A Modern Take on Motion Design
Chris Boardman·Jun 30, 2020
Meet Fable: The web-based motion design tool that helps creators animate better together. Join the waitlist.
Motion design is everywhere: It’s a GIF on Instagram by that brand you follow, a launch video of that new app you heard about, or a title sequence to that TV show you just started. But as animation software has become more advanced, it hasn’t meaningfully evolved in 25 years, making it harder for beginners to get started and more challenging for teams to collaborate.
Software like Figma and Webflow are modernizing creative tools by bringing software to the web and making them more accessible, and we think it’s time for motion design to catch up. For the past two years, we’ve been building a tool that makes motion design more accessible and more efficient: It’s called Fable, and I’m excited to share a preview of what it’s all about.
Fable was born by accident to solve problems we were experiencing ourselves. In 2018 I joined an education studio called Gakko to lead a product to create more meaningful experiences for kids on iPads. Our vision was to fill the world with stories that were not just educational, but artistic and magical. It was an inspiring mission that allowed us to work up-close with a wide range of creators: from designers and illustrators, to engineers, animators, sound designers, script-writers, storyboard artists, and even voice actors.
With such a high bar for quality, creating content efficiently was going to be key to the project’s success. We needed to invent a way for creators to work together and publish experiences directly to iOS–all without writing a line of code. So we started building an “animation publishing” tool–a tool that made animation easier for designers that worked right in a browser so projects could be accessed from anywhere by multiple creators.
As we worked with our users, we heard the pains in their existing animation workflows and iterated on our buggy little animation tool to make things better. Eventually–as much as we loved the e-learning market–a much bigger opportunity revealed itself to help the entire motion design community and we honed in on the big problems we were hearing time and time again:
- Animation is intimidating. Motion software has been around for a long time, and while it has become pretty powerful it has also become multi-purpose and more intimidating for beginners to get started.
- Collaboration is hard. Existing tools just weren’t designed for collaboration. Sharing projects means waiting for renders to finish, uploading files, emailing links, and losing context through feedback cycles. Working from home–especially on a team–is challenging because project versions need to be shared and managed with care, and sometimes the higher-spec computer at the office is just better for rendering.
- Creating advanced effects requires code. Motion design is always evolving, and sometimes a timeline just isn’t enough to get the right result. Purchasing plugins, writing code, or investing in a fully procedural workflow are options, but these complicate things even more.
This is why we decided to start Fable. We spun the project out from Gakko as its own company in Jan 2019, formed an incredible team, and got to work.
An early preview of Fable
Our vision is to make motion design accessible for all. Here’s how it works:
- Fable runs right in the browser. There is no software to install or keep up-to-date, files can be accessed from anywhere, and projects are automatically versioned–leaving you to focus on the creative stuff.
- It’s built for collaboration. Projects and media are centralized across teams, projects can be shared instantly without waiting for renders to finish or be uploaded, and feedback happens inline. It’s super nice.
- Create advanced effects without code. Fable is designed for usability whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started. But for creators who want to go beyond the timeline, our code-free, procedural motion tools can take projects to the next level.
There’s lots more to share, and we’re just starting to peel away at our vision.
As a kid, I loved drawing flip books, and in my early school years I would say that when I grow up I wanted to become an animator. In the late 90’s Flash unlocked my career as an engineer, and in college I took a semester on After Effects that led to a project for an arts festival being illuminated onto the facade of a 40ft building. Creative tools are amazing. As Flash lost its footing in the world and as motion software has become intimidating for those getting started, Fable’s mission is to help inspire creators with skills that help unlock new opportunities. I feel incredibly fortunate to be working on such an exciting, ambitious project with such a talented team, and we hope you’ll join us on our journey.
Fable is in private beta and we’ll be rolling out invites slowly so we can give everyone the best experience possible. Be sure to follow us on Twitter for updates.
– Team Fable