Animated Explainer Videos Vs. Live Action Videos

When it comes to marketing your business, video is hands down the best option for any digital platform. It’s proven to be more effective than any other form of advertising, and it’s easy to implement into virtually any campaign.

The only hesitation that companies often have when giving the green light to using video is deciding what type of production to purchase; animated or live action video. When this is the dilemma, there are several things to consider before making the final decision. Let’s take a deeper look at live action versus animated explainer videos.


What Are Your Marketing Goals?

Both types of video convert, but there are some key differences between how audiences engage with them. Live action videos are great for branding or demonstrating a particular emotion. When your goal is to appeal to your audience’s feelings, then live action is hands down the best option. People are able to pick up on body language and nonverbal cues much better from other humans than they would with an animated character.

Animated explainer videos are best when your goal is to explain how a product or service works. Introducing a concept with animation makes it more memorable than listening to a person explain it. Think back to that geometry class you had in high school. Would you have rather watched the concepts in a video, or listened to your instructor talk for 45 minutes?


How Will the Content Be Used?

Customer Education

Another very important aspect to consider is how the video content will be used. Training videos, or productions designed to educate the customer on how to use a product or service, are highly effective when they’re animated.

You can include more information in an animation in less time than you could a live action video. For example, if you wanted to teach customers how to use your newly launched software, depending on the complexity, a live action video could take anywhere from 5-10 minutes to effectively convey the message. With an explainer video, a difficult concept could be broken down in 3-5 minutes or less with the help of charts, popup messages, and other special effects.

Product Interaction

When your goal is to show how people interact with your products and services, then live action is more appropriate. An example of this could include a production that highlights how a customer saves time with your software. The video might briefly show a person working at the computer, and then proceed to show them doing something fun afterwards, or knocking out a few other high level projects (and having the ability to do that because of all the time they saved)

Tip: You should actually take time to consider the purpose of your content before thinking about the desired outcome or marketing goal. This will ensure that the video is targeted at the right demographic, and speaks to a customer’s specific need.


What Is Your Budget?

You’ve probably heard that live action videos are far more expensive than animated explainer videos. This is not always true, as there are several factors that affect  the final cost of each type of production.

If you prefer live action video, then the things you would need to consider include the cost of the actors, the location of the shoot, and the cost of the video crew. In general, if the production is large (with many actors in several places) then the cost will be high. A short video with one location and a handful of actors would not be as costly.

Animated video costs can vary by type and length. A basic animation would be less expensive than a video using 3D animation. However, a lengthier basic animation could cost just as much as a 3D video.

Tip: Don’t assume that the less expensive route is always the best when it comes to video. Even if you’re just looking to add a few educational explainer videos to your website for current customers, you should always opt for the best quality. Everything that you put out is a reflection of your business.


What Is Your Time Table?

When you’re pressed for time, you may want to choose an animated video instead of live action. With an animation, you could get started right away and potentially have your video ready within 3 -4 weeks (or sooner) if the resources are available.

Live action video takes some additional planning, as the company would need to get actors onboard, find a good location, schedule the shoot with the crew, etc.  Now, this is not to say that there aren’t instances where live action completion times aren’t on point with that of an explainer video, but typically, they do take longer to plan, shoot, edit and deliver.

Tip: Plan your video as far ahead as possible to avoid having to make a decision too quickly. You should have enough lead time to discuss the project and get feedback from others on your team before contacting a video production agency.


Where Will You Market the Videos?

Both live action and animated productions would work well with any digital platform. Your company website, YouTube, and even email are all suitable places for either form of video to be easily consumed.

If you’re planning to use the video as a commercial advertisement for television, then live action is best. This is assuming that your content purpose is more for branding than customer education or product introduction.


In a Nutshell

There are several differences between animated and live action videos, but the main points to consider that will drive the final decision are:

  • Marketing goals
  • Content Purpose
  • Budget
  • Time
  • Marketing Platform

Both forms of video have the power to convert leads to customers, and both have costs determined by project variables. In general, animated explainer videos will work out well for most projects, specifically anything that will be housed and primarily shared on the web. Just be sure to look at all of your options when the human element is needed to add more appeal to your production.

Need help creating a video? Check out our portfolio of explainer videos and get in touch. 

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