The old saying that “a picture is worth 1000 words” is a bit overused these days… but that’s probably because it succinctly gets the point across: A concept is easier to understand when it’s visualized. That concept goes one step further with the advent of motion graphics.

Relative newcomers to the world of visual content marketing, motion graphics inspire a lot of questions. In order to help see where they fit into your overall marketing plan, we’ve compiled five of the most commonly asked questions about motion graphics (and, of course, answered them):

Motion Graphic FAQ #1: What is a motion graphic?

Simply put, a motion graphic is an infographic with animated elements. Like infographics, they are often focused on presenting complex data in an interesting and easily-absorbed fashion. By giving traditional infographics dynamic movement and interaction, they become much more compelling and engaging. For an example, check out this motion graphic we made for the AANAPISI.

What about Interaction? When you add interactive elements to an infographic it’s more commonly referred to as an interactive visualization than a motion       graphic.

Motion Graphic FAQ #2: How are motion graphics delivered?

While the delivery method you choose typically depends on how you want to communicate with your audience, motion graphics are most typically delivered as a video. To distribute the video, people frequently use video distribution sites like YouTube or Vimeo, HTML5 video plugins or even embedded flash video.

Motion Graphic FAQ #3: When is it appropriate to use a motion graphic vs. a static graphic?

Motion graphics are most valuable as an overview of a specific subject or concept. For someone learning about a topic for the first time, a motion graphic can provide an overview that is engaging and explanatory.  Because of this, many motion graphics are used at the beginning of a live presentation to draw in the audience and present an introduction or summary of the data to come.

However, outside of a live presentation or first time overview, viewers may become restless if they want to jump into specifics and have to sit through the video to get to them. Additionally, the cleverness and style of a motion graphic can become stale when people view it multiple times.

If your goal is to make a statement and get an audience started on a topic, then a motion graphic is an excellent choice. If you’re presenting data that requires deeper and repeated examination, a static information graphic or interactive visualization are better options.

Motion Graphic FAQ #4: How do you build one?

At the end of the day, making a motion graphic is very much like making an animated movie containing many simplified infographics. Because of that, the steps to create a great motion graphic look very much like the movie-making process:

  1. Start with a story – Before you can begin any motion graphic, you need to decide what the story you’re trying to tell is.  (And, of course, you must have collected the data the story will come from.)
  2. Create a script – Unlike a static infographic, which is typically used to highlight key points of a data story, motion graphics focus on having a conversation about all or (more likely) part of the story. That means you need to know where the conversation will start and end – what you expect people to know coming into, and then leaving your motion graphic.
  3. Develop a storyboard – Once your script is outlined, the design stage begins. A storyboard is created based on the script with appropriate visuals designed to back up what’s being said.

    A word about length: It’s tempting to want to create a motion-graphic with the same length considerations as live video (for example, 2-3 minutes   seems easy and doable). However, because of the animated/slide-based nature of motion graphics, a much shorter production is usually better. 2-3 minutes of motion graphic is somewhere around 45 slides of content.

  4. Production – After all the planning is done, it’s time to create the final visuals, get the audio cut and stitch it all together into the final product.

Remember not to rush through this process. For the final product to tell the right story and reflect the professionalism of your brand, it’s important to go through each of these stages and take the time to do them right.

Motion Graphic FAQ #5: What’s the difference between a good and bad motion graphic?

As with all messaging, storytelling is key.  A good motion graphic tells a compelling narrative, with the visual elements backing up the story and reinforcing the message.

A bad motion graphic may include breaks, gaps, skips, confusing non sequiturs, mixed messages, unnecessary data (overloading the screen to make data absorption difficult), too much text on screen, headlines that don’t match with the supporting data and other pitfalls that hinder the story being told.

To avoid these issues, ask people you trust to critique your motion graphic during the development stage. If they see a rough clip, and there are parts that are confusing them, edit or rework accordingly. The key is to do this earlier instead of later: Static infographics are relatively easy to rework, but a motion graphic with audio tracks and animation are much harder to change.

Do you have any unanswered questions about motion graphics? 

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