A week ago I taught our first-year student in Motion Graphic Design, 66 students from Visual Communication DMJX. It was the last week of a course (three weeks course). We were focusing on the history of motion graphic. We didn’t have time to make a deep research, but we could get an insight and an overview of the period from when somebody started to work and experiment with moving images up to now.
I made a list of 23 designers/artists who had an impression on their posterity in one way or another; visions and beliefs, developed new technology, significant expression method, etc.
The list looks like this:
Walter Ruttmann, Hans Richter, Oscar Fischinger, Len Lye, Mary Ellen Bute, Norman McLaren, John Whitney, Saul Bass, Maurice Binder, Robert Breer,
Stan VanDerBeek, James Stanley Brakhage, Lis Rhodes, Pablo Ferro, Robert Abel, Zbigniew Rybczynsky, Richard Greenberg, David Daniels, Kyle Cooper, Michel Gondry, Chris Cunningham, Karin Fong and Julian Vallée.
Divided into 23 teams, the students got one designer from the list to work with. Their goal was to create a title sequence for a documentary about the designer. They were not allowed to copy the style of the designer or use any kind of footage from their designer. Based on their research they made an interpretation. They took decisions about the angle of the “story” and visual style; and unfolded the idea in 25-50 seconds long title sequence.
The last day took form as a chronological journey; the students presented their designer/artist for each other beginning with the first pioneer in motion graphic.
I have held similar course before, but this year I was much more focused on the process rather than the results. I encouraged the students to talk about their “breakthrough” in the design process; let them be aware of which tools were useful and which was unnecessary.
In the end, it seemed like most of the teams really loved the designer they had worked with, and that is one of my goals with the course; amazing motion graphic is not necessarily from this decade, thoughts and visions from the past can sometimes be very relevant also today, especially when the are made with modern technology.
What is in it for me?
It strengthens my knowledge of the designers on the list, and I got lots of inspiration while experience the student way through and their interpretations, sometimes it went too far from the source (the designer), and sometimes it looks a bit like a copy.
Getting questions about style, history, technology, interpretations, etc make a lot of interesting discussions.
Michael Betancourt / The History of Motion Graphics / ISBN 9781434441508