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What are Motion Graphics?

Motion graphics are similar to infographics, but they use video footage or animation to create the illusion of motion. Unlike interactive infographics, which allow users to manipulate the infographic and interact with a data set - motion graphics tend to transform on their own.

Motion graphics are usually combined with audio, which makes them closer to films than static infographics. Perhaps “multimedia” might also be appropriate, but again, we’re getting into semantics where there are a lot of overlaps. Let’s just say that motion graphics move on their own and are generally displayed through some sort of electronic media -- at least nowadays.

Of course, the history of motion graphics dates back to long before electronic media. In the 1800s, early presentations via flip books or zoetropes were, by the definition used above, motion graphics. These certainly fit the definition we’ve established above.

But generally, and at least around here, when we use the term “motion graphics,” we’re following in the tradition of John Whitney, one of the fathers of computer animation and perhaps the first to use the term “motion graphics,” when he formed a company called Motion Graphics Inc. to create motion picture and television title sequences. By the 1970s, Whitney was using digital processes, and modern motion graphics was born.

Before computers were widely available, motion graphics were expensive and time-consuming. But the availability of desktop programs like Adobe Flash and After Effects have made motion graphics increasingly accessible. The leading program used by motion graphic designers is probably Adobe After Effects, which works a bit like Photoshop.

Of course, new products come along every day. What they all have in common is the ability to combine video, text, speech, data visualization, special effects and even 3D to create animations. The goal is to add the elements of time and space into the world of infographics, and to breathe life into otherwise static content.

Motion graphics are not only created digitally. Traditional animation can also be used. But web-based data visualization tools are making it easier to create motion graphics and animated infographics -- cheaper and with less effort than ever.

Play our motion graphic on "The American Beer Revival" below to see an example of a motion graphic.

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