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Live Action vs. Animation: What’s the Right Corporate Video Approach for You?

Posted by Debbie Camper on May 30, 2023

When it’s time to make a corporate video, is your first thought to film it live or to animate it? Considering the vast number of uses for video content today, from video marketing to training and beyond, there’s plenty of room for both approaches.

Choosing to animate a video or film live can be a case-by-case decision, or your preference for one style over the other can form a lasting part of your video strategy. As with any kind of creative content production, your video’s form should follow its function. How can you shape the content to get the best possible results?

Live Action vs. Animation: General Considerations

The question of animated video vs. live action generally comes down to factors such as flexibility. Creating live-action content requires a studio or location, combined with professional equipment and on-screen talent.

During the long years of lockdowns when in-person filming became prohibitively difficult, brands received a firsthand education in the value of video content that can be produced digitally by a remote team. Producing high-quality animation still requires effort from expert creators, but these professionals now have more freedom in where and how they can work.

Animation can display any visual concept, whether or not it would be feasible to film that idea on a set. This means brands can portray themselves as very businesslike, explaining facts and figures with simple animation, or whimsical, with dragons, spaceships or cute brand mascots.

While flexibility (both production-wise and creatively) sets animation apart, there are compelling reasons to film at least some of your videos in live action. For example, messages from executives could potentially ring false to the viewer unless those leaders actually appear on screen. Live videos also allow you to film on location, giving a sense of place to your videos. Behind-the-scenes clips, too, only make sense live.

Bringing Live and Animated Content Together

In some ways, the whole question of animation vs. live action video production doesn’t fully apply. A variety of the most compelling video content types you can produce consist of animated video and live-action elements working together in harmony.

Animated elements in live footage can take the form of on-screen text to explain complex concepts or introduce liveliness into otherwise standard footage. Influencer Marketing Hub noted that stock footage looks fresher when coupled with animation.

One of the simplest and most valuable ways you can use animation and live action together is to create an animated logo that will run at the beginning or end of a video. This footage can be a part of your videos for years, paying off time and again. And, when it’s time to rebrand, you can quickly create a modified version.

cta 2 Live Action vs. Animation

Animation or Live Action for Various Video Types

Some types of video must exist as live action, such as event live streams or off-the-cuff social media posts. However, most video types let you choose your format. Here are some of the considerations that go into settling whether a clip should be live or animated.

  • Explainer videos: What’s the focus of your explainer video? Live action is likely the way to go if you want viewers to pay close attention to a recognizable host’s instructions. If you’re trying to convey an abstract concept, however, animation can bring that idea to life.
  • Testimonials: A testimonial from a customer speaking directly into a camera can convey authority and relatability. That said, animation is the perfect medium if the story involves elements you’d like to dramatize.
  • Social media clips: Behind-the-scenes and candid social media clips depend on live talent to get the point across, and should be filmed in person. On the other hand, a clip designed to present a few clear, easy-to-read facts can thrive in animation. Speed and clarity both matter, because Animoto reported that 85% of Facebook video viewers watch on mute, and 47% of a video’s value on the platform comes from the first 3 seconds.
  • Training video: As with an explainer video, the best format for a training video depends on what you’re trying to convey. Clear messaging from recognizable figures calls for live action, while animation is well suited for big explanations of abstract concepts.

Expert Production Services for Animated of Live Video

You may end up using both live action production and animation interchangeably if your company decides on a versatile video production strategy. Fortunately, you can create both types of content with the same strategy — by engaging with professional video production experts.

Working with skilled crews is a way to deliver content that will impress even the most jaded audience without adding permanent salaries to the payroll or purchasing your own gear.

Read the latest Crews Control ebook on animation to learn much more about this medium.

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