Inside Wolff Olins: Étienne Godiard

In our latest edition of our Inside Wolff Olins series, we sat down with Senior Motion Designer Étienne Godiard to hear about his work in the motion design team and his predictions for how the world of motion is evolving. 

Hey Étienne! Can you tell us a little about your role as Senior Motion Designer at Wolff Olins and what you get up to day to day? 

Hi! I’ve been a motion designer at Wolff Olins for 2 years now and my day-to-day is always different. Working closely with strategists, the engagement team, designers, clients and partners, I help define motion behaviours that reflect the true nature of each brand. Motion is as important as any other element of our brand services, and it helps tell a brand story in a vibrant way.

To achieve a successful motion exploration, I need to benchmark a lot, not only online but also outside in the world. The way things move in the street, on a field, or in the sky, can perfectly echo within a company's purpose and expression. So, I spend most of my days exploring behaviours and movement thanks to those takeaways. I use tools such as Cinema 4D, After Effects, or Spark AR - all the while iterating explorations with the team and the client, in order to aim for the best impact and results. 

In your opinion, what role does motion have to play in holistic brand experience? 

Motion applies to almost all aspects of brand experience nowadays, across many applications: you could experience motion design on displaying screens in a retail store, while a mobile app loads, when using an AR filter or seeing a digital ad in the street, to name a few.

A specific motion behaviour needs to reflect the purpose and personality of the brand, with a recognisable animated signature that can be applied across assets, consistently. This signature can be a key tool helping customers easily navigate a brand interaction.

It’s always tempting to start an exploration by making a logo move; but we need to challenge ourselves by remembering that a successful motion principle will guide the eye seamlessly across all the touch-points of a brand, from top-level comms to practical applications.

What is one of your favourite projects that you’ve worked on, and why? 

I absolutely loved working on the GSK rebrand. It was probably the longest design project I’ve ever been on (14 months) - I had the opportunity to work on the visual identity from day one, and across many mediums: web, brand architecture, office environment, etc.

The most exciting piece I had to craft was the GSK 3-dimensional cube, designed to highlight how adaptable the company is. In this project, where we partnered with F37 Foundry to refine the logo, the motion exploration had a great influence on solving the shape of the logo itself, as we were building constraints around the idea of the 1:1 GSK moving cube. All of this was also made possible thanks to great communication among the GSK teams.

Each decision to make this cube legible from every side impacted directly the final typography in the flat version of the logo, and vice versa. A true piece of teamwork and collaboration, but also one of the biggest mathematical challenges I’ve had in a long time!

What key trends do you predict seeing in motion design in 2023 and beyond? 

The future of motion is in space. Motion needs to be a reflection of our lives, and everything around us happens in depth. It’s impossible to ignore the emergence of tools such as AR or VR that might change our typical day in a deep way anytime soon. On this particular topic, video games are a great source of inspiration: some studios such as Ubisoft explore what would be a brand experience tomorrow through fictional worlds, with franchises like Watch Dogs. I’m sure we’re not too far from creating motion guidelines for branded XR interactions.

Motion will also be generative. The era of the .mp4 file is almost over, as we are heading to create pieces that rely on sets of rules, to be generated live on any type of digital displays, thanks to AI.

How do you see AI influencing the world of motion? Do you see this technology as an enabler or inhibitor of creativity? 

Motion will be more and more accessible in the coming years, thanks to AI. Learning motion tools such as Cinema 4D or After Effects can open great possibilities for some, but it can also be hard and slow the creative processes for others. Thanks to AI, we might progressively take down technical barriers that allow the motion creativity in any of us to go out.

I have in mind AI solutions developed by Runway or Blockades Games, where a simple sketch or prompt can generate an entire piece of motion, or even a virtual world.