What you need to know before starting a project.
There are many web articles on the subject of animation for marketing and advertising and they all have something in common. They all say “animation is great and here are the reasons….buy here.”
They are, of course, trying to sell you animation. This article however aims to give you an honest account of the pros and cons of using animation for marketing or advertising your products or services. It is aimed at Business Development Managers, SME directors, Sales Managers or anyone else thinking of produce an animation/video.
This article will:
a) help you decide whether animation is right for your project, and if so, which type,
b) help you think about the information you will need before starting an animation project,
c) and provide you with all the relevant information (without the technical jargon).
Do you even need animation?
Animation is great for conveying key messages effectively in a short space of time and in an engaging way. However, it could be expensive so before deciding to use animation as a marketing or advertising tool, it is worth considering that other options may be more cost effective such as using live footage video or even a well-designed website.
Live footage video, animation or a combination of both?
If animation/video is an attractive solution, the next step is to decide on the key messages you wish to communicate to the viewer. From this, a rough script will need to be completed. This will act as the foundation. The script will help determine whether to use live footage video, animation or a combination of both. Animation is further broken down to 2D or 3D animation but it can often be a combination of both.
In practise, your chosen studio will guide and advise you on the combinations you will need but it is worth arming yourself with this knowledge because the more complicated the combination, the more expensive the project tends to be. This will give you an indication of the cost of your project.
Let’s look at some examples:
- High End Commercial, using Live footage video + 3D + 2D, cost: tens of thousands of pounds.
- 3D Product Animation, using 3D + 2D, cost: around ten thousands of pounds.
- 3D Medical Animation, using 3D + 2D, cost: around ten thousands of pounds.
- 3D Ident, using 3D, cost: several thousands of of pounds.
- Corporate Videos, using Live footage video and some basic 2D, cost: several thousands of pounds.
- 2D Explainimation, using 2D, cost: around a thousand of pounds.
Having seen some examples, it is worth mentioning the pros and cons of using 2D animation, 3D animation and live footage video.
2D Animation tends to be:
- quicker to produce and therefore cheaper than live footage video and 3D animation.
- more responsive to creative changes.
- more restrictive and limiting because of its 2D nature. However, very good 2D artists can make it appear 3D.
- more stylistic and simple in look (which is maybe a good thing depending on the desired visual style). 2D is rarely photorealistic.
- best suited for explaining a company’s services.
- good for animation involving a lot of text and pictures.
3D animation tends to be:
- more epic and grand, more creative due to the increased power and flexibility of 3D animation over 2D. This allows the artist to have complete creative freedom. Anything is possible to reproduce with 3D animation.
- used to visualise products and services that are not tangible or impossible to visualise in the real world.
- more photorealistic if required but can also achieve more stylistic looks.
- used for high end commercial adverts and product animations.
- better integrated with live footage.
- more expensive due to increase creative freedom and complexity.
- more expensive but sometimes can be cheaper than live footage video.
- longer to produce.
- less responsive to creative changes than 2D animation.
Click here for a more technical explanation of the difference between 2D and 3D animation (coming soon).
Live footage video is a great way to market a product or service especially if:
- the product or service is tangible and already exists in the real world.
- it needs to involve real and/or a lot of people or requires a human touch/emotion. This is hard to capture and/or expensive to implement in animations.
- sometimes cheaper to achieve using live footage than animation (but can also be more expensive).
- could be complicated to project manage due to organising film crew, booking shooting locations, and unpredictable weather.
In summary, as a rule of thumb, 2D animation and live footage videos should be the preferred option where ever possible due to lower costs and quicker production time. However, the limitation of 2D animation and live footage videos may not be a viable option. Using 3D will give you complete creative freedom but at a cost. In reality, the decision between live footage, 2D or 3D will be determined by your budget and timescale.
Once deciding which type of animation is right for you, you need to think about what your requirements are in more detail before embarking on your project.
Do you need voice overs?
Do you have the budget for voice over? Professional voice over artists are expensive but worth their weight in gold. A well scripted voice over can make a huge difference to the final animation/video. It can make the viewing experience much more pleasurable and easier. Adding voice overs to the animation/video allows you to pack more information in the same amount of time and without the negative effect of overloading the viewer.
Where-ever possible, if there is the budget, voice over should be included. This decision is very important and needs to be agreed upon early in the process. The inclusion/exclusion of voice over will have an impact on the decision of the script and, since the script is the foundation of the whole process, will likely have an impact on the rest of the project.
What are the costs and timescales?
Generally, cost and timescale goes hand in hand. The greater the cost the more time is required to complete the project. Cost is dependent on:
- the image quality, from low level of detail to high end photorealism.
- animation complexity, from few movements to a lot of complex movements.
- length of the animation/video.
It is difficult to provide an estimate on a “typical” animation/video project because there are too many factors. Please refer to the table above for loose guidelines on costs.
Interesting reading on the cost vs quality of 3D animation here (coming soon).
What is the output and how will it be used?
How will the animation/video be used? Will it be aired on national TV, or used in in-store screens, or used solely in the company’s website, or as a sales aid, or something else? This is another important question as it will determine the format and size of the animation/video.Be clear with your chosen studio and they will be able to advise on the most appropriate format.
What length of animation/video do I need?
Once you have decided on the output and how it would be used, you are in a much better position to determine the length of the animation/video.
If it is used as a national TV commercial, it will need to be short, typically less than a minute, due to airing costs.
If it is used on the internet, on the company’s website, there is no time limit. However, typically, animations/videos should be no more than a few minutes as internet users tend to prefer short bite size content. The animation/video needs to deliver the key messages within the first minute or so. If the length needs to be great than a few minutes, it would be advisable to create several shorter animations/videos instead. Appropriate links will need to be clearly visible and easily assessable.
If it is used as a sale aid or educational material, the animation/video can be of longer duration (> 5 min) especially if accompanied by a presenter.
What do you need to have before approaching a studio?
The following is a checklist of things you will need before approaching a studio to create the animation/video:
- Have a rough idea whether it will be using live footage video or animation or a combination of both. However, be open minded to the studio’s advice. They may be able to achieve your goals in a more cost effective way using other methods. This will guide your decision on the type of studio to approach and provide you will rough cost estimates.
- Decide on whether to use voice overs or seek the studio’s advice.
- Have a clear idea of the key messages you wish to communicate with the viewers.
- If possible, have some idea of a script. Studios will help with scripting if required.
- If possible, have some idea of the concept of the animation/video. Studios will be more than happy to help you develop the concept.
- Have a very clear budget in mind because, at the end of the day, this will determine everything from the length, style, quality and even concept of the animation/video.
We hope this article has helped you address the main important questions but if you have any more questions, please contact us here or for further information.
Further useful information here:
The 3D Animation process (coming soon).
Advice on finding a studio (second half of article).