Simple Motion Graphics

When you say it; show it...the mantra of TV News


Motion graphics using text

This will be a type solution communicating a short phrase. Start with a typographic layout created in Photoshop or Illustrator. This will be imported and animated in After Effects.

Synchronize the video over a sound track; the key element is a voice-over, which can be supported by music and/or foley sounds.

The duration is determined by the length of your the phrase. Keep it short; 10 or 15 seconds of animation is sufficient. Limit the effects to basic motion controls. Use position, anchor point, rotation, scaling, and opacity. Please, no flames, explosions, 3D, etc. on this one. We want to demonstrate a minimalist design style.

Recalling the movie Helvetica, try to emulate Massimo Vignelli more than David Carson.

The Workflow:

After viewing the After Effects Essentials tutorials you will be able to use After Effects to animate your text.

Select your phrase to illustrate. Choose something you could present in your portfolio.


Develop the design of the type and flow of the visuals with thumbnail-grade storyboards.

Write out the phrase under your storyboard frames to show the timing, the alignment of words to graphics. Think about how your moving graphics will relate to the words.

Record the audio of the phrase. You can voice this yourself or recruit voice talent. You may want to add a music or sound effect track to the voice. You can begin your planning with just the voice and add the sweetening later. An incomplete audio is called a "scratch track". Large productions often have tight deadlines and require the video and audio teams to work simultaneously, and scratch tracks help keep everything coordinated.

From your storyboards, create the type in Photoshop or Illustrator.

Make your initial frame size 1920x1080 pixels!

The whole phrase can be distributed throughout a stack of named layers. In After Effects import the whole PSD or AI file and distribute the layers onto video tracks. You may want to import as footage to use as a position guide and import as composition, retain layer sizes, for the animated elements.

Synchronize the audio and video animation in After Effects. You will create two full-frame video files. Save one version as an archive-quality file using the Quicktime ProRes codec; and a more compressed H.264, with a Vimeo HD 1080p option.

Save the results to the server.


Stillmotion has a series on video production; this is the storyboard epsiode.

The pure priciples of motion graphics, short and sweet.

Disney's 12 principles of animation. Here it is, animated.

Seven storytelling tips.