The Scoop - Raymon van Niekerk

What Qualification do you have?
Bachelor of Arts in Visual Communication Design

When did you graduate?
Dec 2021

What did you major in?
Communication Design & Motion Design

How did you first become interested in motion design, and what motivated you to pursue it as a career?
I found After Effects when I was in high school and I saw Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 edits made by YouTuber’s who used AE to create cool montage videos. Since then I have been inspired and wanted to learn how to create interesting work based on the things I was exposed to at the time. From that, I also gained a passion for design and being able to elevate static images through the use of Motion Design.

Where do you work at the moment?
I currently work at a content creation agency called Run Jump Fly.

Motion design often involves a unique blend of creativity and technical skills. How would you describe your signature style?
At this time I’m quite a generalist so there hasn’t been an opportunity for me to use a particular style in my work. However, I’ve always gravitated towards simplistic 2D illustrations and flat geometric designs for my work.
I get inspiration from artists like Sarah Beth Morgan and Marylou Faure as well.

Can you share an example of a project where you encountered a significant challenge and the innovative ways you overcame it?
We had a project for a non-profit that involved quite a few 2D character animations with detailed movement, in a variety of aspect ratios. The timelines were quite tight, and this was a bit of a challenge because it was my first time working with detailed character rigs at this scale. The project required me to focus on the process and ask for guidance from my colleagues whenever I got stuck. I made sure to use assets that can be repurposed to save time, and most importantly, to keep my spirits high and power through.

Collaboration is essential in many creative fields. Can you discuss a project that required close collaboration with clients, designers, or other stakeholders?
During my first few months at the company, we worked on quite a big project for Snoop Dogg that required our team to collaborate with a few different studios and freelancers to execute 16 deliverables. It was really interesting getting to be a part of a project at a macro scale, having different artists all working together. Being able to experience how a project of this scale is structured from a pipeline perspective and seeing the hierarchy between the client, primary agency, studios and freelancers was fascinating to learn about. It was also awesome to receive the storyboards and illustrations being created by various artists and working with their open files was quite a challenge on its own. On a micro level, our team had frequent meetings and work-in-progress check-ins with our primary contact and project manager to ensure the deadlines were met. Internally our team was incredibly collaborative, making use of team projects and cloud-based syncing in After Effects that would allow us to work on the same project at the same time. To ensure consistency between the work we were doing we had a portal where everyone would be uploading their work for review and quality control.

Feedback plays a crucial role in refining motion design work. Could you talk about a project where you received valuable feedback that led to substantial improvements? 
I recently worked on a project for KFC where the style for the project was really edgy and there was a lot of creative freedom in how it can be executed. When the project started I felt a bit overwhelmed and found myself in a space of indecision with the amount of freedom there was. I wasn’t happy with what I was creating and it wasn’t what I had envisioned. One of my colleagues then helped and gave me some critical feedback, pointing me in the right direction. That shift in perspective allowed me to embrace openness take a step back and just create without the mental barriers I put up for myself. The rest of the project went pretty smoothly after that.

Top 3 Podcasts?
The School of Motion Podcast (Obviously)
Banter with BUCK
Creative Peptalk

Favourite bands?
Teenage Dads

The world of motion design is always evolving. What current trends or techniques do you find exciting, and how do you keep up with these trends to keep your work fresh and relevant?
I’ve been seeing a lot of mixed-media work lately, combining different styles to create something new. I see 2D and 3D used together quite frequently, and more recently the use of AI in advertising at an agency level has been quite trendy, not that I find it appealing but it is happening.

Reflecting on your journey, how have you evolved as a motion designer since your time as a student? Are there any specific skills or perspectives you’ve developed that have contributed to your professional growth?
I’ve improved my time management skills such as being more efficient with my work and sticking to deadlines. I continue to stay up to date with the latest trends in media to keep developing my creative tastes and this helps me keep a creative mindset. I’ve also improved my soft skills like managing stress, learning how to understand and work with different people, and comprehending messages and briefs from clients, as well as handling feedback and not being precious about ideas.

Do you have any favourite free resources you can share?
Motion Hatch has a great number of free resources for navigating the motion design industry, D&AD has some wonderful talks on creativity and art direction, Awwwards also has some incredible content as well. There’s also a brilliant local motion design community called Motion Design Cape Town filled with talented artists who are all willing to share their knowledge.

What’s your go-to creative snack?
Sugar-free Monsters and Sour Worms.

Any favourite hobbies?
When I’m not working on personal projects or binge-watching movies, I tend to spend my weekends photographing music festivals and bands, or sinking all of my vbucks into buying film for my cameras.

What advice would you offer to students who are aspiring motion designers? Are there any insights from your experience that you wish you had known when you were starting your career?

Be realistic about what the landscape looks like early on in your career. A lot of the ideas you’ll be executing aren’t your own, and it’s primarily the vision of the client that you’ll be creating. The hours are pretty weird, it fluctuates quite a bit, you could have a quiet couple of weeks where there isn’t much happening, and then all of a sudden you’re under a lot of pressure and working tons, and then it’s quiet again. If you want to stand out as a motion designer and make sure you’re putting your best foot forward, focus on your design sense and taste. If you have great design skills, that can carry basic animation a lot further than great animation can carry bad design. Communication is key, learning how to communicate your ideas but also let go of them when it isn’t working, and understanding the objectives of those that you work with will make starting a lot easier mentally. And finally, as cliché as it is, networking is vital, especially if you’re looking to gain a lot of different kinds of experience and learn fast. The world is small and chances are that you’ll have a lot in common with whoever you connect with, just take the first step keep going, and enjoy the process.

Motion Design