Animation Versus Camera footage – Which is Best?

Clients sometimes ask whether we should make an animated video or cartoon, for film for real. I want to compare animated videos versus filming with a camera. Let’s start with a couple of examples.

In the animation or motion graphics corner, here’s something we made during the Covid lockdown.

Other ‘animation’ styles include character animations, kinetic text, whiteboard videos and infographics.

Compare to this one over in the camera footage corner:

Either motion graphics, animation or filming can do a good job if made well with a clear message.  I apologies now for not giving you a decisive answer to ‘which is best’. But in terms of production costs, with animation there is the time it takes to draw the graphics, and make them move. It’s detailed, fussy work taking hours to create seconds. 3D character animation is particularly complex.  There are some apps or programs like Go Animate, which make it quicker and easier to build animation videos, but then you are using template elements, they’re not as tailored and look a bit formulaic. Fiverr or Upword can also be lower cost if you’re happy to manage an overseas provider.

On the other hand whilst it’s quicker to hit record on a camera to capture scenes, there will be traveling to a location, talent, a videographer, setting up lights mics generally more to organise.  

In most cases animation will still take longer, but fewer people are involved.

Animation does suit some things better. A while back I made a video for a hair loss studio which included a scene of a single hair growing out of a cross section of scalp. Animation is great for simplifying a complex messages and you can show things which are otherwise impossible to show.

Camera footage is better at portraying emotion, a key part of most buying decisions. Think of wedding with all their dreamy soft focus, back-lit, and sentimental music and you’ll know what I mean. Camera footage is better at showing reality (obviously). Imagine if you want to show how to line a ceiling with plasterboard. Camera footage will show much better how to handle the weight, size and fragility of the material.

Infographics can communicate facts quickly, where viewer attention will be short and decisions will be quick.

Not surprisingly it’s horses for courses. Many times we will combine filming with some motion graphics. So, if you have a message to communicate or an audience to influence and you’re not sure how or what style of video will be best, give me a call.

By Keith Rhodes