Motion Graphics Practice.

Exploring contemporary moving image design.



The term motion graphics itself, is relatively
new, it didn't exist when I graduated. My
first job was at what was then, BBC
Broadcast, a commercial subsidiary of the
BBC, now Red Bee Media.

I used to describe my role, as a broadcast
designer, animator, graphic designer.
There were people in the department who
trained using physical props, quantel,
lightbox, HAL, and the old broadcast systems,
all of which were still in use, in the offices in
Television Centre.
This was a wonderful world, or props,
accessories, a fantastic archive, and library
in the basement, and live shows, that we used
to go and watch from the galleries.
The most memorable of this, was a group of
us, silently, fixed, fixated, by a man cleaning
the floor, in a drive around cleaner. Watching
his systems, patterns, as he drove around
the floor, drawing stripes and circles with the

TV design, was, and in some respects is, still, a
small and closed world. TV titles, designs,
content graphics, idents and endboards.
When I used to describe my job to me, people
never understood what I meant, it's
surprising, how many people who
watched TV, had never considered the role
of the title sequence, or even noticed them.
Top of the Pops.

the point at which, people understood my work,
was when I mentioned the BBC idents, the BBC2
idents, with the character 2's. I have
never designed one of these, these are professional
highlights for a TV designer, a once in a
lifetime gift of a project.

The role of the ident in TV branding, and graphics,
is well established. With Martin Lambie
Nairn's Channel 4 idents, the original '4'
breakdowns, that have, and still, inform the
channel's identity today.

Film4 ~ Idents ~ Full Set from ManvsMachine on Vimeo.

The history of this, dates back, to title slates,
credits, old silent films, and especially,
and co-incidentally, to Soviet Movie making.

Eistenstein, Vertov, and the interstitual, the
use of the edit, what an interstitual is - can
do, and be. Breaking up, and breaking apart
action, with graphics, images, and text. [1]

I recently watched some rugby union coverage
(I think - it was union.) for the rugby world
cup, as part of a proposed piece of writing
for a magazine called the Conversation.
I don't watch ITV, and was surprised by the
channel structure, which looked, from memory,
something like this -

As viewers, we are so used to seeing the
content, broadcast material, separated into
smaller parts, it has become the language
of television.

The edit.

There is very little theory about, and around
motion graphics. A book was published in
2013, by an American designer called
Michael Betancourt. Hugely anticipated,
and incredibly important - the first real
academic history of Motion Graphics [2].

The book to me feels rushed, in it's production
especially, but has opened up the field for
publishing. Betancourt starts the book talking
about synesthesia. I was really surprised
by the link, I have considered it - I can see
the relationship.

My research last autumn led me to a Russian
composer called Scriabin. [3] He was a
nineteenth century composer, and one of the
only people I know of to have composed in
the key of G# minor.
I have, and had, become interested in the
key, after listening to Brothers in Arms, by
Dire Straits.
There is so much in the song, the music, that
relates to my film. War, tragecy, and then,
when Mark Knopfler beings to sing, the uplighting,
uplift, the soaring - the music video shows
soaring in fact, mountains - a landscapes, this
is exactly how it feels to me. [4]

G# minor feels to be the key of dischord, almost
all black keys on the piano, awkward,
uncomfortable, or dis-comfortable. Tragic.
Mozart's tragedies were composed, I think
largely, in the key of G minor.

Scriabin uses the key, but with beauty. I found
a piece of his music, in C-minor, in the library
at work. And found out more about him too.

He is incredible. Quiet.
He had synesthesia, he invented something
claled a 'keyboard of light', that projected
coloured light in his performances, according to
the notes played. Powered by lime, - this is
the, where the term, 'limelight' comes from [5]

To me, this feels like the birth of motion
graphics. 19th Century VJ-ing. There is a link
for me here, with artists like Max Hattler,
contemporary VJ's, artists, exploring motion
graphics, the boundaries, and academic
practice too, what motion graphics is, can be
defined as, and where the boundaries are.

Collision (by Max Hattler) from Max Hattler on Vimeo.


The role of the blog is important too.
The industry standard, and relatively, really,
hte only good motion graphics blog, is
Motionographer, edited by Justin Cone. [6]

Championing - good design, education in motion
graphics, industry and freelance practice,
writing and publishing.

And to finish.
An idea, and a diagram.
In a recent book, inspired perhaps, by
Betancourt's writing, the Author, Austin Shaw
describes visually, the process of a project.

My own diagram is below.
Explode, everything. Start from a point, explode,
push, test, expand. Until, always, and
almost, at breaking point. Trust, that
somehow, a knowledge, insight, or external
factor. Something, will happen, and a truth
always, there is a certainty at this point.

When, the project - has to reduce, conclude,
reform, re-form. Come to the surface, and
focus. Design, production. At the top o the
diagram, clear, sharp, a point. A final delivery,
that doesn't always, on the surface, reveal
all, the truth, true depth, insight, and
practice behind it.

But, it will be there.





























Original Channel 4 ident,
by Martin Lambie Nairn.












film 4 idents,
by ManvsMachine




























































































Max Hattler -




Footnotes, references.

1. *Find this - Soviet Movie Making

2. Michael Betancourt, The History of motion graphics:
from avant-garde to industry in the United States

(Rockville, Maryland, 2013)

3. Alexander Scirabin 1872 - 1915

4. Dire Straits - Brothers in Arms. Directed by Bill Mather.
Music video. Limelight Films, 1986.

5. This information came form a talk at the
RNCM, by Peter Donohoe, on Thursday, 29 October 2015.

6. Motionographer. Accessed 30th August 2016.