Motion graphics are generally short pieces of time-based visual media which combine the languages of film and graphic design. This can be accomplished by incorporating a number of different elements such as 2d and 3d animation, video, film, typography, illustration, photography, and music. Common applications of motion graphics are film title sequences, animated logos at the end of commercials, lower-third elements, etc.
Broadcast graphics are motion graphics has a strong presence in television. Commercial graphics, entertainment, and show packaging graphics are just a few of the venues in which motion design is found.
Distinguishing motion graphics from other disciplines
Film. Although feature films may contain motion graphics (for example, Shynola's work in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" or MK12's work in" Stranger than Fiction"), very few (if any) are actually considered motion graphics pieces in themselves.
Visual Effects. Visual Effects are primarily concerned with creating special effects that look realistic, while motion graphics server a purpose more ambiguous - one more akin to graphic design.
Character Animation. Both traditional 2d and 3d character animation can be used within motion graphics, but usually aren't motion graphics in themselves. Significant use of graphic design principles or stylization can blur the lines between traditional
The history of motion graphics
Like graphic design, it's hard to pinpoint the exact start of the motion graphics as a discipline. In the early 20th century people such as Viking Eggeling, Oskar Fischinger, Len Lye were experimenting with films that resemble motion graphics. Saul Bass' film title sequences in the 50's and 60's took it a step further and into the public eye. In the late 70's and 80's people such as Harry Marks and Robert Abel helped bring dynamic computer-generated graphics to broadcast television.
It's unclear when the term "motion graphics" was first used. In 1960, John Whitney started a company called Motion Graphics Inc. and frequently used the term in his work. The term rose to prominence in the early 1990's, alongside the advent of the affordable desktop computer.