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22 May 2015

A changing view on motion graphics

When I started in motion graphics back in 2008 I remember spending many a late night at home on my computer learning to master After Effects. I was almost obsessed and often worked through the night, not sleeping, exercising and even forgetting to eat! 

My obsession had a goal though... I was to become an After Effects guru. 

I wanted to be the best, or at very least one of the best, just like Andrew Kramer whom I followed religiously and watched every single video tutorial at  I must admit I learnt some really cool tricks and my obsessive addiction meant my After Effects (Ae) workflow improved very quickly, even if I did neglect my health just a little! 

At last, I was getting there, I felt really good about what I had learnt and I was ready to show people what I could do. So, I got my first job specialising in motion graphics and was employed by Mundo Ole one of the largest broadcasting companies in my home country Venezuela. Whilst working at this broadcasting giant, I was able to work on some really challenging projects for channels such as The History Channel, that really pushed me and helped me further develop my motion graphic skills.

At the time I hadn’t realised that my animation style was pretty much a copy of Andrew Kramer’s. I was using optical flares on a daily basis, lots of effects, smoke, fire, explosions, trendy stuff that people liked and thought of as “cool”. My work was really delivering for the channel and my confidence began to grow. It was at this point I decided I wanted to move to the UK. It was a big step, but with everything I had achieved I felt it was the right time. 

So off I went on my big adventure, and at the end of the summer in 2013 I started freelancing in the UK. It was after just a few short months that I started to work for Make_Studio. The projects I started developing at the agency were very different from what I was used to working on in the world of broadcasting. After a challenging start, I began to develop new skills again. Working with brands on campaigns and advertising for lots of other mediums outside of just television meant that I began to work with After Effects in new ways. Under the wing of our Creative Director, Chris Bainbridge  I started to see things differently. His perception of motion graphics was very different from mine, to the point that one of the first things he said to me on starting at Make_Studio was: 

“I asked you to work with us not because I liked your portfolio, but because I can see you’re talented”

What was wrong with my work? Really nothing was wrong at all, the methods were perfect it was just I was still stuck in the broadcasting world and trying to use too much of everything. 

Little by little I started appreciating and assessing quality motion graphics from its core: key framing, timing and subtlety. I found myself using less and less plugins, going back to design text books and following the ethos of Mies van der Rohe (one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture) "less is more" 

Following these simple principles (famously taught at the well respected German art school Bauhaus) project by project I learnt more and more about Make_Studio’s design culture and how best to design for our clients. Now my approach has very much changed, and my focus is on creating beautiful and engaging motion graphics that tell stories and cast a different perspective on the products and services we market for our clients through rich media. 

My view on motion graphics has almost changed entirely in just 18 months at Make_Studio. I have educated my creative eye to see and appreciate the beauty behind simple and well crafted motion without being fooled by what a group of “cool” or flashy plug-ins can do.

Today I see the beauty of simplicity and give credit to those people sticking to the basics. For you all of you motion graphic guys out there, keep up with the good “motion” and remember: not all that shines with “optical flares” is gold. 

Written by Jon Zubizarreta 
Motion Graphic Designer at Mark Studio