The New Lingua Franca

Fallon: Travelers

Reader and informant Yotam Hadar brought an interesting site to our attention recently. Built by Fallon, the Travelers “In Synch Challenge” site is a quiz-based approach to learning about home and office safety. It’s incredibly similar to a site I saw several months ago called The Bad Luck Test created by Swedish studio Forsman and Bodenfors.


Both sites employ 3D and low-level interactivity to motivate the user, but Fallon’s effort takes a more cinematic approach, using camera moves and composited actors to add a sense of drama missing from Forsman and Bodenfors’ site.

This isn’t a critique of The Back Luck Test. Far from it. F&B did a great job and deserve to be commended. I’m simply saying that Fallon’s site is the natural evolution of this approach to web design. It builds on what F&B did and puts more of a broadcast spin on it. F&B’s site, by contrast, could be described more as traditional Flash-based web design with some very nice CG imagery.

Freedom Interactive Design: Would You Like a Website?

In the same vein as the Travelers site is Freedom Interactive Design’s Would You Like a Website?


In this instance, the compositing is essentially a reversed version of the Fallon site, with the live action creating a context for the work. Some of the tracking’s a little dodgy, but generally it’s well done, and the concept is pretty entertaining.

Thanks for the tip, Ross.

This Was Supposed to be the Future

The sites above are only two examples of a growing list of sites mixing 3D, motion graphics, live action and interactivity to create compelling (or at least novel) experiences. They’re not really new, but they’re getting more impressive by the day.

And yet I still feel frustrated by the current state of convergence. The lack of ultrabroadband penetration creates a glass ceiling for truly revolutionary mass market hybrid experiences. As it stands now, broadcast designers are forced to think within the rather rigid box of the browser, often treating it as a movie screen with hotspots. This is not unlike the trend of early web design in which sites attempted to basically become hyperlinked versions of their print-based counterparts. We try so hard to think outside of one box only to realize that we are still stuck in another, larger box.

Tools like After Effects (on the broadcast side) and Flash (on the web side) are inching closer and closer to each other in terms of overlapping functionality and roundtrip editing. And while Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia promises to expedite this merging of tools, the fact is that, in the US at least, the infrastructure behind our delivery mechanisms is woefully limiting. What sucks is that there are several viable technologies that could potentially grant high-speed, inexpensive wireless internet access to millions of people, but since these technologies don’t fit within the short-sighted business goals of telecoms (and because the FCC is merely a puppet for these businesses), our creative growth, both as designers and consumers, is stunted.

The Good News, a.k.a. The Gospel According to Motion

Okay, I know I’m ranting, but I recently did see a very encouraging development. While riding up the escalator in the Tottenham Court station in London, I noticed that instead of dozens of posters lining the wall, there were dozens of flat-panel monitors. Dozens is kind of an understatement: there were a crapload of them, all synced to show the same video at the same time, so as you rode the escalator up you had a continuous video experience.

Motion graphics, in effect, had supplanted static graphic design.

I’m not sure if this shift if happening in the States yet; I’ll keep my eyes peeled while I’m in New York. But I am sure that the floodgates are open. In the next couple decades, every surface we formerly regarded as the domain of static design will increasingly become the playground of motion. This is exceptionally good news for motion graphics designers. We are positioned to ride a huge wave of growth in the design industry as this paradigm shift becomes a reality in train stations, airports, waiting rooms, living rooms—even on the covers of newspapers and magazines. And don’t get me started on mobile phones.

It’s not as far away as you might think. In fact, I think everything I’ve said here is so self-evident it borders on being obsolete. What I think isn’t so obvious is that the rise of motion graphics as the lingua franca of communication design corresponds to a McLuhan-like shift back towards a culture of storytelling (albeit storytelling powered by imagery, instead of auditory experience). Motion is inherently imbued with a narrative impulse, however abstract it might be. Motion is dynamic and fluid, like life itself.

In short, motion designers are the most relevant communicators for the 21st century.

About the author

Justin Cone

Together with Carlos El Asmar, Justin co-founded Motionographer, F5 and The Motion Awards. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with is wife, son and fluffball of a dog. Before taking on Motionographer full-time, Justin worked in various capacities at Psyop, NBC-Universal, Apple, Adobe and SCAD.



Great post Justin.

“In short, motion designers are the most relevant communicators for the 21st century”

I agree with this, I think it will be a very interesting time when we are not just restricted to working with channels or agency’s – with a good possibility with working direct with the audience.


I must say that I like the fact that there is a more whide approache to the media and how it’s being written about here.
To add to you article, for some time now the advertisment and marketing industry are seeing a reduce of efficency to the traditional advertisment, and resulting in new way of doing advertisment, among that using the full spectrum of the human sences, where we most like ly will se new campagines aired in the supermarket aile with sound, sence and moving images.

there are companies already suppilying the client with theise services among them is design:success.

So I would not be surpriced to see new media around the everyday scape.

just a little input.


I love the way you think, Justin. That got me pumped for my monday morning.


“We are positioned to ride a huge wave of growth in the design industry as this paradigm shift becomes a reality…”

Also pumping me up on this cold, sterile Monday morning was the quote above. I have been thinking about this for a couple years now but you put it into words.

Thank you sir. I am fired up once again.



I worked for a company in Atlanta that did this..
(Digital Point of Purchase Advertising)

they’re struggling although they’ve probably got one of the best products in the industry… from a remote location (i.e. home, abroad, wherever) you can access the web-engine and alter the promo schedule, change prices of products dynamically, or upload new promos and add them into the queue for one location or 5000 of em..

check my website and view my reel for some of the ways we used it..

also.. if you check out the McDonald’s in Times Square or off of Broadway.. they should be using the technology for their menuboards still.. probably some of my animations still playing on there too.


I couldn’t agree less. I really don’t like the ideia of walking in the streets and having an overload of moving images flashing through my eyes keeping me distracted from the rest of the world around me.

And about the web sites… In my personal opinion I really like the simple and well designed ones, where I can just fastly browse througt the content. In the end 3d and motion graphics will bring benefits to the web, but in a rather subtle way.


I think the notion of “experience” designers is more appropriate. Once
motion graphics extends into a public space and not just on a screen, but rather on a screen or display as part of an environment and architecture, thats when things will be even more exciting…..and more complicated.


hey justin, just to clarify a thing about the similarities between the Bad Luck Test and Fallon:Travelers…
Fallon hired the swedish agency Forsman to do the Travelers site, similar to the bad luck test. Forsman then sent the job to B-Reel ( to do the Film/3D/Flash work.. i think there was a post about them like waaaay back on tween.
(b-reel also did the Bad Luck Test site.)


I am a motion designer too. But I have a different view on this “evolution”.
Many people said that the paper would be dead 15 years ago. People would read from a computer rather than grab a book. Well, have you tried one of those electronic book while going camping, or in the metro and let it drop on the floor?
Well, that revolution didn’t happened, and people are still reading books. Of course there is a move of media content, but as much as we are going digital, a new generation of youngsters are going analog those days. Have you seen all those old school stop motion projects lately?

There are different factors for me to believe that the call of the end of print is not going to happen. There will still be print static works. Few reasons for those:

-It is way cheaper to print on paper than display on multiple LCD screens
-You can display thousand of posters in a urban environment very cheaply.
-Environmental issues, fashion is going to recycling, saving energy. Driving a Hummer is an extincting fashion.
-Dangers for drivers, people can get distracted. In some countries legislation is already forbidding certains colors and lightnings in public spaces.
-Soon enough, we’ll see all those advertising as pollution in our daily lives. Think about the junk mail you’re trashing everyday.
-Watch again Blade Runner, and remember that scene with the blimp? that was a great depiction of advertising in the future.
-We have Ipod, cell phone, PlayStation, TV, movie theaters, Internet, how much more can we accept visual content?

Few years ago, I was roommate with some people of Wired magazine (when it was cool). They were so geeky and all about high tech. But after work, some of them were going back home, and they were living almost like hippies: no computer, no TV, no PDA, no geeky stuff. I was so surprised back then (1996) and I was laughing secretly. But today, I love turning off my cellphone, I have no TV at home, no PlayStation, no more PDA…

Or maybe I am just getting older while you’re not! ;)

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