Why You Need to Learn About Motion Graphics

Collapsar. Optical Illusion

If you’re a fan of the show Mad Men or have seen the opening, then you’ve seen a motion graphic. Motion graphics were all the rage in the 1960s (hence the look for the Mad Men series set in the advertising field of the 1960s) and were popular in movies, TV show openings and commercials. You’ve seen plenty of them, now that you’ve put the graphic with the term. They’re once again on TV, commercials, movies, web sites and any other visual medium.

Is it that they are retro? Do they bring back a feeling of simpler days? Are they just visually pleasing and that’s why they have been discovered again? Some people will say that they never went away and that’s true but they are hot again and the web is filling with them. It’s a logical evolutionary step for the digital medium.

You may be looking at a 30 second motion graphic spot on your homepage as an ad/introduction, a banner ad, part of a presentation or just website content. The fact is, with the rise of video preferences among web users, motion graphics are inexpensive commercials/news/informational spots. You don’t need actors, sets, filming locations, or anything outside of animated graphics, some stock music, maybe a voice over and you have an effective piece of communications that a majority of viewers will watch from beginning to end, as opposed to written content being read.

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Just watching some of these great examples will inspire you. Start thinking about how you can apply this to your business needs.

Not a fan of Mad Men and you’ve never seen the opening? Here’s a few examples of motion graphics from the past…


You’ve probably seen these examples of motion graphics within the past year or so…


“That’s animation,” you might say. Well, yes… and no. Motion graphics are the use of video, graphics and animation technology to create the illusion of motion. MG is usually assigned as a descriptor for movie or TV openings, combined with a theme song or score, even if all the images may just be illustrations as with the cool 1966 Batman opening.

Saul Bass

One cannot speak of motion graphics without mentioning Saul Bass (May 8, 1920 – April 25, 1996). Saul was a graphic designer and filmmaker, perhaps best known for his design of film posters and motion picture title sequences.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Saul on several occasions but didn’t actually know it was him. He just seemed like a very pleasant older man who chatted with me about our birthplace, the Bronx, New York, life, the Yankees and other non-industry stuff. He never introduced himself but would always recognize me at industry social events and it wasn’t until another older gentleman commented on how “Saul had taken a liking to (me),” that I realized I had some brushes with greatness. I had never called him by name, choosing to just say “hey!” or “how ya doin’!” every time we met.

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I asked this gentleman what Saul’s last name was and he stood dumbfounded. He said with astonishment, “you didn’t know you’ve been buddy-buddy with Saul Bass?”

I guess that proves once again that the bigger they are, the less they need to talk about how great they are. Unfortunately, I never saw Saul again as he passed away a short time later. I probably would have been a bit tongue-tied knowing I was speaking with THE Saul Bass. Perhaps my not caring is what he liked about shooting the breeze with me.

Saul worked for some of Hollywood’s greatest filmmakers, including Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese. Amongst his most famous title sequences are the animated paper cut-out of a heroin addict’s arm for Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm, the credits racing up and down what eventually becomes a high-angle shot of the United Nations building in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, and the disjointed text that races together and apart in Psycho.

He also designed some of the most iconic corporate logos in North America, including the AT&T “bell” logo in 1969, as well as AT&T’s “globe” logo in 1983, after the breakup of the Bell System. He also designed Continental Airlines’ 1968 “Jetstream” logo and United Airlines’ 1974 “tulip” logo, which became some of the most recognized airline industry logos of the era.

Here’re some words of wisdom from Saul that will affect the way you look at creating…

Here’s a unique use of motion graphics for a music video. The musical group, Gorillaz, has all of their videos animated.


Whether it’s what’s old is new again, or that you just can’t deny creative genius, but motion graphics are back, big and will be an integral part of the web, both through all devices but also in augmented reality we will all soon enjoy.

Top image ©GL Stock Images


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