What Is The Difference Between Motion Graphics And Animation?

To the untrained eye, the difference between motion graphics and animation will seem basically non-existent – and for good reason!

On the surface, there is no difference. This is because motion graphics IS a type of animation. As is stop-motion animation, 2D animation, 3D animation and so on. However, what the words are used to refer to in practice are often different. 

As a motion graphics company, let us clear this up for you.  First, we’ll run through their similarities before moving onto what differentiates them as techniques.


What are the similarities between motion graphics and animation?

They both involve the creation of moving images

Both ‘motion graphics’ and ‘animation’ belong within the art form of the moving image. Any technique that enables static images to move is animation. This is why motion graphics falls UNDER the umbrella term of ‘animation’. However, as we’ll see later in this post, ‘animation’ is also used to refer to a more specific technique separate to motion graphics.


They both involve the same software

Another similarity is that you can create both motion graphics and animation in largely the same software. For example, Adobe After Effects is the big one
and covers basically all bases of computer animation. As they say on their
website, ‘There’s nothing you can’t create with After Effects.’

This also means that you can easily switch between the two techniques in the same programme.


They both follow the 12 Principles of Animation

If you’re interested in the field, you’ve probably heard of Disney’s 12 Principles of Animation. If not, watch this great video we found that illustrates it (pardon the pun) in a simple and charming way:


The 12 Principles of Animation is a set of visual rules that all animators follow in their work.


Despite these similarities, it’s important that if you’re interested in a video for your business or you’re getting into the field you understand their differences. The terms aren’t interchangeable, and this is why…


What is the difference between
motion graphics and animation?

Motion graphics is a type of animation, but you wouldn’t call any animation a motion graphic

On one hand, ‘animation’ is an umbrella term that you can use to describe motion graphics if you want to. However, it isn’t the same the other way round.


Story vs no story

What is motion graphics, then? Basically, motion graphics is the manipulation of already static shapes, symbols, objects or text to create movement. In other words, it’s giving life to an element that would not usually have any, such as a background.

As for animation, you would use this term to describe a piece of animation that follows fully animated characters in a story. The storytelling aspect of animation also often evokes the emotion you do not find in motion graphics.

Therefore, if you’re not sure whether a piece of work is motion graphics or an animation… ask the question, is there a story?


Now we know the basic difference between the two, let’s get into further detail.


Motion graphics

Motion graphics animates previously lifeless images

A good example of a motion graphic is an animated bar chart. You don’t NEED a bar chart to move for your viewers to understand it; however, the movement helps with memory and customer engagement.

For instance, if your bar chart displays a very sharp contrast in results, it’s more impactful to animate the bars growing upwards. This would hammer home the idea of significant growth.


Motion graphics helps to explain otherwise difficult ideas

The fact is, some ideas are just too confusing on paper. Sometimes you need a quick motion graphics explainer video to visualise the concept in a unique yet simple way.

For this reason, motion graphics is perfect for explaining how your service works without you having to fork out.

Explaining a process is something unique to motion graphics that animation can’t achieve as successfully.


Motion graphics appeals to a wide range of audiences

While animation is also widely appealing, motion graphics arguably goes even further due to its simplicity. There’s not a lot to dislike in a motion graphics video, which is why they’re so effective with a wide audience.

If you’re interested in having a go yourself, here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a motion graphics video.



Animation requires you to rig a character to animate

As animation nearly always involves an animated character, this demands the essential process of character rigging.

Character rigging is basically setting up the interconnected ‘bones’ of your character so they will move the way you want.


Animation is usually more expensive

Naturally, because animation often requires more work, it costs more to make. This takes into account the rigging of characters, the creation of the story, and the overall length of time needed.

Learn more about how much an animated video costs here.


Animation is an art form

While motion graphics is a type of animation, ‘animation’ as the term is used is a specific art form. For example, you wouldn’t find motion graphics on its own in cinema, but you would find animated films. Motion graphics are almost always used for marketing purposes, to quickly explain concepts or products to viewers.


So, which will it be? If you can’t immediately decide, keep referring to the differences above and you’ll realise which is best suited to your idea.


Still need more help? Talk to Stada Media and we’ll bring your video vision to life with our expert team of creatives.

You can also continue brushing up on your video production knowledge by browsing the rest of our blog!

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