Animation vs. Conventional Video - Is One Better Than The Other?

Best Practice Series

Discover How To Unlock The Potential Of Animation

It's a tough decision for any company:

Do you shoot a video project using conventional live-action video? Or do you use animation?

There is no single right answer for everyone. The direction you take ultimately depends on the needs of your given project, the capabilities of your team, and how much time and budget you’re working with. To help you decide which approach is best for your specific needs, keep the following questions in mind:

Who’s Your Audience?

Animation isn’t just for kids. Viewers of any age will likely appreciate, and engage with, a creatively produced animation, and today’s technologies give you unparalleled options to hit the right message and tone. Whatever style the animation takes - 2D, 3D, stop-motion or whiteboard - it gives you ultimate control over addressing the needs of your particular target audience.

What Is Your Subject?

Topic choice can strongly influence whether a project is shot using live action of animation. Animation is particularly useful for introductory- or explanatory-type messages. Animation lends itself to simpler, step-by-step storyboards.

On the flip side, there may be instances where a real person might be more relatable. For example, a political video or business-focused message, where more serious emotion and/or trust may need to be prioritized over more routine information-delivery, might be better delivered by an individual instead of through animation. That doesn’t mean animation doesn’t have a place, as the right voice over, paired with the right animated elements, can be just as engaging. Just give yourself the opportunity to explore both avenues before making the final call.

What Are Your In-House And Outsourced Skills?

Core competency is critical in deciding between animation and live-action video. Do you have animation skills on-staff? Or can you work with local third-party animators to bring your idea to life?

Similarly, do you have relatively skilled camera operators or videographers either on-staff or available via outsourcing or contract agreement. Is the equipment - cameras, lighting, props - already in inventory or does it need to be rented? If you’re using actors, what are the arrangements for engaging them, and do locations need to be scouted and secured?

Make sure you understand what is and is not available for your production needs, and what the costs might be for the resources that aren’t directly usable or solidly in-house. Even if a videographer’s time, for example, is supposedly “free,” consider the opportunity cost of not having this resource available for other work.

How Large/Small Is The Budget?

As much as we hate to admit it, money often determines what you can and cannot accomplish. A relatively low budget could force some tough decisions around what equipment, facilities, and locations to use, what resources may be purchased or rented, and how much production time you can afford before the resulting animation needs to go live.

Fortunately, advancements in technology are making it easier to deliver professional-looking animation on a relatively modest budget. Cloud-based animation services allow sophisticated animation projects to be delivered without the need to make up-front capital investments in hardware and software.

How Much Time Do You Have?

A video project requiring freshly shot, on-location content requires advance planning, and in many cases could take longer than a simple animation project involving ready-made materials. Similarly, if the message changes after shooting, it may not be feasible to arrange a follow-up studio or on-location session. While animation provides a greater degree of flexibility to adapt the message later in the game, it might require additional development time, ramp-up and training, depending on your baseline capabilities and available resources.

Over To You:

Now that you know the ins and outs of deciding between video and voice - or perhaps both - we’d love to hear from you. Tweet us at @voices and let us know which way we decided to go. 

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