Bringing Designs to Life: Animation

Welcome to our latest blog series which goes behind the scenes and sheds light on some often cryptic creative topics. Throughout 2024 we will be unveiling and explaining some of the details of our crafts at Oak Creative. We hope to inspire you and enlighten you as you venture into our creative world! 

For our inaugural post, we are delving into the art of animation. This includes animated logos, motion graphics, animated-style videos and much more.  It is one skill to create digital designs, but another skill altogether to get them moving! It requires meticulous planning and attention to detail. 

Our team members Barry, George and Kyle talk about their own experiences with learning and delivering animated projects.

Creative Designer, George Holness, joined Holiday Extras in 2022. He brings great experience in all things animation and his passion for his craft is evident! George gives us an insight in to his own journey in animation:

“Animation has always been a spellbinding topic for me. It’s remarkable to think that just 24 consecutive images, each whizzing past in a fraction of a second, can create a single second of animation. Then, after around 120,000 images, you’ve got yourself a full-length film. That idea was always a bit mind-boggling to me.

I was lucky enough to grow up when 3D animation was making its grand entrance. Pixar released “Toy Story,” the first-ever 3D animated feature film, and it was a game-changer. Watching it for the first time, I was completely taken in by the characters. They weren’t just pixels and polygons to me; they felt real, and that really caught my attention.  I remember getting my first computer at 12 and downloading animation software straight away. Creating my first little stick figure animation was an eye-opener. The onion skinning feature, which let me see the previous frame, and the simple click-and-drag method made animating so easy and enjoyable.

At University, I studied music and got into Foley – creating sounds for films using different objects. I’d use my own animations for this, and my love for the process only deepened. I got the amazing opportunity to go to a conference where animators from Dreamworks and the creators of How To Train Your Dragon were talking and they showed us some of the scenes from the movie and how they had to manipulate the models to get the desired effect. Thinking outside the box and pushing the boundaries.

Now, I apply my animation skills in various ways – for websites, business adverts, and anything else that might benefit from a bit of movement. Sometimes, animation is the perfect way to convey an emotion, a reaction, or just to add a bit of excitement. Other times, a still image says more than a moving one. Understanding when to animate and when not to is a big part of the skill.

Over the years, I’ve worked hard to improve my animation skills, delving into 3D animation software, constantly pushing my abilities to create different effects. I’ve watched tutorials, read books, and listened to podcasts to deepen my understanding of the medium. I’m nowhere near a Disney-level animator, but I like to think I can move pixels across a scene in a way that’s more meaningful than just sliding them from left to right. I’ve learned how to stretch and squeeze pixels to give them character, to create anticipation, stage them for the best framing, and use techniques like easing in, overlapping, and exaggeration to make them come alive. This is what I believe sets apart good animation: the ability to make something feel, react, and move in its own unique way.

Barry Holloway has been part of the Oak team for 19 years. His experience in digital design led him to becoming senior digital designer for Oak, however he has recently been expanding his skills in animation too. Here is what he has to say:

Embarking on the journey of learning animation has been an interesting and, at times, challenging experience. Having experimented with basic animations in the past, I discovered that transitioning to more sophisticated programs was initially daunting, particularly navigating the intricate dashboard of After Effects. If you’re not familiar, picture sitting at an aircraft’s control panel for the first time!

Fortunately, having experienced and approachable colleagues on the team has proven invaluable – being able to ask someone questions without having to endure a YouTube tutorial. Like with most design projects, adopting a logical approach initially proved crucial, ensuring an accurate end product.

One crucial lesson learned was the importance of restraint. Animation, like any tool, can be overused and risk becoming a distraction. It’s essential to reserve animation for moments where it truly enhances the message or leaves a lasting impression. This principle aligns with my belief that, much like any form of design, animation should serve a purpose, making a key point without overwhelming or annoying users.

Overall, the process of learning animation has deepened my appreciation for the craft and its strategic application in creating engaging and effective visual content.

Kyle Goodman re- joined the Oak team in 2022 (after supporting the Holiday Extras Short Breaks team directly post pandemic). As a graphic designer by trade, it has been a personal development goal to learn new design software including After Effects for animations. He reflects on his learnings so far:

I have been working with After Effects for about a year now, with some online training to support my learning. When George joined our team, I was keen to have dedicated sessions with him to delve into the basics in greater detail. This was immensely helpful and has helped me to be more streamlined and professional in my approach. 

I have found that animation and video production differ significantly from other design tasks, as they require heightened focus and precision. Through regular use of the application, I’ve noticed a notable improvement in both the quality of my work and my overall efficiency.  

Most of my animations revolve around kinetic typography and straightforward flat image animation. I’ve worked on the FoodE brand for Oak and contributed animated elements for Paultons Park and Warner Bros (Holiday Extras partners). I really enjoy how something simple such as type, which is often flat and static, can be brought to life and made almost fluid through animation.