Why motion graphics can make for animated explainers, a critique of the author’s motion graphic

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This motion graphic was for a project about privacy issues. The graphic was created by investigative journalist Stokely Baksh and the author, Lam Thuy Vo.

This 5:46 motion graphic incorporated b-roll video nicely to move the story along and illustrated the authors points fittingly. The piece incorporated an animated timeline that told the story of privacy issues in the U.S through time. As the author was speaking different objects would drop into the animation to illustrate the authors storytelling. The piece was not interactive in the sense that the viewer could not chose their own adventure, as the motion graphic was presented more or less as a video.

The topics covered in the graphic were how certain uses of technologies overtime became privacy issues. The animation begins by explaining the law and moving forward in time to the telephone. During the telephone segment, the time line went back in time and forward in time depending on how the courts ruled in terms of rights to privacy. A telephone ringing was also incorporated into this section which made for suitable natural sound. The graphic goes on to briefly explain how the September 11th events changed privacy and the Patriot Act came about. Other rights to privacy were addressed such as government surveillance, GPS tracking by law enforcement and online tracking of consumers by Google, Sprint, and Facebook.

This was the right technology to explain the history and issues of rights to privacy. Everything was explained briefly, adequately and effectively through the video and graphics so that anyone could understand what the messages creators were trying to convey.

The aesthetics and visuals were done well. The graphics were simple, and effective such as when the narrator was discussing the rights of privacy in one’s home, a house dropped into the graphic. The timeline was made of dots, and the years were below the timeline and when it moved, it was done quickly but cogently so the viewer does not get bored with the story. The b-roll footage was of big cities, people walking down the street and people using technology such as smart phones. The quality of the footage was superb because the shots were placed well and the shots went well with what the narrator was discussing.

The online presentation of this motion graphic was done well because the graphic was embedded, the user didn’t have to link out to it. The graphic I critiqued was one of many on the site that showed and explained how well various graphics can be used in journalism as explanatory pieces of different topics.


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