07 Jun 2021 | BY Karl Pontau

All fields have their terminology, animation is no different. The problem is that terms can overlap, blend, and become generally confused the more the field expands into the general population. Today’s example: the difference between animation and motion graphics.
In answer to the question of why you should care, because you get what you ask for and asking for the wrong thing can be expensive.

Let’s start with some basics.

  1. If you look “animate” up in the dictionary, you’ll see several definitions including: to give life and to give motion.
  2. Animation is giving life or movement to something that otherwise doesn’t have life or movement (Frankenstein’s monster comes to mind).
  3. In the graphics world, if it moves, it’s an animation.

OK, so “animation” is the big umbrella that covers many different styles – including moving graphics, cartoons, and CGI.

What’s a Moving Graphic?

To be more specific than “a style of animation,” a moving graphic is best defined by example. Think of a bar graph where the bars grow while you watch. The still graphic literally moves.

Where most people see motion graphics is on TV. Status bars for the current sporting event, news tickers, and those occasionally annoying pop-ups during one show to advertise another are all motion graphics.

The value of moving graphics is that they give action to data – you see the growth, or decline, of sales; distribution of selected options over time; and other, generally boring, things like that. Because people are visual creatures, complex (or boring) information becomes easier to digest (or less boring) when we give it movement.

Animation Umbrella

When talking about animations, most people tend to think about stories. That’s good. Most animations tell a story – be it a Disney movie, Bugs Bunny cartoon, or the explainer video on your website.

Here’s where the terms become a bit blurry. Not every animation style tells a story. And this is why there is a difference between “animation” as a field of graphic art, “animation” as a form of storytelling, and moving graphics

How to Choose

For our purposes, the easiest way to decide if you need an animation or motion graphic is to decide if you’re telling a story or giving life to something normally seen as dull.

The story of Customer A and his success with your service or how Customer B changed the world with the help of your product are great stories for an animation.

A moving infographic adds even more clarity to the complex process Customer A followed. Moving bar charts add interest to the cold data that quantifies Customer B’s results. Both are moving graphics.

The really cool part is that you don’t have to choose! Moving graphics are easily a part of a larger animation story.

Now that you know the difference, or if you don’t, now is a great time to reach out to Squash & Stretch Productions to find out more about how an animation or motion graphics can help you in your marketing efforts.

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