Motion Graphics vs. Animation: What’s the Difference?

motion graphics vs animation

Are you new to the design world or just learning how to create an animated video for your brand? Then chances are there’s an important question on your mind. What is the actual difference between motion graphics and animation, and which one should you use?

If the world of animated videos is not part of your everyday life, you probably have no idea of the difference between motion graphics and animation. To the untrained eye, the difference will seem immaterial at best – and for good reason. At first glance, there is no difference! This is because motion graphics is a form of animation. Simply put, motion graphics are animated graphic design.

As a full-service marketing, advertising, video production, and web development agency, let us clear this up for you. First, we’ll run through their similarities, then move on to what differentiates them as techniques, as well as describe when to use each.

What Do Motion Graphics and Animation Have in Common?

Understanding the similarities between motion graphics and animation will help you understand why they are often confused or interchanged. 

Both motion graphics and animation are the art of taking a static image and giving it movement to bring it to life. They even use many of the same software programs to get the results they need (e.g., Maya, After Effects, among others). 

Additionally, motion graphics and animation follow the Twelve Principles of Animation — a set of visual rules that form the basis of all animation work and help designers give objects life in a natural way. From leaping to hoping and rolling, the twelve principles apply to any object given movement through the process of animating it.

Often, animation requires being coupled with motion graphics to give it a finishing touch. Because they don’t always exist exclusive of each other, you can think about motion graphics and animation as complementing each other.

Now let’s look at the differences between the two.

What are Motion Graphics?

When it comes to marketing videos, what differentiates motion graphics from other types of animations is the content. Motion graphics typically involve setting a mix of graphic design elements into motion (e.g., abstract objects, text, etc.). Bringing a chart, graph, infographic, or web design to life with movement is “animation.” More specifically, it’s a type of animation called motion graphics. 

The most fundamental distinction between the two is the dimension difference between motion graphics and animation. Animation includes 2D and 3D animations, while motion graphics are generally used for two-dimensional images. That significant distinction is the primary reason we cannot substitute “motion graphics” for the term “animation.”

The purpose of motion graphics is simple – animate simple, two-dimensional static designs to integrate movement into them, making them dynamic and visually more appealing. The intent is to enhance the visual impact and appeal but does nothing to further the narrative. 

There are several types of video motion graphics examples, including:

  • Explainer videos
  • Walkthroughs/Instructional videos
  • UI animation
  • Dynamic logos
  • Dynamic icons
  • Animated page titles
  • Animated infographics
  • Presentations
  • Broadcasting motion graphics
  • GIFs

What is Animation?

Animation is a technique that utilizes successive drawings and models to create the illusion of movement. These images are then played in quick succession to appear as a continuous flowing video.

Essentially, animation includes everything that transforms static objects into dynamic ones.

It is a broad term that includes many techniques, including motion graphics. Animation has been around for more than a century and,

principles of animation
Image soured from media.geeksforgeeks.org

over the years, evolved from detailed manual designs to elaborate digital animations.

Any process that creates movement and brings static images to life is animation. It has CGI, claymation, paper-animation, cartoons, and a mix of various video types. 

For example, today, most motion graphics are developed with the help of CGI, meaning they combine two different animation types. Although most motion graphics are done with CGI, they are not mutually exclusive. The different types of animation include:

  • Basic animation
  • 2D or two-dimensional animation
  • 3D or three-dimensional animation
  • Stop-motion animation
  • Motion graphics

Why Choose Motion Graphics?

Whether there’s a “story” being told is a big determining factor in deciding if you’re dealing with motion graphics or animation. Motion graphics animation usually features shapes, objects, or text set in motion.

Now the question becomes, why should you opt for motion graphics in the first place? Particularly if they do not further the narrative? Well, there are various reasons to incorporate motion graphics in your projects, including:

  • Convert ideas into visual cues. Many users find abstract concepts easier to grasp with visual aids than with just static copy and images. 
  • Make your message more lively while maintaining the professionalism of your brand. Its simple style is invariably visually appealing. For corporate applications, animated cartoon-style characters may seem too informal.

For those reasons, motion graphics work great to provide a visual break to an otherwise boring corporate presentation, making it more interesting.

Why Choose Animation?

Animation enables us to tell stories and communicate ideas and emotions in a unique, easy-to-understand way. If you want to bring your story or message to life with cinematic effects, opt for animation. It leverages the power of various animation techniques, including motion graphics, to create a dynamic piece of work that tells your narrative successfully.

  • It’s a better way to tell your story in an engaging manner and enables you to create a narrative that speaks to consumers.
  • It provides better value for the cost. If you want realistic imagery for your products, be prepared to invest a little more to get what you want.

No matter which type of animation you use, you’re on your way to more engaging content for your audience. And we’re here to help you get it right! 

Contact us to learn how our video production specialists can help you fuel your business with videos that captivate audiences, inspire action, and drive results.

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