New to motion design? Been doing it since the days of Kyle Cooper and Se7en?
Either way, this post full of motion design resources will be helpful for you. Hung and I feel strongly about giving back to the community and helping fellow artists. Part of our mojo at bien is supporting others. When we were first starting our careers in the late 90’s, the internet was barely a thing (jokes), so there were very few resources online.
Today, the problem is filtering out the noise.
With so much low-quality stuff out there, who has the time to sift through hundreds of lists, posts, and repositories full of mediocre resources and motion graphics tutorials?
We’re here to help. Let’s go!
Collaboration Tools for Motion Design
This is our go-to creative collaboration tool. It’s great for storyboarding, but we also use it for our creative briefs and to get a team on the same page. Basically, we use it for everything, it’s intuitive and just works. Almost everyone we use it with ends up opening an account.
Do you work with people in different cities or countries? Sometimes, it can be difficult to communicate your ideas and feel like you’re truly collaborating if you’re not working in the same room. Enter Realtime Board. We love this product because it feels good. If you use your imagination, it almost seems like you’re physically present. Imagine putting up, organizing and moving sticky notes around for a story map session? Create a to-do list, action plans, storyboards, etc.
Boords is an amazing storyboarding tool created by London animation studio Animade. Resourceful motion design artists built this tool for motion design artists. It’s fast, flexible and best of all; you can export perfect PDFs for clients. No more laying stuff out in Photoshop and constantly tweaking the format.
Isn’t it better to put your time into the boards’ content vs. the boards themselves?
Big shouts to Animade for creating something that is truly easy to use and is pretty much a life-saver. I don’t know how they did this while doing client work but hey, they executed at an extremely high level.
Damn good job.
Adding G-Suite to this list might seem like a no-brainer, but there are so many people out there that haven’t given the G Suite a shot yet. We like to keep things simple. It can’t get any easier or simpler than Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Forms, Calendar, Drive and the 23 other apps that are available by Google for free. We use the enterprise version, which is $5 per month, per user. The ability to collaborate in real time is a true game changer. Goodbye MS Office, Hello G!
We’ve spoken to many studios and production companies about what project management tools they use. Surprisingly, a vast majority of them use G Suite for everything, including brainstorming and project management.
Asana is one of the leading project management tools out there. It’s clean, elegant and incredibly easy to use. There is a very powerful free version that will suffice for most small design shops. Plus, the new interface and brand are just beautiful. For us designers, having a well-designed app is inspiring and can help make using a new product “stick”.
Jason Fried and team have been around since 1999. That’s a long-ass time for a software company in this space. Not only is Basecamp probably the most popular project management tool in the creative, design and animation world, it keeps getting better and better. The 99 Signals team recently decided to sell off some of their other apps and focus on Basecamp. It’s a bit more expensive than the competition, but the monthly pricing is all inclusive. This is for mature shops with larger teams. If you’re freelance or a small studio, you should start elsewhere.
There’s not a lot we can add to the Slack conversation. Just give it a try. At BIEN, we set up channels for each project and pin important docs like creative briefs, scripts, boards, etc. It works, and the free version is more than powerful enough.
Frame.io is an amazing tool to use with your team and clients. Instead of using emails, spreadsheets, Slack, or whatever you typically use to share rough drafts, give Frame.io a try. People can actually point to that exact spot where your colors or keyframes are off and need some love. We use this every day on our projects and it saves us at least 25% of the time we used to waste going back and forth with clients or our internal team. It saves clients time, too. And they think you are all fancy because you’re using modern software, so that’s good for your brand, right? Pro-tip—always give your clients premium service and premium presentation. Perception is everything, and this helps.
This is a great alternative to Frame.io and has a few additional tools like the ability to annotate PDFs and other still images in addition to video. Also, it’s considerably cheaper than Frame.io.
Stash is one of the original motion graphics resources. Chock full of inspiration, interviews, and news, Stephen Price and his team at Stash have kept people on in the know and their toes since 2004.
Justin Cone started Motionographer back in 2006 as a way for him to personally keep up with work and studios he liked. Eventually, it turned into one of a tremendous motion design resource for the entire mograph community, and the rest is history. Motionographer has since retired the infamous Cream O’ the Crop, where Justin and team curated the best shops, but there is no shortage of amazing work by known and unknown studios.
Jordan Scott (J-Scott) is the internet’s friendliest grumpy dude. Don’t know him personally but I like his style. After hitting major cities in North America as a freelancer, he settled down in Portland with Oddfellows. His Ice Cream Hater site curates the best of the best work out there. Tumble it, follow it, Vimeo it. Whatevs. Just make sure you’re keeping up with what he posts. It’s great.
This is the go-to place for thousands of designers, animators and motion graphic artists. This is the place to see and be seen. We like it better than Behance because it’s easier to search and seems to be geared more towards motion design and illustration than other sites. Many top designers around the world get ALL their work from Dribbble. The platform is a little odd—you need to be invited by someone already on Dribbble to join and post work (or shots as they call it). But, that just makes the community exclusive and that much better.
As they say on the site, this is the definitive resource for all things open title. My favorite thing about the site is the in-depth interviews. You can’t find this type of content anywhere else. Thanks to Lola & Will, who have lovingly maintained the site for years and have become a pillar of inspiration for our community.
Wine after Coffee is a great Vimeo channel curated by motion graphics artist Jorge Canedo Estrada (formerly of Giant Ant). This is as basic as it gets regarding design and function, but don’t let that fool you. There are tons and tons of great projects featured in this feed. Do follow.
Motion Design/Animation Communities
We love mixed.parts. There is no better forum/community on the internet today for motion designers. They host AMA’s with top EPs, illustrators, and animators from around the world. You can really learn a lot from this community, and we’ve found it very supportive and a positive place all around. The topics vary greatly—how much should your day rate be? How to manage projects? How to get your work out there, etc. Big shouts to Dan Savage for founding and maintaining the community.
One of the best of the new online schools. Joey Korenman and his team have done a fantastic job with the curriculum, but they also offer quite a few free After Effects tutorials. The School of Motion is definitely a resource you want to check out and bookmark. Also, fun fact—Hung, our Creative Director, worked with Joey when he had his studio (Toil) in Boston. What up, Joey!
Matt Jylkka is a very talented young designer who has created an epic repository of quality AE tuts, free tools, and a few paid After Effects scripts and expressions. Currently, there are 81 free motion graphic tutorials on his site.
Michael Jones always comes with the heat. Check out the Mograph Mentor blog for a small sample of freebies, including this video series they call Lunch Break.
Good collection of free tutorials, including After Effects and Cinema 4D stuff. His breakdowns of popular VFX scenes are nothing short of spectacular.
A really high-end collection of tutorials and motion design resources. These are mainly Houdini, Cinema 4D and general VFX how-to’s but they’re so well done. We were compelled to include them. The thing that sets these two gentlemen from Germany apart is their technical ability combined with the relentless pursuit of good design.
Motion Design Podcasts
Animalators is a fun, casual podcast that is packed with tidbits of creative inspiration, behind the scenes info and business advice. I like the vibe Samuel Cowden and Zac Dixon bring to the show. They interview some of our favorite designers and talk about a wide variety of things relating to motion design: pitching, side projects, finding work/life balance, how Sarofsky pitched and won the Community open title assignment, etc.
Joey Korenmann does it again. He creates an incredibly well-done series that is jam-packed with valuable content. He tells you how to be a great freelancer. He gives you 3 actionable tips on how to do it.
This is not fluff.
Listen to these interviews. They’ll make you smarter, faster and more valuable to clients. You’ll also hear how some very well-known mograph legends got started and thrived in the industry. There’s a very eye-opening episode about the future of motion graphics with Chris Do of Blind. It’s a long one, but an absolute must listen.
Life is good when you’ve got SOM in the earbuds or blasting on the freeway.
One of the OGs in the creative/design/motion graphics podcast space. There are literally 150 episodes. This is a truly epic body of work that contains an unprecedented amount of insight and inspiration.
What sets The Collective Podcast apart is that designer/director Ash Thorpe interviews creatives working in many different media realms: painters, illustrators, designers, VFX artists, writers and even programmers.
Michael Jones does a great job supporting and educating our industry. Big shout out to him again for giving us his MM podcast. What I like about his approach is he focuses on lesser-known artists who are working inside some well-known studios.
Chris Do is smart. He shares so much information it’s ridiculous. His show with Jose Caballer is fun, raucous and always on-point. What is sets Chris and The Futur apart is his focus on the business of design. He also dives deep into the waters of branding, strategy and running a successful studio/agency in these turbulent times. Chris and team discuss public speaking, how to give advice, the importance of brevity and the pros and cons of being freelance vs. being on staff. Of course, there are creative topics aplenty.
I respect Chris and his willingness to say what’s on his mind. He doesn’t hold punches and has received a lot of slack for some of his views. I don’t always agree with him, but I appreciate his no holds barred approach. This dude has been in the industry for over 20 years. He’s a pioneer sharing what he knows.
Jose is a well-known and well-respected designer. He is the perfect complement to Chris on the show. Jose has dropped so many gems on the show I don’t want to try to list any. Okay, okay, here’s one nugget of wisdom. During an episode about positioning for design studios, he says something to the effect of “Pick a focus. You can’t try to compete as a UX designer, motion designer, and also sell yourself as a print designer. Don’t try to do everything or be everything to all your clients. If you have a row of 1,000 marbles and you’re trying to move all of them forward, you might be able to move some of them a couple of inches. But if you pick 2-3 marbles, you can move those much easier in a shorter amount of time”.
Don’t sleep. Check it out.
RevThink is a great place to learn about the business of running a motion design or live action production studio. Tim Thompson and Joel Pilger are committed to writing and producing amazing content. These guys know their shit! In fact, it’s my top choice for creative business podcasts. I’ve listened to each episode roughly three times and we’re constantly referencing or using their wisdom to run BIEN. I’ve been in this business for 20 years but I am continually inspired and educated by the great stuff RevThink is putting out.
With chapters on concepting, creating styleframes, storytelling and animation fundamentals, this book is pretty much all you need to get started in the motion design world. What sets this book apart is the amount of real-world information it covers—you’ll get insight into how the top shops are pitching and coming up with ideas. I wish this book were available when we were first starting our careers way back in the late 90’s. Austin Shaw rounds out this collection of tips, tricks and general wisdom with in-depth interviews with some of the motion design community’s heavyweights such as Danny Yount and Erin Sarofsky. Put it on your shelf—you won’t be disappointed.
Another extremely well-done book about modern motion design and animation. Liz is hilarious. She keeps the learning coming but makes it super enjoyable. This book is heavy on the process of brainstorming and concepting ideas for clients, which is great because many designers don’t focus on that enough. You’ll learn to think about the big picture storyline and how to flesh it out using tried and true story structures. Essentially, Liz teaches you to harness and direct your creative energies. The book also covers how to structure your portfolio to get more of the work you want to do. Highly recommend checking this one out.
The animation bible. Required reading for any motion artists who want to do character animation. Richard Williams gives you everything he learned in his 50-year career, right here. With a heavy focus on making animation look realistic and “alive”, this is a step-by-step guidebook for learning character animation. Just buy it already.
After Effects Scripts & Expressions
This spreadsheet is an incredible design resource put together by one of the industry’s best mograph artists.
You’ll find tons of good stuff. There are hotkeys, expressions, and notes on each.
The After Effects Expressions Forum
Probably the most well-known and complete AE script resource on the planet. The number of active posters has slowed down over the years, but there are still plenty of great resources. In fact, they even put together this handy online, searchable version of AE’s scripting guide.
Mograph designer Zack Lovatt has put together a collection of really great motion design resources that includes scripts and tools. Check them out for sure. He’s also created a good number of insightful tutorials for your learning pleasure.
These are a collection of pretty invaluable scripts. Thanks for your generosity, Kyle.
Ok, What Next?
We’ve worked hard to curate 35 of our favorite motion design resources on this list. Believe me, there is a lot of junk out there, and you can easily find yourself lost if you start digging around on your own.
If you find these resources to be useful, please consider sharing with others.
Did we miss anything? Hit us up in the comments.