Motion on Motion: Episode 1 featuring Eric Kramer
In this first segment, I interviewed our very own Eric Kramer. If you know Eric, then you’re just as surprised as I am to learn he is not a lumberjack, woodworker or park ranger. Although his epic beard caters to an outdoorsy personality, it’s his digital craftsmanship that’s so impressive and why we’re talking to him today.
If there is one thing I have learned over my 3+ years at Centerline it’s that we, as a company, are full of amazing people. As an Art Director and Animator I’m exposed to our creative cast of personalities and talents on a daily basis. But for those of you that don’t know the faces behind the work, I’m excited to introduce to you Motion on Motion: A between two ferns style interview that highlights the field of Motion Design and creative personalities behind it. Special thanks to Centerliner Dan Schneider who scored an original music composition for this series.
In addition to our interview, we went more in depth about his background and design style in the Q+A below.
Q: How long have you been working in motion graphics?
A: I’ve been working in motion graphics for six years now. Prior to motion graphics, I worked as a graphic designer and also did an internship while I was in college with Elements in Stamford, Connecticut.
Q: How would you describe your personal style and process when it comes to animating?
A: My style is mostly a flat vector look, but I have been pushing more and more 3D work in my designs. I have been trying to sneak in 3D elements and integrate them with 2D visuals to add more interest and variety to my animations.
As far as my process goes, it’s a bit chaotic. Typically, I try to storyboard a script first to help plan out sections and brainstorm ideas. That helps keep me from trying to think up things on the fly, which can be frustrating and panic inducing.
Then I start animating. But depending on the scenes I have planned out, sometimes I opt to skip though or rough out sections and try to knock out the easy ones first. This keeps me from getting bogged down on one scene. I prefer to have the whole thing laid out first and then go back and refine it.
Q: When things do get off track, how do you deal with challenges and persevere?
A: Most of my challenges usually deal with time. It’s always a struggle to get in as many of my creative ideas as I can in the amount of given time. I’d love to work on an animation for a long time, perfecting every detail, but ultimately clients have deadlines that need to be met. The challenge is making animations as spectacular as possible in the time given. It’s a challenge everyone faces in the design field.
Q: Tell us about the day-in-the-life of a Motion Graphics Designer at Centerline.
A: I’ll come in and chat with some awesome coworkers down in the kitchen while waiting for a cup (or two) of coffee. Then, I’ll work on a “look & feel” or an animation.
The great thing about the clients we have at Centerline is the amount of leeway they give us with our work. Our clients trust us and that lets us try out some really cool animation styles and techniques.
Q: How important is collaboration in the success of a project?
A: I think collaboration is extremely important. I used to work at a smaller design shop and I was the only motion graphics person there. Everyone else was a web designer or developer. It’s challenging to effectively collaborate without peers in your line of work. I had to rely on what I could read on the Internet.
When I came to Centerline a whole wealth of knowledge opened up. There are so many years of experience here and everyone is more than willing to help. Being able to collaborate with all of these great people really advances my work and pushes me to be the best designer I can be. By collaborating, I’m able to push my work to its highest level and learn at an incredible rate.
I consider a successful animation as one that keeps the audiences’ attention throughout – an animation that feels seamless. Transitions should feel natural. The more natural and seamless they’re made, the less jarring it is to the viewers, ultimately keeping them more engaged.
A successful animation also has life to it. Easing and detailed movements add a lot of life to an animation. The 12 principles of animation devised by the animators at Walt Disney in the 1930’s are an excellent resource for breathing life into animations.
Q: Knowing what you know now, would you have approached things differently out of college? Any advice for recent graduates?
A: I don’t think I would’ve done much differently out of college other than maybe do more small pieces of work to expand my demo reel. What I would’ve benefited from prior to graduating though is having a stronger classical art and design background. I would tell myself to put a lot more focus on traditional design and art.
I also would’ve worked on having a more refined view of what I wanted to do in college. I didn’t have a portfolio of traditional work from high school, so I was unable to get into the graphic design classes in college. I was on more of a technical path for printing. I took a couple art basics classes in college, but I should’ve focused on trying to get into more traditional art classes.
I am completely self-taught in design and motion graphics, which has its own merits, but I could’ve been in a better place prior to graduating if I had focused on trying to get into those classes more.
Q: Being self-taught, I’m sure you follow a lot of professional designers. Who are some of your influences for design?
A: My coworkers are a huge inspiration for design. Since they’re only a few feet away, it makes it easy to pick their brain on things that they’ve done. Outside sources of inspiration come from Jr.canest, Sara Bennet, Erica Gorochow, Seth Eckert, Geoff Schultz. As for studios, Giant Ant, Cub Studio, Buck,Tendril. All of those people and studios consistently put out amazing work that blows my mind.
Q: Looking ahead, what are you most excited about with the future of motion graphics?
A: I look forward to greater integration between motion graphics and other disciplines. 3D and 2D software start to blend more and more every year, and will only get more tightly knit as time goes on.
I also think that interactive work will blend more with motion graphics as well. We’ve already been doing it here at Centerline with our Digital E Presentations and I think there will be a lot more opportunities similar to that in the future.
With so many technologies and new trends we have to push forward and try new things. One of my favorite aspects of our field is lack of definition. It seems to constantly be evolving and changing, pulling in aspects of other design disciplines. It makes for a very visceral and exciting future. And I for one am looking forward to a future of more Eric Kramer animations… and heartier beards. Stay tuned for our next episode of Motion on Motion where I’ll sit down with another motion graphics designer from Centerline.