Motion Design Portfolios

Motion designers create animated visuals and effects for film, TV and websites.

2,287 Motion Designers

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How to hire a motion designer for your team

Need a motion designer for your project or team? Here’s where to start.

What does a motion designer do?

Motion designers (sometimes called motion graphic designers) create animated visuals and effects for movies, trailers, title sequences, video games, commercials, websites and more.

That could mean animating a cinematic intro for a hit TV series, or designing an opening animation for a vehicle’s GPS screen.

Wondering what the difference is between a motion designer and an animator? A motion designer animates what would otherwise be static graphics. Animation usually involves more storytelling, for example animating characters for a cartoon.

A motion designer may work at a creative agency, in-house for a company, engineering firm or production studio, or as a freelancer. Their skills are valuable in many industries, making this a flexible profession with diverse opportunities.

What skills should a motion designer have?

A motion designer’s skills may vary depending on the type of work they do, but most possess a combination of the following skills:

  • 3D modeling skills
  • Animation skills, including perspective, pacing and sound
  • An understanding of video formats and constraints, compression techniques, etc.
  • Texturing and lighting effects
  • Procedural animation skills
  • Highly organized yet adaptable
  • Strong sense of typography & design
  • HTML skills with ability to edit code
  • Film editing and production experience
  • Self-motivated
  • Detail-oriented
  • Big-picture thinking
  • Ability to deliver quality work on a deadline
  • Ability to own the end-to-end creative process, from concept to production
Common motion design software

A motion designer’s software of choice varies (and it always depends on the project or phase) but you can expect them to be skilled in at least a few of these tools:

  • Adobe’s CC After Effects
  • Premiere Pro
  • Adobe Audition
  • Photoshop
  • Illustrator
  • 3D Studio Max
  • Cinema4D
  • OctaneRender
  • Ross Expressions
  • 3rd party plugins such as Trapcode Suite
What to consider when hiring a motion designer

When hiring a motion designer, you want to know they have experience, skills, passion for what they do, ability to work well within a team, and to produce excellent work on a tight timeline.

The best place to find that out? Their portfolio.

A motion designer’s portfolio should include projects that demonstrate experience in your field, as well as the key hard and soft skills listed above. Naturally, you’ll look at the end product first – the visuals. They should be high quality, crisp videos or GIFS presented in a detailed, thoughtful way. But it’s also important to understand how they arrived at that visual, and the constraints and vision they were working toward.

A beautiful animation for a title sequence is one thing. But can they do it on a deadline? Could they do the same thing for an app? Or a film? Are they skilled in concepting as well as execution? Do they think about the big picture and work well on a team?

Many of these questions will be answered in their portfolio case studies. The rest will be revealed in an interview.

What to ask when interviewing a motion designer

Here are the questions to ask in a motion design job interview.

  • Q: What project are you most proud of in your portfolio, and can you walk me through the process you followed to create it?

    Their answer will reveal their skill level, experience and measure of success. If they have no clear process for their work, it may indicate a lack of experience or organizational skills.

  • Q: What is your ideal way to collaborate?

    This reveals how well they work with others. Do they benefit from frequent communication? Do they require specific briefings? Do they prefer to hand off projects or see them all the way through? Do they enjoy working within a team or more independently? In asking this question, you can confirm your collaboration process and values align.

  • Q: How do you respond to critique of your work?

    Ask if they respond well to criticism and anyone will say yes. Hopefully, by prompting them to elaborate, you’ll get a real picture of how they accept and apply critique – as well as a sense of their ego.

  • Q: What has been one of your most challenging projects?

    Here you will learn how the motion designer solves problems. It will also demonstrate their general experience level and attitude about their work.

  • Q: How long do projects like ours typically take you?

    This will show you how confident the motion designer is working in a fast-paced environment while maintaining quality.

  • Q: What other motion designers or creatives do you follow and admire?

    Nearly every motion designer is inspired by others in the field. This question reveals how engaged they are with their industry, how passionate they are about what they do and what motivates them to get better.

  • What tools and software do you use every day, and how do you stay current with trends and technology?

    This will tell you a lot about the designer’s commitment to evolving and pushing themselves, as well as their knowledge of current tools your team may or may not use.

How to get work as a motion designer

Looking for freelance motion design work or a full-time motion design job? Start here.

Animated images by Aran Quinn
Getting started with motion design

While many motion designers have a bachelor’s degree in motion design, animation or a related field, it’s not necessarily required for the job. What matters is your talent and skill, which you can hone on your own without a formal degree.

Plenty of learning materials are available online, whether you watch YouTube tutorials, read guides or take online courses. Start experimenting and giving yourself your own projects. Get familiar with the software and tools of the trade. Follow others in the field and observe what makes their work good. Keep pushing yourself to get better.

Soon, you’ll have the work to put in your portfolio. And it’s your portfolio that gets you the job.

How to make a motion design portfolio

A motion designer’s work is all about – you guessed it – movement, so you need a portfolio that showcases videos and GIFs of your work. If your website itself contains tasteful motion, even better.

First and foremost, choose a portfolio platform that allows you to display high quality videos of your work without limiting uploads or compressing your videos to poor quality. With Carbonmade you can easily drag & drop as unlimited videos straight into your portfolio, at any file size. We’ll automatically optimize them for you (so they don’t weigh down your site) while keeping them crisp. You can preview your projects with GIFS, use background videos, loop your videos and more, to show your work in the best way possible.

A video showreel is a motion designer’s main book piece. Assuming you’ve prepared one of your work, you’ll want to feature it front and center on your site. But beyond sharing the highlights, your case studies should tell the story of your favorite projects, from concept to solution.

Within each project, write short, scannable paragraphs that describe your process. Pair these with relevant imagery for each phase, so they read almost like extended captions. Describe how you worked within a team, how you were thinking about the big picture along the way, what techniques you used to achieve your goal and how you feel about the final result.

How to prepare for a motion design interview

Scored an interview for a motion design job? Congrats! Here’s how to feel confident and prepared for it.

First, be sure your portfolio is up-to-date. It’s likely you’ll walk through it with the creative director or recruiter, so you’ll want to be sure it’s something you’re proud of – which will automatically give you a boost of confidence. This also ensures you’re familiar and comfortable navigating through it, and that no issues or bugs will make you stumble while you’re under pressure.

What project are you most proud of in your portfolio? The recruiter may ask you to talk about it, so think about how you’ll tell that story and what made the project meaningful for you.

They’ll also want to know how well you collaborate with others. Don’t feel pressured to rehearse the perfect answer. Think about what’s true for you – what do you need from others for a project to be successful in your eyes? Do you like to be involved in every phase of a project to see it through its execution? How do you prefer to communicate with others on your team, and how often? What do you appreciate in a creative director, project manager or other team members? What do you feel you bring to a team? All of this is important to a company considering you for their project. The more confidently and naturally you can answer it, the better.

Finally, be prepared to speak to your preferred tools, techniques and turnaround times. The company hiring you will want to know you keep up with modern software, challenge yourself to get better and align well with their standard process. But it’s not just about making sure you fit their workflow. Make sure their process – including their timelines and work environment – meet your standards.

Animated images by Aran Quinn

More tips from DESK magazine

How to write portfolio case studies

Motion design is all about process and passion. The best place to share it? Your project case studies.

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How to create your portfolio About page

You’ve curated your projects, made your highlight reel and created your portfolio. Now how do you position yourself?

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