The choice of animation style and type is an important step in the video production process. It identifies how the business video will be paced, what artists will be involved, what tools and techniques will be used, budget and production timelines, etc.
For many companies, however, the challenge is how to correctly decide on one option since there are so many forms of animation out there. Often, business owners get lost while browsing through all the terminology and real-life examples.
In this blog, we want to shed some light on the peculiarities of different animation video formats. We will look at the most popular styles and types of computer animation, and explore their characteristics to give you an understanding of what factors should influence your choice in that regard.
Let’s get started! 😉
- Animation Style vs Animation Type: Getting Clear On the Definitions
- Animation Styles: 3 Things You Need to Know to Choose the Best Style or Type for Your Video
- Basic Types of Animation Videos that Businesses Use to Engage With Their Audiences
- Best Types of Animation Videos for Businesses: Which One to Choose?
- Final Thoughts
- Our Experience with Different Types of Animation
In the years that we’ve been developing animation videos for startups and SMEs, one of the most common questions we get asked is “What types of animation styles suit my business video best?”
First of all, there’s no definitive answer to this question, and the choice depends on many different factors. So, if the video agency you are about to start working with answers this question right away without giving it a second thought, chances are your contractor is not that experienced in the business of video production — but more on that later.
Secondly, and most importantly, the problem around different types of animation styles already contains a logical contradiction in itself since animation styles and animation types are not the same thing. While they both are directly connected, these terms refer to different concepts in the video production process.
You may ask “Why do I need to know that? I’m not an animation developer expert” — By knowing where the difference lies, you’ll be able to make a better-informed decision when hiring a production team and deciding on aspects of your next business video.
So, before we proceed to describe the actual styles and types of animation, let’s get clear on the terminology.
In traditional art, the style is a set of rules that defines the appearance of the object. These rules influence shadows, transitions between shots, forms, colors, and object sizes.
Take a look at this example — here is how a single cartoon character looks when it’s drawn in different styles:
– But what about animation styles in a video?
In the video industry, animation style includes both the style of graphics described above and also the style of animation itself (as a movement of these graphics). The latter defines how objects move in a shot, i.e. how they are animated. Here, the object’s appearance plays a significant role too, but the main characteristic that identifies style is how the objects flow in a shot.
Take a look at the different approaches used when animating a bull’s movement:
Your character may inherit all the biomechanical moves of a human body, and move accordingly, or it may show up as a doll with articulated limbs. More information on the character creation process can be found in this article.
Take a look at these two explainer videos we did:
Aside from the obvious differences in color palette, compare the character’s animation: Onfo is an example of a minimalistic approach in an animation video where characters barely move in the shot, while Bundermail’s characters move a lot more freely.
You will want to choose a certain style of animation and maintain it through the whole video. In other words, you can’t animate one scene like in ONFO while creating the next one in the style of Blundermail. The style is a set of rules that you follow in order to make the video look consistent.
Animation Style – a set of rules that defines consistency in illustration and animation logic for objects throughout the whole video
Animation type is a parameter of an animation style that characterizes the technology and effects used to produce video. This term incorporates all the animation techniques used by the video industry today: 2D, 3D, Motion Graphics, Stop Motion, Cutout, etc.
Animation Type – a technique that is used to create an animation video, chosen based on a preselected animation style
Lots of resources often confuse the concepts of ‘animation style’ and ‘animation type,’ so we think it would be important for you to know which of these comes first. Such a small but important piece of information will definitely play to your advantage while discussing your project with a video agency.
For those who are just starting to think about creating their own video, reviewing all the details of animation video production may be overwhelming: How do you decide on the right animation style? How do you know that the animation type you have chosen is the right one?, What does the budget of an animation video depend on?, and so on.
To clear the air for you, here are three must-know things about animation videos.
The most important thing you need to keep in mind is that the style and type of animation video are only ingredients — or tools — that help achieve your goals, and not the end goals by themselves.
Oftentimes, businesses that are looking to create animation videos don’t quite get the idea behind this marketing asset. They think that success is directly proportional to complexity, and thus the style/type of animation video. In reality, the choice of style should be dictated by the results you expect to achieve and not by the tools themselves.
When choosing an animation style or animation type for a video, businesses need to identify the practical outcomes they want to get and work towards achieving them. These can include an increase in conversions across different distribution channels or sales funnel stages, brand awareness, etc.
The concept of an animation video should be based on your client’s profile, the messages you want to deliver, the nature of distribution channels, etc.
👉 “Marketing goals dictate the concept of your animation video”
Another aspect of choosing a style for an animation video is the requirements set by you, of course. For example, you may have a storyline idea or want a video to match brand colors, or your budget is limited and you don’t have resources to invest in complex animation, etc.
Creating complex animation forms is labor intensive. Opting for a rich style or animation type can inflate production costs dramatically. Moreover, two animated videos of the same length but different styles could differ in price by 2-4 times. A few fast pricing situations that you may bump into on the market today include:
- Opting for a 1-minute whiteboard/motion graphics animation would normally cost $1,000 – $2,000 / minute.
- Opting for a 1-minute flat character animation would cost $2,000 – $4,000 / minute.
- Opting for a 1-minute traditional animation would cost $4,000+ / minute.
Animation Video Development Costs:
Budget = (Style complexity + Type complexity) x Length
More about the costs of animation video production can be found here.
Animation videos can be produced in a vast variety of styles. Of course, there are some basic rules that animation designers follow, but the style of the animation video can be anything you like or want to see.
With animation types, however, the situation is more or less clear, and you have a ready-made set of technologies to choose from.
Before going through the basic types of animation in more detail, one important thing that we want you to know is that 2D and 3D are the two main animation archetypes, while others are simply derived from these two categories:
- 2D — Motion Graphics, Whiteboard, Cutout, Traditional animation, Screencast, etc.
- 3D — CG 3D, Motion capture, Stop motion, etc.
As the name implies, this is a type of animation where all characters, creatures, FX, and backgrounds are created in a two-dimensional space. The animation is created by setting in motion or sequencing together individual drawings. 2D animation videos normally render 2-24 unique drawings on screen per second.
Thanks to its cost-effectiveness (compared to 3D animation) this type is widely used on ads, websites, and in mobile games, etc.
2D animation can come in the following formats:
Animation videos where every frame is drawn individually, and each subsequent frame is drawn a bit differently from the previous one. An example of traditional animation is a flipbook, where images gradually change from one page to another.
This is an animated graphic design where different elements (text, shapes, objects, characters) are set in motion.
Animation where an author ‘draws’ images on a whiteboard by hand. All images in this type of animation video are sequenced to accompany a story narrated by the author.
Another name for this type is “puppet animation” because a direct analogy can be drawn with a puppet show, where the movement of a doll or toy is controlled by rods or strings. This type is widely used in business videos as it allows for quality animation without breaking the bank.
This is a relatively simple type of animation video where the actual interface of a program, website, or software is displayed and synced with voiceover audio. It can also include some basic elements of motion graphics.
In a similar way — as with 2D — 3D animation sets in motion various objects in a three-dimensional space. This type of animation is considered to be expensive to produce; however, with the right approach, you can also get a 3D animation video on a budget.
The commonly used types of 3D animation for business videos are:
The most popular format that comes up when you think of 3D animation. Here, all the imagery is computer-generated and animated in a 3D space.
This technique involves recording the actions of the real actors and rendering them in 3D.
Similar to traditional animation, 3D objects are moved by small increments between frames, conveying the illusion of movement once all the frames are put together in a sequence.
Let us show you a list of examples of different animations and their stylistic combinations that have come straight from our portfolio:
- Punahou — a minimalist animation style that allows for higher animation quality by animating simple characters, without stretching budgets or dedicating more time to the production process.
- Route 4 Gas — the example of a painted flat motion graphics explainer video where a lot of complex technical information is conveyed via animated objects and elements.
- Owlin — a great example of kinetic typography animation. Here, the textual content is set in motion to capture user interest and convey main messages.
- Infoskill — a whiteboard animation video. Here, text, characters, and other objects are all ‘mixed’ together and presented in a form of hand-drawn-like images.
- Takeda — a flat vector 2D explainer video done in soft color palettes with smoothly animated characters.
- GIN — an example of traditional animation. Every single frame is hand-drawn; the video consists of 12-24 frames per second.
- KOA — 3D low-poly explainer video. Though low-poly animation drastically differs from those that are highly polygonal, the end result doesn’t look cheap (thanks to the carefully thought-out style) even though production costs of low-poly videos are lower compared to high-poly animation.
We have explored the main types and styles of animation, so what’s next? How do you choose the one that will fit your project?
When clients reach out to us with this question the first thing that we are looking at is the sales funnel, since the choice heavily depends on your objectives — most of which come directly from the sales funnel phase that the business video will be used in.
For example, if you’re in the Awareness stage, we recommend doing a short promo video that can be used in marketing campaigns. You can also consider creating a 2-3 minute long educational video that carries practical value and will trigger audience interest, as well.
If it’s a promotional campaign, designers often build animation videos around bright and catchy concepts. The requirements for the style, in this case, are more demanding since bright and idea-rich concepts demand more complex animation and more time to produce a video.
Educational videos, on the contrary, shouldn’t be overly complex to produce, that’s why they are created using simple animation styles.
The cost of an animation video is directly connected to the video length and, since instructional videos are normally longer than marketing ads, there’s no reason to opt for complex animation style or types in this case.
Here is a short ‘cheat sheet’ for you that covers all the stages of the sales funnel and offers the corresponding animation video type for each:
Promo campaign: 2D traditional animation, Advanced 2D Cutout
Educational activities: Whiteboard, simple motion graphics, simple cutout
Cutout, Advanced Cutout
At Bluecarrot.io, we normally come up with a concept for the animation video after a thorough briefing process. The style and type of animation are usually defined as part of the concept development stage, as well.
Getting initial input on project requirements
Defining style and type for the animation video
At the briefing stage, we also define whether there are any constraints that will affect the choice of style. Constraints can include budget limitations or the need to accurately render the mechanical object (in this case 3D would be the obvious choice), etc.
If, for some reason, during the briefing process we don’t get all the information needed, then we advise on the style and type during the concept development stage where our designers create a few illustration samples to help the client make a final decision.
So, there you have it — a complete guide to the styles and all types of animation directly based off our own professional experience.
The main idea we want you to take away from this blog is that animation style and type are only tools that should not be your guiding factor during the animation video development process.
Set marketing objectives that you want to achieve and choose a style/type accordingly, and not vice versa.
If you are looking for help with your business video, feel free to contact us via the form below, and one of our managers will reply to your inquiry ASAP 🚀
Creating animation videos since 2014, we at Bluecarrot.io developed our own approach to this process.
Our mission is not to produce a video within a limited set of rules, but to deliver a product that is 100% tailored to the requirements of our client — our showreel proves exactly that.
We always strive to go the extra mile and do our best to deliver the expected results. When we are not satisfied with how things are going, we change direction and do it our own way — if the quality of hand animation does not satisfy us, we take 1,500 photos of the real hand to step up the whiteboard video quality. This is what makes us — and our work — different.
Based on our experience (more than 7 years of video production for business), we provide guidance on how to choose a video style and what types of video you might need. Contact us to get a free consultation! 🙂