Dimensional Delights: this motion trend gets playful out of home and on our screens

Still image from smooth abstract animation of liquid gradient rainbow color. Glossy viscous paint splatters into drops mid-motion.
Credit: Adobe Stock / Green Wind

Anyone who used a PC in the late 90s to early aughts is likely to have experienced, at least a few times, the particular frisson of delight that came from setting the mouse aside and waiting patiently for the screensaver. Not just any screensaver, but the psychedelic 3D maze. Dull word docs and spreadsheets would cut to black and suddenly the screen would erupt into what looked like an entirely new dimension.

The ability for a well-executed piece of animation to transmogrify a screen into a whole new universe lies at the core of Adobe Stock’s motion trend Dimensional Delights. Full of rich rainbow hues, trippy optical illusions, and hyperreal animations, our collection pulls together motion assets that are part of a larger trend that revels in all things playful.

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Getting OOHs and ahhs

Digital motion trends, being composed of VFX, motion graphics, animation, and video, are always informed by technological changes around us. The playful animations, optical illusions, and dynamic hyperrealism of Dimensional Delights are in large part informed by changes in the technology of exhibition — notably, the increasing availability of gigantic, ultra-HD, anamorphic screens.

These screens are no longer confined to flat or mildly curved rectangles. Now, they can slink and bend along corners and facades like luminous skin. What this allows is for animators and brands to use the old visual trickery of forced perspective to make their work seem extremely three-dimensional without asking anyone to put on a pair of glasses.

The most prominent of these are in high-density urban centers. In Shibuya, Tokyo, city dwellers could take a minute from their commutes to look up at a gigantic kitten as it yawned, napped, and preened above the city, with spectators comparing the experience to futuristic movies like Ghost in the Shell. Over in London, giant rotating tacos and zombie tigers seem to leap right off the screen and into Picadilly Circus. And in the screen-saturated advertising mecca of Times Square, Amazon found a way to terrify pedestrians with visuals from their Wheel of Time series.

https://youtu.be/q0VcWS8S_KQ

What these new screens are opening up is a whole new creative avenue for artists and animators to play with our sense of scale, context, and shape, asking us to consider where the sidewalk ends and the screens begin, and blurring the lines between sci-fi, fantasy, and the present moment.

And there’s evidence of demand for these kinds of stock motion assets across advertising. Dimensional Delights can be seen as part of the resurgence of Out Of Home advertising, a.k.a. “OOH” post-pandemic. One study estimates that OOH ad revenue rose 14.5% from 2020. And while traditional forms like billboards, posters, and flyers account for the bulk of OOH, a larger and larger part, nearly a third, involves the use of digital elements.

Keeping it light with animation

While technological advances in hardware pushes visual culture towards the large and spectacular, there’s an equal amount of creative activity around making our own humble laptop, TV, and phone screens leap with playful energy. In particular, we’re seeing animation and animated characters gain traction across the visual landscape.

Some of the most popular and compelling commercials recently have focused on animation, from Samsung’s lovesick spider and Grubhub’s cartoonish campaign to the raucous two minute long NFL superbowl commercial featuring an entire cast of animated NFL players destroying a house. These bouncy, endearing, and hyperreal characters are clearly resonating with brands eager to be associated with something fun and lighthearted.

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Beyond the quality of the animations themselves, these commercials remind us that animated characters engage audiences across platforms and seasons, creating a sort of unified mascot that is identified with the brand. There’s the classic AFLAC duck and Geico gecko, but recent characters like the Doritos sloths show there’s room for new, playful critters.

https://youtu.be/83qeRkKra00

https://youtu.be/YCLPiIAKqZY

The Dimensional Delights collection shows how these cartoonish animations translate into stock motion assets, with animations like a dancing hot dog and a iridescent 3D hummingbird seeming at one almost tangibly real and yet fanciful, playful, and full of color.

Higher quality, fewer barriers

While the technology of exhibition has opened up new avenues for motion assets in terms of how they can be seen and experienced, the technology around creation has made it easier than ever to add motion graphics, VFX, and animation to your creative toolkit. Programs like After Effects, Animate, and Premiere allow for anyone with a Creative Cloud subscription to pick up something like a motion graphics template or a stock animation template and learn the basics.

This is an especially good time to play around with new skills because as screens become more flexible so will the need for renderings and animations tailored to their dimensions and environments. For top-tier screens that each have a unique shape and viewing environment, every asset must be tailored to that perfect sweet spot.

Even outside multimillion-dollar screens, there’s a growing need for creative assets that fit everything from elevators, escalators, and double-decker buses to our own phones and various social platforms. With such a vast array of possible formats, stock creators will need to create assets and templates that can be customized and adaptive.

These technological and aesthetic developments towards the playful, hyperreal, and mind-bending speak to something more lasting at the heart of Dimensional Delights, which is the perennial desire to create visuals that help us relate to the world around us in a new way. Animations that add an extra layer of depth to a presentation or seem so real you can almost touch them.

Beyond the challenges and skills needed to create the kinds of assets we’re seeing in Dimensional Delights is a deeper artistic push for animation that asks us to look at something familiar with new eyes, making even something like the city at night a 3D canvas.

https://youtu.be/KMP7rjo4T2o

Explore the trend:

Dimensional Delights motion trend

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