Tag: animation

The Illusion of Life

A video on the 12 principles of animation titled “The Illusion of Life” by Cento Lodigiani has been making the rounds this week. It’s a very well down breakdown of the animation principles defined in the 1930s, which are still relevant today. What makes this video work so well is the simplicity of the design. By using a simple shape, it focusses the attention on the principle described and shows just how well it works by bringing life to a square. Cento has also created a Tumblr with handy GIFs of each of the principles.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a traditional animator, or if you think motion design is separate from animation, these principles are worth studying. Apply them to your next motion design piece. You’ll have a stronger result because of it.

To learn more about these principles and get a great foundation on animation, I highly recommend The Animator’s Survival Kit by Richard Williams. It’s a great read and reference to have with you at all times.

Designed by Apple – Intention

This animation caught my eye at the open of the WWDC keynote yesterday. It features simple, but nuanced animations and transitions, a monotone color palette, and excellent sound design. The lack of any unnecessary design elements really lets the viewer focus on the progression of simple dots throughout the piece. If anyone has any information on who created this, we’d love to know.

Review of Design Essentials for the Motion Media Artist by Angie Taylor

Design Essentials for the Motion Media Artist cover image

Angie Taylor is an artist, animator and author who has worked in the motion graphics industry for over 15 years. She also does a lot of work for Adobe and Apple evangelizing their products, if you’ve been to NAB or BVE then you’ve probably seen her presenting at the Adobe/FCP booth.

In a step away from standard textbook fare, Design Essentials for the Motion Media Artist is not a software manual, style guide or compendium of protips. Instead it’s a roadmap of the sort of things you need to know if you want to be a motion graphic designer. The principals of drawing, animation, composition, type and editing are all covered, as well as some shorter sections on planning, communication and technical stuff.

Some of the topics covered are lightly skimmed through and some get given the authors full attention but this is to be expected given the author’s background in fine art. For example I liked the attention to detail in the drawing section, but I was surprised that typographic grids were almost ignored in favour of Golden Section and rule-of-thirds. I’m sure everyone will find something to nitpick with this book, that’s the downside of writing about such a sprawling, labyrinthine subject – but I also think that many will agree about how important it is given the current glut of software tutorials which seduce vast swathes of users new to motion design.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach but it can leave designers light on deeper understanding and context. In opposition to this, Angie’s approach is designed to inspire further research and experimentation, as evidenced by the recommended-reading list on the companion site.

In fact it’s an odd compliment to this book that it focuses very much on substance over style. While Angie’s illustrations are something of an aquired taste, there’s no mistaking her authority when discussing the ins and outs of storyboarding or squash and stretch. Make no mistake, Design Essentials veers toward fine art, particularly the animation sections – there’s a mixed media feel to many examples which may sit uncomfortably with those used to the standard Vimeo fare. However, ringing endorsements from designers Mark Coleran and Rob Chiu (AKA TheRonin) should assure readers that Angie knows her stuff when it comes to commercial art too.

I would struggle to recommend this book to anyone above mid-weight mographers – you should know most of this already! However anyone looking to broaden their skillset – and those beginners unsure where to start – would be advised to take this book as their first port of call. Angie’s confident, inspiring and friendly tone will appeal to those put off by more didactic prose.

For more details about the book, check out Angie’s site.


Joe Donaldson recently posted some of his work in the Unite forums. It’s definitely worth checking out. One piece in particular caught my attention: Cycle.

[iframe_vimeo video=”34339192″]

In his own words, Joe wanted to “attempt to bridge the gap between purely visual eye-candy type work and storytelling.” It’s a simple idea, executed very well. The colors are well chosen and textures well placed. There is some nice nuance to the animation that portrays emotion very well, which is difficult to accomplish with simple shapes.

I’m currently in the process of producing a piece of personal creative work every week this year. I could stand to learn something from Joe’s well thought out experiment that has so much more emotion and draw to it than other process experiments I’ve seen in the past.

Please let Joe know what you think of his work on the forums, as he is seeking feedback.

Words as Image

A great short animation by Bran Dougherty-Johnson for Ji Lee’s Words as Image. Lots of great, subtle keyframing going on here. Bran was kind enough to answer a few questions which follow after the video…

[iframe_vimeo video=”30168074″]

Motion League: How did you come into the project?

Bran Dougherty-Johnson: I actually came across a tweet by Ji Lee which was RT’ed by someone who works at AIGA. He was looking for an animator to work with. After taking a quick look at his portfolio, I responded, to see what he had in mind. Once he showed me the proof of the book, I remembered that I had actually used it as reference in an After Effects Class I taught at Pratt – to show my students how type could be design[ed] with motion in mind.

ML: Were you given any direction from Ji Lee, or were you free to create the animation as you saw fit?

BDJ: He had suggestions for some of the words and others I just came up with simple animation ideas for. We worked back and forth on the ideas, but it was a pretty quick process. Lots of them are dead simple, just a reveal, a rotation, falling, down, etc. Which is something I quite like – making things easy, apparent and legible.

Ml: Did you draw from any other sources of inspiration, or strictly the images from Ji Lee?

BDJ: Really just the book and the rules themselves. We didn’t really have anything else to go off of. The Marilyn one references the scene from Seven Year Itch and Vertigo references the Saul Bass title sequence from the Hitchcock film.

ML: There’s a lot of fluid, subtle animation in the piece. Is this all keyframed or were you using any expressions or scripts (which ones)?

BDJ: Everything is keyframed except for the Gravity animation. I did use a bounce expression on that.

ML: Sound design played an important role in the piece. Can you describe the process?

BDJ: Joel Pickard is a composer and sound designer I work with often. I handed off the Work-In-Progress to him and he sourced lots of effects. Ji and he worked closely on revisions and I stepped out of the way.

ML: Lastly, which word was your favorite to animate and why?

BDJ: I think Oil was. I love doing little fluid stuff and using masks. Probably should do something for myself using that technique.

Bran Dougherty-Johnson is a film-maker, animator and motion designer based in Shelter Island, NY. Challenge Your World, Coalition Of The Willing, Gel Conference Real Design Associates, Scion, The Webby Awards,Yo Gabba Gabba, and others.

Vurb – Stock Textures, Animations, and Videos

Vurb.tv is a new stock element site for motion designers.

[UPDATED] A new site for stock textures, animations, and videos for motion designers just opened its doors: Vurb.tv. The site features a decent array of elements for motion designers—from metal, plant, and paper textures to fire, ink, and water videos (in 1080p), even After Effects project files for particle simulations. There’s some great pieces on the site, and it’s clear they put a lot of time into capturing or creating these elements.

Now, being the talented motion designer you are, you could create these elements from scratch (especially the lens flare videos); however, sometimes you can be in a pinch and just need something quick. Vurb.tv, being created by motion designers, knows this, but they won’t gouge you. Textures go for $5, AE project files for $20, and videos for $25 (all prices in USD).

The site itself is fairly well designed, too. After registering, you can create various bins to hold elements while you browse. You can even email these bins from within the site to a producer or anyone else you might want to share it with. There are some oddities, though. For example, when browsing the elements, they are displayed in random order. So clicking back and forth between page two and three will give you different elements each time. Also, it appears bins need some work. There is no cross-checking for previously existing bins when you create a new one. So If I already have a bin named “Awesomeness,” and create a new bin with the same name, no error is given and anything added to the second bin cannot be viewed. [UPDATE: I’ve received word from Vurb that they are aware of the browsing issue, but not the bins. They are actively working on fixes.]

Overall, though, I’m excited to see what Vurb.tv has to offer. They promise to continually add new content (would be great to have an RSS feed for content in addition to their blog), and even offer to help track down or create elements you request. You can follow Vurb on Twitter and Vimeo as well. To celebrate their launch, they are providing 50% off with the promo code “Launch!” (including the exclamation point).

[Anti-Disclosure: Vurb.tv in no way compensated The Motion League or any of its contributors for this post. It was done independently and without influence of Vurb.tv, with the exception of any forthcoming response to the previously mentioned bugs with the site.]