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  • August 13, 2021

    5 Considerations for your Animated Technology Video

    Animated video for technology companies is absolutely booming right now. These short explainer videos are such an easy way to say what is often a pretty complex or new service in an easily digestible form. So we can see why it’s popular. 

    We’ve recently worked on many Fintech, software, App, AI and automation, SaS, and medical technology animated videos. We’re giving you a little insight into common pitfalls that we come across to help give you a head start when thinking about an animated video for your tech company. 

     

    There are some ideas to consider that will help your brand video stand out against the noise, and make sure you communicate effectively and clearly to your target audience.

    1 Benefits not features

    The script is the primary driver of any video, including animation. And simply listing your software or technology features in the script won’t help. Generally; they aren’t why people buy. It’s what it does for them. 

    Does it save them time? Does it save cost? What does it free up people to do? How does this technology make their life easier? What is a like working with you? This kind of content is what the script needs to tell.

    Listing the features doesn’t belong in a technology explainer video. They’re for people who want to drill down into the details later – as a secondary selling tool. Preferably with a captive audience or when you’re showcasing a demo in a meeting.

    2 Keep the language less formal

    Language is down to scripting again. When we see draft ideas for a script or we’re given promotional materials to use, the language is often overly complex with long sentences and is rather formal. This is really common. 

    This approach works well for written materials, but since generally, video is heard out loud, it comes across entirely differently and isn’t as well-received. Think of the video a bit more like a conversation.

    If you have a complex product offering, don’t use business jargon language and lengthy sentences; you need to explain it quickly and clearly. 

    This doesn’t mean dumbing down, but being concise, avoiding passive language, avoiding too much repetition. 

    As tech is always changing and growing, you probably find the business quite exciting and revolutionary to work in (I hope!). So, if we can convey that excitement, the audience will feel it. 

    You can be creative with language, be funny, use visual metaphors, and keep the language more casual, it is spoken word, after all. It’ll be more relating to the audience and quicker to digest if they’re only half watching /listening (which is often the case!).

    Explainer video with quite a relaxed, informal voiceover leading the story

    Video by Digital Finch

    3 Avoid screenshots

    You can be creative with the visuals and save the software screens for an online demo. The purpose of a general brand or product explainer video is to get them to enquire or want to learn more.

    A demo is a separate video (or presentation) where buyers are already interested in learning more. For an introductory video like an animated explainer, where they see it on your website or social media and maybe don’t know a lot more about you, they just need to know it’ll work for them.

    Sometimes, we create a simplified UI mockup in designing animated videos if there is a particularly great aspect to the technology. Something showstopping or so simple and effective to use.

    Monday.com put animated screenshots to good use, as they’ve invested heavily in a fantastic UI, but this often isn’t the case.

    In that case, we often redraw the software, simplify the screen where needed, and then animate a short sequence, showing it in a shortened and easy to understand way.

    Explainer video promoting the G-Suite from Google – Ui is shown minimally and has been simplified and animation to add dynamism.  

    Video by Coat of Arms

    Though, often a UI mockup is not needed. As I’ve just mentioned, you’re more describing the benefits and how it affects their company and lives, not how it works.

    In terms of visuals, trust the studio you’ve hired to come up with bespoke visuals compelling and match the story. Hopefully, their portfolio and expertise have shown you you can trust them, so let them do the hard work or art direction.

    You can go quite conceptual and futuristic or very heartwarming and relatable if you want. The visuals needn’t be all ‘techy’ and corporate, and they needn’t be yet another icon led video in shades of blue (I see this sooooo much!).

    This example is a video for a no-code website development tool. In a highly / futuristic conceptual style  

    Video by Ordinary Folk

    4 Keep it short

    Try and explain your technology offering in 2 mins or under, often 90s a great sweet spot.

    A longer video can be cut down for social sharing if you want multiple versions.

    Then the engaged audience gets an entire piece, and someone browsing or scrolling will get just the snippet they need to click through and find out more.

    If you want a shorter social media or paid advert version, consider create a separate version condensed to 15-30s max. So it’s very dynamic and captivating and gets to the point quickly. Generally, we recommend not to try and use the long-form one.

    Making the video more concise will also often bring the cost down (due to shorter length) and means the audience will be more likely to reach the end.

    Example of Animated Technology video with a concise message, under 1 minute

    Video by Digital Finch

    5 Add a human touch with characters

    Using character animation in a marketing video can give the video a real boost and make it stand out. When you can visually show a user reaping the rewards, it humanises the video and can create empathy. Generating emotion will help the viewer already feel like you know their pain point, and you want to help them.

    When selling or thinking about tech, it’s easy to think of highly conceptual/corporate visuals, but the people who are buying and who will benefit are people, after all. So including people can help the video to be more relatable.

    Including custom-drawn friendly characters who your audience will relate to and telling the story through their journey is a great idea.

    So there are just some quick ideas to think about. If you are looking for an animated video for your technology company, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

    Example of Visual Recognition technology video with characters

    Video by Lunamik Studio

    So there are just some quick ideas to think about. If you’re looking for a marketing or explainer video for your technology company, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. To see some examples of our animated explainer videos, head to the portfolio

  • March 17, 2021

    How has Covid 19 Changed Video Production

    It has been an incredibly tough year for just about everyone, both personally and professionally. There’s been so much change, and people are adapting to new rules and procedures almost every week! Businesses have had to transform their business models and staffing. I am in awe of everyone who has turned it around in this short time.

    We had quiet Summer in our studio, with a very strict British lockdown going on and many other companies unable to work.

    But by the August bank holiday, it was like The world flipped a switch, and we have been our busiest ever since. It’s incredible, and we’re very grateful.

    It seems everyone was in a rush to make up for the lost three months of production!

    Since then, we’ve not had to change so drastically, but we can see some new video trends for business, and I think a few are here to stay.

    Working Remotely

    WFH will be the most significant change for most of our clients, working from home and possibly trying to home school at the same time!

    For our company, this is not new. We have been working with businesses and organisations worldwide for several years, so we’re used to all the phone calls and explaining everything through very clearly and precisely without ever seeing a face.

    For us, communication is soooo important! And although we’ve never met some of our main clients, we’re worked with them for years and have a lovely and reliable relationship.

    It is possible, but building trust online is more important than ever, both with your own staff and customers.

    Filming Live Action Shoots

    For training, marketing and corporate videos, filming has still been mostly possible for us as a company to do. But there are many new safety precautions and procedures to ensure our and the client’s safety.

    We have limited crew and staff from the organisation on shoots—the least people there as possible, only those who are necessary.

    I’ve also heard of production companies having additional staff work on the shoot remotely via zoom to limit numbers.

    Filming days can often take longer, as crew and staff may need more time between shots to prepare. It means we need more time to film the same content safely.

    This increase in shoot days has led to a slight increase in the cost of these productions.

    Large scale scenes and shots with many people together, particularly indoors, are still a while off being possible, so, for now, we’ll have to think outside the box.

    Any video studio for filming will now be up to date with all safety regulations and generally will be sufficient to film in for green screen/ VFX shoots in a safe manner.

    We’ve also been doing more Zoom recordings and are finding creative workarounds to filming such a disparate workforce.

    Animated Video Production

    We’ve always split between being an animated video company and a corporate video company. Animation has increased massively for us over the past few years and became almost 70% of our work since 2020.

    But this year has undoubtedly swayed more towards animation and explainer videos – we’re producing one every 1-2 weeks right now.

    This is because they are much easier to do remotely, as long as you have a reliable working method and excellent communication with the client.

    Companies are realising animation’s potential, particularly how it’s still possible to do when no one can be in the same room for various reasons.

    When you have a methodology in place with client review stages for the script, illustrated storyboard, animatic, animation etc, everyone is informed and can feel confident about the outcome.

    Training Video Productions

    There has been a significant increase in training videos, from new workplace procedures, internal communication announcements to educational content.

    Recently we’ve made covid training videos and videos on best practices for working at home – ensuring workers keep up good health and safety. We’ve also worked on projects around mental health.

    Getting these important messages across to a very widespread and often WFH workforce is more accessible with video as it gives a concise and repeatable message.

    Deadlines

    This might be just my view, but deadlines have gone a little haywire. Our industry is often tight with deadlines, and clients want the video almost instantly, but now it needed last week!

    These deadlines have definitely increased the general stress level. Many businesses are so desperate to make up for lost production and get sales boosted… I can see where it’s coming from.

    I’m hoping this will settle as time goes on. Good video, particularly animation, is not instantaneous, and it needs proper planning to be a real business sales or training tool.

    More Online Meetings

    I think because not everyone is so used to working remotely, we have been in about 5x as many meetings with clients than before, even though, broadly, we’ve worked on a 90% remote basis since we set up in 2015.

    I can see it’s more important for people to have a connection and build trust.

    The future

    It’ll be interesting to see how many of these changes are here for the long term, I’ve seen animation and motion graphics on the up and up, so I think this trend will continue.

    Training videos will also continue to increase, they’re so functional and needed with the fast-changing situation.

    I also think we’ll continue to have a billion meetings!

    Safe safe 🙂

  • February 8, 2021

    9 Tips for Making Your Video Content More Inclusive

    9 Tips for Making Your Video Content More Inclusive

    Inclusivity and diversity within video and marketing are not just buzzwords – it’s important and can have a real impact on how people access and interact with your brand.  Most of these apply whether you’re making an animated explainer video or are filming a live-action brand video, or creating paid content for social media. 

     

    Here are some quick ideas to boost inclusion in your video content, both in terms of content, and how you display it to your audience.

    1 – Closed captions / subtitles

     

    Including closed captions is one of the most important tips for accessibility within the video, and it’s also one of the easiest. 

    If you include closed captions, which is basically a timed transcript of the audio content, it means anyone with the sound off or unable to hear still gets your message. 

    With subtitles, you only display the dialogue. But if there is a lot more to hear, then closed captions generally explain more of the scene. For example, if a loud noise happens, or music starts, this extra information gives someone who may be heard of hearing more of the full picture.

    You can either hardcode them (so that they can’t be removed and are permanently displayed).  Or you can upload an SRT file to the video player, such as Youtube so that users have to option to turn the subtitles on or off. 

    Animated explainer video with English subtitles that have been added within the video player, allowing the user to turn on and off as needed.

    2 – Diversity in Your Production Team

    An easy way to avoid pitfalls like racist content (it STILL happens!) or harmful stereotypes in your video, then a diverse video production team can help to prevent this and any unconscious bias.

    For example, if your company is sponsoring a Pride event and wants to make a Pride-themed promotional video for your company – you may want to include someone LGBTQIA+ on your team.

    They can’t possibly be a speaker for all and know everything, but they will be more likely to understand what resonates well and what would be considered offensive or poor taste.

    They will also probably be delighted to be included in the project and have an interesting insight.

    Diverse video production team

    3 – Diversity in design

    When including characters, whether filmed or animated, you want to consider different ethnicities, genders, sexual preference, ages and abilities. 

    Or an alternative that is done sometimes in animation, is where characters are designed not to be male nor female – and are no particular ethnicity. For example, they have a gender-neutral body, clothing and hair, and purple skin colour perhaps. 

    This method is used quite often to avoid alienating anyone, it has its benefits, but it’s still quite limited. 

    And because we are often seen to be in a male by default society, frequently when an illustrated character is drawn ‘gender-neutral’ people still assume they’re a male anyway. So it’s something to watch out for

    Adding diversity in design is not just a box-ticking exercise. Representation within our media is vitally important, especially representation of different characters that go against negative stereotypes – and it’s shown to help reduce hostility

    When selecting a stock video or photo for a video, this can also be a challenge, as many stock sites mainly include young white people. This is especially the case for office or professional business scenes. 

    There are some websites for finding diverse stock photography and it’s getting easier – but we generally have a long way to go to find a fair representation in stock assets. 

    People want to see themselves represented in the media, so diversifying design is a great step towards inclusivity. 

    4 – Consider Colour in Design

    To make the information more legible, high contrast between colours in design is preferred. 

    For UX design, a colour contrast ratio of at least 4.5:1 between all text and background is preferred. 

    In basic terms, if the background colour is dark, the text must be pale enough to ensure it’s visible. You can check colour ratios here

    For video production, there is no hard rule yet, but following close to this guidance ensures that it’s clear for most people to see and understand.

    It’s surprising how often you still see, for example, red text on a green background with a similar tone. 

    5 – Text size 

    If you have animated captions within the video, consider making them larger. Designers often resist, because it takes up more white space, making the screen fuller. But if it’s done thoughtfully, it can be designed well and be legible. 

    Most videos will end up being played on a phone, you can’t just create a video for a large computer screen audience any more.

    Having larger text will make the video more inclusive for mobile phone users and the visually impaired.

    6 – Avoid Jargon and Complex Industry Terms

    Everyone uses jargon in their industry, but in a video, it often doesn’t come across well – it’s too niche for the general audience to understand.

    Using simple language, avoiding buzzwords and long complicated sentences (especially in passive voice!) will make the video much more accessible to everyone.

    7 – Include a Video Transcript Beneath the Video

    If the video is very long, maybe over 10 minutes, a video transcript underneath will help viewers to recap the information after they watch. This is especially helpful, as a video this long is most likely to be educational – you want the audience to learn.

    Including a transcript they can follow, or read after, will help them to remember more of the content for later, and make it easy to reference back to content. Ted Talks are a great example of use of Transcripts for their video content

    video transcript

    8 – Celebrating Diverse Staff and Good Company Culture

    If you have a great inclusive company culture, with a diverse and happy workforce then celebrate it! 

    For example, if you have certain programmes, for example, Women in Digital – then a video on the topic will be authentic and engaging. 

    If your staff are happy to be filmed, get them on camera to say what inclusion and diversity mean for them within your organisation.

    That will be genuine and heartfelt, and make people want to both works for you and use your products or services.  

    If they really feel comfortable and valued in the workplace, you can’t fake this joy! 

    9 – Multi-Language Video Versions

     

    Assuming that everyone knows English to a good standard can be a little presumptuous. For example, if your audience is simply ‘Americans’, there are around 60 million non-English speakers, so including foreign language versions of your video can really make it more accessible to a wider audience. 

    This can generally be done in 2 ways, full naturalisation of the video, or subtitles. 

    Full naturalisation is when you translate the full script and record a new voiceover in the desired language, and you change any animated on-screen text.  Or if it’s a presenter-led video, you re-record with a new presenter, or you can dub over the voices in the desired language. 

    This thorough process makes the video look fully naturalised and is the easiest for anyone of that language to understand. 

     

    A less expensive and quicker way is to include foreign language subtitles, so that the user can choose which language they want. And they can read that along with the English version. 

    Explainer Video with Portuguese subtitles hardcoded on

    Animated Video that has been fully naturalised into Arabic

    This list is not exhaustive, but hopefully, these tips will help you make your video content more inclusive, diverse, wider-reaching and have a positive impact on the audience. If you have an animation or video project in mind, just get in touch, or click to see video samples.

  • December 11, 2020

    What Makes a Good Explainer video?

    What Makes a Good Explainer Video?

    When you need an explainer video for your business, it can be tough for some to imagine… What will it look like? What do we need to say? How long is best for conversion? Will it do what I need for my brand? 

    Here are some pointers that will help your explainer video to win for you.

    Short Script

    People generally have a short attention span for a video online, so keep the rambling down; it’s essential to consider what will the viewer see alongside the explainer that goes into more detail. It will generally always be with more context, so you can afford to leave extras out.

    An explainer video is designed to be short and catchy, and you can’t do that if you go over 2 mins. Ideally, 90s to 2 mins would cover the message. You can read more about video lengths and attention span here

    Well Designed Visuals

    The design of a video can be very impactful one way or another. It can represent you poorly if it’s not well thought out – or it can show off your strengths. 

    A motion designer with a good understanding of visual communication – and how people usually perceive form and colour, for example, can elevate your video and convey exactly what you mean quickly with simple, but powerful drawings.

    Well Designed Storyboard Images For Explainer Video

    Good Concept

    The concept should be figured out at the start of the production. An exciting concept will make you stand out and make your explainer more memorable. Do you have an unusual idea? It might just work. Or if not, leave it to the creative team of the explainer video company you’re working with. 

    Ideation is an exciting part of my job, coming up with concepts takes practice, collaboration and openness – especially at the start when everyone is just throwing ideas around. But it is worth it to find those unique solutions. 

    Having a concept or device, either visually or with the script will bring your explainer video up a level.

    Simple Script Language

    Everyone uses a certain amount of jargon in business, but there are not many places for it in explainer videos. Spoken language is often quite different from written language.

    It needs to be simple. Shorter sentences and shorter worlds make it much easier to digest quickly. This will help your audience understand, even if they’re only half-listening or watching. 

    When it comes to scripting animation for your business – think concise.

    Address Your Target Audience

    Being able to frankly speak to your audience and address their exact pain points will be much more useful than trying to catch everyone with vague propositions – or details that aren’t relevant.

    If you have a strong idea of your buyer persona it will be much more impactful to them. Again this comes in mostly at the scripting stage.

    High-Quality Animation

    This feels very obvious to say, but the higher the quality of the animation the more viewers can be absorbed in the story and weird bits where someone moves funny, or it’s jerky won’t catch their eye. As soon as they are distracted, they’ve lost the flow. 

    The goal of animation is not to be noticed.

    Try not to Be Too Serious

    The world is full of quite serious corporate videos, there is still a place for them, but Explainers are generally more light-hearted, you can bring out the fun side of your brand or product. You can add some personality to the video, gaining empathy. 

    Because you can show pretty much anything visually, it gives you a lot more scope to make unusual comparisons, or exaggerate a little. It’ll make you be remembered.

    Benefits not Features

    Going on about the features of your new software or service may be thrilling to you, but your audience needs to know precisely why it’s worth it, what does it do for them?

    It’s a Them not Us approach in the script that will help.

    Keep Your Team Small

    The bigger your approval team is for reviewing the key stages, the more disjointed the video may end up. It’s a classic case of too many cooks – you will get a lot of personal opinions. 

    And you need to define, is their feedback valid – will they make the video better? or are they adding more complication?

    Music and Sound Effects

    High-quality music can set the tone – I’d always recommend using a royalty-free track, not just a free music track (as they’ll be blander / or massively overused. It’s also good to keep your personal music taste out of it and trust the production company. 

    And if your video is set in natural surroundings – for a more filmic option, adding SFX of recognisable sounds can really immerse the audience and set the scene fully – you’d expect it on a filmed video. 

    Or if the animation and design are more conceptual based, adding sounds effects of beeps and boops and subtle whooshing, etc help to reinforce movement and flow.

    Explainer video from Giant Ant, with a powerful soundtrack – invoking empathy in the audience

    A Good Video Production Process

    This is the only part where we are serious! Having a precise method in place for the video will make sure that you can review it at each stage, and approve the script, treatment, style frames, design and animation. 

    This methodology leaves little room for error and means that you should be pretty happy when you see the final product!

    Summary

    You can see a lot of what makes a great explainer video is in the concept, and script stage.  The story you tell and how you tell it is the basis for the whole video and isn’t to be overlooked, or rushed. 

    Everyone is often excited to get the visual stages, but the planning makes it. 

    To see some video examples, head to our animated explainer video page.  Or if you want an explainer video for your business, let us help you

  • October 8, 2020

    What Factors Affect The Cost of Animation?

    What Factors Affect The Cost of Animation?

    As a buyer looking to get a new animated video production for your company, when browsing online you can see such a variety of animation costs, from £150 (uh oh!) to £20,000+ (eek!)

    Here are a few reasons why the price of animated video can range so much, and how to make an informed choice when it comes to specifying the work.

    Length of video

    A longer animation means more work. For example, A two-minute video literally has twice as many scenes as one minute video, and they need creating, and then animating.

    There are not that many economies of scale, as the work is usually bespoke to each project. Sometimes if you have a video series, some savings can be made through the series, but within one video, and your first video perhaps, nope.

    Being concise with your words in the script is integral to making sure you don’t waste money here.

    A long storyboard for animated video production

    This storyboard is about 2.5 min video. Which is slightly on the long side for an Explainer type web video. You can see just how much work and frames that needs. A shorter video could be half these number of frames. 

    Inclusion of 3D Animation

    3D animation can pop up in 2D animated videos quite often, and to the inexperienced, it can be undetected. Not seeing the line between 2D and 3D is fine if you’ve not even noticed, it wants to blend in seamlessly.

    Including 3D elements adds background and literally another dimension to the movement and view, so it adds more interest- instead of the same front on view you see so often with animation.

    It will often be composited and be the same design style, but it gives a variety to the scene, it’s not just flat facing.

    But all this means, additional specialised skills in 3D software, modelling and lighting, and then compositing – to make it look like the rest of 2D video.

    See the buildings in their video have been created in 3D space, allowing a camera to pass around as it rises. This is much more interesting than a generic pan up, with a completely straight-on looking street.

    Animated Characters

    Including characters can add a much needed human touch to animation, which if you’re selling or teaching people can help dramatically.

    Using animated characters is a great way to act out scenarios and show a real user experience and convey emotion.

    However, to get them to move in an organic and realistic fashion – to be likeable takes time to draw, rig and animate.

    Low-end videos that have characters will move in a jerky/ stiff way or just not much movement at all. Or worse still, they stop dead for seconds at a time…

    It kind of defeats the purpose, as you lose a lot of the human connection and relatability.

    Character Design for animation

    Illustration style

    A 2D flat colour video using vector simple shapes, most likely, will take a much less time to design and animate than a hand-drawn, and highly textured frame developed in Photoshop or Procreate, as two extreme examples.

    Sometimes it’s difficult to talk about drawing and illustration, so here are a few styles, to show what I mean.

    You can see the difference between these few images, they show a clear difference in the work and time that went into them.

    The 2 on the top are much more detailed, one including natural textures and use of sading and light, the other using 3D to create a complex layout, compared to the bottom 2 that are more simple in nature and are line illustration or solid colour. 

    Textured Design for Animation
    Why pick animated explainer video over live action video
    Simple design in animation
    demo video

    And if a scene took longer to design, then you guessed it, it will more than likely need increased time to animate it. 

    The quality and style of the drawings will very much depend upon your story, who the audience is and what you want them to feel.

    Quality of Animation

    Again this is down to time, in general, the more time your animator spends, the better the quality of the final piece.

    A cheaper (quicker to produce) animation will generally be flat and move less, and there will be fewer scenes. And elements within scenes or whole scenes will be reused.

    A low budget animation will also have very basic transitions from scene to scene (one thing exits, and another enters). High-quality animations tend to have more thought out transitions so that the video flows more seamlessly.

    Reusing of assets, fewer scenes and fewer elements on screen at one time all saves time, and it may get the job done, but it won’t be exciting, it’s less relevant, and it’ll be less stimulating.

    So there is a balance to be struck. Most animation studios will be able to show or demonstrate a few levels of animation quality so that you can see the difference for yourself.

    Custom Animation

    The cheaper sites offer template style make your own video, so you pick from some (often poorly) pre-designed and and pre-animated elements that you can pop together into a story.

    It’s cheap, but of course, it’s massively limited and who knows how many other people are using the same elements in their video?

    It’s also unlikely to fit with your brand very closely.

    And of course some lower-end studios will be using templates in their work without telling you.

    You can see a lot of the cost comes down to custom assets, length of video and time taken. So, in general, a higher cost animation is simply a higher quality product. Hopefully, this helps for next time you need an animated video for your business, and you can see what you’re paying for clearly.

     

    To see a range of animated explainer video styles head to our portfolio, or to read more about what we do and what goes into our work, see the animated video production page and if you have an idea you want to chat about, contact us!

  • August 22, 2020

    Why pick Animated Explainer Video over a Live-action Video

    Why pick Animated Explainer Video over a Live-action Video

    Both animation and live-action productions have their place as marketing video for business, but live-action can be limited. 

    Let’s explore some of the reasons for choosing an animated explainer video over a standard filmed video for your next company video.

    Animated explainer video at its core is a catchy animated video generally under 2 mins long that explains something. It’s quite a vague term, but it covers most of the animated videos you see online in a broad way – and it’s much more diverse than you think. 

    Vidico

    Be more creative

    Animation is creative and can be out if this world if you want. 

    Simply put, it can make you stand out and look unique.

    You can show an office one minute, then a street, then a person at home, then an international space station if you fancy! And it doesn’t cost more to do so. That is not even a particularly inspiring example of what can be done with animation. 

    As long as it serves the narrative, and suits the tone of the video, relates with your audience, your options are limitless. 

    With a live-action video, sure you can film several locations, but time and costs add up if it’s very expansive in terms of content. Most corporate videos are quite straight forward, 1-2 locations and that’s it. 

    With the limitless nature of motion design, you can say and show a lot in a very short time.

    Buck

    Example of a super creative animated video from Buck

    Animation is versatile

    Explainers videos are a lot more versatile in style than you would think. It’s not just icon sequences any more. 

    Most companies pick their general corporate branding the first time they go into animation and probably choose a flat 2D design and icon for the illustration style.

    It’s a safe (albeit potentially boring) bet.

    But many more experienced brands will experiment with style and tone to fit each campaign.

    When you draw each frame from scratch, you have ultimate flexibility. 

    Animation and illustration design can achieve a very fun, or serious tone as needed. This gives you the adaptability to target new audiences, or to bring out different emotions. 

    A hand-drawn animation style will usually give a friendly caring vibe, while sharp lines and angles can be more formal and business-like.

    An experienced design studio can use these kinds of devices to tailor the look and feel of the animation to achieve exactly the vibe you want.

    And it’s not just reserved for consumer-based brands like Cola. Even a B2B business is selling to people at the end of the day.

    Giant Ant

    Duration of use

    Your animation way is less likely to go out of date so quickly.

    Usually, in explainer videos, any numerical figures that are referenced are not exact; for example, any charts or data you see, and any UI screens are often redesigned to simplify to look and flow. Of course, people are all fictional, unless exactly specified to copy someone.

    So, because the video’s not showing such exact information, it’s likely to last longer. 

    With a filmed video you can run into issues much quicker. For example, if staff leave who had been interviewed, you may need to edit them out of the video, which costs for the work and can leave holes in the content.

    And so you need to organise a reshoot, or the video needs more context to explain, which kind of defeats the point. 

    Or if the premises or signage are updated, you’ll feel that the video is old fashioned. 

    This happens way more often than you think!

    ILLO

    Creative Control

    You have complete control with the look and feel of animation.

    Sometimes on a filming day, things can just crop up… the weather is terrible, an area is closed, your piece to the camera could have been delivered better, a colleague was unwell.

    And even if you have a sketched storyboard for a filmed video (but plenty of studios don’t offer this), it’s hard to know what each shot will look like.

    There’s always a bit of figuring out on the shoot day… a small element of winging it. Obviously a professional will still do a good job though!

    With animation, you have exact control over every scene, in advance of animation.

    You’ve seen (hopefully) a written treatment, possibly sketches, style frames, an illustrated storyboard, boardomatic, animatic, then the final animation.

    That’s a lot of stages to get your feedback in!

    The Furrow

    Animation can cover sensitive topics

    If you need to talk about a sensitive topic, an animated explainer is a very good route to pick.

    Animation gives anonymity to the subject (I mean a person here) and gives you the freedom to really explore a subject matter or tough topic without making anyone vulnerable or a target. There is no risk of exposure.

    Using animation for a good cause can really amplify your message, for campaigns about for children or those in need, it can be a vital tool.

    Emanuele Colombo

    Price?

    It’s not necessarily cheaper. Drawing every frame, animating takes time.

    But reiterating from the points above, the animation may last longer, and it can be more tailored to your goals.

    Unless you have a lot of VFX in your live-action production, maybe for a high-end TV advert, filmed video is often the same cost or cheaper than explainer animation, but we can see it’s more limited unless it’s very high concept.

    Saying that… there are generally a few varying price levels of animation (this will vary from studio to studio), so if budget is tight, it’s not impossible.

    But generally, the more you spend, its more time you’re paying for, and therefore a higher quality animation – it’s more immersive and mesmerising. And thus a better storytelling device.

    oddfellows

    Hopefully, these points will help show you that there’s never been a better time to get on board with explainer animation for your business.

    Or at least give you food for thought before you jump onto creating a new corporate video for your business.

    The options available are a lot wider than you would imagine. 

    To see a range of animated explainer video styles head to our video portfolio, or if you wanted to read more about animated video production in general, or if you have an idea you want to chat about contact us

  • May 27, 2020

    Covid 19 – Update

    In these pressing times, we are operating as normal. We work safely and are continuing production from our studio in Wigan.

    We have worked mostly remotely since the start of the studio about 5 years ago. With clients worldwide, it has come naturally to us to work this way when needed.

    Animation and design can be done 100% remotely. We still involve you in the whole process, with briefing, brainstorming, approvals and delivery all be done online.

    We can guide you if you’re unsure of the process, it is usually easy and a fun experience for the client to see their idea to come to life.

    If you have a project in mind, please get in touch.

    Stay safe!

  • December 16, 2019

    Design in Animated video – the key to success

    Design in Animated video – the key to success

    Motion graphics are becoming more popular – many businesses are starting to learn the term when it comes to animated video, but in practice, the ‘graphics’ part is often lacking.

    Often when a business is discussing creating a new video, they talk about the animation and the scenes, but often the conversation about the design style and illustration isn’t there. It’s overlooked and taken for granted as it’ll just appear and look good. 

    The first brief is often ‘explainer video, maybe with my site icons’, but that’s so vague and samey, will that be the best route to tell your business message? An explainer video can be so much more than that. 

    An original design concept with bespoke illustrations can lift the animation and be so much more impactful – which has a real effect on video engagement.

     

    Bespoke illustrations and design for video

    But talking about design is sometimes difficult for clients – they don’t know where to look for references, and they may not be able to articulate what they like. But this is where creative studios need to have the knowledge to guide them properly.

    There is a lot to consider with design – it’s all about the relation to your target audience. In essence, the design will help show them how to feel, and what information is most important.

    An animated video for 20s aged entrepreneurs needs to look and feel quite different from a video for internal communication purposes.

    The video is also representing the brand – so it needs to look right. You may choose for it to fit in with your other branding materials or may decide to create a new campaign, or it can be stand-alone. Either is fine, but it needs to be a considered choice.

    Making the video match your branding precisely as an automatic response without thought, can be restricting and potentially bland.

     

    Motion Design using photos

     

    Design in video needs to achieve a few things:

     

    • Clearly communicate the story
    • Have the right tone
    • Align with the brand
    • Be cohesive
    • Be unique

     

     

    Picking a design-forward studio

    A video studio with a dedicated designer is an excellent place to start. Often at less experienced production houses, the role is lumped in together with the animator. While very few can be great at both, in general, it means they’re mediocre at both tasks.

    If they can’t draw, they may be reliant on stock vector images. Meaning the look can change from scene to scene unintentionally, as the vectors are from all different sources (affecting the tone), and it will probably have the same 2D flat graphic look we see so often.

    Because they’re buying in assets, the video may also not be that unique.

    A scene designed to show a negative.
    It’s mixed, and overall has a gloomy, slightly confusing tone

    A dedicated studio motion designer or illustrator will have background artistic knowledge, for example of the significance of colours, tones, value, shapes and textures. The use of these seemingly simple things can change the mood or feeling of a video massively. 

    Unbalanced design layouts or colours with no visual hierarchy, especially where any text is involved, can leave the audience missing the point. 

    Your animation studio will know when and how to use characters – do you need a key person who tells the story, background people, are we personifying objects? 

    Custom animated characters can increase the video bill, sometimes by more than you think, but in the right video, it’ll add so much more in the long term. 

    A creative animation team with the background of business and a professional illustrator or designer can make reliable recommendations for these points.

    A few characters

    Motion design-led workflow

    It starts with research about the business at hand, the audience, a look at competitors and any visual references the client likes. 

    This study will help inform and is combined with Art Direction – usually from the design lead or creative director. Art direction is often not spoken about at all in business video, especially at the low to mid-end cost range. In simple terms, they create the entire concept of the video. 

    The research and art direction helps give the creative studio a full picture of the target. Then all design and motion can be aimed towards this target. 

    It continues through pre-production with style frames. These are a few fully illustrated images from the storyboard that show the intention of colour, typography and layouts styles. 

    A high-end creative studio or a more significant budget animation may even produce 2 – 3 different image concepts to review – giving the client full information and choice. 

    The client can make sure it aligns with their ideas and goals before the studio has gone too far – as changes later down the line are always more costly. 

    They may also show a full sketched out storyboard, so the business can see the broad story before full design even starts.

    Illustrated Storyboard Design

    Illustrated Storyboard

    Methodology

    After dialogue and approval of the initial concept, frames and ideas, a design-led creative studio will produce the fully illustrated storyboard, complete with extra notes about scene movement and feeling.

    Leaving the design to chance, is very risky and means the video may not be what you expected, or want, at all. So any savings made on cost at the start, are turned into a loss.

    This method, with rigorous pre-production and client involvement, means that the animator has a clear idea of the flow, and can focus solely on making it move seamlessly. 

    The result is reliable, as you’ve already seen various illustration stages and it’s exciting, as it’s a bespoke video with a well-thought concept. 

    If a studio doesn’t offer any interim approval stages for video design, put, you are risking your time and money. 

    And next time if you want ‘an explainer video’ talk to the studio about different creative options available to you – it’s a lot more versatile than you may think. 

    You don’t want to end up with the same kind of animation video you see everywhere and fade into the sea of boring corporate videos. 

    And if you don’t have a clear idea, it should be up to them to guide you correctly – and show you what can be done. 

    If you want any help with video design, check out our video portfolio for style and animation ideas, or our animated video production page and send us a message!

    Related Portfolio Case Studies

  • March 23, 2018

    Essentials Of A Well-Structured Video

    Essentials Of A Well-Structured Video

    When discussing the structure of a video, first determine goals. Without goals, your video could lack not only unity but also credibility.

    Setting goals requires sitting down and asking a few questions before anything is put into motion. So go ahead, sit down, and consider the following questions.

    Question before action

    What vision do you have for your video?

    If you can’t spell out what you want your video to accomplish, then you’d better so some mental pruning and find the seed you want to plant. Without vision, all your efforts might be in vain. Do not underestimate the influence vision can have on a video of any sort.

    Do you want to inspire or create a call to action?

    Knowing the outcome of your video will provide a nice template onto which key aspects can be inserted.

    Do you want users to enquire after watching it? Or make a purchase? Or to follow you on social media? This will guide your script.

    These are just a few questions to address. Whatever your goal is, try to keep it SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound)

    When you finally decide to create a video or hire a professional to help you, be sure you work with them to lay out your vision/mood board as the guiding force behind everything.

    Whether your goal is a youtube video or a business marketing promotional clip, take the time to access your goals.

    Focus

    One thing to keep in mind is focus. Use the following tips as another set of rules to include in your video building strategy:

    Focus: remember the purpose of your video and how it will serve your audience.

    Focus: don’t ramble or spend ages getting to the first point; the goal is to capture attention and not lose it.

    Focus: have a well-written script that addresses the goal and your audience.

    Pre-introduction

    Before any attention grabbing tactic is put into play, you need to know why this video matters to your audience.

    In this regard, you must know your audience like the back of your hand. If you have not invested time in studying your audience, you’re doing yourself a disservice.  And you could be losing value audience members without even realising it.

    Why should your audience watch matters, it matters a lot.  While videos with artistic liberties can get away with this, the video you’re aiming for it much more goal-oriented. Once you know why they should watch, you can find a hook.

    Introduction

    This will set up the entire video. Here is where the audience will be lured in with a hook. Insert questions, statistics, interesting fact, and anecdotes to appeal to their curiosities. Once you have their attention, you can then provide them with the principle idea.

    In offering the main idea to your audience, know that you’re setting the up for a journey into your world. Have a clear map of where you want to go and tell your audience about the journey before you take the first step. A transparent purpose will give the audience a reason to stay and it will give your video plenty of reliability.

    Transitions

    Moving from one idea or image to the next might not sound so complicated, but when your mission has been drawn out, then every idea and image much correlate. And that’s where it gets a little tricky.

    Transitions help bind one idea to the next and they do so in a seamless fashion. They are the links that take you from one finished thought into the next one. Set these up well and you’ll have audience members excited to see what comes next.

    Body

    You’ve told your audience what you’re going to focus on, right. So now comes the bulk of the video. Here is where the main points will be featured and supported by facts, benefits, or outcomes.

    For example, you want to make a video on combating fatigue or low energy levels. You can ask your audience in the beginning, Are you tired of being tired? And respond by saying, Have you considered rest, meditation/mindfulness, water, eating better, sleep. Those solutions become the body of your video, the focal point.

    Another example is for selling a product. Let’s say you want to sell a phone service. You could ask, What is it you want in a mobile carrier?  And then reel them in with, We’ve got what you want, we offer abc & xyz. In the body of your video, you will narrow in on those key points in greater detail.

    Pre-close

    Just before you finish, it’d be nice to reiterate what you’ve already said in a sentence or two.

    This will bring your point home and remind viewers why they started watching in the first place.

    Repetition is another technique that has been proven to increase memory and make information easier to recall.

    Some might call this space the closer, it’s where you wrap up the sales pitch and wait for your audience to buy what you’re selling.

    This is a powerful tool for building integrity. It also packs a punch for lasting effects.

    Closing

    Technically, you’ve closed the video, however you still have a tiny space where you can make a huge difference.

    Most will stop at the pre-closer and think that’s enough, they will even consider the pre-closer sufficient, but without leaving your viewers with a call to action or any motivation, you’re sort of left them sitting there, wondering, waiting, and without any mission.

    You want to leave your viewers with that final impact and here’s the time to do it. It doesn’t have to be more than a few second, but it should be huge in scope. Don’t let your audience walk away from your video without doing, thinking, or feeling something. That’s the secret ingredient and that’s what will make your video stand out in the midst of all the videos out there on the internet. Get remembered out with a stellar closing, one that your audience isn’t soon to forget.

  • April 11, 2017

    Off to OFFF

    Phew! We’ve just come back from OFFF in Barcelona – a 3 day multidisciplinary festival, featuring all kinds of speakers and workshops in design, visual communication and art direction. 

    As primarily motion designers we were looking for video / motion design / animation related talks, so our review is based on them mostly, but I’m a huge fan of any design really, so I saw quite a few illustrators and graphic designers too.

    It was really well organised, I found something unique and interesting in every talk we saw. We left feeling very inspired, and I have a bunch of new projects to try out.   So, here are a few cool highlights from the fest with some of our favourite videos and designs – in the order that we saw them.

    Outro Studio

    Outro Studio, a video and design studio based in Barcelona, did the Opening titles and the book for OFFF this year. Their creative approach to projects was really interesting – like making a space themed video for 30 odd euros. For example, They used a bubble gum machine for the helmet, and did it all through reflection, which was a really clever way to reduce cost and give the impression of space – without some crazy huge set. They also had a great concept, which we follow ourselves pretty much, called – SFFPP Small Fast Fun Personal Projects. Now, I need to get hold of a camera, I felt really inspired to do more video work as it’s been very design based lately here! 

    Wix

    This was really fascinating, because even though Wix are quite famous, they spoke about the troubles finding their brand voice and tone. They started from the early days, showing us the progress and development of their design and videos. It took quite a few projects and experiments to get the tone right for them. Here was a cool little video they made with Shaq, where they finally felt like they had a good base and company voice, which is quite bold in colour but friendly and a bit cheeky. (I think we all know the voiceover too)

    Studio Furious

    A graphic design and photography studio in Paris, Studio Furious, that came out of a lunch time hobby while at their day jobs. They started making all sorts of weird burgers and photographing them for a personal blog called Fat Furious Burger.  This series is great, it was really fun and inventive! With their studio work now, they describe it as either sober or kitch aesthetic – and I love this contrast in approach.

    Atipus

    A Barcelona based graphic design company. Good on them for doing the talk in English, while I know some French and Portuguese, I’d be terrified to give a speech in them! What stood out most for me was their beautiful wine labels, and I think this is what they’re known for too. The simplicity and bold colours and shapes of all their work, but especially these really resonate with me. This series was based on the good soils from which the grapes grow, which I thought was a great perspective.

    Buck

    Buck was one of the ones we’d been looking forward to the most coming up to OFFF, and we weren’t disappointed! One of the main projects they focused on was (not surprisingly) Spectacle of The Real for the magician David Blaine.
    This is a video we have watched.. a million times! So it was really cool to see the whole back story, working with David Blaine and Christopher Walken. Seeing some of the animatic sketches was amazing too. Truly inspirational stuff.

    Imaginary Forces

    Imaginary Forces have been in the industry for over 20 years and the breadth of their work was just incredible – a massive variety of videos for some pretty famous films and tv shows! They do a lot of main title sequences, notably Seven, Boardwalk Empire, and Stranger Things –  all really fantastic works. But I loved this one in particular for Black Sails, the 3D work is so amazing, and I love their research behind the project looking at classical sculpture as inspiration.

    Cookie Studios

    Cookie Studios are a very talented 2D and 3D studio from London – enviable 3D capabilities! They had a great talk which was really client-based. They were very focused on understanding client need and rules – and it’s that, not just making, that makes them better designers. As they say, they can take a ‘shit’ subject and make it cool. I loved their alternative to the standard showreel too. 

    CLAUS

    CLAUS is a studio run by Justin Harder, an illustrator and animator in California. He started out working in a studio, but quit/got fired and moved to Santa Monica living for a few months in his RV… we all have to start somewhere! The variety in his title work was fantastic, we watched a few projects and the styles were so varied and well-executed. He’s been famous lately for doing the Deadpool, the Book of Life and Thor title credits (all awesome!) but Thor was my favourite. 

    GMUNK

    Bradley G Munkowitz – known as Gmunk, does stuff that’s really out of this world. Really, otherworldly was my main feeling. Such a funny guy though, he had the audience laughing so much! It was pretty explicit too, a few shocks!

    Over the past few years, he’s done a lot of interesting projects playing with light and lasers, which to look at I would say looks like 3d work or all VFX, but a lot is filmed using lights and shapes, which was fascinating. He’s reinvented his style a few times, which was good to see the progression. My favourite was this Adobe logo, with LED lights built the logo out of acrylic.

    Jamhot

    One of the few fellow Brits was Jamhot  – a cool graphic  / digital design studio from Glasgow. I loved the honesty in their talk, they spoke pretty truthfully about humble beginnings and wanting to be better all the time, with only their previous work to use a benchmark (like 20-year-old me!). They showed a few lovely projects, but I really liked the classical approach of their work for this school.

    Calvin Sprague

    I was really amazed at how young Calvin was – and how much he’d achieved by the time he was 25. Seriously props to him! He started doing design for music, punk and rock which over time grew to a much wider audience, doing work for Madonna, Beatles and Led Zep.

    But it was not what he wanted to do, it was too limited, so he moved to Amsterdam and started doing stuff for himself – I really liked his style, and it was nice to see the progression and how he got there. This design work for Target was really great large scale – the geometry is lovely.

    Ricardo Cavolo

    So, I’ve been a fan of this Artist, Ricardo (not designer!) for a few years now, I was excited about his talk. He’s definitely more offbeat, which some unusual inspirations. It was pretty fascinating. His work is mostly inspired by early medieval artwork and symbolism. Think about Gods, medieval magic and fairy tales, making a car into a chariot.. that kind of thing. Unlike most of the others I saw, he definitely has 1 particular style – and it’s very strong visually!

    Vallée Duhamel

    Montreal based duo, Vallée Duhamel, did the main titles for OFFF this year, which was a great finale for me. Their work is generally quite surrealist and they make videos described at High-Class Lo-Fi. Which basically means they usually real objects and household items to create their videos, which are filmed – but the end result looks in no way homemade.

    Watching the behind the scenes for some of their work was incredible to see weird small sets, and throwing things about, a massive contrast to the final polished product. For example in this video for Google, they struggled to get the grapefruit to roll straight!

    Wooh ok that was a long one! And really quite gushy sorry – but I think the work really speaks for how awesome and diverse it was. I think I’ll be back for more, so… until next time OFFF!

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