- Text Itay Tevel and Dana Meir
- Date December 5, 2018
- Est Read time 9 min
- Illustration author Alma Neeman
The same story can be told in infinite ways – especially when it comes to motion graphics, in which designers aren’t constrained by real life footage, or in fact, reality at all. Now that technology enables such a wide array of possibilities, it’s hard to know what to put your focus on. From the low-tech days of flipbooks and black and white celluloid animation, right up to the invention of Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D, we’ve come a long way. Despite all the changes, there are a few techniques that will never fail to charm us. Between the oldies (but goodies) and the freshest technological wonders, here’s a look at the top motion graphics trends of 2019:
1. Kinetic typography
As designers, there are certain rules we abide to. Stock photos are a big no-no and just the thought of resizing an image without holding down the ‘Shift’ key brings us physical pain. The same goes for text – we’re taught never to stretch or distort letters. In fact, typography is pretty much the holy grail of graphic design. But just sometimes, rules are there to be broken. This seems to be the case right now in the world of typography in motion graphics. We can see more and more designers pushing the boundaries of animated typography – stretching, twisting, pixelating and morphing text in all directions, often forming almost 3D structures out of letters. The following video for A-Trak is a perfect example of this motion graphic trend, taking a simple sans-serif font and exploring its possibilities.
This rebranding video for media network, Basketball Forever, puts type in the forefront. Their whole visual language circulates around the essence of each word, ‘basketball’ and ‘forever’, resulting in themes of movement, continuity and speed that can be seen in the way the text is animated.
2. Broken text
Another significant theme in typography is broken text. It’s by no means a new trend, but we can see new uses of it that take it to a whole other level. Words are played around with in various ways – they can appear gradually, one by one, be placed at different levels, or the letters themselves can be deconstructed and spread out across the screen. Broken text is used in the following video that illustrates a quote by chef Francis Mallmann about growing up. The poignant words expose themselves on the screen in correlation with the narrator’s voice. They’re animated in a poetic manner, offering a visual representation of the actual meanings of the words. For example the word “choices” is split up, each letter appearing in a different spot on the screen, and the words “growing up” elevate, becoming physically taller.
The text in the following video by Enle Li and Liz Xiong is also used in a way that corresponds perfectly with the meanings of the words themselves. Notice how the four letters of the word “rain” explode into delicate drops of rain, reinforced by the wonderful soundtrack by The Green Kingdom.
3. Seamless transitions
Seamless transitions are one of those trends that will always stay close to our hearts, which is why they’ve been going strong for so many years. Designers are now implementing this sleek technique with a more contemporary touch. The lack of cuts between scenes results in videos with a very fluid sensation, as the scenes subtly blend into one another. In Le Cube’s The Confidante, the transitions themselves become a central motif, as scenes seamlessly transform into new ones. The trick? One part of the video acts as an eye-catcher, drawing viewers’ attention to that image, while the other elements change in the background, morphing from undefined blobs and shapes into characters and objects.
A similar result is achieved in Pablo Lozano’s music video for Tamara Qaddoumi. This emotive video takes us on a journey, as flowing abstract shapes help to form smooth transitions between scenes.
4. Thin lines
Lines are definitely underestimated. Despite their simplicity, they have an endless number of functions in design, from hinting at directions, helping define shapes, separating between elements and more. When given the opportunity to move and dance around, the possibilities of the humble line become endless. We can now see a growing use of lines in motion design, as they are integrated and animated to create various effects. They play a prominent role in The Canadian Experiment (directed by Clement Virgo), where remarkably thin lines are used as the outlines of shapes, as well as forming patterns and decorations on the characters’ clothes. At one point, the lines themselves become the focal point – only the outlines of the shapes remain, without their fill color, creating a vector iconic feel.
In the following video, Build Connections, lines are used in a more freestyle way. It almost looks as if they’re being drawn on the spot, animated to appear as if a real hand is sketching a diagram, arrows or other elements that create a sense of being inside someone’s notebook. A playful atmosphere is created by lines flying around the screen, growing, shrinking and subtly transforming into text or other visual elements.
Clean, no-nonsense geometric shapes can be great. After all, there’s nothing like a crisp white office space or the exquisite simplicity of Japanese aesthetics. But sometimes, we want to liven it up a bit. That’s where “grain” comes in – a tool used in motion design to add a sense of noise to visuals that could otherwise appear flat and lifeless. This motion graphic trend can also be found in illustration, as it is a subtle, yet powerful way to add texture to basic vector imagery, helping make the visuals more relatable. The use of grain in this video for Lagunitas by Allen Laseter adds a sense of roughness that definitely compliments the audio content. Don’t forget to pump up the volume for the full effect.
In this delightful video created for YouTube channel Space Valley, grain is used to transform simple 2D shapes into ones with texture and a sense of depth. It also gives it a retro vibe that really compliments the nostalgic animation style.
6. Liquid motion
The same way grain is used to loosen up the sterility of geometrical, vector images, liquid motion also adds an organic feel to a motion graphics video. Instead of having very clean transitions and movements, this trend is about adding splashes of color that dance and flow like liquid across the screen, transforming into new shapes and creating some real visual delights along the way. In Upwork’s video, liquid motion is used to convey a sense of movement and drama; one scene soars into another and this inertia eventually results in a rocket taking off, as the abstract shapes morph into its trail.
Buck have also implemented liquid motion in this video for Facebook for International Women’s Day, resulting in a celebratory sensation as colors dart across the screen like confetti. By using liquid motion, a mesmerizing handcrafted feel is created, making the subject more approachable and the viewers feel closer as a result.
7. Combining 2D and 3D
Nostalgia is a powerful tool in design. We all love to think back on those classic 2D animations we watched as kids (Woody Woodpecker, Bugs Bunny and The Flintstones are just a few that spring to mind). But now that technology enables us to do so much more, designers are starting to integrate this retro 2D style with contemporary 3D motion graphic techniques. These kinds of animations may first appear flat, even paper-like, but the integration of camera movements from different angles gives the elements volume and depth. This trailer for animated film Away has a familiar, nostalgic 2D quality to it, but gradually you’ll notice the camera appearing to zoom in and turn, bringing the scenes to life.
This animation by Motion Corpse seems like a collage at first glance, but also holds a surprising 3D twist.
8. Big, bold typography
Another prominent trend in the world of text in design is large, dominant typography. We can also see this trend being used on many websites, as it gives brands and designers the chance to convey their messages loud and clear, boldly presenting who they are and what they stand for. The following video, created for G-Dragon’s music video, puts an emphasis on type. The lyrics of the song play a vital role in the overall message and designer Le.Ho.An gives them the platform they deserve, as words take over the screen and make up the main visuals of the video.
State’s video, Understated, questions the popular belief that we should all find our individual style and work on perfecting it. Instead, they believe that the point of life is more about “making cool stuff.” To emphasize this, the video moves through a beautiful mismatch of techniques and trends, using huge screen-filling typography as the transition between the different styles and scenes. This piece will take you on a journey from surreal 3D visuals, to grainy illustrations, retro shades and back again.
9. Isometric design
Representing three-dimensional spaces and objects on two-dimensional screens has proved to be the center of much interest, discussion and turmoil in the last years. We’re constantly searching for the best ways to represent physical activities and objects, like notebooks or microphones on the growing number of mobile apps we design and develop. Skeuomorphism had its moment of glory, but is now long dead, having been replaced by flat design. Isometric design has squeezed its way in there with the other styles, attempting to find a way of representing 3D elements on screen. The various features of Pikotea’s app are visualized in an isometric world in the following video, creating a digital and playful vibe that suits the app’s function.
A highly digitalized virtual world is also conveyed in JVG’s Guerlain: Météorites, with its isometric, hi-res style. The visuals by art director and Wix user Peter Tarka, have been put into a rotating 3D loop for Guerlain Paris.
Continuing in designers’ explorations into how to portray real, three-dimensional life on flat screens, a new trend is starting to pop up: digital-surrealism. This style depicts a surreal virtual world, made up of highly crisp visuals and materials that appear simultaneously familiar and imaginary. The intersection of material and digital design allows for behaviors that would be impossible in real life, from bubbles that never pop, to objects evaporating into thin air or defying gravity and liquids magically transforming into solids. The motion graphics promo video below, created for Samsung’s new camera launch by digital artist and Wix user, Daniel Aristizábal, stretches the limits of materials, creating captivating imagery of familiar objects that behave in ways that are alien to us.
The same goes for Moth Studio’s video for TV channel, E4, as they merge 3D characters with visuals that resemble a highly digital depiction of nature.