As a motion graphics designer, I’m often asked which programs we use here at MMG for post-production. While most people are just curious to know how it works, some really are interested in diving into the production world and learning what we do. Sound like you?

In this article, I’m going to explain the programs we use to for motion graphics, visual effects and compositing. After that, I’ll share a few beginners’ tutorials and plugins I’d recommend to help you get started.

Please note: I am not paid by, nor associated with any of the brands you see in this article. I’m just a big fan of their product capabilities, and hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.

So, first I want to introduce you to Adobe. If you’re not already familiar, Adobe is a software titan in the design industry. If you want any chance of creating professional work, I’d recommend purchasing a subscription to its Creative Cloud program. With an “All Apps” subscription, you’ll get two “seats” to the entire Adobe collection of 20+ apps, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier Pro and After Effects.

Now, because we’re talking motion graphics, I’m going to focus in on After Effects. This baby is the real Mamma Jamma of motion design – especially with its new CINEMA 4D rendering engine, along with all of the plugin goodies you can find online to increase capability and workflow.

To get started with After Effects, I’d highly recommend watching the following four tutorials:

  1. Learn After Effects in 20 Minutes – Tutorial for Beginners.
    It’s important to have a general knowledge of After Effects’ main components. This step-by-step guide is designed to help new users understand all of the basics needed to getting started with the software.

  2. The 12 Basic Principles of Animation
    Before you jump in and start animating, here are some basic guidelines on what your finished pieces’ movements should include in order to make them successful. Remember that animation is generally trying to emulate real world phenomena like gravity, velocity, density, etc., so the viewer can watch and perceive it as reality (or at least realistic).

  3. Easing and the Graph Editor
    One of the most important things to learn about inside of After Effects is easing keyframes and how to use the graph editor. A lot of people have trouble making their animations move like objects actually might in the real world. This tool allows you to create smooth animations to help with making things look a little bit more legit. In the tutorial above, skip to 9:50 and learn what the graph editor can do for you and your animations.

  4. Introduction to Masking
    Masking objects is a necessity when it comes to creating awesome motion pieces. Masks allow you to show and hide things under each other, cut stuff out, blend things, and even morph shapes. Their powers are endless. I will warn you though: they can be pretty stubborn, so make sure you do your homework and understand how they work.

Lastly, I want to introduce you to a couple of plugins that should help with workflow:

  1. Ease and Wizz
    Ease and Wizz is a name-your-own-price plugin (AKA free, if you don’t feel like donating). It creates complex easing based on After Effects expressions applied to keyframes. I don’t use this all the time, but it is helpful when working on projects under a tight deadline.
  2. Move Anchor Point
    This is a free and really awesome plug-in to have. When animating, people often forget to set their anchor points. This always causes problems when you’re in the middle of an animation or your object isn’t moving from the point you want it to. Move Anchor Point is a simple script that will move an object’s anchor point to any position with a simple click.

So there you have it. My hope is that this article can provide some good stepping stones in learning how to create awesome motion graphics! These links are only a small sample of what’s out there. I encourage you to get online and look up all the tutorials you can, so that you can keep learning and improving as well.

As always, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact us if you’re in need of video production or motion graphics assistance. We’d love to discuss opportunities for your business to grow.

Thanks for reading!