Waarom 3D animatie voor promotie..

Justin Cone explores how the ever-evolving medium of motion can really capture an audience's imagination, and deliver the most complex of concepts with flair.

Motion design is notoriously difficult to define. It's shorthand for the longer but only slightly more helpful term, 'motion graphic design'. For many, this conjures visions of logo animations or cheesy wedding video effects. For others, it suggests abstract 3D shapes undulating in beautifully complex but ultimately meaningless forms.

Motion graphic design, it would seem, is a fairly shallow practice. All artifice, little substance. But if we reconfigure the phrase to 'graphic design in motion', it suddenly blooms with possibility. Graphic design sits at the intersection of many complementary fields. A small sampling from a seasoned graphic designer might include colour theory, photography, illustration and typography - all working harmoniously together to communicate messages. If graphic design were a language (and you could argue that it is), then these skills are some of its verbs. Its nouns run the gamut from branding and advertising to art and architecture.

The language of motion

Adding motion to the mix doesn't simply broaden the skillset of graphic designers, it redefines it. Photography becomes cinematography. Illustration becomes animation. Even the essential skill of layout morphs into something else, something more akin to understanding the rhythmic structures of music than the solid forms of print. Motion design is, in other words, a new language. And designers have only just begun to test the limits of its expressive power.

In 2008, a global economic crisis brought the world's financial markets to their knees. Seemingly overnight, stock prices tumbled, investors panicked and millions of people lost their jobs, their homes and their sense of wellbeing. Dumbstruck, we groped for answers. What the hell had just happened?

Around the same time in New York City, ground zero for the economic epidemic, Jonathan Jarvis was toiling away under a fellowship on UNICEF’s innovation team. His tasks involved translating complex concepts into digestible diagrams. As he crafted interwoven graphics explaining such esoterica as credit default swaps and collateralised debt obligations, he thought back to some earlier animations he'd created while he was studying media design at the Art Center College of Design.

From 2007 to the present day, dozens - and now thousands - of so-called 'explainer videos' started popping up online. Many of these, like Jarvis' work, were aimed at informing the public and benefiting the greater good. But a growing number yearned for a different goal: to sell stuff. Companies with names like Demo Duck, Explanify and Planet Nutshell sprang up to help companies launch products and services using the language of motion design.

Asked if explainer video production is still a growth market today, Demo Duck’s Founder and CEO Andrew Follett said, "Absolutely. And that’s not just a feeling, it’s from the increased demand we’ve seen from all different industries looking for marketing videos."

Television, print and radio ads have almost always focused on why a product will bring you happiness: it will make you sexy. It will make you strong. It will make you rich. With only 30 seconds of airtime or a slice of a magazine spread, broadcast advertising has no time to waste. It must create a problem by dramatising some (often imaginary) inadequacy in you, the consumer, and 'solve' it with a product, service or brand.

Consumers today are still very much susceptible to this approach. It remains the dominant form of advertising. But, much to the consternation of advertisers, the internet has inserted itself between advertisement and purchase. The web, with its vast trove of product reviews, social media updates and shopping tools, has encouraged people to pause for an instant before hitting the 'buy' button or approaching the register.

In short, the web makes it possible to ask one simple but pointed question: How? Exactly how will this product make me sexy? How will it bring me happiness? Answering those questions takes more time than a television spot can allow. Thankfully, on the web, there are no time limits. A spot can be as long as needed, provided it holds the viewer’s attention.

Information versus entertainment

"I remember a project briefing at Google Creative Lab, where one of the art directors drew a Cartesian diagram with 'Information' on the X-axis and 'Entertainment' on the Y-axis," explains Orion Tait, executive creative director at animation studio Buck.

"He then plotted a point in the upper-right quadrant to help explain where on the scale that particular project fell. For example, the piece we made for 'Google Offers' would be higher in entertainment than information, whereas 'Google eBooks' is more didactic."

In a video created for the launch of Google eBooks, Buck exploited motion design’s ability to tell stories across media. Handcrafted stop-action commingles with slick CG animation as the narrator explains the key value points of Google's eBooks platform. Each vignette in the video revolves around a visual metaphor inspired by the voice-over script. The result is a deepening - both on an emotional and intellectual level - of the video's message. This freedom to explore the possibilities in the space between the voice-over and visuals is one of motion design’s most appealing strengths.

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