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Shoot or Animate? How to choose between a live action shoot or animated motion graphics.

Graphics are sexy, let’s just get that out of the way. Especially if they have an original concept behind them, are well designed and animated, all while telling an engaging story. Everyone loves cool graphics and it’s great for many purposes, but the really good stuff is spendy to produce. I frequently have new clients who want an animated video created but get serious sticker shock when they realize that it can easily cost upwards of 25-50K to bring their magnum opus to life.

Live action video (shot with cameras) also has sex appeal, most notably for music videos, action sports, funny ads or car commercials.  There is, however, a largely unrecognized opportunity with live action video that the business world has yet to fully capitalize on. In fact,  there are actually several added benefits of live action video that just about any businesses can take advantage of that can help them sell more – and more cost effectively!

To understand let’s take a look at the not-so-obvious differences in what’s involved in producing a video shot with cameras versus an animated graphic piece.

Here’s a few of the key points to consider before you make the choice between producing video content that’s shot with a camera vs. designed and animated:

Budget reality-check: Animation is very time consuming. Motion graphics can take weeks to design, animate and revise -all for a couple minute video! If it takes a team of people, that can get expensive fast. But once invested, you don’t want to pinch pennies here, this is the core issue that separates mediocre from amazing.

*Timing reality-check: *Video is shot in real time, frequently in a day or two and edited in a a matter of days. If you have a tight deadline, live action can save the day.

Audience: Consider your target audience and what style might resonate more with them.The caveat is that by breaking out of what’s expected you may be able to engage your audience even more. Maybe live action is that last thing they expect and so that might really grab their attention.

*Brand Identity: *Is your brand design-oriented? Are graphics a key part of your identity? In some cases it may just be out of place to use live action video. That goes for graphics too, some products or services just need camera footage to make sense.

Is trust a must? How important is credibility? The non-verbal communication cues that we humans pick up on are arguably even more important than what is being said. If you were to show your customers talking about how you helped them, that can go much further in acquiring a new customer than anything you could show with animation.

Camera shy? Sometimes getting people on camera is an issue, either because of access, timing or just not feeling comfortable. Also, think about who might be better on camera – if you cant come up with anyone viable, then animation may be a better route.

What to show? If the story behind your product or service doesn’t have anything obvious to show, animation can help illustrate a complex or dull topic and bring it to life. Don’t give up too easy on this one though because a clever concept can use visual metaphor to make a very compelling story around the driest topics and clever writing can simplify even the most obtuse concepts.

Removing the unknowns: Live action video can help remove ‘the element of the unknown’ – allowing customers to get to know you and your team before they ever reach out and connect. In certain industries this element can really impact your bottom line – there’s a reason every real estate agent has their picture on their business card!

Assigning talent is the key: One thing that’s consistent is the importance of talent. For any project there are special skills that can be brought to bear that will make all the difference, in particular in the planning phase where the concept is developed. Once the concept is story-boarded, it becomes much easier to assemble the right team with the key roles appropriately filled with the right talent. Maybe it’s the script writing that will carry the piece, maybe it’s voice over performance, catchy design or snappy editing. By working with an experienced producer who has a developed sense for what the key aspects are, you can maximize your budget and really nail it.

Don’t forget the sound! It’s easy to forget that sound should play an equal or arguably greater role than video. Most animated projects will included scripted voice over, read by a professional and recorded at a studio, sound effects that are coordinated with the animations and music that can be either royalty-free production music, licensed songs from a recognized artist or even scored custom music for maximum impact.  It’s my experience that sound makes or breaks an animated video and should be a key part of the plan, not an afterthought.

Challenge assumptions: Miracles happen in concept development. I believe there’s always a clever and engaging way to use live action and/or motion graphics in a way you haven’t thought of.  When clients come to the table with goals rather than a set concept, it’s easier to help craft a solution that accounts for the challenges but also makes the most impact for their budget. By having a clear business objective, your production team can help bring all their experience, talent and perspective to the table and shape the project to be the best it can be. I find that’s when the really cool stuff happens and results are maximized.

Decision time: It can be a tough decision with unforeseen consequences either way. My advice is to always consult with an experienced producer before you get set on one solution, you may be surprised at the opportunity and/or issues that come into play. Planning really is the key, you just cant do enough!

Good luck and please let us know if you have any questions, we’re always happy to provide a free consultation.

If you found this helpful please share, ‘like’, and follow below. Really, please do!

Dane Frederiksen
Digital Accomplice

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