I’m Becoming A Right Old Bookworm

So, it’s the Easter break. Three weeks of solid recovery from the stresses of uni life, right? Haha, yes, I know, I’m a funny guy sometimes.

Instead I’m firstly turning my attention squarely to my Design and the Marketplace module. For the end of the Easter break we’re tasked with writing a couple of thousand words for a proposal of our studies over the summer and coming year. I thought I would focus on my particular specialism, the area which I find the most interesting and powerful, which is motion graphics. Applying a graphic sensibility to storytelling injects both sense into narrative and humanity into design. It has incredible potential to convey information in a more human and informal manner, and combines not only the immeasurable wealth of graphic design’s history and principles, but also the history and principles of illustration, animation and filmmaking.

Yet motion graphics is an unusual grey area. For a long time it has been considered a speciality profession. Indeed, Phillip B. Meggs writes in his acclaimed Meggs’ History Of Graphic Design on motion graphics for a solitary paragraph, talking only of film title sequence design. Even now motion design is typically seen by many within the design community as limited to this area, or more recently, broadcast design.

In this sense it feels as though the evolution of motion graphics hasn’t been documented to any real length. With the advent of social network sites dedicated to video, such as YouTube and Vimeo, it’s impossible motion graphics is limited to only broadcast and film design.

Interactive design is also shifting towards motion. FLIPR (shown below) is an app which combines photos of the same place and creates a GIF of the location, changing over time. It’s a demonstration of a typically static item has been converted into something moving and alive. It is, in a sense, a whole new application of motion graphics, one far from the stereotype of film title sequences and broadcast design people usually associate motion design with.

Courtesy of FLIPR, a project by the MIT Mobile Experience Lab and Turkish telecom Avea.

Another example of this new application of motion work emerged a few years ago, with great success amongst marketing agencies. Projection mapping took the 3D model of a real world object and allowed the artist to animate onto the object itself. It allowed for motion graphics to enter the real world in a stunning and spectacular way. Its scale ranged from small art exhibitions to entire corporate skyscrapers and televised events. However, these events tend to carry a hefty novelty to them, meaning that once that value wears off how will this technique be applied? Where will it be applied and how will it be executed in a way that keeps it relevant, and more importantly, needed by clients who can fund it? Ultimately narrative is lacking from these projects, something that was a cornerstone to the evolution of title sequence design, back in the 1950s when Saul Bass pioneered their use.

These are only a couple of applications of the specialism of motion graphics. Surely then it’s potential has been underestimated by mainstream design academia, or the work has not developed enough yet to receive widespread recognition. Perhaps the area is moving too fast to be comprehensively tracked.

My aim for this business plan, therefor, is to try and document these progressions made in this constantly evolving branch of graphic design, that is so often underestimated. It is to look at the ways in which changing technology are affecting how this branch is produced and applied. Furthermore it’s an exploration into how I can explore these possibilities, and to find out what skills and personnel are typically required on these projects. I aim to look at who requires these services, if any, and the longevity of these avenues of exploration. I’ll be looking at previous interviews I conducted over the past few months, with Playdead and Elastic, and getting some more interviews over the next coming months, to try and ascertain a professional perspective on how motion work is used and disseminated in modern culture.

Listening to: 8 by Seams


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