Choosing the Animated Style that Best Tells the Story

By | May 15, 2018 at 11:20 am | No comments | Multimedia in Business | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Animation takes on many styles – realistic or cartoony, hand-drawn or computer animated, clean graphics or finely detailed renderings. Choosing the right style or medium is a lot like picking the right tools when building a house. Your choices will impact delivery time, cost, and how effectively the animation delivers the desired message or information.

A marketing professional will often pick up on the style of animation which best fits the brand and personality of a company. Animation is a powerful tool for helping to define that personality, while appealing to a specific audience. It’s also a strong medium for telling a story, visualizing complex ideas, or promoting your message. But each style of animation carries certain limitations, traits, advantages, and disadvantages which are important to note. While on the surface a style of animation may perfectly match your brand, but lack the traits needed to effectively deliver your message. The mistake is often selecting the style before the message or story has been formalized. Trying to bend the limitations of a given style to fit your story can lead to increased costs, multiple reworks, and could ultimately lessen the impact of the message.

Ask yourself why a particular style is important to use for your project. Could another style or medium deliver the same information as good or better than the style originally concepted? A good video professional will advise against a style which creates unnecessary cost. The most common example is photo-realistic animation. If the entire animated shot can be easily captured in the real world on film or video, then it is likely faster, cheaper, and more effective to capture it than animate it. But if the scenario, product, or place doesn’t physically exist, is microscopic or impossible to film, or is an abstract concept or idea, then animation is definitely your best medium.

As mentioned, each style of animation carries specific traits, advantages, and limitations. Below, we’ve defined several popular styles and their associated traits.

Motion Graphic Animation
This style of animation is highly effective at visualizing complex ideas for concepts that are abstract or hard to explain. The colors, fonts, and icons often pull directly or are inspired by existing brand graphics, making for a seamless transition between mediums. The movement, like icons bouncing on or text sliding in, can help set the tone and personality of the video. It is an excellent style for making comparisons and visualizing data. It is largely symbolic and not an effective literal depiction.

Illustrated Character Animation
This “hand drawn” (in the computer mostly) animation style can span a range of looks from realistic, to cartoony, to minimalist. It can deliver literal depictions of specific people, places, and things, whether real or imaginary. As this style has many looks, it is personality-rich and flexible around brand guidelines. This style is best at delivering character driven stories. If you want to tell a story around imaginary worlds, fantastical characters, or made-up contraptions, this style is a perfect tool. It is typically more organic, lacking the precision and detail of other styles of animation as well as mediums such as photography or video. Creating detailed photo-realistic animation in this style is very expensive and usually not the best choice when that look is desired.

3D Animation
In contrast, this animated style can deliver complex precise visualizations of objects and places which may or may not exist or are impossible to film – such as the inside workings of a machine. As many products are designed on the computer before prototyping, workflows exist to translate those designs directly from CAD or similar programs into animation software. This makes 3D animation an obvious choice for product visualizations. As Pixar made famous, 3D animation can also deliver powerful character driven animation in a range of looks. 3D animation can be very time consuming and requires the longest rendering times of the styles discussed. Therefore, production time is an important factor to consider. And again, if the people, places, or objects exist in the real world, it may be cheaper and quicker to capture those using a different medium like video.

There’s likely more than one style or medium that will work for a given project. Incorporating multiple styles in the same video will allow you to communicate each bit of information in the most efficient and effective way. The important point is to make style or medium selection a part of your video planning process. Search the web for examples of styles you like, evaluate the style that best communicates your message, and ask your video professional for advice.

The R.E.D. Team



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