School of Motion

8-Bit Motion Graphic Inspiration

  • By Caleb Ward
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Grab your keytar and pause that cassette tape, we’re taking a look at 8-bit style Motion Graphic animations. 

Everywhere you look it feels like the 80s are making a comeback. From Stranger Things to Blade Runner it seems like you can’t blink without seeing an 80s homage somewhere.

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We dig this trend (except the shoulder pads thing) so we thought it’d be fun to put together a list of 8-bit style Motion Graphic animation sequences. These are just a few of our favorites, but if you want to see more go search for it on Vimeo, there’s a ton of sweet vids.

Jumpy

How’s it possible for a block-based character to tug at the heart-strings? Great animation work, that’s how. When we saw this short film a few weeks ago it literally almost brought a tear to our eye. Not only because the content is emotional, but because of the fantastic use of color and design to play homage to 8-bit video games. From the music to the animation everything comes together in perfect harmony. 

Mr. Meeseeks

Like Mr. Meeseeks himself, if someone asks you to do an 8-bit pokemon recreation for Adult Swim you are forced to oblige. Is that too specific of a reference?... This piece is a masterclass in Character Animation, Storytelling, and Design. Just check out those anime-style dust and light explosions.

8-Bit + Projection Mapping

Let’s venture beyond the screen. This awesome piece from Pavel Novak shows what happens when you give a Motion Designer a high-powered projector. He also made a behind the scenes video about how this was made.

Pixels

Undoubtedly the source inspiration for the Adam Sandler movie, the original Pixels really deserves to be in the MoGraph hall of fame. While the video isn’t technically 8-bit, it does use the block aesthetic to play homage to the style. It’s just as incredible today as when it came out 7 years ago. 

Do It Yourself

Converting any Motion Graphics sequence into an 8-bit style animation is incredibly easy. All you need to do is use the mosaic effect in After Effects. Essentially the effect will break-up your entire composition into tiles so you can control the width of your 8-bit animation. 

After that all you really need to do is adjust your color and stylize. I like using the posterize effect because it reduces the number of colors in your scene. In fact if you crank that slider down to 8 you will get exactly 8-bits worth of color. Did your mind just explode?

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Download a Free 8-Bit Preset for After Effects

We put together a free preset for After Effects to quickly create an 8-bit style for any projects. It's super easy to use. Just drop that puppy into the presets folder to install. Hope you dig it!

Download a free 8-bit preset for After Effects

Download Preset


If you want to see this process in-action MotionDad (great name) shows you how to do so using Photoshop and After Effects. The tutorial features a ham-riding Paula Deen so you know it’s good. 

If you’ve created any 8-bit animations yourself send them our way. We’d love to check ‘em out. Now if you excuse me, I have some classic video games to unbox in the attic. 

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