November 17, 2018

5 Tips for Making Your Motion Graphics Look Like a Pro Made Them

Even if you're not a professional animator or motion graphic designer, you can still create eye-catching motion graphics by using a few simple techniques.

The ability to wrap my head around the work that professional motion graphic designers do often eludes me. To my eye, it looks so incredibly complicated and time-consuming, requiring years upon years of training and practice, so much so that I have kind of resigned to be a humble admirer of the art form rather than an engaged participant. However, there have been so many instances in which a good motion graphic would've made my work look more amazing, but 1.) I didn't have the money to hire a pro, and 2.) I didn't think I'd be able to create anything other than utter garbage on my own. 

But guess what—that's total horse shit.

Even a novice can come up with some kind of graphic, even if it's super simple and basic. The trick, though, is knowing how to use the techniques that will make it look more professional and stylish in your video. In this video, Aidin Robbins gives a nice, quick overview of a few things you can do to make your motion graphics and animations more eye-catching. Check it out below:

Making your motion graphics from scratch

Again, you don't need to come up with a complex design, here. Maybe all you need is a simple watch face, scale, or even a straight line, which don't require much effort to create. As Robbins shows you in the video, utilize your editor's tools to make your design, slowly layering shapes until your composition is complete. Then, once all of your elements have been made and placed where you want them, parent/link/combine those layers so they become a single composition that can be placed in your timeline and manipulated as a single element as you see fit.

Here's a great beginner tutorial from Sonduck Films that will get you acquainted to some motion graphics basics for After Effects.

Use motion tracking with your motion graphics

If you want to make your motion graphics more interesting and professional-looking, one cool thing you can do is track them to something moving within the frame. Maybe it's a passing car, a person walking, or maybe it's a body part, like a hand or head—whatever it is, you can apply a single-point track to it so your motion graphic can follow its path.

Pond5 has a pretty good tutorial that shows you the basics of motion tracking in After Effects.

Reveal your motion graphics in a creative way

Now, you've got your motion graphic and are ready to debut it in your video—how do you do that? "What do you mean, V? Just throw it on the timeline and call it a day." No, friend. Don't. I mean, you could and that would be fine, probably, but how much better would your graphics and your overall video be if you introduced it with a little flair? Even something as simple as fading, rotating, or scaling your graphic could make it look more interesting and professional, so try out a couple of these techniques to see which ones best fit your project.

Blur out your background to put your motion graphics center stage

Robbins mentions a technique used by Peter McKinnon that really helps bring attention to the motion graphics he's using: blurring out the background. It's definitely one of those "why didn't I think of that" kinds of things, but it's true—adding a little blur to your footage will allow your graphic to stand out in all of its glorious sharpness, drawing your viewers' eyes, and making you look like a clever little motion graphic designer.

Make your motion graphics your own

I really glad that Robbins brings this up because I've definitely fallen into this very pit of despair: make your own motion graphics. I know, that tutorial you watch on how to create your own HUD from scratch was awesome and really easy to follow, but if you want your work to be truly yours, you might want to use that tutorial as a source of inspiration rather than a recipe for the tastiest heads-up display you've ever seen. So, watch tons of tutorials (like all of these), learn all the techniques, then go back into your editor and use what you've learned to creating something new.

What are some other techniques beginners can use to make their motion graphics look more professional? Let us know down in the comments.     

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