30th Anniversary Animation Process

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019 | Musings | photonics

This year we hit a pretty big milestone as a company. We are celebrating 30 years in business! To celebrate and share our achievement, we designed a 30th anniversary emblem to work alongside our current logo, which you may have already noticed when it made its way onto our homepage and on a few marketing materials. We wanted to make a quick animation using the new emblem to take the place of our current stagnant Facebook cover photo. Here’s a look into our animation process:

Ideation and Approach

Initially we pursued more literal approaches, as you can see in these early draft gifs: the lightbulb filament “growing” out from the interior of the logo, the logo as a lightbulb screwing in and lighting up, and a kind of “logo formation” shiny, effects-based idea. Ultimately, the effects-based solution made the most sense, was the most straightforward, and had the most potential mileage.

Photonics Logo Concepting Photonics Logo Concepting Photonics Logo Concepting
Design Process

Here are the original handwritten notes for boarding the cover photo itself – taking into consideration the format and the 30th anniversary emblem that would need to have an animated entry as well. You can see versions of this idea persisting through many of our iterations.

After considering the image of stars we were using in most of our digital materials materials, it seemed like a strong direction to pursue as an eye-catching glitter-esque backdrop and something that could be reused for a variety of projects. Using this technique by Augustus Hinton, it was simple to make a subtle animated star background.

The cover photo animation was done entirely in After Effects. We went with a green version of the Photonics logo to work on the darker background. There were some versions using the Photonics “P” on its own (without the box), but the logo just couldn’t compete visually with the 30 Years emblem, so the usual square version was used.

Photonics Logo

Compositionally, it never seemed a question of how to arrange the elements for the Facebook cover photo format since it’s very clearly horizontal, as well as having some size limitations on mobile that had to be accounted for. But it’s often worth trying something just to see if it works!


There were a handful of different “sets” of effects, but many of them could be used interchangeably or with one another.

Photonics Animation

Here you can see a, simpler, snappier version of the “30 Years” emblem entry animation than was used in the final, as well as a softer, far more subtle logo effect. The Saber plug-in from Video CoPilot was very useful in fine-tuning some of these approaches.


Photonics Animation

A punchier version of the glow-in, because many of the effects on the logo could be mix-and-match and several combinations of flares and burn-in with subtle differences were tried out.

Photonics Animation

A few versions even used the text-based Photonics logo and an alternate layout!


Photonics Animation

This is the most energetic version, utilizing a technique from Avnish Parker. This effect was a little too much so particle rotation was removed for the final. Interestingly enough, this was the first version of the logo effects and the last version of the “30 Years” emblem.


Photonics Animation

And here is the final version that went live on our Facebook page – timing was cleaned up all around and gave us a smoother, less over-stimulating experience that still has a shine to it. An exit animation was also added for both elements so that the video could loop properly: the logo fades out and the emblem background fades while the text picks up its initial rotation again and moves down, off the screen. Most people aren’t going to watch a cover photo for that long, but it led to a more polished product. What do you think of our final choice for our Facebook cover photo animation?