Graphic design has long been a part of the television and motion picture landscape. Over the years it has evolved dramatically from static, two-dimensional characters and images to dynamic, three-dimensional animations that dominate many broadcasts and films. News programs are introduced with exploding text and “breaking news” alerts while sports programs are decorated with animated scoreboards and futuristic dancing robotic football players. Weather forecasts are explained with colorful, animated maps and real-time weather radar images that show weather patterns develop over time. Computer artists have become increasingly creative at presenting stunning graphics that capture the imaginations of viewers while enhancing verbal communications by using imagery to tell the story visually.
Broadcast graphics, commonly referred to as motion or television graphics, are defined by Herbert Zettl (as cited in Foote & Saunders, 1990, p. 502) as “all two dimensional visuals especially prepared for the television camera such as studio or title cards, illustrations, maps or charts. Electronically generated titles, charts or animation—even if appearing three dimensional—are also a part of television graphics.” Not only do broadcast graphics add to the entertainment and enjoyment facets of television viewing, they provide visual accompaniment to informational content such as news, sports and weather that improve the viewer’s understanding and recall of complex content. The use of graphics, animation and special effects in television programming has become commonplace, even in broadcasts with low budget constraints.