Design + Motion

Edo Cuallo, Senior Motion Designer at Brainrider shares everything you need to know before becoming a motion designer. Interviewed by Renee Taillon Provisional RGD


How did you begin your career in Motion Design?
I didn’t always know that I wanted to be a motion designer. I wanted to be creative in my job, but hadn’t decided which path to take. Initially I wanted to study film, but seeing a friend’s After Effects work got me interested in motion. That led me to enrol in graphic design at George Brown and I focused on learning motion in and outside of class. 
What do you think is the most important skill for a motion designer to have?
Some important traits are curiosity and experimentation. Motion is a lot about keeping up with the technology and learning new things. Loving to Google and research things comes in handy as well. I like to joke that motion is 80%
troubleshooting, 20% animation.
How has the field of motion design changed since you started?
It has grown a lot and become more accessible and recognized. Recently motion has become more popular. There’s a bigger demand than I remember when I was coming out of school. It has also become a lot easier to find online courses and full certifications, making it very easy to learn for anyone interested in the career. I also find the motion community to be super friendly and open to sharing knowledge and insights.
What are your biggest inspirations?
Nowadays I have less names to drop in terms of studios or artists out there. When I was a student, I knew a ton! I believe this is natural as you move forward in your career. That doesn’t mean I don’t admire other people's work. I do and I try to consume and analyze as much as possible. 
I admire the work of Jorge R. Canedo and the Ordinary Folk. I also really like the work that comes out of Oddfellows. Finally, I recently found work by Lobster studio to be another great source of inspiration.
What opportunities has motion design offered?
Professionally it has opened all kinds of doors to me and has allowed me to work in different industries in my journey so far. This has given me the opportunity to meet and learn from other talented people. Personally, it allows me to play with After Effects!
What does an average day look like for you?
At work we’re a team of two, me as a Senior Motion Designer with a Junior Motion Designer. I attend every meeting related to motion briefs. I get to ask all the questions I may have before starting the project, as well as, to answer all the questions they have about the process and timelines. There’s also regular meetings to catch up with the bigger design team, global team and, we have a “Motion huddle” where we vent work and talk motion.
In between meetings I’m working on the projects that I’ve been assigned to by the producers. We work closely with them to explain the process and set the timelines for each production stage. Each request is different and has its own process that we help communicate to keep the projects on track. 
Our work is mostly After Effects, but we use a lot of the Adobe tools. We also work on Animate to create web banners, Premiere, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. But we’re always open and encouraged to learn new tools and skills. I recently introduced Frame IO into our workflow to receive feedback, which has made things a lot easier! 
What is your typical process from start to finish? 
After receiving a brief, I start by collecting assets that I may need, like the script, images, references that might’ve been shared. Once I have that all organized, I start deconstructing the script, pulling out the main ideas, dividing them into scenes. I then take these and sketch style frames for each, also thinking of how I could transition from one to the next. When I’m happy with the sketches and find a good flow, I start refining the design to present in a storyboard. After the storyboard is approved, I start the animation process by importing the frames, arranging them in a timeline and doing a rough animation pass. I then refine and go through a couple of revisions before exporting the final files.
Do you have advice for someone who wants to pursue motion design? 
My advice is to get started. If you have an internet connection, laptop and access to After Effects, you can find a ton of resources online to pick up skills. 
My advice to a student goes along these lines: Don’t stop learning after you leave the classroom. If you’re passionate, continue researching, learning and give yourself homework on your own time.
If you’re already a designer, you’ve won half the battle already! Now just follow my first advice.
What would you be doing if you didn’t become a designer?
I’d probably be studying design! It’s hard to imagine, but maybe I would have been managing a restaurant or frozen, lost in a mountain. 
What are 5 (non-design) things you absolutely cannot live without?  
My camera and camera bag. I found a brand that specializes in camera accessories that is amazing, check them out: Peak design
Yoga mat, to train body and mind.
My bike, I need my wheels in the summer.
My dog Ofelia, she’s my best buddy and we love to hike.
Finally, coffee, I must have it. 
Edo Cuallo studied at George Brown College in 2014. Spurred on by a love of video games, cartoons and film, he learned motion design to help bring people’s visions to life. He has been fortunate to work in a wide array of industries including broadcasting, VFX and advertising.