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Animated Video vs. Live-Action Video

In marketing and communication, no medium can really measure up to video. Engaging our senses in ways no other format can, video makes your stories and messaging come alive. But what kind of video is the best? 

When should you opt for an animated version, and when is live-action video a better choice?

While there is no one correct answer to that, different video styles do come with specific characteristics that make them more or less well suited for different purposes. 

Let’s have a look at some of those characteristics and the pros and cons of each style.


Related reading: Corporate Video – Dos and Don’ts


What Is Animated Video?

Before we jump into the details, let’s define what animated video is. 

Animated videos are created with designs, illustrations, drawings, or different kinds of computer-generated effects. While they can be integrated with live-action video, they don’t require any live-action recording in themselves. They are artificial and do not involve natural scenery, animals, or people.

Common examples of animated videos include cartoons, 2D and 3D animations, motion graphics, stop-motion graphics, and kinetic typography. 


Pros and Cons of Animated Video

There are plenty of advantages to animated video, 

It’s no wonder this style has gained immense popularity in marketing. Some of the benefits of animated videos are obvious. For example, if you need to film something that doesn’t actually exist, you need to turn to animations. Then you can include everything from flying dragons to speaking animals in your scripts, the only limitation being imagination. 

Animations are also excellent for demonstrating abstract concepts and conveying a lot of information concisely. It’s a very efficient way of communicating. Another benefit of animated video is that it’s easy to scale, change, and update over time.

So, what are the disadvantages of animated video? 

Well, it’s harder to emulate emotions and create credible human characters when you’re using animations. Many real-world stories would lose their depth and become a lot less relatable were the people to be exchanged for animated characters. 


Related reading: How to Produce Fantastic Animated Video – SOS Case Study


What Is Live-Action Video?

Now, before we move on, let’s define what live-action video means.

Live-action video involves real people, animals, and places, as opposed to animated or computer-generated effects. Its actual things being filmed, rather than artificially created in a digital environment. 

Common examples of live-action include interviews, scripted narratives, product demos, and live tutorials.


Pros and Cons of Live-Action Video

There are many benefits of live-action video. 

With live-action videos, you can capture real humans and real emotions in a way that cannot be replicated with animated video. 

Real-life footage creates a whole different level of authenticity and is often more efficient when it comes to building trust and credibility. Some objects and atmospheres are also challenging to recreate with animations without the magic getting “lost in translation.” 

As for cons, they tend to reversely mirror the pros of animated video. 

It can be harder to explain complex or abstract ideas with live-action videos. You can only use places, objects, and people that exist, and it is more difficult to visualize processes and concepts efficiently. 

You’re also less in control when filming real-life scenes, as you are at the mercy of things like weather, light, and time. It can also be more challenging to direct real people than animated characters. A live-action video can also be more difficult to alter and update over time. 


Related reading: 10 steps to creating authentic video content 


When To Use Animated Video vs. Live Actions Video

Animated video is very well suited for educational purposes. Explainer videos, tutorials, and informational videos are, in general, great use cases for animations. If, for example, you’re creating a series of onboarding videos to help customers start using your product, animations are usually the best choice. 

If, on the other hand, you want to tell the success story of one of your customers, a live-action interview with real people is more powerful and relatable. To recreate that with animations would not be a great strategy. The same goes for most stories where emotion and identification play an important role. Then real-life people and live-action video is usually the way to go.   

Animated video is:

  • Suitable for explaining abstract and complex topics
  • Easy to brand and easy to scale
  • Great for visualizing things that don’t exist in the real world

Live-action video is:

  • The best medium for authenticity
  • Better for stories about real people
  • Well suited for conveying emotions and atmosphere 


Why Video Always Beats Images and Text

Whether you opt for animated or live-action video, you’ve chosen the medium that will resonate most efficiently with the largest audience. You’ve also selected the medium that receives the most engagement and the best reach on all social media platforms. 

Here are some statistics that illustrate the efficiency of video in marketing communication:

And the list just goes on and on. So, while sometimes animations will be best for conveying your message, and sometimes filming real-world scenes is a better choice, opting for video will always be the right choice. 

Get in touch to explore how we can help your brand come alive with video content.


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