History of Motion Graphics
Motion Graphics: The Prehistoric Age
While there is speculation that flipbooks have existed as early as the 16th century, the oldest known flip book appeared in 1868, patented by John Barnes Linnett. One of the first linear forms of animation consists of numerous hand-drawn images that combine to create the illusion of motion when pages are quickly flipped. Similar to the zoetrope, which used circular movement to simulate motion, flipbooks were popular gifts for children, and these rustic forms of motion graphic design were largely viewed as nothing more than toys.
However, some of the earliest film projectors built on the idea of the flipbook, creating smoother, more advanced motion graphics using better technology. The oldest surviving “motion picture” was screened in France in 1888, featuring 2.11 seconds of ladies and gentlemen walking in a park. While initially considered a curiosity, this “film” and other similar works would kickstart new forms of motion graphics that would change the world forever.
Motion Design: The Roaring Twenties
Meanwhile, America was facing a decade of unprecedented prosperity. With more money and time to spend at the theater, animation quickly grew from a carnival novelty to a full-blown industry. Animation titans like Disney and Warner Bros. got their start in this decade and popularized motion graphics for a bigger audience than ever before. Suddenly, audiences had time for feature films, and production companies needed to update their motion graphics at a rapid pace to outshine their competition. As a result, motion graphics and animation entered a Golden Age of innovation, whose momentum continues to the present day.
Modern Motion Graphics
Computer animation was first developed in the 1960s and would come to change the landscape of motion graphics forever. However, traditional graphic design continued to thrive in the latter half of the 20th century. Saul Bass was a notable graphic designer and major pioneer in motion graphic design who helped popularize motion graphics for even non-animated films. He is most remembered for his simple but effective feature film title sequences for popular films such as “Psycho” and “The Man With The Golden Arm.”
John Whitney, meanwhile, is considered one of the fathers of computerized animation. His company, called “Motion Graphics Inc.,” is responsible for popularizing the term “motion graphics” in America. He is renowned for using a mechanical analogue computer to animate unique title sequences, including one of the most famous title sequences in cinema history, for the film “Vertigo”, a collaboration with Saul Bass that featured swirling graphics growing larger and smaller.
Artists such as Stan Brakhage began to incorporate new techniques with new technology in their use of motion graphics. A pioneer in experimental film, Brakhage’s techniques included innovations such as scratched emulsion, rapid cutaways, painting directly onto celluloid, and using multiple exposures to invent new modes of film expression.
The works of Saul Bass, Stan Brakhage, and many more helped inspire a new generation of motion design as the art form developed into the 21st Century. For example, Kyle Cooper, who has worked on films such as Se7en and the Spiderman trilogy, used Brakhage’s techniques alongside digital effects and animation software programs in his title design. Directly inspired by Saul Bass, Cooper’s extensive film career and innovative film titles demonstrate the culmination of over 200 years of motion graphics innovation.
Like any form of history, the history of motion graphics is still being made and we’re excited to see how it continues to develop!
The 21st century is the first time in the history of motion graphics that you can create your own motion graphics at home. With software such as Adobe After Effects, all your need to develop your own animated title sequence is a functioning computer. Motion graphics have become an effective means of communication beyond film and can be modified easily to develop commercials, memes, and of course, presentations.
However, effective motion design requires a production team of individuals with film or animation backgrounds. If you’re struggling with the time-consuming process of making motion graphics, Presentation Geeks can help! We specialize in creating the best motion graphics with visual, music, and interactive design components, using leading programs to ensure information is effectively communicated to your audience. Explore our diverse body of satisfied clients to discover why we’re the leading creators of engaging presentations on the internet!