depth by moving them independently. Additional examples of motion graphics are found here.

A combination of animated elements and motion graphics can all come together in the final post-production step, with software that allows me to work out all the final video and audio timing and editing.

My digital graphic design tools now are a mix of: print production; 3D modeling/ rendering/ animation/CAD software; along with motion graphics, and post-production video and audio editing software, that allow my studio to do, on a very small scale, an amazing range of 4D video projects for my clients. The software I use today allows me to produce results I never would have dreamed possible 10 years ago. Now every aspect of 2D, 3D, and 4D designwork is achievable, to the delight of this designer’s heart. It sure never gets boring. Next?

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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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