To help and inspire our members, wherever they are on the timeline

BBC Motion Graphics Archive

by Mark Macey, BBC

The BBC Motion Graphics Archive is a showcase of the history and development of motion graphics across the BBC in the history of broadcast and programme-making, and includes examples of opening titles, promotion trailers, stings, idents and programme content sequences. Archive currently covers the period from the 1940s until the early 2000s and it can be researched in a variety of ways eg by programme title, channel, named designer, genre, decade. We have worked closely with around 150 BBC graphic designers who have shared invaluable knowledge of the techniques used to create the works over the years. The Archive is for anybody interested in design, motion graphics or cultural and television history. The material can be streamed or is downloadable for non-commercial educational or research purposes only under the terms of the BBC’s Content Licence for the Motion Graphics Archive (link to agreement on the homepage).

The Archive is not intended to be an exhaustive selection of examples but it will expand over time to show contemporary professional practice commissioned by the BBC. We are aiming to bring the archive up to the present day by the end of 2021. These will include a series of interviews with designers talking about their work, as well as images of a collection of digitised artefacts which shows the design and production processes used. Motion Graphics has become an important study discipline at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in numerous academic institutions UK wide. The Archive demonstrates the increasing importance of the role of motion graphics in television today in the promotion of channel brands and in engaging, entertaining and informing the viewer.

Since launch in 2020, a number of PhDs have been created using the archive as its focus. Examples of feedback from users below:

  • At the start of the last lockdown they released all sorts of set pictures and stuff to use as zoom backgrounds. Whoever’s doing this archive stuff is doing a wonderful job.
  • This is great, and the background information about how they were conceived/produced is interesting stuff. Nice to see this stuff presented factually.
  • It’s a triumph that for the majority of the entries, they have a step by step description of how the graphics were made. Who on earth remembers that much detail decades later?
  • If you are in need of a procrastination tool today may I suggest the new BBC Motion Graphics Archive of TV opening titles and such? You’re welcome.
  • Had a look at this the other day, was quite lovely to see again a few sequences from my youth. Hopefully this resource can inspire the next generation of TV makers to be similarly creative, make something that’ll stick in the mind like these did in mine!

A strong public service collaboration between the BBC and Ravensbourne and an opportunity to showcase archive content in a unique way – to evoke nostalgia, to recognise the academic potential of the archive and to inspire a new generation of designers, archivists and media historians, particularly as the BBC approaches its centenary – and beyond!