Animation vs Live-Action: Which is Right For Your Project?

14.05.2021 Animation
Eoin Dowdall
Creative Director

The never-ending debate for all video marketers. Animation or live-action? Which is better for my project? Which format is best for my company’s branding and character?

Truth is, there is no wrong or right answer. Both equally have their merits and faults. It all really depends on what you want your content to achieve and what you want your audience to learn. Is this a personal or an informative video? Do you want the best of both worlds? And, most importantly, which will make the most of your budget and time constraints?

We have listed below the pros and cons of both video formats, so you can weigh them up in equal measure.

Costs of Producing Video Content

First things first – let’s talk about money. Whichever format you choose, you want it to be as cost-effective as possible. Depending on your ideas and complexity for your video, both formats have the potential to be the same price. 

Most people think animation will be the cheapest option because you don’t have to build a set or hire a camera crew, lighting equipment, and actors. But the state-of-the-art technology needed to create intricate graphics might make you want to tighten your purse strings. The costs of specific equipment and software to create an animation can sometimes outweigh the expenses of a live-action video, depending on the complexity of your project. And we haven’t even touched on the extensive pre-production planning stages of devising scripts and storyboards.

Live-action also has its financial drawbacks. Other than building or hiring a set, a camera crew, and a cast, you have to think about insurance and wardrobes. Unless you can use your actual office space as your set and rope in a couple of colleagues to exercise their drama skills, these are all very important and expensive factors you have to consider. If you’re short on time and money, you can even use just your mobile phone to record and edit videos as and when it suits you. 

But it’s worth remembering that there really is no straightforward yes or no to this question. Don’t be fooled into thinking that animation is cheaper than live-action, just because there are fewer people involved. Regarding costs, both video formats are on level ground and need further consideration as to what you want your video to achieve.

Costs of Producing Video Content
Costs of Producing Video Content

Animated Video Content Pros

1. Versatility in Video Production 

The possibilities of your video marketing strategy are endless with animation. You can create even the most abstract and ambitious graphics to grab your audience’s attention. Choosing from a variety of styles and formats will help you explore your creative flair and breathe life into your video content. If you’re looking for a flexible approach to delve into the realms of your creative scope, animation will be the type of video marketing format you want. The vast array of options available to your marketing strategy might seem overwhelming, but if you hire a video content agency, you can rest easy, knowing that your video content marketing strategy is in capable hands. 

2. Informative Video Content

One of the huge benefits of using animated video content is that it condenses information into bite-sized chunks. Animation works very well in simplifying complex and abstract concepts, bringing the intangible to life in a digestible format. This is very important if your video includes lots of data. Studies show that animated video content increases knowledge retention by 15%, therefore, it’s worth having a think about how you want to present your statistics. Animation is a very attractive format for this kind of video content, as you can be as creative as you like in devising aesthetically pleasing graphs and charts. This in turn will boost audience engagement, as they are disarmed by your stunning graphics and are actively listening to your brand.

Informative Video Content
Informative Video Content

3. Longevity in Video Marketing

There’s a strong case to be made for how long animated video content lasts. Very easy to edit, you can make as many last-minute changes as you like, without massively impacting your time constraints. In a matter of clicks, you can alter any graphics to your liking and create an animated video that lives up to your branding. These very quick updates will also benefit you in the long run. You are free to leave out specific details that would date the production, therefore, your animated video content can last you years before you feel the need to produce a new one. As a result, in regard to costs and weighing up your budget constraints, you might find that an animated video is more cost-effective because you won’t have to make an updated video for at least a few years.

Animated Video Content Cons

1. Impersonal Video Content

Of course, what’s missing from animated video content, however, is that human touch. If you are promoting a physical product or service, your content marketing strategy might not benefit from animation. As this is specific to your audience, you need to bear in mind the context of your video, and what kind of message you want to convey to your target audience about your product and company. Although a voiceover can humanise your video, it’s best to consider all of the factors you want to include in your video, and see which format is ideal for your video marketing strategy. If your company is dependent on customer interaction, animation won’t help your content branding.

2. Time-Consuming Video Production

Animated videos can take anywhere between 3 and 7 weeks to create, depending on their complexity. If time is against you, you might not be able to resort to animation, as there are lots of aspects to consider even before you start creating. Pre-production plans for animated video content tend to be more detailed, so you and your creators know exactly what you want your video content to achieve. Descriptive storyboards and scripts take a long time to produce, as there isn’t much room for improvisation when you start creating your animated content. Although it’s helpful to have a very clear idea of your video content marketing plans, make sure you have enough time to achieve them.

Time-Consuming Video Production
Time-Consuming Video Production

Live-Action Video Content Pros

1. Personalised Video Content

The obvious is true with live-action video content. Real people advertising a tangible product is a highly persuasive technique when marketing to the masses. Especially as video content is very promotable and shareable, you want it to relate to your target audience as much as possible. With a live-action video, you have the flexibility to play with your viewers’ emotions through an authentic, instructive tone. This adds a more significant sense of credibility to your brand’s values and helps your audience envision your company culture. Remember, you’re not just selling your product, you are also pitching your business to future, long-term clientele. With a physical rather than an abstract product, live-action video content automatically adds a humanising tone to your business, aiding a deeper understanding with your audience.

2. Quicker Video Production

A huge advantage live-action video content has over animation is that it doesn’t take as much time to record. Whereas every detail in animation has to be built from scratch in a far more intricate pre-production stage, you already have all of the physical props and people needed for a live-action video. Although this all depends on how complex the particulars of your video are, there aren’t as many concerns regarding the creation process. 

3. Accessibility in Video Production

Sometimes you don’t even need a lot of specialist, state-of-the-art equipment to create a high-quality live-action video. If your project needs very little in terms of casting and apparatus, a video camera on your mobile phone can do the trick. This of course all depends on the scope of your project, but if time and money are tight, you can make do with simple, daily technological resources. 

Accessibility in Video Production
Accessibility in Video Production

Live-Action Video Content Cons 

1. Editing Video Content

Live-action videos are very difficult to edit in the post-production process. If there’s an extra scene you want to film or you want to change some dialogue, this would require a reshoot of all of the footage already gathered. As a result, all of the cast and crew would have to reconvene at very short notice, which is next to impossible. Considering the logistics of organizing more film days would add to the hassle, not to mention the costs of creating your video. Whilst editing animated video content is much simpler and can be achieved in a matter of clicks, live-action video content is a much harder feat. 

2. Logistics in Video Production

Tying in with the previous point, lots of people are involved in bringing your video content to life. Considering all of the various aspects of your video each carry a cost. Involving and hiring lots of crew, cast, and equipment can make the process even more overwhelming. Sourcing all of these people can also be very stressful, as being unsure where to start can lead to confusion and unclarity regarding the overall direction of your video. This of course all depends on how complicated your video is, so it is important to understand what you want your video to achieve before conducting your search.

Logistics in Video Production
Logistics in Video Production

Final Thoughts

There are significant advantages and disadvantages to both animated and live-action video content. Whether you’re looking for a way to condense complex, abstract subjects or you want to convey a more personal approach, we can help you understand your brief and devise an effective video to reach your target audience. With over 2000 videos, both animated and live-action, we can sort all of the logistics associated with your video, meaning no hassle or stress on your part. Still interested? Give us a call to get our creative partnership started.

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