Moviegoers encountered the earliest forays into motion graphics in the 1950s, when film studios employed graphic designers to create moving title sequences to set the tone for a movie. These designers complemented the mood and attitude of the film with the illustrations, pacing, sounds, colors, and fonts they chose for their title sequences.
Saul and Elaine Bass were some of the most celebrated early motion graphics artists creating Hollywood title sequences. Saul first made a splash with his work on The Seven Year Itch (1955), as well as Alfred Hitchcock films such as To Catch a Thief (1955), North by Northwest (1959), and Psycho (1960). The two worked together on Spartacus (1960) and, after marrying in 1961, continued working together for many years.
In the intervening decades, motion graphics grew by leaps and bounds, not only in popularity among visual media industries but also in terms of technology. These days, most visual artists use motion graphics software of immense sophistication to create moving visuals for a variety of purposes:
Opening credits: The original motion graphics experience is alive and stronger than ever today, with not only movies but also, most significantly, TV series creating their title sequences with motion graphics. Some famous opening sequences in current or recent TV series include Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, Only Murders in the Building, True Detective, Archer, Mad Men, Westworld, The Witcher, and many others.
Broadcast media: Because motions graphics work well to illustrate hard-to-understand ideas or data-heavy facts, many broadcast media such as news organizations use them to present charts, graphs, maps, and other concepts, as well as using motion graphics for their on-air branding.
Advertising/marketing: Companies and agencies can create more engaging, impressive, and entertaining materials with the inclusion of motion graphics. For example, product videos and explainer videos can be more fun and memorable with the addition of motion graphics, and that option often costs less than producing full character animation.
Websites: Web designers have become more adept at incorporating motion graphics into their user interfaces to improve usability and user experience.
Retail: Whether it’s a restaurant menu or a store bulletin board, more and more retail signage appears on flat screen displays. With that change, motion graphics have also become a big factor in on-site retail messaging.
Social media/creators: Do-it-yourself motion graphics—from online software templates to simple apps that combine music, text, imagery, and motion—are popular with viral meme-makers and social media influencers.
Regardless of the industry or the visual medium, anyone who wants to outline a group of factual points or concepts could benefit from the simple but powerful communication of motion graphics. As an alternative to full-blown animation that usually tells a narrative story, motion graphics are usually easier and less expensive to produce.