You Say “Animator,” I Say “Animatah”
My job didn’t exist a decade ago, so it’s no surprise that I have a hard time explaining what I do.
I am an animator who specializes in motion graphics. When I was in school there were animated videos but the abundance of platforms we’re used to today simply weren’t around. In recent years, the need for motion graphics has exploded alongside the demand for internet and mobile content. Everything from animated content within websites to “explainer videos” for new software and hardware products. That demand has spawned a career that still doesn’t have a definitive title. Some of the job titles I’ve seen recently are “Pixel Pusher” and “Motion Whatever.”
I am definitely an animator, but the term doesn’t cover the type of work I spend my days doing. Just like calling someone a “designer” can be misleading – there are fashion designers, interior designers, graphic designers – ”animator” is simply too broad. In fact, any of these fields could fall under the job description of animator:
- Traditional or Cel (Think old Disney movies or The Simpsons…hand-drawn frame by frame.)
- 2-D (These are vector-based graphics animated on a flat plane.)
- 3-D (Models are rigged and animated to add depth on a three-dimensional plane.)
- Visual Effects/VFX (Computer-generated effects mixed with live-action footage.)
- Computer Generated Imagery/CGI (Think of all the green screens.)
- Stop Motion (Frame-by-frame movement of physical objects.)
- Animatronics (Mechanical robots)
- Digital Puppetry (Puppets and Muppets!)
- Claymation (“Celebrity Deathmatch” or “Wallace & Gromit,” anyone?)
- Motion Graphics (Animation of design, illustration, typography, film, photography, logos, and shapes.)
I specialize in motion graphic animation but because of the novelty of the field, describing what I do as “motion graphics” usually leads to head-scratching from my friends and family. Saying I’m an animator who specializes in motion graphics covers it all. Animation is the process of bringing a story to life through movement. Motion graphics is the animation form dedicated to adding movement to design, illustration, typography, film, photography, logos, and shapes.
In reality my work goes beyond simply animating. Bringing movement is only one element of what I do. I often juggle the roles of animator, motion graphics designer, director, storyboard artist, and sound designer. I partner with designers, illustrators, and writers to do my job and am involved in projects from the earliest conceptual discussions through the final sound edit. A sampling of my recent work is probably the best way to describe what I do and how animation adds value to our projects.
A narrative video that explains a specific service or product can add depth to a potential customer’s understanding.
When Grain & Mortar began offering animation as a service, it made perfect sense to create a video to let our clients know. With a 60-second video, we were able to communicate the value of this new service and bring a smile to our viewers’ faces.
Integrating animated elements throughout a website adds personality and delight.
We built a website for Coffee with a Cop that relied on animation in strategic areas. This helped us communicate the personality and purpose of the Coffee with a Cop program in an engaging and fun way. We also used animation in key areas to sprinkle some fun into otherwise standard information.
A video can help articulate big or complex concepts.
The Big Omaha 2015 website features a video that combines live action footage and animation. This scripted video allowed us to tell a comprehensive story in under 90 seconds about the event and the value it offers to attendees.
Animated social media content can help build awareness and promote your brand.
Whether it’s a series of animated graphics for a website or a stand-alone video to explain a process, product, or event, animated motion graphic content is another powerful way to communicate information. As an animator who specializes in motion graphics, I consider myself lucky to have so much variety and collaboration built into my job.