As technology advances, producing new creative tools and distribution networks, new ways of storytelling become available to a wider audience. Motiongraphic videos are one of my favorite mediums to gain popularity in the last few years. With a combination of music, sound effects, animation, and voice over, they are one of the most compelling ways to simultaneously inform, engage and even inspire. Motiongraphics allow complex topics to be shared with simplicity, and open the door for new kinds of stories that just wouldn’t work with mediums such as print, websites, or live action video.
An example from my own work is one of the first motiongraphic pieces our studio created called Meditation Then and Now. To this day it’s still one of my favorite examples to share because the medium allowed a story to emerge that just wouldn’t have worked any other way. The video, which was a collaboration with the International NGO The Art of Living Foundation, tells the story of the history and benefits of meditation. What makes that story so challenging is that it needed to tie in with the appearance of the NGO’s founder–spiritual and humanitarian leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar–on the MTV show Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory. How do you get tweens into surf and skate culture to relate to meditation or an Indian Guru? We knew that we needed a platform that was engaging, playful, and that wasn’t limited by real world constraints like interviews and B roll. Motiongraphics allowed us to move through different time periods and construct a story that was relatable, playful and informative.
Another piece I really love was created by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich England. Measuring the Universe takes on the topic of how we determine the distance of stars in the observable universe. There has been a growing fascination with science in popular culture, and what used to be considered nerdy is now mainstream. Videos like this can take topics that are grueling to learn from a textbook or in a classroom and can create a form of infotainment, whereby the viewer sees learning as the accidental byproduct of something they enjoyed watching. I would love to see more motiongraphics tackle tough and boring topics in math and science, bringing an appreciation of the beauty and usefulness of these subjects to more and more people.
Along these lines is the piece we just worked on with the Ad Council and the New York Office of Emergency Management. This motiongraphic explains the importance of knowing about new hurricane evacuation zones, and being prepared before the next hurricane hits. We worked to take a message that could be preachy and was likely to be tuned out, and delivered it in a way that is quick, interesting, and simple.
Even when stories can be told through other mediums, motiongraphics often offer a far more engaging way of delivering the message. This fantastic piece was created about the Stuxnet virus that was used to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Hearing about this story in the news was interesting, but watching this video is far more compelling. Our studio recently worked with the consulting firm FSG to produce a piece about the changing nature of strategic philanthropy. Timed with the release of the cover story in the most recent issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, this motiongraphic took a dense and important topic and attempted to surface the major ideas in a way that was a bit easier to grasp. By capturing the major points, the motiongraphic provides an intro to the topic for those who might wish to dive deeper, but also serves as a way to retain the article’s key points.
Many more examples exist of great motiongraphics and their unique applications. When organizations have a topic that is dense or dry, when they need to inspire viewers, or when they are trying to tackle a subject that proves challenging with other mediums, motiongraphics are a great choice. Few other methods of storytelling allow the same flexibility and creativity.