What it means to be a motionographer

Hello, this is Anthony from 522 Productions, in Alexandria, Va. I have been the motionographer at 522 Productions for the past two and half years. I thought I would share what it means to be a motiongrapher, the importance of the concept, and a little bit about myself just to put this whole dialogue in to context.

First, a little about myself. I started doing video just a short time before there was a thing called “digital”. There were certainly computers, but Intel’s Pentium line had not been released. So, since the early to mid 90’s, video has been my passion. Around 99’ or so, I got into doing stuff in Photoshop, mostly making goofy signature tags for my friends. In 07’ I started puttering around in Motion, creating procedurally driven animations. Finally in 09’, I joined the 522 team and have been creating cool logo bumps and other video magic.

Looking back at my life, career and education, there is one thing I wish I had when I was growing, and that is a mentor. I would have asked questions such as “Where do you start?”, “Is it OK to not know the exact process to take when creating stuff?” So, my suggestion to all those who just found that you can manipulate images in Photoshop, or create animations in After Effects, editing video in some NLE, or even illustrating in Illustrator, is….

  • Have fun
  • Find some designer that inspires you
  • Find what you really enjoy doing and don’t worry about the how, that will come with time

I say discover what you like because I find that when it comes to creative/art based fields, passion and excitement are the keys to happiness and success. At the same time don’t be afraid to discover new ways to do what you like doing. For instance, if you are a fan of using the built in flare effect in Photoshop, go out and take some pictures of some real flares and try to integrate those. Or, if you like making flat objects, try using gradients to give the object some depth. Basically, the most important thing is to find what you like doing and experiment, experiment, experiment. Oh, and for you technical brains out there, there are no formulas, or the right way to do something; it’s not about the process, its about the end. The process only allows you to do what you did faster and better the next time!

When I was in school, and I had to write a story, I would always think about cool shots, and cool sequences, but never about the glue that held it together….which is essentially the story. If you take this analogy and apply it to the motion graphic world, the story would be the concept, the “why”, and the cool shot, the “how”. Let me tell you, it is nearly impossible to create a motion graphic without the “why!” I find that it is easy to be caught up with merely the technical effects and gloss of creating motion graphics rather than creatively developing a concept, or a world that you can populate with awesome stuff.

With that, spending the time in the beginning to create the concept will make the how much easier because you already know the “why”. Yes, there are still technical challenges in front of you, but at least you only have a technical one and not a creative one. Having a well developed idea really helps you to create very creative pieces that are consistent and cohesive. It allows you to be able to make changes and derivatives without sacrificing the overarching concept. Finally, it allows you to think of the cool visuals because you no longer have to think about how it will fit into the concept of the piece.

Now….be inspired and go create.

Resources

Creating a video doesn't have to be complicated. Here are a few resources to help you along the way.

  • New to Video?

    A first timer's guide to
    producing video.

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  • How Much is
    a Video Worth?

    A complete guide to
    calculating the ROI of video.

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