Introduction

My project is going to consist of a study that explores how motion design can be used in advertising to create a sense of meaning. In doing this I want to get a better understanding of how advertisements can be made unique to get someone’s attention. I feel that learning about this will be very beneficial for me since I would like to have a career in the motion design field and know that something like this is something that will be very valuable when producing a marketing campaign. The idea of producing a study surrounding this has come from a hobby and interest in motion design. I have created many animation/motion design projects throughout the last year and would like to get a better perspective of the semiology behind design, particularly something that would be seen in an advertisement. Since I have experience in doing the practical work I am confident with the software, skills and techniques I may need to use. With this in mind I have planned to create a conceptual advert for a product with the findings of of my research. Considering the time frame of this project I am going to keep the sequence to a short limited time of around 15 – 45 seconds. However I am very interested in the semiology behind it and haven’t had the opportunity to get a better understanding of it until now.

What do I know so far?

As said before I have a good amount of experience with the software needed and used at a professional standard of motion design. The main software that I have used to produce the work I have is from the Adobe Creative Suite. These mainly include After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro. I think using these have allowed me to get a much better understanding of the tools that are used in the professional industry and how they can be used in an advertising context. Out of the four programs listed I feel that I am most confident with After Effects since this is used for animation and works very well for developing and producing motion graphics.

I have spent a considerable amount of time learning After Effects and the process of getting a good quality of animation. In particular I have worked closely with the graph editor to practise the timing of my animation. By using the graph editor the timing, velocity and speed of the animation can be edited, allowing for a good variety of movement within the sequence. Since I mainly work with motion design, I feel that this is an important skill to have. Another skill that I have been able to improve since working with After Effects is the use of the principles of animation. I am now very familiar with the principles and am confident when applying them to my own work. Here is an example of that.

By creating animations in my own time, I have also been able to get some knowledge about sound design and post production. I feel that this is another important skill to have in the industry and for this study. I have a good awareness of how sound design can create an atmosphere within an animation and can be used to convey a certain feeling or emotion. As well as this I am confident with editing sequences together, combining both visual and audio to get the final result.

Areas for development

Since I am confident with creating something in a practical sense, the reasoning behind producing a study like this is to get a better understanding of semiology and how advertising is used to convey meaning. My main focus is to explore the relationship between motion design and advertising to help me get a different perspective on how a unique and distinctive piece can easily be recognised in juxtaposition to other formats of promotion. In doing this I will also learn more about motion design and advertising which is a great benefit in terms of my progression considering what kind of career I’d like to have.

Methods of research

Throughout my research I will be finding both exploratory and conclusive information. Although there will be a mix of both in the primary and secondary research, I feel that the primary research will mostly consist of conclusive information as secondary research will consist of exploratory information. This is because the secondary research sources I have found are made up of other people’s knowledge and perspectives. This can mean that the information found isn’t as precise since it won’t have the intentions of the project at focus. However a large amount of the information will be reliable with good points that will benefit the project. As well as this there will be some conclusive information with quantitative data that will directly link into the subject. My secondary sources of information are made up of articles, websites, podcasts, interviews and videos. I have chosen to find a wide variety of sources since I think that this will give me a broader perspective which is one of the main intentions of the project.

For my primary research I plan on using three methods to gain information. I have chosen to use more than one for stability in the case that one of them does not work as planned. The first is to create three separate variations of a poster design to see which style would suit a product best. Once this is done I will use basic animation to give each variation some movement. The design and animation style of these will be different so I can get a better idea of how brand identity can reflect and convey emotion. To get some exterior feedback of this, I am then going to create a short survey that will ask both exploratory and conclusive based questions to get an even better understanding of how to convey meaning through motion graphics. I plan on using the same product or brand as the short advertisement for the practical part since I will also be familiar with the identity. I will also the option of using some of the assets which will save a significant amount of time.

The third method of primary research that I will be carrying out is to contact professionals in the motion design industry with conclusive questions that are linked to my work and will benefit the study. This is a much less reliable resource of information since there are more variables that can affect the final outcome of it. My thinking is that in a lot of cases a reply would be difficult to get since they are most likely very busy. Therefore I plan on finding contact information for more than one person since this will give me a better chance of finding the needed information. As well as this it will give a wider range of information which will be another benefit for the project.

Primary research

As said before, my primary research will consist of three different techniques to find the relevant information to support the study. The first method of research I am going to carry out is to find information by contacting people who work in the industry. I feel that the best way to do this will be to find local/reasonably close animation studios who work with motion graphics and send them an email as this will be able to give me the opportunity to ask any questions I have as well as get some experience with emailing people who I don’t know. I think that if I can gain some replies, the information will be extremely beneficial since it will be tailored to the questions asked and therefore more useful to the project.

Contacting Professionals

To begin I created a very short script that would be sent to each email address I could find. I knew that if I was going to communicate with someone in the industry I would need to remain formal, concise and get to the point of what was needed as quickly as possible. This is because it is the complete opposite of my intentions to waste their time and or distract the recipient from their work. Another thing that would need to be considered was that the questions are suitable enough for the study and would be designed to provide as much information as possible.

Here is an overview of the script I created. This would be sent to each and every contact I could find in the local area. I adapted each one to suit the person I was contacting. By doing this I feel that I remained formal as well as possibly showing that I took attention when looking at their website. In each email I sent I would begin by referencing a project or something unique about the website with the hope of gaining and being able to keep the reader’s attention. As well as this it allows me to set a positive atmosphere for the email which was my main intention. I then proceeded to introduce myself and why I was emailing them and the questions that I would like to know more about. Since I didn’t want to waste any time and become a nuisance to those I was contacting I only added in four questions. This meant that they would need to be thought out and would force the recipient to give a detailed answer. As seen below I feel that the questions I used were both exploratory and conclusive since I wanted to be able to get fixed information and to be able to progress with my findings.

“Hi (Name)

I recently found your website and wanted to say that your work is very inspiring! (Reference something on page)

My name is Harry Bartlam and I am a student studying on a Digital Design and Animation course at Canterbury College which is based in Kent. I am currently working on a project based around motion graphics and how they are used effectively within advertising.

If you have the time I was wondering if you could possibly answer some questions I have prepared that would help with the study.

  • What process would you undertake to understand the client’s needs?
  • How do you make your work unique from project to project?
  • What is the best way to entertain or inform a teenage demographic?
  • Have you noticed any trends in motion design advertising within the last two years?

Thank you for your time in advance.

Yours sincerely

Harry Bartlam“

The email script that is shown above was sent to eleven different studios. These were mostly local, being based in the Kent and London area. As of 15/05.2017, I have not received any replies to the emails I sent. Although this is slightly disappointing I have to respect that people are busy and have much more important tasks than replying to student emails. Despite not receiving any emails, I feel that this part of my research can benefit the project and my own judgement in the future. Firstly I think that it is important to be organised and make a plan for anything to go wrong. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to carry out more than one method of primary research. As well as this I felt I would be reluctant if I only found information based on other people’s knowledge and judgement so I was going to carry out more research regardless of what the results were of this method. Another piece of information that I can take from this would be to make sure that I contact a good amount of people. In this scenario I only contacted 11 different studios, some of which may not have been hugely active due to the location they are based in. In future projects/scenarios I am going to ensure that I contact more people from different places. I feel that this will not only give me a better variety of diverse answers but it would also increase the chances of getting a reply. Despite this, I continued with my research to ensure that no time was wasted.

On the morning of 16/05/2017 I received an email from one of the studios that I had contacted. Karen Walker the Producer and Studio Manager from Imaginar replied with comprehensive answers to the questions I had asked.

Karens reply to my first question was very interesting and very useful. I wanted to find out exactly what would be done to understand the client and what needs they may have. In past experience in my own work I have sometimes found it difficult to get a true understanding of the client and what they are truly looking for out of the project. Now I have a much better understanding of this since Karen put an emphasis on helping the client to make sure that both parties know exactly what is needed/expected of each other.

“We are usually given a looser brief with projects. Motion Graphics is slightly different as we already understand the effect, it’s the style then that we need to ascertain. Coca Cola is obviously an iconic brand so it was more the ‘idea’ that the client wanted assistance with on this.We general ask for as many references as possible as people’s interpretations differ greatly and it can save time and money to get this right early on. Listening to the client and probing on any area of uncertainty – it will bite you in the butt later otherwise”

In my second question, I wanted to ask how such a wide variety of style could be captured through one studio. This was a common theme throughout all of the portfolios I looked through so I was interested to know how it was achieved. I felt asking this would also give me a better perspective as what kind of processes would be undertaken when creating work in a studio environment. Using more than one freelancer/studio to create work was an aspect that I never thought about before doing this research so I feel that was quite important. As well as this I found the last part of her response quite interesting. Karen said that she likes looking at young artists and how they develop over time. This was another crucial piece of information for me.

“We are able to do this as we use several freelance motion graphic artists/studios.  This allows us to vary in the styles we can offer and keeps us fresh. We are always on the lookout for new artists and styles. We often look through social media platforms at new ideas so it’s always good to hint at your styles and start building an online profile early. I like to look at young artists development especially as it shows the effort they put into personal projects as well as how fast they learn.”

By asking “What is the best way to entertain or inform a teenage demographic?”, I wanted to get a better perspective on what people in the professional industry thought would be the best way to inform and entertain. The answer of Instagram and Snapchat surprised me since they are particularly new(especially Snapchat) when compared with other mediums of social media like Facebook and Twitter. However I am going to start using these more in a professional sense to ensure that my work is seen by more people from all different demographics.

“Social media – Instagram, snapchat first. Music /food/fashion”

My last question was about motion design trends in the past two years. I wanted to know what information I could find on this topic from industry professionals since the sources I found online covered more of the practical side of the industry rather than what is seen from an advertising point of view. With this in mind I found that Karen’s answer was very useful since it covered the information that I was looking for. She also mentioned that the content used is ‘repurposed and recycled’. This is an aspect of the industry that I had not thought about before. Overall I am very happy with the information that Karen was kind enough to give and feel like this will greatly benefit the study and my practical work.

“Campaigns and marketing are so much more fast moving and throwaway. Content is repurposed and recycled – motion graphics lends itself to this fast moving, quick impact environment and demand”

Experimentation

The next method of research that I carried out was based around experimentation in motion design. This was carried out whilst waiting for replies from the first part of my research so I felt that it was hugely important to get a positive result from this. My main intention in doing experimentation was to find how different styles can be used convey a unique impression to an audience. I also planned on linking this through to the practical part of my project by creating three different mini adverts for a mobile phone. Since this is very similar to what I am doing in the final practical piece, I felt it would be a great opportunity to figure what would be the best style of design to work with.

For each experimental piece I found there was three main production processes. These consisted of photography, graphic design and animation. Since I was working with a DSLR on a advert about a mobile phone I began with taking pictures using different colours, composition and lighting techniques. I wanted to have a very different style for each piece so I took some time to plan how I could use each photo I took could be used in the other parts of production. After taking the pictures, I opened each one into Photoshop. This allowed me to design each animation and plan as to what would be the moving variable in each one. I wanted to keep these as minimal as possible since this wasn’t the last part of my research and needed as much time as possible since the hardware I was using wasn’t very powerful. After designing each piece, I opened them up into After Effects. Here I would be able to animate and render each one into their final variations. I have compiled them into this video to show my results.

Out of the three different styles I used, I feel that the second worked best in my opinion. I feel that it is potentially more engaging since it is slightly faster and would therefore gain the attention of the target demographic. As well as this, the colours used are extremely vibrant. The use of different fonts in quick succession would be a good way of getting someone’s attention since you can’t exactly read the text whilst it is changing, therefore the audience may become interested to know what the name of the mobile phone is since it is shown on the left. Although I am happy with each piece I made I think that the other two would not have worked so well since the use of colour was not as eye catching as well as being slower. Perhaps they could have worked with another type of audience, but in this scenario I feel that the second advertisement would work much more effectively.

Survey

This leads me onto my final piece of research. To get a better idea of which experimental piece would work most effectively, I carried out a survey to understand which would work best and how they could have been improved to be more effective. I used a website called ‘SurveyMonkey.com’. This is because the participants would need to watch the video showing each piece before answering the survey. With this in mind I felt that an online survey would be the best medium of gaining answers. As well as this I feel that having an online set of questions are much easier to distribute and therefore will gain more feedback. Below are the questions that I asked in the survey.

Q1: What is your full name?

Q2: What is your gender?

Q3: What is your age?

Q4: How likely is it that you would recommend this product to a friend or colleague?

Q5: Do you find the designs above to be visually appealing?

Q6: What changes would most improve the advertisements you liked least?

Q7: Would the advertisements persuade you to buy the product?

Q8: Do you have a favourite advert that is unique to you?

I started by asking questions about the participants demographic, focusing mainly on their name, gender and age. Similar to the first part of my research I wanted to keep it as short as possible to avoid wasting anyone’s time. Therefore I only added in eight questions to ensure that this wasn’t the scenario. After establishing the participants demographic I asked questions regarding the three experimental pieces. I wanted to find out what one would have been most effective in a real world scenario. To get enough answers I distributed the survey on my personal Twitter account. This allowed me to get enough results to analyse and use my findings to support my final practical piece. Overall, twenty people replied and answered the survey.

By asking the questions to help identify the demographic, I was able to get a much better understanding of who was answering the survey. By looking at the results, I found that nearly 85% of all people who answered were male. As well as this nearly 58% of people were aged between 0 and 17. This meant that nearly the entirety of people who entered were male and of a young (most likely teenage) age. Although this is an interesting demographic to think about, I feel that the survey would have been more effective had a more diverse audience answered the questions. However this is something I will keep in mind when distributing a survey in the future.

Question four was in relation to what I had done in my experimental task. I wanted to understand if a very short advertisement like the ones I made would be enough to gain someone’s attention and or recommend the product to a peer. The results from this were very interesting since there was a very even spread of answers. Nearly 37% of people who answered said that it would be unlikely that they would recommend the product. However the remaining participants said that it would be likely that they would share the product. The following question asked if the advertisements were visually appealing. 83% of people who answered said that it was something that they thought looked appealing. This leads me to think that people would not share a product or advert on the basis that it looks good to them.

The last four questions I asked were more personal since I felt that I needed to get a good variety of conclusive and exploratory information. In question six, I asked about what changes would most improve the experimental pieces. A common theme that I noticed throughout was that they were too slow, and would be more effective had a larger amount of information been added. I feel that this is something that I need to consider in my final practical piece since that will also be an advertisement. The following question asked whether the participant would buy the product themselves. 41% of people who answered replied with a positive answer, whereas only 25% of the people who answered replied negatively. The remaining people said replied with maybe. I feel that this part of the survey may have been slightly biased since I uploaded the video to my own channel, and therefore the participants would have known it was me who made the videos. However if I were able to find a way of distributing the survey without people knowing who made it, the answers would be less biased.

In the last question, I asked if the participant had any particular advertisements that were unique to them. 47% of those who answered said that they did not have a unique advert, however the remaining people said yes and stated which one. The brands that were noted consisted of Nike, JD, John Lewis, and Google Pixel. I feel that I would have been able to collect significantly different data, had the demographic of the survey been different, though I still found the results to be interesting.

Secondary Research

As said earlier in the essay, my secondary research mainly consists of information made up of articles, websites, podcasts, interviews and videos. I have chosen to find a wide variety of sources since I think that this will give me a broader perspective which is one of the main intentions of the project.Overall I had 25 different sources containing information surrounding graphic design, motion design, semiology and advertising essentials. I started with graphic design since my literature review was organised into a thematic order.

Graphic Design Findings

Going into my secondary research, graphic design was a big focus of mine. Although my study is about how motion graphics are used to convey meaning through advertising, graphic design still plays a big role as to how an overall piece can look and be perceived by the public eye. This means that it is a huge aspect of how advertisements are made the way they are. One of the areas that I knew least about before beginning my research was typography. After doing some research I found that there are five main rules that must be followed when choosing a font, which was one of my main areas for improvement going into this study.

The first step that must be considered is size. In typography, each letter is known as a character. When the size of the font is changed each character is changes to adapt to the new size. The height of each character is known as the ‘x’ height. When pairing two different fonts together it is important to find two fonts with a similar x height since often work better together. The next step focuses on leading. Leading is the word used to describe the vertical space between each line of text. A good way of ensuring that the leading is set to a good value throughout your work is to set it about 1.25 – 1.5 times bigger than the font being used. Following this is tracking and kerning, which is also related to spacing. The kerning value represents the horizontal spacing between all characters whereas the tracking is set only to some letters depending on the font size and scenario. The last two steps are measure and hierarchy scale. Measure is used to describe the width of a block of text, whereas the hierarchy scale should be used to ensure that not all of the font on the page is the same size. This is done to ensure that the most important pieces of information can be found easily (Butterwick, M. (2017). I feel that this is something that must be considered when producing an advertisement.

Colour theory is another part of graphic design that is considered in motion graphics and any advertisement. There are 6 main theories that are used to choose which colours

split-complementary
(Unknown, 2016)

should be used alongside each other. The first is analogous which uses different colours that are close to one another on the colour wheel. This is used very commonly since it is a good way of having the entire shot with equal focus. Although it is widely used, I feel that it would not be suitable for my practical piece since the main intention is to be able to show the audience where their attention should be. However the second theory, I feel would work much more effectively. The complementary colour scheme has two different variations. The first uses just two primary colours and would be mainly used to show a big change within a shot, whereas the second variation uses more than two primary colours (Unknown, 2016). The split complementary scheme (shown in the image on the right) would be more effective in showing emphasis since one of the primary colours would be significantly different from others. With this in mind I feel that these two schemes would best suit my practical piece since the attention of the audience is important and must be focused on the product being displayed.

 

Motion Design Findings

After looking at some different sources on motion design, I found some very interesting information that can be considered when producing the practical part of my project. One of the areas that I looked into was motion design trends. I felt that it would be important to research this since it would allow me to get a better understanding of what themes persist within the industry and how they have developed over time. A reoccurring theme that I noticed was the use of seamless transitions. This is a technique that I am going to heavily implement into my own conceptual advert. It involves moving between shots in a way that is very difficult to notice and therefore dramatically improves the flow of the sequence. Below is a good example of the seamless transition technique. Another technique that I would like to implement is the use of depth within animation. I feel that this is a great way to emphasise something as well as add more to the shot. This is also shown in the video below.

(Unknown, 2016

Looking at one of Apples newest advertisements Apple (2016), I feel that these kind of techniques are definitely worth using since they are great for gaining the attention of an audience. My practical piece will be a conceptual advertisement that would be used to promote a mobile phone, therefore I wanted to look at an advertisement made for a competitor product. I chose to use the ‘Don’t Blink’ commercial used to promote the new Iphone 7 since this was mentioned in an answer on my questionnaire in my primary research. It is also an advertisement that was unique to me since I felt it was great at conveying meaning and showing the intentions of the Iphone 7. The entire advertisement is 1 minute, 58 seconds long and includes a variety of fast paced sequences with a combination of seamless transitions and a added depth. This is a great inspiration of mine and I would like to implement some of these techniques into my own work.

(Apple, 2016)

The mobile phone that I plan on using for the conceptual advertisement is a One Plus 3T. Therefore I also looked at one of the commercials made by One Plus (One Plus, 2016) to get an idea of what colour schemes, typography and any other principles are used. Now that I have looked at the older commercial, I have a much better understanding of how it could be improved to suit their target audience. I plan on replicating this in my work since I’d like to maintain brand continuity as this is something that is needed in the industry roles. I noticed that this was a common responsibility when looking through job roles to do with motion design and advertisement production.

(One Plus, 2016)

Semiology Findings

Although I wasn’t able to find as much information on semiology, I feel that what I have been able to find will be greatly beneficial since it has given me a better understanding of what can done to change the atmosphere or the audiences perception of a situation. ‘Semiology’ is used to identify an object or symbol that has been used to represent something in the real world. For example in the OnePlus 3T commercial shown above, there is a wide use of different types of sound and dark colours to show that the phone is sleek and or a new type of technology. However this is just my opinion, the perception of something will vary from person to person.

I found this quote interesting since it gave a good definition of semIology and how it is used within the creative industry. I also feel that it shows the importance of considering how the work will be perceived by the audience.

“The method of placing signs and symbols in a piece of work – an advert, painting or film – will always be about craft,” says Stiff. Which brings us, at last, to one element of a composition that can be controlled with some degree of accuracy – the production values.

 

Reflection

I feel that I have enough information to support my study and the practical part of the project. I am happy with my findings and have been able to learn several new things throughout my research. I particularly found Karen’s response very beneficial since it gave me the opportunity to speak to someone in the industry and gain information that couldn’t be found online or through another source. This will benefit the project and myself for future scenarios since I have also been able to get a better idea of how to present myself more formally over email communication. The knowledge that I have gained over the week will be invaluable in the future.

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