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Live-Action vs Animation

Which is better: live action or animation?

March 30, 2022

Tea vs coffee, cats vs dogs, iPhone vs Samsung — these are several topics that might result in endless debates when put in conversation. Another topic that might give the same result? The debate over live-action and animated videos.

We’ve made the case on why creating videos is a must for every business; to be remembered and stand out to a visually-wired audience. Surely, you’ll remember the viral Old Spice video more than an Old Spice ad placed on a magazine. 

As with everything else, however, live action and animation offers its own benefits and drawbacks. Which one is the right fit for your next video?

What are live-action and animated videos?

Live-action refers to the type of video involving real people, props, or animals — not models or images drawn or produced by a computer. Meanwhile, animated videos are made with original designs, drawings, illustrations or computer-generated effects done by animators in an eye-catching way using the different styles available.

To put it simply, the 2021 Disney film “Cruella” is a live-action, and the 1961 “101 Dalmatians” is an animated feature.

The benefits of live-action

  1. Makes your brand human and relatable

Did you know that we’re all instinctively drawn to real human faces? Making a live-action video allows your brand to convey the feelings of human emotion more genuinely, making it more relatable as the audience can put themselves in the characters’ shoes and respond to their emotions and body language quicker.

Showing your audience how the product works and is beneficial to people through testimonials and case studies is much more convincing and relatable as you can hear and look at a person’s story, it makes the brand more genuine and convincing, hitting the nail spot on. 

Look at this video case study for Autostore to showcase their solutions for client Davcor Group. The video tells the story from a business owner’s point of view, going through their decision process in a relatable way. 

  1. It shows your product in action

Imagine selling a luxury sports car; you’ll likely want to show off the leather seats and demonstrate how fast the car can go. This is illustrated best via live-action; an animated video can’t replicate how the car goes, diminishing a sense of excitement for the audience in the process. Remember, the more tangible your product, the more beneficial it is to choose live-action. 

Live-action videos are also ideal for showing your audience how to use your product. One example is the Visa QR Payment video we made to show how QR payment with Visa works and how it benefits sellers and buyers.  

  1. Accessibility

With the evolution of mobile phones, you can make a live-action video via the camera on your phone, a component that may impact your video production budget. The same cannot be said for animation, where a computer with the adequate specifications is still necessary  

Drawbacks of live-action

  1. Difficult to edit down the line

Producing a live-action video is a one-time affair that may take multiple days, but the assets you shot are all you would have to work with when the filming is done. So, if you miss a shot, you must either pivot your storyline or fork out extra cost to rehire the necessary talents and crew. 

If you have a new product, you must reshoot your video from scratch to incorporate it. You can’t just re-edit it to an existing video, like using animation could.

  1. More expensive

Many components need to be taken care of when deciding the live-action route. While it’s true that cameras nowadays can shoot a live-action video, the result needs to be supported by capable people, such as lighting and sound, to produce a well-rounded video. Without it, the video produced will likely be subpar. 

Live-action videos usually involve many people like the aforementioned lighting and sound technicians to wardrobes, stylists, and actors that appear on camera. Not to mention location permits or security. Meanwhile, an animator with a computer and a voice actor would suffice in most animation projects. 

But, again, the budget depends on what kind of video you want to make and how much you would be willing to spend for both animation and live-action.

The benefits of animation

  1. Explaining abstract or new ideas

While live-action videos work best for tangible products, such as cars or shoes, animated videos work well to show intangible products like the cloud or other IT services that the average Joe may find hard to understand. Animated videos allow you to explain complex, boring jargon filled concepts in a simplified playful visual narrative.

You can get your message across with icons, shapes, colours, lines, and anything that can visually represent your message. One example was the animated video we crafted for ST Engineering to introduce their latest AGIL Cloud Management Platform.

Unlike live-action videos that are limited by reality, the possibilities are limitless when it comes to animation. Yes, you can incorporate a flying unicorn or pony in your video! 

  1. Easy to edit down the line

Animation is easier to edit because you only need a computer and a software to do it, whereas a live-action is a complicated process to get restarted. As said above, the limitless possibilities of animation allows animators to edit existing video with ease, ensuring that you don’t need to put extra cost when you need to make changes, which brings us to the next point.

  1. More affordable

In most cases, animation can be done from the comfort of your own home via a computer screen. It’s not uncommon that animation is a one-man-band affair, unlike live-action that may take a village to finish. While it’s true that you may need a voiceover actor to make the video more impactful, the cost is considerably less than live-action. 

However, it’s worth mentioning that doing animations can be more expensive as the visual complexity, visual treatment, or duration increases. A five minute 2D animation will be cheaper than a 3D animation of the same length. 

The drawbacks of animation

  1. The time may be longer

The advantage of animation giving you the ability to create any world or character you want comes hand-in-hand with the time needed. Animation tends to be made from scratch, taking more time than live-action. This is because live-action can take real-world shots, and animation doesn’t. 

  1. May feel impersonal

As said above, viewers tend to connect to real people rather than animated figures, so animation may not resonate as much as you’d hoped for. But, it all depends on your intention and your ability to craft a story or narrative that humanises your brand and relates to your audience. All of which will depend on the budget you’re willing to spend.

Videos are an effective way to reach your audience today, whether live-action or animation; it all depends on your need, not a one-size-fits-all approach. We hope that this article can help you weigh your options and decide which video type is ideal for your business.

Read more from Click2View:

  1. A Beginner’s Guide to Black and White Hat SEO
  2. 7 Types of Infographics You Should Know
  3. Leveraging Events for Your Content Marketing Strategy
  4. Our Valuable Ukrainian (and Russian) Animation Production Partners

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Click2View is Southeast Asia’s premiere full-service independent B2B content marketing agency servicing clients like Microsoft, Google, Visa, Prudential, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.