Why your 'inspiration' for motion design is actually hurting you

Have you ever found yourself starting a project by killing a few hours on Behance, MotionServed, or any of those other sites that show all the cool projects people have been creating? It's time to stop looking to everyone else for your inspiration and get back to the root of why we do what we do. That being said, those sites do have a lot to offer and shouldn't be ignored. Just don't let it be your secret weapon, because honestly it will not be the best you can do, we promise. The appeal of starting there is that it's a quick fix to get some motion in your veins, and get creating. The danger is that so many things can very easily sink into your subconscious and be regurgitated with a slight spin but none of the originality that you set out to have. Most of us don't set out to copy other people's work, but many of us set ourselves up to have less original work by choosing the easy inspiration route. So if not there, then where? The answer is all around us in the world we live in.

Back to the roots

Before you even start trying to develop a look or colors or anything for your project, come up with words that encompass the ideas you want to communicate. Even if the list is short, get it in writing and then begin your exploration. This step is after you get the client brief so you at least have an idea of what they're wanting. Now, this step of word gathering is pretty important for a lot of different stages of the project. Whether you're the person executing the whole creative look for the video or just doing the animation, having this list will help you, so don't skip it even if you don't have full creative control. Once you have your list, now you can begin to look further. MakingAList

Before you find your inspiration

Now, when it comes to motion inspiration, you may be looking for different things. Maybe you're looking for the whole look development of something or maybe you just want an awesome new way to animate some typography. Let's take a hypothetical look at a situation where you're dealing with a client that has a logo that stands for strength. This could be one of the buzzwords that you may have come up with in the earlier step. Now your job is to go out into the world and start finding things that make you think of that word. This part of the process can be so fun and rewarding. It's so easy to overlook the beauty in everyday things and every time you do this exercise you will feel a little more connected with the world around you.

It's the little things that go a long way

So for strength, something you might notice is a big tree. Notice how the tiny leaves flutter about, but the trunk remains firm and grounded. Could you translate this type of movement to typography? Of course! Maybe it means taking the bar or hook of an "F" and fluttering those parts or showing a slow sway in the wind but never a movement that looks unsure or flittering overall. So many tiny and customized details in animations like this might get overlooked individually but on the whole, the overall feel will be the word you're looking for. Words are powerful drivers for the combination of movement that will encompass the feel you want to achieve.

Another scenario

Now, maybe you have a totally different project with a much different feel maybe it's something that needs to convey a sense of quick and choppy disjointedness. Try looking at things that evoke a sense of being cut short. Perhaps it's cars passing by quickly, an egg frying in a pan, or the airport split-flap display of departure and arrival times. Study the nuances of motion in these everyday details. Maybe this type of motion then comes across in a number of ways, from the way your footage is cut together down to the interpolation of your keyframes. EGG

An abstraction

Perhaps you need to play with something on a more abstract scale like how something might be affected by a force in nature. Wind, Water, Fire, those types of forces. Watch the way these forces affect different objects of different weights, sizes and shapes. Can you find a way to use that contrast in your own project all while showing that the force of nature is the constant? Find some ways to actually execute this style in Animating with the Forces of Nature in After Effects. AnimatingwiththeForcesofNatureinAERender

Rain, rain go away

So what do you do if you just don't have the time to actually go out of the office and look at nature or wander around your city for a little while? What if it's raining or your deadline is just too tight to spare a minute away from your desk? First, don't panic, still make that word list, and now try going to stock photo and video sites with your list and searching there. You may not end up finding the most original thing you've ever seen but it is still better than just checking in on the work of others.

Wrapping up

People find inspiration in so many different places there really is no magic bullet solution for coming up with the most effective means of getting an idea. You however, have the power to up your game by getting a deeper understanding of the physical world around you, the emotion that its motion conveys, and ultimately the way you choose to let it influence the work that you create. And let's be honest, a little fresh air never hurt anyone. If you have any places that really make you feel inspired or anything you do to get into the creative zone to make some awesome motion design, post them in the comments below! Keep learning with the latest motion graphics tutorials and even start for free with a demo account today!