Motion Design, Animation and Editorial

For us, post-production is more than that “something you do” after filming beautiful footage. In fact, post-production is where we often build creative, inspiring, imaginative work from scratch–without even picking up a camera.

From kinetic typography (moving/expressive type) to character-driven work, motion design encapsulates an entire design discipline. Some artists and studios will even specialize in just one aspect of it. At Sarofsky, we employ experienced, senior artists in each discipline and further expand from our black-book of creative talent to supplement the team on larger-scale projects. As such, we are able to offer our clients a full range of design-driven solutions for everything from extremely small to vast, large-scale projects. More importantly, this allows us to pivot easily if the needs for an assignment change midstream—which, let’s be honest, they sometimes do.

We are often asked to bid and produce a job in 2D. However, as the project progresses, we may see an opportunity to elevate the creative by adding a 3D transition or perhaps a dimensional flourish. Because we have the tools and the talent at our fingertips, we are able to explore additional creative solutions that may be off the table elsewhere. Our team’s broad skill-set allows us to prioritize creative solutions rather than a ‘pick one’ menu of techniques.

Some people may be surprised to learn that we include editorial with motion design and animation in our categorization of post-production. But for us, the editorial process is the backbone of any strong motion design and animated piece. The fluid back-and-forth between the artists managing the keyframes and the cuts is essential for a piece to feel perfect and tell a great story. Sometimes, it even makes sense for a motion designer to act as lead editor. It really depends on the project’s creative goals.

Within Motion Design, Animation and Editorial there are a lot of creative disciplines we must keep pace with as techniques and software evolve. Below we outline these, sharing not only the technical backbone of the disciplines but also, how and when they may be employed by our artists.

Animation

Animation
We’ve addressed the distinct differences between 2D and 3D animation in the paragraphs above, but there is an argument for clumping both of these together and simply calling it all ‘animation.’ The point is, we constantly mix techniques and processes to achieve our desired results. Animation in and of itself is just the technique of using successive drawings or positions of models to create an illusion of movement when the movie is shown in sequence. We can even call “stop motion” animation, and that's all done in camera. Cel animation is also a technique we often employ to get a lovely custom tween. No matter what the tool, we are animators through and through, bringing visuals to life in a wide variety of ways.

2D Animation

2D Animation can be produced in a variety of ways. Most people immediately think of traditional cel animation (popular for character driven projects and a sense of tradition). However, we lean heavily on Adobe After Effects, a tool that allows us to realize everything from rigged and animated 2D characters all the way to slick, design-driven animation—from kinetic typography to VFX-heavy compositing.

CG (Computer Graphics)

Oftentimes, the term CG is used by our clients when it becomes time to rebuild or recreate their physical product, though CG really encompasses everything we create in a computer graphics program. The beauty of CG is that we can create a full world in the computer - we lovingly refer to this as keeping it “in the box” - or we can create elements and comp them into live action plates for a seamless look and feel. It's great to be able to supplement a heavy VFX job with CG elements, because sometimes you just need to make what you need from scratch. Whenever possible, instead of live action, we recommend doing product shots in CG, mainly because these visuals are much faster to update, revise and create versions. It could be something as simple as a change in the product flavor, or, perhaps the artwork had been revamped. Using CG is much simpler than updating (or having to reshoot) film footage. It also makes it easier to accommodate all the different aspect ratios required for different platforms. On almost every job, a package shot is updated for some reason.

3D Modeling

3D Modeling
When producing a spot that is all or partially CG, there may be elements that simply cannot be supplied by the manufacturer or purchased from a stock model site. We have the ability to model, from scratch, anything a project needs. This extends to texturing, lighting, and developing the final look for the product, object, or scene. Usually photorealism is the goal, but sometimes, a bit of style is called for to nail that unique look. You would be surprised to hear how often we need to rebuild a model because the client may not have access to the original CAD files. Don’t worry, in those situations we can get the products to look exactly the same as they do in real life.

3D Animation

After building objects, lighting them and creating textures, the natural next step is to animate. The wonderful part about 3D animation is that not only do we have the tools and skills to animate an object, but we can also control the world in which that object lives, and how the camera and lighting moves through it. That’s why there is a big difference between 2D and 3D in our process and bids. With all of those options we must have artists, producers and pipeline experts that can help to ensure the project stays manageable, and that we are keeping the client involved enough to impact the outcome of the work.

Kinetic Type

When typography is the main element in a project, we never feel limited creatively. In fact, we feel empowered. You might worry that typography alone won’t provide enough for a beautiful finished piece. But it is actually more than enough. The simplest work is often the most impactful. Conveying a message with type alone means that the message has to move with elegance, connecting precisely with the audio, and be perfectly typeset and composed. Every frame of a kinetic type project has to feel like a sophisticated poster design--everything composed intentionally and looking impeccable.

Typeface Design

Typeface Design
Designing type from scratch is an artform. Skilled artisans have devoted entire careers to the mastery of the typographic medium. We often embark on this path when we have the time and opportunity to do so. Our work on Marvel Studios’ film Guardians of the Galaxy is by far our most wide-reaching example of our work in this medium, illustrating how typography alone can be a significant aspect of branding.

Titling

Titling
Films, commercials and all kinds of content require titling: Graphics that identify locations, lower thirds, graphs and any kind of additional information that adds to the storytelling. We do this all of the time whether it's providing a price point in a commercial or naming a planet in Guardians of the Galaxy. Titling, when not treated as an afterthought, adds so much to the tone and branding of any piece of content.

Editorial

Choosing an editor is just as important as choosing a director. The editor is, after all, the captain of the post-production process. That is why, along with motion design and animation, editorial is a necessary pillar of our process. The editor oversees the overall story and also ensures that we are looking for opportunities not only to make dynamic transitions, but also for the places where simple cuts can be even more impactful.

Character Design

Character Design
Before you can bring any character to life, someone needs to create that character. Character design begins with a list of attributes and a personality that then becomes a sketch. From there, every imaginable nuance is discussed from the size of the nose right down to the argyle pattern on the character’s socks. “Would she really wear those kinds of pants with that beret?”

Character Modeling and Animation

Once a character is designed, it is modelled, rigged (a 3D skeleton), and animated. As we know, a lot that “makes” a character is defined by physical characteristics. But how they are interpreted into 2D or 3D is also a huge aspect in defining personality. Is it a 2D sketchy-looking character? Or is it a 3D claymation-style character? The process of bringing characters to life includes an exploration of how that character will ultimately be rendered. After a character is rigged and modeled, it is animated. Much of a character’s personality actually comes from how they move—how our animators breath life into a design. At each point in the process, our artists are looking for opportunities to say more about a character without the writer's involvement.

Storyboarding

Storyboarding
For some people, storyboarding means quick sketches that turn into an animatic. Sometimes that works for us—especially if we are going to film something. But more often, storyboarding means creating photo real visualizations of the final outcome at the beginning of a job. This helps our clients know what they are buying and gives us an approved goal to work toward together. Sometimes, these are called design boards.

Typography

Typography
Whether in motion or static, a premium result requires strong typographers to set the type. We review letter spacing, tracking, leading, widows, baselines and look for the opportunity to use a ligature when we can; these are all part of our ethos.

Illustration

Illustration
Oftentimes we are bringing to life all-illustrated visuals, but sometimes, we just add illustrated accents over live-action footage. The great thing about illustration is that we can explore any visual style and find something that works perfectly for a client’s brand.

Experimental

Having so many tools and tricks at our disposal means that sometimes, we get to experiment. We love to break out a fog machine and camera to see what we can cook up. Other times, we set up a stop motion set and play with materials and movements. We’ve also been known to mix in-the-box techniques with tactile materials. You never know how your project could inspire us to think outside the box.

Motion Design

Motion design has been called many different things over the years, from simply animation to broadcast design to motion graphics. And that’s not surprising considering that motion design encapsulates a vast array of different techniques, mediums and softwares. Every technique outlined in the motion design, animation and editorial service section on our website is in fact, an aspect of motion design. From kinetic typography (moving/expressive type) to character-driven work, motion design is really an entire design discipline.

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