Is Animation the Right Fit?

In Animation, Production Process, Video Strategy by Denis MallonLeave a Comment

You’ve got your video project off to a great start by putting together a fully formed creative brief

Now, before going forward, it’s a great time to decide whether it makes sense to use animation.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of using animation, as an alternative to live action…


“I Just Can’t Picture It”

If you’re trying to explain an abstract concept or process, it can be difficult to make this work using real life footage.

Animation is brilliant for visualising difficult-to-understand concepts.

Imagine you need to illustrate the size of the known universe; the inner workings of a nano technology device; or how Blockchain works.

These are not things at which we can easily point the camera. Yet, with animation, we can represent them in an interesting and visually appealing way, making these abstract concepts much easier to understand.

Ted Ed is a channel devoted to “lessons worth sharing”, making brilliant use of offbeat animation to convey some tricky ideas.


“I Want to Stand Out”

The world of online video is more saturated now than ever before. With so much competition for attention, brands can struggle to be distinctive among peers.

Animation offers more ways to be visually inventive and eye-catching.

Whether you’re using illustrated characters, analogue styles such as stop motion, or cutting edge photoreal CGI, there are so many ways to make an animated video more visually appealing than live action.

(Speaking of animation techniques, in next week’s blog we’ll be discussing the different types of animation, and the circumstances to which they’re best suited).

In this award winning commercial, Honda recognised the potential of hand crafted stop motion techniques to illustrate their innovative history.


“It’s Set in the Future”

Sometimes the story we’re telling needs elements that, without a Hollywood budget, are just too complicated and expensive to capture as live action.

For many projects, animation is much more cost effective and easy to manage.

Imagine a scene in a city street, with multiple characters. A live action shoot would require crowds of actors, location management, equipment hire, and catering. In comparison, an animated scene like this could be realised for a fraction of the cost.  

If the scene is from a period of history, or a sci-fi future, the cost could be even greater.

Of course, not all like-for-like live action is more expensive than animation, but for more ambitious productions animation is almost always the cost effective choice.

In this ambitious film commissioned by the Guardian, creators – Moth Collective – visualised a bleak future world, invoking a tone as compelling as any classic sci-fi film.


“I Want Them to Get Emotional”

Can you remember the last time you shed a tear while watching a film? Was it, by any chance, animated?

Animated characters often connect more emotionally than their live action counterparts.

But how can we have so much empathy for unrealistic illustrations?

This psychological effect, known as masking, was first described by cartoonist Scott McCloud. A form of projective identification, this phenomenon means the viewer will often feel more familiar with non-detailed characters.

Are you telling a human story with an emotional core? It might be worth considering animation as a better way to draw your audience into the story and feel more emotional about the brand.

When TSB relaunched their brand in 2013, they focused on their history as a community-centred organisation. Their story was realised perfectly in this poignant film that radiates warmth.


“It Needs to Feel International”

These days, more businesses operate globally than ever before. Is it possible to create one brand video that will connect with audiences from different regions around the world?

Animation is more universal, and easier to adapt across many regions.

When you shoot a live action brand video in Europe, with a European cast, it probably won’t feel familiar to your audience in Asia. Environments and ethnicities will be clearly different, and many gestures can carry different cultural meaning.

In comparison, an animated film can be made to feel international in a more straightforward way. Environments and characters can be designed to look regionally unspecific, meaning that they feel familiar to audiences in different regions.

Headspace, the world’s most popular meditation apps, use animation to ensure their videos maintain an international appeal. Through stylised characters and environments, issues of localisation and ethnicity can be avoided completely.



There will always be video projects that best suit live action, those that best suit animation, and even those that suit a hybrid approach, achieving the best of both worlds.

Think about your goals, the tone of voice, and the style of video you’re aiming for. Perhaps animation could be more manageable, entertaining, and cost effective for your brand video.

Have you considered using animation in your brand video? Do you think your project is suited to animation? Let us know in the comments underneath, or get in touch.

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