What is animation?

Animated video content uses still images to generate the illusion of movement. Here at PinPoint Media we split our animation into three categories; 3D, 2D and motion graphics. Each have their own benefits and depending on your aims, may be useful as part of the video content strategy.

3D animation

3D animation is the process of generating three-dimension moving images within a digital environment. 3D models or objects are created and carefully manipulated within specialist software to give the illusion of animation or movement.

3D animations can be used to visualise a concept, bring a product to market or walk an audience through a process as if they were there.

2D animation

2D animation is the process of creating movement in a two-dimensional space. This includes characters, props, FX and backgrounds. Individual drawings are sequenced together to give the illusion of animation or movement. 

2D animation provides the ability to produce scenes, environments and situations that may not be achievable through live video production.

Motion graphics

Motion graphics are pieces of animation or digital footage which create the illusion of motion or rotation. Motion is often what brings animation to life, engaging the end viewer slightly more linear animations may. 

Motion graphics can be used to add text or other moving graphics to live video footage, to add extra interest to draw the eye.

Why is animated content so useful?

Animated content is incredibly versatile, so it deserves a place in your video toolkit. 

Here are some of the reasons why you should consider using animated content:

You can control everything

One of the benefits of animation is you have full control of everything in the scene. From the overall look and feel of the animation to the individual elements such as characters, colours and scenery. When creating animated content, you can control all of these as well as timings, transitions, soundtrack and more. 

It’s easier to make changes

If an animation needs tweaking there is no need for a re-shoot, unlike in some forms of video content. Instead you can amend and refine an animated video until the content is right.

Although it’s best to have a clear storyboard concept for animation, it is much easier to make changes to overall structure, transitions and more throughout the process than in live video where you are shooting to an agreed structure.

It makes complex topics easier to understand

If you have a complex idea or message to communicate, it can often be hard to do this in text alone. Of course, you can add flat imagery, but this doesn’t always bring a message to life in the same way that animated video does.

Using animation can allow a complex message to be displayed in the form of a story. Allowing your audience to follow along visually with every aspect of the complex message and retain it. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is completely visual, so animation as a marketing tool becomes even more legitimate and justified.

It’s also a great way to be able to show complex processes or elements that might not be filmable (or would be too expensive to film), such as how a medicine interacts with the body or how the pieces of a machine interact with each other when in use.

It’s cost effective

When shooting live-action video there can be additional costs involved such as actors, locations and props, as well as the need to schedule for pre- and post-production work. 

With animated content there is no need for actors, locations and props as they can all be animated! Although there is pre-production work needed in terms of agreeing on a storyline, storyboard and other elements, if changes are required, they can be factored in without the need for re-shooting.

It can elevate other types of video content

Animated videos are sometimes the right choice for a project, but in some cases the best solution is to have a mix of live-action video and animation!

Whether this is the use of motion graphics on top of live footage or creating sections of 2D animation within a live-action video, combining live and animated footage can be a winning combination.

What should you use animation for?

Now that you understand why animated content is so useful, let’s investigate some of the ways you can use this type of content successfully. You can use animation anywhere you would use video, such as adverts, product teasers for sales or events. But here are some of types of content where animation really comes into its own.

Explainer content

An explainer video is the ultimate tool to educate an audience, whether you are sharing information about a product, service, concept or idea. In fact 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service. 44% of video marketers primarily use animated explainer videos and there’s a good reason behind this.

Because animations can both take complex topics and introduce them more simply AND visually present concepts that might be impossible, difficult or too expensive to film they lend themselves perfectly to the needs of every type of explainer video.

Need to educate your audience on how to navigate around your website or how to use your app? An animated explainer video could be so much more engaging that watching a live video of a person clicking buttons on a website or app.

Want to show what’s happening to the earth’s core during an earthquake or how the heart pumps blood around the body? Both of these would be difficult to film, enter an animation and explaining these concepts becomes much easier.

Need to show clients how a piece of machinery physically works? If this can’t be filmed, an animation can help you to show potential clients exactly what’s happening and the benefits the machinery can bring to them and their business. 

You can increase your conversions by as much as 80% by simply putting up a concise explainer video on your website and social media, so it’s worth thinking about how you can utilise animation for this type of content.

Product demos

When asked how they’d most like to learn about a product or service, two-thirds of people (66%) said they’d prefer to watch a short video. Using animation allows you to get inside any product and show exactly how it works as any scenario can be created.

For example, animated video can show the effect a medicine has on the body to show the purpose of a particular product to the end consumer. Alternatively, an animation can show a step by step process of using a particular type of software, so that customers can follow the steps to their own success in the future. 

Animated content can also help you to feature the key elements of any product or service. Zeroing in on the benefits and features that may not be obvious but might help to alleviate a customer’s pain points and help them to achieve.

But product demos don’t just help your end customers, they can also be used to educate your internal team, giving them the knowledge required to successfully promote your products or services.

Training videos

Training is incredibly important for any business, but it can be expensive, in fact 85% of every dollar spent on classroom training is spent delivering it. Animation offers the ability to create personalised training content for your business that can be re-used year after year.

Using animated video can allow the creation of concepts that might not be safe or possible to film, such as scenarios required for health and safety training. They also offer the opportunity to show scenes that might not be filmable, such as inside the body or under the ground.

One of the key elements of training materials is that they are always up to date. Whether this is ensuring product training videos relate to the latest product model or service version, or health and safety training adheres to the latest government guidance – they need to be easily updatable to have longevity. With animated video there is no need for expensive re-shoots if there are changes needed to the content, often making it a more cost-effective solution for training materials. 

Customer service videos

We all want to keep our customers happy and part of this is providing them with support to successfully use our products and services. Customers often like to learn themselves rather than ask for help, so customer service videos are key.

In fact, 43% of video marketers say video has reduced the number of support calls they’ve received. Creating video content to answer customers’ most frequently asked questions or pain points can help keep current customers happy so that they are retained. Plus, a reduction in support calls and emails can free up time internally to create more helpful content that customers will love!

Animation is a great fit for customer service videos, as it can be more easily updated as products or services evolve and grow over time. Using animated video can also present all details in a short time, where written content is likely to be ignored or missed. In fact, readers retain 10% of information when reading, while video viewers retain 95% of a message when watching a video.

Where should you use animation?

The answer to this really depends on what type of content you have created and who it is aimed at. 

Customer focused

This type of content can be best served on your customer facing platforms such as your website, support sites and social media. You’ll want to think about where in the customer journey customers and potential customers are to decide where best any animated content should sit.

For example, product explainers that are aimed at potential customers might be best used on website landing pages, in advertising or in sales emails. Whereas animations that answer frequently asked questions from customers would be better placed on a support site and also shared on social media.

Your sales team might want to utilise product demos in emails direct to leads or in pitches. Whereas product demos that highlight new features to both current and potential customers might need to be utilised across a broad range of communication platforms as part of an overall campaign.

The main questions to ask yourself is:

  1. Who does the content help?
  2. What is their current relationship to the business?
  3. What platforms can I use to communicate with them?

This should help you to come up with the strategy for how, where, when and who animated content is being shown to.

Internally focused

If your animations are targeted towards your employees, then how and where you are choosing to use the content should be slightly easier. 

If your animated content is aimed at onboarding, you’ll want to think about whether it is shared at an event, small meeting, via email or even in a training portal. This will be dependent on whether the onboarding is to your business in general (for new employees), to a new piece or software (across specifics departments or the entire company) or something else entirely!

If you are using animations for training, such as health and safety content you’ll need to think about which staff need to be trained and whether this can be done ad hoc, by making materials available via an intranet or at a specific time via email or a training portal. This should dictate how and when you are delivering any animated content.

It’s always worth thinking about the following:

  1. Who needs to see the content?
  2. Is there a specific time limit?
  3. Do they need to be tested on their retention of the content?

This should help you to come up with the strategy for how best to share animated content with the relevant team members.

Can animation give a return on investment?

With a return on investment it’s extremely hard to separate the benefits of using video content generally to specifically using animated video content. In our No Nonsense Video Production blog we go into detail as the return of investment from using video content, so it’s worth checking this out as a baseline.

But overall video has an extremely high track record when it comes to ROI with 88% of video marketers reporting that video gives them a positive ROI. It is not at all uncommon to see a 20% increase in leads when you employ an animated video on your site. 

Animation when used strategically within your content strategy can help to work alongside live video content to provide returns. The key is to ensure that when you create your strategy you think about who you are targeting, what you are communication and whether live video, animation or a combination of these will be best placed to help you to deliver results.

Conclusion

We hope this blog has helped you to see how animation can be a powerful tool in your video content toolbox and the benefits it could have to your business.

Want to get started creating animated content but need more help? Why not contact us and see if we can help you create a content strategy combining the best of animated and live video content.