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Author
Esther
Posted on August 11, 2017

Animation or Live-action: what video suits best?

Header image for Animation or Live-action: what video suits best?


Tags: live video, video marketing, video optimalisation

The big decision has finally been made: you are getting started with a new video.  Or you might already have an Online Video Platform and been getting serious about your videomarketing for a while now and you are just on the look-out for new ideas. In both cases: this blog is for you. One of the first things to consider is what style of video you are going to use: animation or live-action.

In this blog we lay out the pros and cons for the different video styles based on four questions.

But first things first.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?
Live-action means you use real-life surroundings and actual people. You can use professional actors or go for the more authentic feel by putting your employees in front of the camera. Live-action is all about real objects. Whenever you wish to introduce a new product, film the actual product and demonstrate its many features.
Animation is a general term that describes all videos that are created frame by frame. It is a series of images, edited in sequence. Every image is called a frame. Because the frames are edited so rapidly after one another, it creates a moving image. Most often animated videos consist of drawn images.

Price?

You have to deal with it sooner or later: what video is cheaper? Of course, this largely depends on who you work with. Both animation and live-action have different categories, making one more expensive than the other.

Generally speaking, animation tends to be cheaper to produce. Basically all you need are drawn images. With live-action you need to invest in location, production, camera, director, actors and so on.

money pig

However, budget should only be a small factor in your consideration. Your video has a specific goal or objective. Make this the main indicator in picking either live-action or animation.

What do you want to communicatie?

Video is informative, but more importantly: it can create a certain vibe. With one look or one frame you can set the entire mood. Do you want to go corporate or keep it casual?

Setting a mood works better with live-action. With tone-of-voice, facial expressions and body language, you can express emotions before even uttering a single word. By seeing and hearing emotions, for example happiness, the viewer is guided into feeling the same. However, Pixar does a pretty good job in that department as well.

We keep repeating ourselves, but: keep your objective in mind. For example, you want to use video to show potential employees around the office. In this scenario it makes much more sense to use actual employees in the office.

Tip: decided to use “real” people in your video? Brainstorm with your production company about the styling. Certain hairstyles or pieces of clothing can get outdated pretty quick, while you wish to create videos that last a lifetime.

Simple or difficult message?

What you should also keep in mind when deciding live-action or animation, is the complexity of your message. Do you need the viewer to stay focused?

Animation can guide the attention of the viewer. Most of the time, there is nothing in the frame that can distract the viewer. This way, there is ultimate focus on the message you want to get across. That is why so-called explanimations are used to deliver difficult messages or information about tricky subjects.

Sometimes your message is as clear as day. You just want to show what something “really” looks like. This is where live-action comes in. For example, a tutorial about a new product or service works best with real-life footage. Also, live-action builds trust, as an actual person is directly addressing you. Take for example the product videos made by Coolblue.

CoolBlue product video

Easy to adapt?

Something else to consider, is how easy it will be to adapt your video. Some changes are difficult to foresee. This means you might have to change your video. For example, shifts within the organisation or a new corporate identity. Sometimes even external factors come into play, such as rules and regulations. Then you want changing your video to be a breeze.

Animated videos are often easy to update. Animations are made frame by frame, which means only swapping a few frames. If your corporate identity changes, you still need to alter the entire animation. But even that is fairly simple.

Live-action is a completely different story. Clothes and attributes in your video become outdated or employees leave your company. Therefore, before you start shooting a live-action video, you should consider whether items are timeless.

Also, with live-action you should keep in mind that you might need to record a scene again in the distant future. With interactive video you can easily swap one scene for a new one. Yet, with linear video this is different: it would mean you need to record the whole video all over again.

Tip: before shooting a video, write down all the possible changes in the future. For example, the return policy of your company. Could that change at any point? Consider to add that visually, instead of having a person recite the amount of days. It is easier to alter one number, instead of the entire scene. If you think numbers or prices might change, a better choice is to add these as an interactive layer. This way, you would only have to change these layers, which is easy.

Scalability?

If you are planning on producing more videos at the same time, animation might be the right fit for you. Animated videos are scalable, as the colors are easy to adapt, to fit with different corporate identities. So, animation allows you to create one video as a base, which you can alter to different identities. Pension fund APG created one video for their various branches. With some minor changes in color and style, it fits with each of these different branches.

APG scalable video

Live-action can equally be scalable. Preferably, choose to record the video in a studio with a green screen. This way you can stay in one place and record multiple videos in a row, allowing you to even plan your recording schedule. If you consider shooting a series of videos, make sure to plan production to make things run smoothly. No hassle with building and rebuilding sets. Allerhande keeps producing enormous amounts of cooking videos in their studio. They plan multiple shoots on one day, making the production process very profitable.

Albert Heijn video management

Combideal

Still undecided? No worries. You can always combine the two styles. Working with green screens allows you to use actors, as well as animated objects. KPN uses this combination for a series of instruction videos.


Conclusion

As you can tell, you have a lot of things to consider before you decide on either live-action or animation. Animated videos have a major advantage, as they are easy to adapt and relatively cheap. Yet, often it misses the personal approach and the human touch many companies search for. If you are looking for short and snappy instruction videos, animation is your go-to style.

The crucial factor should be your objective or goal for video. From there you look at other factors, both long and short term.

Looking for someone to brainstorm with? Drop us a line. Our consultants offer you personal advice and can direct you to different video production companies.

 

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