What the Hell is Motion Design?

‘Mother Wit does motion design and animation.’ That right there is the most straightforward, yet most vague response to the question ‘what does Mother Wit do?’ And just about every time the follow up is ‘Cool!… but what’s motion design?’ The answer is a tough one, but one we find ourselves answering often. Motion design on it’s own is a really ambiguous term and is combined of countless different art forms and techniques that all continue to evolve as technology advances.

As far as we know there is no other field that draws so heavily on such a vast variety of other art forms. To illustrate this, here’s a list of some of what motion design is comprised of (but isn’t limited too):

  • Graphic design

Google will tell you that “motion design is a discipline that applies graphic design principles to film making and video production through the use of animation and visual effects.” And that’s absolutely true, but here’s a different way to look at it:

Motion design is art and design “under the influence of a timeline.”

The fundamentals haven’t changed. Great design requires the same skills and experience that it has since the term was coined. Typography requires the same art and balance that it has since the printing press. Motion design takes these fundamentals and solves communication problems with them. It takes complex ideas and big metaphors and boils them down to beautiful and easy to understand visuals.

It’s used to educate, entertain, inform, and shape a user’s experience. Whether that be for a company selling products, scientists explaining complex molecular interactions or a movie production company creating a fictional world… motion design is used in nearly every industry you can think of.

There’s a good chance you see motion design far more often than you’re aware of. Every interaction you have with a mobile app, or a website, motion design is there. Oftentimes you won’t even realize that when you open Instagram there’s motion design involved, you just know that when you swipe up on your feed it slows down in a way that ‘feels’ good. Even in more traditional media, like broadcast TV, motion design is there scrolling as a news feed below a newscaster or introducing a football game. Even in home products without screens like Google and Alexa, the way the LED’s light up each time you interact with them was created by a motion designer to feel organic and unobtrusive.

In a world where the average person looks at screens anywhere from 10–14hrs a day, motion design has never been more omnipresent and important. As a company there’s never been a more effective way of communicating your ideas and products. Motion design in the commercial sector aims to communicate certainty and trust as well as continue to guide customers through the company’s user experience.

Never has an industry evolved so symbiotically with technology outside of the internet itself. As technology and our devices advance, motion design is progressing right there beside them with new tools and techniques. It’s blurring the lines between code, technology and art and user experiences evolve, so will motion design.

It’s a fountain of possibilities. It’s exciting, captivating, complex and growing exponentially as an industry.

Motion design is truly one of the most versatile, and remarkable marketing resources out there right now. It takes all of the elements of photography, illustration, typography and every art form in between and makes captivating and memorable content. We spend most of our days looking at screens and we’re likely going to spend even more as time moves on, so motion design will inevitably become even more of an essential tool for advertising, teaching and communicating. It can be big and bold, or subtle and elegant. Its magic lies in that it can be whatever you need it to be. When done with intention, purpose and passion for the craft, motion design can take a good thing and make it extraordinary.

So what the hell is motion design? It’s our way of bringing ideas to life.

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Article by: Brooks Patton Jr. | Mother Wit. LLC



We’re a motion design studio rendering in multi-dimensions out of Anchorage, Alaska.

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Brooks Patton

We’re a motion design studio rendering in multi-dimensions out of Anchorage, Alaska.