We’ve been huge fans of Freakonomics ever since the first book debuted in 2005, and after watching the 2010 documentary film that visualizes Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s fascinating and unexpected musings on economic issues, we love it even more. The film is divided into different chapters according to topic, and each of them boasts excellent motion pieces. Below is a clip from one of the segments.

The most impressive thing about the motion in this clip is the conceptualization behind it. It’s obvious that every element was thoroughly vetted for a way it could creatively increase viewer engagement. For example, the map portion (around the 2:11 mark) could be much less interesting, but because the designers added a person (who looks exactly like Steven Levitt) speaking to it on a projector screen, the information is much more engaging.

Quick Tip: Motion pieces can be much more engaging if they form a fully realized world (i.e. rather than just highlight areas on a map, have an illustrated person speaking to the map). That way the audience feels closer to, and more engaged by, the information being presented.

Another outstanding motion element in this clip is the imaginative transitions. The building block/construction scene in the beginning seamlessly fuses illustrations and video clips in a supremely engaging way. Throughout the piece, all design elements interact flawlessly, and in ways that are still relevant to the topic (i.e. the pie chart zooms out to the classroom and then zooms out to the tower constructed of information). Our favorite is the balloon transition (the 3:05 mark)… little movements like these are innovative, creative and simply interesting to watch.

Quick Tip: Spice up infographics with textures and “squiggle vision” (around the 1:49 mark). Subtle elements like those keep the eye moving and interested when graphics are more or less stagnant.


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