A Day in the Life of a Motion Graphics Designer

A Day in the Life of a Motion Graphics Designer
13 October 2021    Tammy Sofranic    0 comments
If you fancy working across a wide range of media, including film, television, advertising and web content, motion graphic design could be THE career for you! This path gives you a chance to create artwork and vivid visual effects that bring a simple piece of video content to an entirely new level.

To learn about what's it like to work as a motion graphics designer, keep on reading!
 

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Oliver Koch

What is your job title?

Freelance Motion Graphics Designer
 
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Can you shortly describe a typical day on the job? 

The only distinctive aspect is the amount of time spent in front of a screen. Pretty much everything else varies from day to day. One day I might be working on a storyboard for a little 2D explainer video; the next day, there could be some 3D particle simulations for a multiscreen event waiting for me. Next, I’m doing my taxes (yawn!). There are some repetitive elements to the job, but I assume that is just part of any other profession.

Luckily, I mostly get to do things in my own time, and I can watch the birds in the garden when I feel like taking a break. This is particularly important to me, as the work of a motion designer involves some quite diverse tasks (therefore sometimes you want the time to think something through, teach yourself something new or cool down from an involved problem-solving process). Storyboarding, video editing, 2D & 3D keyframe animation, retouching photos, physics simulations, lighting, texturing, rendering, mixing audio - all these things pop up on my desk in no specific order at any given time.

Check some of Oliver's amazing work below: 


Why did you choose this career path? What or who inspired you to do so?

It was an accident! During my first year studying at Uni for a degree in safety engineering (not as random as you might think), I realised that the course just wasn’t my thing after all. Some guy in my year did some stuff with Photoshop, and it somehow sparked an interest in creating and manipulating visual media with me.

After quitting Uni and figuring out what to do next, I started as an intern at a tiny, small-town video production company. I was involved with filming, editing, basic graphic design and visual effects work from day one. Creating motion graphics and VFX quickly became my favourite part of the job. I spent many nights watching tutorials and teaching myself the fundamentals of animation, colour & graphic design.

After completing an apprenticeship at the same company as an audio-visual media designer*, I got my first position as a junior designer at an established post-production house in the big city. After a year, I decided to go freelance, and 11 years on, I have not looked back.

 
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What would you say are three key personality aspects or skills for your role?

Appreciation and an eye for good design are vital, followed by having a feel for drama and timing. You also need to constantly keep your skillset up to scratch as techniques, software & industry trends continuously evolve.

What have you learned about yourself through the work that you do?

I have learned that I can achieve almost anything I put my mind to. After starting my freelance business at the age of 23, then successfully re-launching it at the age of 30 (I moved to Australia from Germany in 2015) and going through all the ups & downs coming with it, my self-confidence has certainly increased and I’m overall in a more “Zen” state of mind. I’m also convinced that if I’d want ever to change careers (which I might do one day), I will manage just fine.
 
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What’s been your best moment while doing your work?

Honestly, my best moments are not being AT but made possible BY my work. I’m a keen traveller and greenie-nature-nut. I’m far from being what society would consider being financially wealthy. However I have a good enough income, which allows me to spend a fair bit of time outdoors and to be a wildlife carer along with my wife. Being a freelancer helps with this, too. I could not be employed full-time ever again.

Freedom can’t be understated! Work isn’t everything!

If you want to nail me down on the best moment I had AT work, it’s not just one. I’ve met some incredibly smart and fun folks along the way, and I’d put the time spent with them down as the best moments I had on the job.

 
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And a really hard moment?

I was getting a bit exploited when working as a junior. I remember when we were working until 5 am on a pitch for one of those well-known automobile companies. No extra pay, don’t let them do that to you.

How do you keep going when things get challenging? 

Let me interpret “challenging” as “not really enjoying your job” at times. When I hit that ditch, I just stop (the current financial situation permitting). I stop accepting projects for a while, just until I feel like I can put my mind at the job again. Freelancing is great for this just as well!

I’m also generally not taking on jobs that I feel will be annoying. I realise that not everyone is in this position, hence why I’m extremely grateful for being there now. It took me around 10 years to get there though…

Regardless, taking proper breaks and going on trips as much as possible is an integral part for not getting burned out in any job, I believe.

 
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Are there any surprising or odd things that people wouldn’t expect if they picked this career?

There are some very odd people in the marketing and advertising industry, but I guess one would probably expect that after all?! Maybe this: the number of people asking if you could design & code their website is beyond ridiculous.

What advice would you give to young people considering pursuing a career in this industry?

Don’t let the industry exploit you and look after your physical & mental health! Invest in good office furniture. Don’t take yourself and the job too seriously and try to have fun with your workmates as much as you can. It’s just a job after all, and obviously don’t be afraid to go freelance. 

*This apprenticeship is only being offered in Germany at the time of writing.

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Check out Oliver's website to see more of his work here.

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