Job titles are a funny thing, especially in the creative sector. In animation, most people are familiar with the 2D animator, but less so the motion designer.
You’ll find us in the credits list for all advertising campaigns. No, down a bit… bit further… below that. Yep, there we are! A credits list is just a list of people involved in a project, but it also represents a hierarchy and, like most hierarchical systems, it does scant justice to us ‘lower downs’.
A credits list is just a list of people involved in a project, but it also represents a hierarchy.
The motion designers in my team, and those I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years, are some of the most innovative, enthusiastic and creative individuals I know. So, how can motion designers help clients realise their vision, and do we need more justice from the hierarchal credits format?
But, first things first, just what do I mean by motion designer?
Above: A credits list is just a list of people involved in a project, but, says Comline, it also represents a hierarchy.
I’ll start at the very beginning. I cut my teeth working at a big Soho post house in the ‘Mac room’. Every studio had one; it was a place where we’d extract artwork from Zip drives and Jazz drives (remember those?) and prep them in Photoshop for Infinity, Smoke and Flame suites. Pretty quickly, we realised our Macs were an increasingly badass piece of kit.
In 2023 we remain the underdogs, even though we’re present at every stage of the process.
Adobe gave us After Effects, Illustrator and Premiere, then Shake (proto Nuke) and Cinema 4D, which was like Maya light. Apple, in its glory days, was knocking out increasingly powerful machines for a snip, compared to what studios were paying for VFX suites. Pretty soon, we weren’t just prepping end frames, we could do the whole job.
But, that all said, in 2023 we remain the underdogs, even though we’re present at every stage of the process. For creative projects, the motion designer takes on the role of director, creative and artist. We put together winning pitches, slick style frames, mood boards and animation tests. We edit in Premiere, create special effects in After Effects and build assets from scratch in Cinema 4D; whether that’s products, particles or anything else you can think of.
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Above: Motion designers, says Comline, can take a project from concept to completion.
Our unparalleled skillset is creatively and financially beneficial to clients. We’re multi-talented generalists so, as a result, we’re nimble enough to meet tight budgets and prioritise our workflow to stay on schedule. In jobs like The Marketing Practice [above], where our motion design team worked with the agency to take the concept from storyboard, to modelling, lighting, animating assets including cloth sims and hair sims, through edit and finally assembling and comping the finished master.
Just one small team, seeing it through from start to finish.
Motion designer might be a bit of a ‘catch-all’ term.
This self-sufficient, all-encompassing work ethic can also be scaled up. We’re able to work on larger-than-life projects. Just look at this Piccadilly Lights takeover for JD Sports! Another example of a team of motion designers modelling, lighting, animating, comping and rendering – just on a larger scale!
Motion designer might be a bit of a ‘catch-all’ term, and we might not have fought our way to the top of the credits list yet. But we’re an A-team.
If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you should be hiring motion designers.