Top 10 Animation Trends in 2024
Is AI actually taking over? Have we truly hit the ceiling of media literacy? And did seriously no one show up for NFT’s funeral!? Ladies and gentlemen, we’re back and ready to unpack it all. Because the world of motion never sits still, we’ve compiled the newest list of media trends that define 2024. So much has changed since last year, so settle in and join us as we run down the trends that excite, shock, and delight us the most. Also, if you see something you like, reach out! Our team of animators loves exploring ‘the new’ and defining the next big trend.
TOP 10 ANIMATION TRENDS OF 2024
We'll start with #10 and work our way to the top, but if you're short on time, you can skip to #1.
10. Higher Frame Rate
With an advent of rendering horsepower in the palms of our hands, animators are less beholden to the 24 frames-per-second (fps) standard than ever before. As a result, more animations are being designed with fluidity in mind, showcasing the breadth of motion in double or even quadruple the standard frames. This effect is especially impactful when viewing 3D animations that–with the help of shaders–achieve a 2D look. By cranking up the frame rate, we can appreciate every silky smooth second packed to the max.
Check out Mario Meneses (Illustrator) and Panos Koutivas’ (Animator) remarkable poncho animations here.
Isolated Motion and – wait, what the heck just happened!?
A cinemagraph is a GIF with minimal movement save for one looping element, such as a cup of tea with animated steam rising indefinitely. The cinema-splosion? That’s when we throw an elephant onto the tea, blow up the table, and immaculately plate Michelin star dishes on the floor, all in the span of 1- to 5-seconds. The cinema-splosion grabs immediate attention through olympic-grade animation gymnastics and viewers hit the repeat button just to catch every passionately-considered detail. If you’re a creator, throw in a reel breakdown to go alongside it and now you’re cooking with gas!
Check out this true gamut of animation, ‘This Is Havainas’.
8. Material Illusions
Mastering the digital elements
In a way, animators are in their ‘Bugs Bunny’ era, embracing their inner trickster. A metallic cube may hurtle at a wall only to splash into a wave of shimmering blue water, or a weighty anvil may plummet to the ground and erupt into a cloud of smoke. Traditionally, a match-cut is an edit where the composition of one shot transitions to a separate, yet similarly composed, shot. With cutting-edge (and free) tools like Unreal Engine 5, animators are experimenting with contrasts when cutting from one shot to the next. With the flexibility of materials in the palm of animator’s hands, we’re seeing transitions trick and amaze us like never before.
You can watch FANTASY’s AI Hub Sting here for some 3D material goodness.
7. Video Collage
I graduated from video collage, and all I got was this mixed-media t-shirt
In 2024, collage may be the most liberating, stylish method of designing for motion. Elements shot in video are rotoscoped, chopped out, drawn over, re-colored, dipped in nail polish, etc. From commercials to artistically driven short films, the collage acts as the premiere mixed-media locale for storytelling in all its various shapes, sizes, and moods. Text? Add it in. Crayon and pencil brushes? Smear it over! Live action? 3D? AI generated imaginings of your boss in 20 years? In the mantra of improv, “Yes, and…?” It turns out, sometimes you can paint with anything.
No, micro-aggressions were never a trend
Have you ever scrolled through an app and felt a subtle, unmistakable twinge of glee? It might be the micro-interaction working its magic. A modern way of adding appeal to the user experience, micro-interactions provide animated feedback that boost a user’s immersion. Take the ‘Like’ button, for instance. What once was a rudimentary click is now customarily followed by an elaborate, snappy animation of sparkles and hearts. It’s that little extra oomph that gives your actions impact. Mundane tasks like sending email, creating folders, and losing patience with loading screens are all more intriguing with some micro-interaction spice.
For more, check out Gregoire Vella’s lovely micro-interaction animations here.
5. Casual Surrealism
*Insert crying banana-cat memes*
If the first thing we see in a video is an office full of raccoon employees dressed in cute little suits with tiny little mugs of coffee, we’d probably assume this was ‘normal’ for the world we’re observing. Enter trend Casual Surrealism, an approach that turns familiar elements on their head just for everyone else to shrug “So what?” Apart from creating dreamy intrigue, Casual Surrealism allows viewers to focus on the product or object in a new context by contrasting it in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar laws of nature and society. Why? Because when everything is surreal, we’re drawn to a product we recognize more than ever.
Check out Apple’s casually surreal AirPods ad here.
4. Media Literacy
Do you want to opt for a natural, water, or green-screen birth?
Like a test we’ve all unwittingly passed, media literacy has crossed an event horizon. For animators, we’re seeing creators shape semi-autobiographical content that features their program of choice (Maya, Cinema 4D, After Effects, etc.) as their stories’ backdrop. Videos are, quite literally, exploding out of the software that creates them. Tripods, Cintiq Pens, Boom Mics– they’re all fair game! Other elements of the video production pipeline like green screens are so well-understood that they’ve become characters and settings in their own right. Even massive blockbusters like Barbie are designed specifically around the audience's literacy with social media, products, and all things pink.
3. Reel Breakdowns
A reel emotional breakdown
In a shocking twist of events, the content about the content seems to be the word in 2024. A new habit for any hungry freelancer is to couple a splashy post with an in-depth tour of their creative process. They become the teacher, and we are the enthusiastic students! It turns out, we’re all incredibly curious creatures. Deep-dives satisfy our desire to understand the magic trick and also connect us to the human beings behind the screen. Breakdowns boost audience retention, engagement, and overall appreciation. In 2024, it’s a must.
Check out @deekaymotion’s staggering breakdown for one of his many intricate Illustrator/AE animations here.
2. The Uncanny Valley
Is that supposed to be a face or an arm?
There was a time when the uncanny valley being a desired outcome was inconceivable. Long-used to describe bad or incomplete stages within the animation process, the uncanny valley has historically been an obstacle for 3D animators to overcome. However, even before the advent of AI, independent animators like Joe Cappa have been exploring the uncanny to drive clicks through the cringe. AI has carried this trend on, turning that same old valley into a carnival of stylization.Now we’re more conditioned than ever to scan for a treasure trove of disturbing, humorous, and bizarre elements within content. It’s proof that sometimes it can look right to make things look so, so wrong.
Morbidly curious? Check out this (terrifying) AI-generated beer commercial.
Don't worry, we declined AI's generous offer to write this blog
When I originally started compiling this list, I actually prompted Chat GPT with the question: “What are the top motion graphics/animation trends of 2024?” I did this not because I’m a complete hack, but because I wanted to see what I was up against. No one wants to be terminally online to the point of anonymity. And no one is more terminally online than Chat GPT (It lives here, guys. We at least get to leave.)
AI is the dominant trend in the media world right now. It is everywhere, breaking through workflow ceilings of video editing software, motion graphics, and all forms of 2D and 3D work. For many, it has contributed invaluable tools that have enhanced professional workflows. Adobe Podcast can be a real life-saver when treating rough audio; Genny can be helpful for clients who want voiceover but don’t have the budget to spare; and the limitless potential of Midjourney continues to blow our minds. Conversely, there is a real threat that AI is becoming a ‘fast fashion’ equivalent in the media world. Open AI images cluttering Google Images results, legal protections for artists wading through the courts, and the threat of AI devaluing professional work are top talking points in the industry. It is a seismic shift we all are moving through right now– capping off an exciting, unnerving, and curious time for animation.
AI has vastly shaped the media climate and will continue to do so into 2024. That’s why it’s L(AI) Video’s top trend of 2024. If you want to learn more about our relationship with AI check out our blog "How I stopped worrying and learned to love AI." If you want to see how these trends changed in 2024, read our 2022 Animation Trends here.
Choosing the right animation approach
At LAI Video, we're always discovering new and innovative ways to bring our client’s creative visions to life through animation. Let us help you identify your industry’s hidden stories, curate cohesive messaging, and deliver engaging videos to create deeper connections with your audience. We’ll help identify the right approach to build greater brand awareness, broaden your campaign’s reach and do right by your brand.
Do you have a story that needs explaining? Do you have a message just waiting to be shared?
If you're looking to create compelling videos to showcase your industry story and bring your organization to life using any of these 2024 video animation trends, please contact our team to get started today!