When first hearing of motion design a few years ago, I only knew it as as the type of projections seen on some of the buildings around Place des Arts. Then, I started dating a motion designer and I was quick to learn that that’s only part of what motion designers do. What I’ve seen in Place des Arts is a specific discipline called projection mapping. Motion design is an umbrella covering numerous disciplines, and you now see motion design every day in ads, video clips and video games. 

Some consider the late graphic designer and filmmaker, Saul Bass, to be the "granddaddy" of motion design. He revolutionized the world of film title sequences when he gave some movement to the graphics in the opening credits of the 1955 movie, The Man with the Golden Arm. Today, motion designers tend to be generalists, bringing together skillsets from graphic design, illustration and filmmaking, then mixing in much more advanced tools, such as motion graphics, animation software and mapping software.

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Many motion designers have a reputation for being tireless in their work, and a few experts here in Montreal even make their own tools. Moreover, a lot of the motion designers in Montreal didn’t even realize until recently that some of the best work in the world is being done here. George Simeo, co-founder of Montreal in Motion (MiM), a monthly community event focusing on motion graphics, kept seeing “mind-blowing” work on Vimeo’s Staff Picks and found that much of it was made in Montreal.

Being in a multi-disciplinary field, motion designers have to find collaborators to achieve the mix of expertise needed for their projects. It’s a friendly industry, wherein people work with (and often hire) people they know; at least, that’s the way it is in Montreal. This amicable atmosphere exists partly because motion design is still a fairly new field, and as such, everyone involved derives mutual benefit from sharing their work.

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Montreal also has no shortage of work as a huge entertainment city. Moment Factory is just one of dozens of studios that account for as much as half of the design that goes into big Vegas shows, not to mention the year-round schedule of events that happen in Montreal. That local demand for talent, along with the valuable international attention good motion design can attract, makes sharing work a good thing for everybody involved.

Discover new media disciplines

The presenters at MiM only stand out when they’re making their presentations. As soon as they finish, they blend right back in with everybody else, and their conversations return to a level playing field. In fact, these events and their presenters attract so much talent that a wealth of knowledge typically permeates the crowd.

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Each MiM event has a different theme, relating to a specific discipline under the motion-design umbrella. The theme this past October was “VR and Dome Work”, and the event featured Astronomer and Producer behind the films at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium, Sebastien Guathier, as well as Samuel Walker, the VR specialist behind artist Jon Rafman’s latest works. If you’ve ever been interested in a different field of media production, MiM is an excellent format for discovery and for meeting collaborators in many related disciplines.

Past themes have included stop motion, game design, VJing and others. Each theme usually attracts a crowd more heavily representing creators from that discipline, so you have all the opportunity in the world to meet people who’ll be happy to tell you all about it.

Simeo, Goski, and now, Sarah Ouellet, are the motion designers behind MiM. They all say that they’ve spent more time agonizing over how to describe what they do in simple terms than anyone ever should, though “motion design” covers it all. Getting a sense of what it is isn’t easy; but after attending a few MiM events, you’ll start to get an idea of what it’s about and of how Montreal has one of the hottest creative industries in the world, right now, because of it.

Open mic in November

MiM only has one event left for this season and it’s an open mic, so it’s a great chance to see a wide range of disciplines. Check them out on Facebook for info on the event (or to sign up for a spot).


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