The Ultimate Guide to Motion Graphics Software
Video and motion graphics content is more popular and in demand by the day. Here are some of the best motion graphics software to try out for your projects!
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Motion graphics are an incredibly versatile and popular element of digital design, as well as social media marketing. They can be used for all kinds of projects, and they lend dynamic and visual interest. While dipping your toes into animation might seem daunting, a good, beginner-friendly motion graphics software will help you get the hang of it.
Motion graphics and animation are often used synonymously, however, motion graphics are more accurately defined as a subset of animation. Motion graphics are animations that prominently feature geometric shapes, letters, and numbers.
Motion graphics are vital to modern digital marketing. Video content is huge right now: a staggering 91% of businesses use video marketing, and 87% of marketers say it provides a positive ROI. Furthermore, 9 out 10 consumers say they want to see more video content from brands. Still, not everyone can afford costly recording equipment. So, motion graphics allow you to create quality video content without breaking the bank.
Aside from drawing users’ attention, motion graphics also help in getting users to engage with your content and website. Some companies have reported a 10% to 50% increase in conversion rates since incorporating motion graphics into their social media marketing strategy.
Creating motion graphics
If you have some experience with design, or are willing to dedicate time to learn motion graphic design, you might want to try creating designs for yourself. A good motion graphic requires skill and thought, so be prepared for lots of trial and error.
However, animation and the skill to make motion graphics are incredibly valuable. Regardless of whether you need it now, it might be a good idea to grasp the basics.
What is the best software for motion graphics depends on what kind of tools and features you want from your motion graphics software. There are tools that specialize in 3D animation, which tend to be bulkier and more powerful. There’s also terrific software designed around 2D animation.
Here’s a roundup of some of the best motion graphics software and their features.
Synfig Studio (Free)
Good free graphic design tools are the lifeblood of independent designers and everyone looking to gain experience in graphic design. Synfig Studio is one of the best free motion graphic software you can find. It’s an open source software, which is great for freelancers and designers just starting out. Synfig can help you create amazing motion graphics, with only a little effort.
It’s compatible with Windows, MacOS, and Linux, so you will have no problem with downloading and running the software.
However, as with almost all animation tools, there is a learning curve, especially if you’ve never tackled animation before. The bright side is that there are tons of resources, such as how tos and tutorials to help you along the way. Synfig also has a great community which will also be of enormous help for a newbie.
The downside to it is that it’s primarily focused on 2D animation, as such it might not be the perfect tool for your project. But, there’s something so charming about 2D animation, so you should definitely consider Synfig if you have any intention of creating a fun, vintage-inspired 2D motion graphic.
DaVinci Resolve ($295 one-time fee)
This is a powerful professional graphic animation tool. A considerable number of Hollywood professionals use it, and it’s easy to see why. It has a ton of amazing features, such as digital sculpting. This makes it perfect for 3D motion graphics for projects such as YouTube videos, as well as more ambitious projects like video games, or even feature films.
Even better, it offers a great free version, so even though it’s not a fully free motion graphics software, you can get plenty of amazing features free of charge. The paid version might seem pricey at $295, however it’s a one-time fee. So, it may be considerably more affordable than a subscription in the long run.
The downside to DaVinci Resolve is that it can be quite bulky and require a lot of system resources. It's a complex software that can be tricky to master, but once you’ve learned, you have a great world of animation at your fingertips.
Are there any open source motion graphics software? Blender is an amazing open source free motion graphics software you should definitely make a note of. It’s a 3D animation tool, which can help you create fabulous motion graphics. It allows you to create wonderful digitally sculpted animations and motion graphics that are bound to impress.
It has powerful digital sculpting and 3D animation tools. This makes it a versatile choice for all sorts of projects. As we’ve mentioned, it’s free to use, which makes it perfect if you’re looking for a useful animation tool.
No software is without shortcomings, and Blender is no exception. For starters, some of the tools are paid add-ons, which can quickly pile up. Another downside is that the user interface can be unintuitive and a bit difficult to get a grasp of.
Adobe Animate (formerly Flash) ($20.99/month)
Adobe is one of the most famous design suites, having defined modern digital design in many ways. Adobe Animate, formerly known as Adobe Flash, is an animation tool that brings all that tried-and-true quality we’ve come to expect from Adobe products.
Animate has a powerful set of features, which are primarily focused on 2D animation. However, it can be used for basic 3D rendering, as well. It’s vector-based, so scalability isn’t a problem either.
However, the issue with most of the tools in the Adobe suite is pricing. If you have a higher budget, this could be the tool for you, but if you’re only just starting, or have a limited amount of funds you can spare, you should consider more affordable or free motion graphic software options.
Another drawback is that it does have a learning curve, and if you have no experience with animation, it might be quite challenging to learn.
ZBrush (from $65.89/month)
This is another powerhouse 3D sculpting and graphic animation tool. It offers a wide range of features, one of the best being its relative light weight compared to some other motion graphic software, which means it won’t impact your computer speed as much.
It has superb tools for 3D sculpting such as different and versatile texture brushes, which can help you create textile, stone, and clay textures with ease. Perfect if you’re looking to create fun claymation videos without the complicated process!
However, one downside is that the rendering process can be a bit slow, which can throw off your workflow. The price might also be an issue, at a whopping $1500 per year for the complete bundle. There is the option to buy singular tools and programs, which is less costly, but still might not be as affordable as some of the motion graphics software on the list (the 3D animation tool alone is just under $800 per year). So, ZBrush is probably the best fit for larger companies and studios.
As a relative newcomer to the world of motion design software, there’s been a lot of talk about Cavalry. It has been hailed as the swiss army knife of animation, and many designers opt for it when they need to make quality motion graphics.
However, it’s not only an animation tool. While it does have amazing, and some would even say game-changing 2D animation features, you can also use it to tinker with your existing projects.
Cavalry is based on procedural animation, which allows for a much smoother workflow. The interface is also quite similar to After Effects, which was a staple in animation for many years, and a great deal of designers will appreciate the similar feel.
It also offers a free plan, which is great news for indie and freelance artists, as well as students. The paid version isn’t eye-wateringly expensive either, at just under $20 a month. Cavalry is a fantastic choice if you want to become a motion graphics creator, but don’t want to spend a fortune on a program.
Biteable (from $49/month)
This is a nifty little tool for creating motion graphics. Its main strength is the speed you can make motion graphics. As such, it's one of the best motion graphics software for creating short-form video content for social media.
Another great quality of Biteable is how user-friendly it is. Many inexperienced creators struggle with complex interfaces. The best program for motion graphics won’t be of much use if you can’t get the hang of all the features.
Biteable also offers a vast library of templates and ready-made animations, which are easy to customize to suit your needs and aesthetic.
One downside to this motion graphics software is that there is no undo button, so correcting your mistakes might be a bit tricker and time-consuming than usual.
As far as pricing goes, Biteable is somewhere in the upper mid-range, at $49 per month for one person, and $99 for a team of three people. If you have a strong focus on social media content and the budget, Biteable might be the best motion graphics software for you.
Natron is a wonderful choice for any motion graphics creator, as well as animation and video creators in general. It’s an open-source free motion graphics software that’s on par with the best competitors in the industry.
It is a powerful video editing software, which also has a built-in animation tool. That makes it a great choice if you’re looking for a versatile program that’s full of amazing features. Natron also has a great community of creators which can be of immense help for anyone tackling motion graphics on a regular basis.
But, it can be rather bulky in terms of system requirements so make sure you have plenty of space and power to run it. It also only offers chat support, but the creator community will be more than happy to give you pointers.
We hope this list gives you some encouragement to venture out and try to learn the ropes of motion graphics design. Be sure to check out our comprehensive list of graphic design tools and resources to learn about everything you need to create professional design.
Only you can decide what is the best software for motion graphics that will fit your budget, projects and the type of animation you want to do. Rather than just googling “are there any open source motion graphic software” (as we’ve explained, there most certainly are), it’s worth considering motion graphics software as a big-picture investment.
Motion graphics are here to stay! Choose a design tool that you’ll want to use in the long term.
I hold two degrees in history, and am currently working on a project of creating a digital library of Medieval manuscripts. I still like to have a foot in the 21st century though, so I write freelance about my other big passion, art and design. All Lord of the Rings references and puns I make are intentional.