Explaining the rapid ascendance of motion graphics

Our latest blog takes a closer look at the exciting journey of motion graphics. It discusses the key reasons behind their popularity, explores evolving trends, and highlights why motion graphics are here to stay.

The journey

70 years after its conception, motion graphics is just now hitting the peak of its popularity as an artform. Oskar Fischinger and Norman McClaren were the first designers to properly experiment with motion graphics in the 1940s. From here it was further popularised in the 50s and crept slowly into the mainstream. Now, after a huge boom a few years ago, we are at the point where now it's almost impossible for Instagram scrollers to go 10 seconds without seeing a flashy animation.

The appeal of motion graphics is obvious. As humans, we are hardwired to give our attention to objects that are in motion. In addition to this, motion graphics have the potential to provide information to an audience quicker than static graphics, something increasingly vital in the modern age. Combine these two aspects with the classic animation techniques that make animated works so appealing, and it's no surprise that we see motion graphics so much in everyday life. But if that’s always been the case, what explains motion graphics’ skyrocketing popularity? Let’s take a look at three key reasons.



Motion graphics became the unexpected lockdown obsession of the internet during the pandemic. Picture everyone at home, forced to stay inside and even more attached to screens than before. The demand for advertising and visual storytelling was at a high, but film crews were, for the most part, completely shut down. This opened the door for motion designers to step up! With the ability to create whole scenes, animated explainer videos and captivating character animations all from their desks at home, it was their time to shine. The ability to work and collaborate over the internet without the need to meet in person meant this industry could thrive in these difficult conditions. The demand for motion graphics soared, bringing about a whole new series of trends that have stuck around even after the pandemic.


Technology and social media

Screens. Screens everywhere. According to Statista, around 86% of the world’s population now owns a smartphone, whereas only seven years ago the percentage was only around 49%. If you regularly use public transport, you may look around and struggle to find a single person not glued to their phone, blasting through their friends’ IG stories, flicking through TikTok’s and generally absorbing all kinds of content.

According to Kepios, approximately 61% of the world’s population now uses social media, an unfathomable increase from 10 years ago, when that figure was only around 20%. Every Instagram account, every scroll and every screen, is an opportunity for a company to pump their brand into the general public’s consciousness, and a dynamic graphic with eye-catching movement is much more likely to leave a lasting impression or simply hold your attention for a few moments longer than its static counterpart.

This spreads from phones to real-world advertising in a vicious cycle, with print-based advertising, such as posters and billboards, now deemed by many to be insufficiently attention-demanding compared to dynamic, digital artwork. Along with the ever-lowering cost of digital screens, this has led to a rapid increase in digital advertising screens in built-up areas, and with it a huge boom in the spaces available for motion graphics.


Attention span

Heavily tied to technology and social media, the general populace’s attention span is a fickle beast. The instant gratification that social media and YouTube, Netflix, etc. provides has had a notable effect on how we consume media and in-turn, advertising. More and more, advertisements are required to provide the main message or feeling of a campaign to the audience in a few seconds. Whether it be a targeted add seamlessly integrated into a social feed or the five unskippable seconds of a YouTube ad, this is where motion graphics comes in. Snappy graphics, poppy, dynamic movement, and slick animations can leave a lasting impression in a short time, while a static asset might fly past the audience unnoticed. Brands will use motion graphics to compete for your attention and keep you interested for as long as possible.


What does the future hold?

With the advance of technology seeming only to accelerate, and AI constantly shifting the landscape of design, it's almost impossible to predict how motion graphics will morph in the coming years. However, based on the rise of animated logos, stretchy text overlays, and quirky animated explainer videos, it seems motion graphics may be here to stay. These assets are more and more seen as a necessity rather than a luxury for brands and companies. One trend that is hugely popular at the moment is to use animation in conjunction with real-world footage to create a visually striking effect that catches the viewer off guard and grabs attention. Probably the most famous example of this is Apple’s beautiful “Hello Yellow” add for the iPhone 14, where a man is transformed into an animated version of himself and zooms around this mixed media world. With trends like this, we can see how motion graphics are still continuously evolving and changing. If motion graphics can continue to evolve along with technology, we should be in store for some incredible developments!

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