From Neon Glow to Liquid Flow, These Motion Trends Will Shape 2020

Image source: Amgun / Adobe Stock.

Each year, Adobe Stock gives you the inside scoop on the most important upcoming Visual Trends around the world and across creative mediums. This year, for the first time, we’re adding an analysis of the aesthetics, effects, and subjects that will shape motion graphics in the year ahead. Welcome to Motion Trends 2020.

To hone in on the most influential upcoming Motion Trends, we consulted top forecasters and the experts who curate Adobe Stock and Behance, we dug deep into search patterns and combed through Creative Cloud, and we traced the effects and topics that are making waves across brand ad campaigns, social media, documentary film, video games, and everywhere else design is in motion.

Here are our four top Motion Trends to watch in 2020.

Environmental Documentary

Image source: Grenar / Adobe Stock.

As we launch a new decade, the state of the environment is on everyone’s mind. Climate activist Greta Thunberg is Time’s 2019 Person of the Year, and voters have climate change in mind ahead of the 2020 election in the United States. (According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, the number of Americans who consider climate change to be “a major threat” has climbed to 57%.) Meanwhile, brands are amplifying the conversation, responding to consumer demands to take a stand on climate issues.

The aesthetics of the Environmental Documentary trend run the gamut. There are polished, stunning views like those we know from National Geographic and Blue Planet. There’s also a trend toward sweeping drone imagery of everything from melting ice sheets to landscapes dotted with wind turbines and solar farms.

Then there’s a DIY element. Recent environmental catastrophes like the wildfires in California and Australia reach us by way of people on the ground, armed with their phones. Meanwhile, thrill seekers head outdoors to share their adventures into hard-to-reach places.

“[This trend] takes us to places where technology isn’t a constant distraction.”

“In our exclusive partnership with GoPro, we’ve got lots of action-adventure, first-person views,” explains Tom Spota, head of motion and audio for Adobe Stock. “There’s a trove of video featuring people enjoying the outdoors, diving into the water, trekking across the desert, reaching mountain tops. Even though they’ve got their GoPros, a lot of the appeal is in the getaway. The videos take us to places where technology isn’t a constant distraction.”

With so many people bringing awareness to the joy of being outdoors, and the threats to our climate, Environmental Documentary will be a growing force this year. According to Tom, you can see imagery on Adobe Stock that brings awareness to an array of other environmental issues. The Ocean Agency, another Adobe Stock artist, focuses on the devastating effects of coral bleaching due to climate change. You can find their work in the Netflix Original Documentary “Chasing Coral” and exclusively on Adobe Stock.

Find more inspiration in our Environmental Documentary Collection.

Movement Response

Image source: HQUALITY / Adobe Stock.

Movement Response is all about fast, interactive graphics that respond to motion and grab our attention. According to Kirie Quackenbush, motion graphics content associate at Adobe, the trend took an early hold among Snapchat and TikTok users, who’ve delighted in adding the effects to everything from dancing humans to dancing ferrets.

“The use of Movement Response can substitute for audio. When we’re scrolling quickly through social media, we don’t have sound, so the graphics can imply where sound should be.”

“The use of Movement Response can substitute for audio. When we’re scrolling quickly through social media, we don’t have sound, so the graphics can imply where sound should be,” says Paul McAniff, contributor outreach specialist for Adobe Stock. The effect can even slow people down long enough to turn on the sound and engage more deeply.

Brands, including Pepsi and Red Bull, have embraced Movement Response in their campaigns. Rather famously, Taco Bell offered everyone (yes, everyone) free tacos with their “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” promotion during the World Series, using a Movement Response technique to highlight base runners with flames, and then show tacos raining from the sky.

We expect the trend to keep growing now that the tools to create Movement Response effects are so widely accessible.

“In the past, if you wanted to use these kinds of graphics to draw attention to someone running from first base to second base or highlight movement in an instructional video, you’d have to have specialized equipment,” says Tom. “Now, if you’re a video editor with basic editing skills, you can create these effects using motion graphics templates in Premiere Pro.

Find more inspiration in our Movement Response collection.

Liquid Abstract

Image source: paralondigital / Adobe Stock.

While Movement Response is speedy and energetic, Liquid Abstract highlights the soft, organic side of motion graphics in 2020. Liquid Abstract videos combine gently shifting forms with mathematical patterns to create mesmerizing flows.

“This trend is a response to our inundation with harsh, fast-moving edits. We see jarring images everywhere — at the gas station, in the grocery store, on our phones,” Tom says. “But when you look at Liquid Abstract, it’s water, it’s elemental, it’s quiet and soothing. Even though we’re accessing it digitally, it’s getting us away from the noise of technology and back to more natural forms.”

“Liquid Abstracts give people a bit of breathing space in the hectic digital world.”

Liquid Abstract clips are already their own phenomenon online. “They’re like visual ASMR, a kind of visual relaxation,” says Kirie. “Search #oddlysatisfying on social media, and you’ll find Liquid Abstracts giving people a bit of breathing space in the hectic digital world.”

Brands are using Liquid Abstract elements to soften their videos. Liquid Abstract clips are often useful transitions from one scene to another. This style works equally well in the background of a rock concert or a dance club, or even a doctor’s waiting room. Liquid Abstracts make ideal white space with a subliminal calming effect.

For inspiration (or a bit of relaxation), visit our gallery of Liquid Abstracts.

Neon Glow

Image source: flashmovie / Adobe Stock.

If Liquid Abstract has you a little too relaxed, get a jolt of energy with Neon Glow. This trend is fun and bold, but it wears a soft halo. It fuses the past — the neon hues of the 80s and 90s — with visions of the future. Think “Blade Runner,” “Miami Vice,” “Stranger Things,” and popular music videos like Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” and The Weeknd’s “I Feel It Coming.” According to Tom, “Neon Glow is there to cut through the noise with something that’s bright and beautiful.”

“Neon Glow is there to cut through the noise with something that’s bright and beautiful.”

The Neon Glow trend grows, in part, out of video game aesthetics. Influencers on platforms like Twitch use Neon Glow to create recognizable avatars and characters. Adding elements like neon headphones or neon stripes can help differentiate fan favorites.

And games are becoming more ubiquitous across media types. Consider, for example, the growing popularity of e-sports tournaments. “In 2020, e-sports are becoming as newsworthy as real-life sports, and they’re bringing the neon with them,” says Kirie.

Beyond gaming, Neon Glow is an ideal tool for brands that want to embrace nostalgia while giving visual elements, like logos, an extra boost of fresh energy.

Find even more ways to use Neon Glow in our curated gallery.

If you’re working with these trends, we can’t wait to see. Share how you’re interpreting these trends with #AdobeDesign on social media. If you’re interested in becoming an Adobe Stock artist, sign up and take a look at the different guidelines for assets.

Stay with us throughout the year as we explore these trends further and look at how artists are embracing them in their work on the Adobe Blog.

Don’t miss all of our in-depth creative trend coverage. Catch up on our 2020 Visual Trends launch, our Design Trends launch, and comprehensive explorations into each individual trend throughout the year.