Animated Video vs. Live Action Video: What is More Captivating?

Jul, 28, 2021
Senior Account Executive


Animation and live action videos are widely used in promotional campaigns; however the discussion about pros and cons of animated and live action video doesn’t seem to have an end point. Many companies are wondering which format is better and continuously ask ‘Which one should I choose for my business?’

In this post, we’ll compare animated videos and live action videos, and highlight the features of these two types of videos to help you understand which format will be a better fit for your project 😎


  1. When to Choose an Animated Video for Your Business
  2. When to Choose a Live-Action Video for Your Business
  3. Pros and Cons of Using Live Action vs Animated Videos for Your Business
  4. Live Action Video vs Animated Video: What is More Captivating?
  5. Concluding Remarks
  6. Our Successful Cases


When to Choose an Animated Video for Your Business

Animation videos are composed of digital sketches and objects that are shown to a viewer in a series of frames, giving the impression of a moving scene. These videos are often used for online interactions with audiences in promo campaigns, email newsletters and internal communications with partners or employees (for a product, service, policy updates, etc).


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👉 Animation videos come in different forms and formats. Businesses can opt for 20-30-second commercial ads like PageLynx:

👉 Or longer 2+ minute explainer videos like OCHA:

👉 In terms of style and type they can also be anything a company wants them to be: 2D Cut Out, Whiteboard, Traditional animation, or 3D, for example.

The topic of animation video types and formats is interesting, in itself, so we advise you to read an extensive guide to animation styles and types — a recent post on our blog that dives deeper into this discussion 🔍


Thanks to such versatility, animation videos have become quite popular in the business and marketing communities. They are often used to explain complex concepts and ideas in a clear and understandable way.

👉 Here’s an example of an animation video that introduces the viewer to the very cumbersome and complicated gas transportation industry, in less than 120 seconds:

👉 Here’s a video that explains the Supply and Demand theory with regard to aviation ticket sales, in less than 90 seconds:

If we take live action videos, for example, covering complex topics will be almost an impossible task to do there, on such a short footage.

It’s no doubt that long explainer ‘how-to’ videos shot with live actors can effectively communicate scientific and technical subjects; however when it comes to capturing viewers’ attention and making them invest a minute or two of their time into a video ad, a (relatively) short animation explainer video will be much more effective.

Based on this, animation videos are preferred by startups who want to roll out new products into the market, or digital companies who are not able to effectively advertise their products using traditional promotional methods (like TV ads).





When to Choose a Live-Action Video for Your Business

While animation videos are fully composed of digital imagery, live action clips display real footage with real characters. Such videos are normally used for promotional campaigns on TV and social media. 

The main difference between animation and live action videos lays in the means they use to convey specific emotions. While the former relies more on the style, type, shot transition, voiceover, etc., to tell a story, the latter uses the emotions of real actors to generate positive feedback in viewers.

As an asset for ‘traditional’ advertisement, live action videos work pretty well; however, today, not all subjects can be effectively represented by this type of video. Finance, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, mobile applications, software development — such markets can hardly be covered by using live-action videos alone.

👉 In this case, one possible option would be to go with a hybrid ad, where live action and animation are combined together:

👉 Another way is to create a live video based on purchased stock video footage, just like this:

In our article that covers the peculiarities of motion graphics in explainer videos, we’ve covered this issue in a bit more detail, so make sure to check it out, as well.

Live action videos are normally used by those businesses who want to draw viewers to real human faces and real emotions, or those organizations that need to shoot lots of content (for educational purposes), since in case of animation videos, their production costs are directly affected by the length of the final clip. More information about animation development costs can be found in this article.





Pros and Cons of Using Live Action vs Animated Videos for Your Business

Animation videos and live action ads may both work well when it comes to presenting products or services; however, both of them have their own areas of application that normally stem from the company’s set marketing goals. Some benefits of using both of these types have already been mentioned in our look at comparing live action video and animation videos, above. Now, let’s consider the advantages and disadvantages of live action video vs animated video in a bit more detail.

✔️ Live Action Videos: Pros


Live videos establish higher empathy

Live videos trigger great empathy in viewers since they demonstrate a higher level of character involvement — viewers witness real people in a shot and get more invested into the story. This is why live videos are popular among crowdfunding campaigns. 

Conveys emotions easier

Since on-screen stories are conveyed by real actors, it is easier for viewers to read emotions and establish a bond with the narrative presented. With the help of live action videos, it’s easier to demonstrate the values of love, family, affection, care, etc.  

You can showcase your product and its features live

Live action videos work well in those instances when you need to describe a technical gadget or showcase a manufacturing process. It can be a presentation of a drive motor, inverter generator, or car assembly line demonstration — all the parts and mechanisms can be shown in greater detail there. 

❌ Live Action Videos: Cons



Producing live footage takes money (and we’ve highlighted that word for a reason). Compared to animation videos, where pre-production costs are kept at a minimum, here — aside from hiring actors themselves — you’ll need to pay for decorations and studio space, directors services, makeup artists and other assisting personnel, and more. All these nuances can easily blow your production budget.

Creativity limitations

This one is directly connected with one of our previous points — your idea and video concept will be limited by budget, location, availability and limitations of actors (due to hourly rates, etc), weather and other conditions, etc. Aside from that, with live action videos you will obviously not be able to implement any out-of-the-box ideas, like adding a moving hurricane to the shot.

Tweaking final footage consumes time & money

If you still want to tweak your final footage and ‘add the moving hurricane,’ for example, you can do that by utilizing post-production elements (VFX); however, keep in mind that these are very resource-consuming activities. Aside from that, with live footage, if you want to re-do some of your shots, you will have to shoot the scene again. With animation videos, on the other hand, the professional designer can easily adjust characters or object animation.

If you are interested in getting more information about animation video creation, download the guide from the form below 👇


✔️ Animated Videos: Pros


It’s easier to stand out with animated videos

Today, the market is crowded with live action ads. By developing an animated video, you have a pretty good chance of standing out from the competition; however, make sure you contact the right production team. Read more about how to pick the best video agency in our article here.

It’s a cost-effective format

Comparing animation and live action videos, animation videos can take much less resources to develop and are faster to produce. Let’s say you want to display a yacht or a private jet. With live videos, you’ll have to actually rent those things to be able to film them while, with animation videos, you just ask an illustrator to draw those objects. Also, when creating an animated video, you can outsource the whole video process to a production team from Eastern Europe, which probably won’t be possible with live action film. Video agency rates in Eastern Europe are normally 2-3 times lower compared to the rates of their US or Canadian counterparts. Meanwhile, the quality of the end result will remain the same or even higher.

It’s flexible

In terms of storytelling, animation videos are way more flexible than live action analogs. Here, you are not limited by location, weather, lighting, camera characteristics, actor performance, etc. Want to ruin a yacht, crash a car, or display a medieval battle? No problem, go ahead! The only limit is your imagination. Another great advantage of animation videos is that you can also show things that never even existed.

Animated Videos: Cons


It’s harder to precisely convey emotions

As already mentioned, animation videos use a bit of a different approach to translate strong emotions on-screen. Obviously, real humans can offer more ‘instruments’ when it comes to expressions of happiness, sadness, fear, and excitement. With animated videos, you can still achieve the high quality of emotion, but that would mean going with highly detailed characters, which will result in an increase of production costs.

Animating complex objects or tech mechanisms is expensive

In the same way as highly detailed facial expressions influence production costs, animating complex elements and mechanisms has exactly the same effect. For some video concepts, it may be critically important to display the product or location with as much precision as possible.

Educational animated videos exceed the live “talking head” alternative in production costs

Education videos are way longer compared to promo ads or explainer videos and, while a production team can still create animation sequences of any length (we’ve had experience creating hundred-minutes long animated educational projects), longer projects usually end up being more expensive compared to their live alternatives.

👉 Here is an example of a “talking head” live shoot that was then enhanced by an animation overlay:

This is an example of a good mix of cost-effective “talking head” combined with animation to explain complex concepts.

Interested in getting to know more about animation video production? Download our full guide from the form below 👇



Live Action Video vs Animated Video: What is More Captivating?

When choosing between animated videos and live action videos, the most important thing to keep in mind is that there’s no better or worse option. Live action videos can work as effectively as animation videos. It’s more about the goals you set before your marketing campaign and the professional level of the team responsible for making videos that can stand out. 

In general, if you are deciding between animated and live action videos, we recommend you base your final decision on either of two suggestions:

  • If you have a sufficient budget, and want to display your brand in a traditional way, as it is done on TV — go with Live video. 
  • If you need to outperform the competition, create a video on a budget, plan to market mainly on the web or you have an idea that would be hard to develop with live footage — go with animated videos.


Concluding Remarks

So there you have it, a basic overview of the pros and cons of using live action vs animated videos. If you are about to start your video project, make sure that your marketing targets are set out clearly, as this should be your number one priority. The choice of video style, type, and format are your secondary objectives that will always stem from the desired outcome.

In this article about writing an animation brief, we discuss in detail the goal setting process and business video objectives, so make sure to review it as you start your project. For all other inquiries or questions regarding the choice between animation or live action videos, feel free to contact our team!


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Our Successful Cases


A short commercial ad that we did for AUTODOC — the largest European online store for spare parts. Here, live footage and animation elements perfectly come together to create a fun and catchy story that every car owner can relate to.


A 2D animation video done by our team to support the launch of a new product — dry gin — for one of our clients. The remarkable thing about this project is that it heavily relies on storytelling and our goal was to keep the video funny and effective at the same time. As a result, we managed to create a very native (to the target market) narrative supported by one-of-a-kind visual imagery. The feedback that the client received afterwards was really phenomenal — almost 10,000 views in just three days on social media, with dozens of comments.

🔹 Parallelo

An animation video done by our team for Parallelo — an IT company based in Oslo. They developed a 3D visualization software for architects and engineers and were interested in presenting it to potential clients. The trick here was to fit in an explanation of a technically complicated subject in less than 110 seconds. We carefully outlined the script and the text to make sure it stayed 100% relevant to the tech audience, and created a gread 3D visual animation.

If you are interested in developing a high-quality video for your project but don’t know where to start, check all our  explainer video production services or contact our team by filling out the form below. We will help you to choose between animated video and live action video.


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