Live-Action or Animated Explainer Video? Our Answer May Surprise You

If you run a business, you would know that marketing is one of the most important aspects of a business. In recent times, video has taken over the world of marketing.

According to Cisco, about 82% of the internet contains video. And in 2021, about 59% of consumers spent a quarter or more of their time watching videos on social media.

We can all agree that explainer videos are the new and effective direction for marketing—or to sum it up, they’re pretty much awesome.

They help your business generate more leads and make the perfect pitch every time they’re played. An explainer video is your business ambassador at large.

But there are been questions from clients and marketers that cause confusion: “should we use a live-action or animated explainer video? What are the pros and cons of using each?”

Before starting a video project, you should be aware of who you are speaking to, the situation, the culture you are connecting with, and the target audience.

We have been making videos for the past ten years now and we’re quite comfortable answering these questions once and for all!

But before we offer a verdict, let’s answer some commonly asked questions.


Which is more budget-friendly?

There is a common misconception that animated videos are cheaper than live-action videos.

Now, this might be true, but not always. You need to set a budget depending on who you are hiring, how long you want the video to be, what the requirements are, and what type of animation are you choosing.

With that being said, planning the budget for animated videos is easier compared to a live-action video.

With live-action, you have to consider so many factors. Let’s say the video only has one person in front of the camera, explaining the product.

It won’t cost much but if it’s more than that, there are things like actors, crew, props, equipment, location, hair and makeup, stylists, catering, and so on that, you will need to consider.

If the budget is not enough, there is always the option of using stock videos available.

Read more: Live -Action Videos—What Drive Up the Cost?


Which is faster to produce?

Live-action videos are faster to produce compared to animated videos. If you have a concept and a component to grab attention, a low-budget live-action can be produced in as less time as 5-7 days. While animated videos that are 30 to 60 seconds long typically take 4 to 8 weeks.


Can you make revisions?

With animated videos, you can make revisions as you want. Do read your video production agency’s policy because there may be certain terms and conditions that vary from company to company. Revision allows you to edit and fix the parts that are not as appealing as you’d want. With live-action videos, it is usually preferred to work with whatever was recorded because reshooting costs a lot.


Which one is better for product demonstration?

Live-action videos work better for tangible products. But if you’re a SaaS, IoT, or Fintech company, for example, that offers an app or software, then animated videos are ideal

Let’s dive into the pros and cons of each.


Live-action explainer videos


It creates a human connection

Online, you’ll find marketers everywhere that give their best effort to sell their products and services.  While the results can be innovative, interesting, and even highly engaging, these campaigns will often lack the most important ingredient: the human factor.

Check out this video we made for FlyCleaners

Not only do you see an actual person in the explainer video but you also get an idea of the service offered.

A live-action explainer video can create authenticity and an emotional connection with your customers, even before they decide to buy from you.


It’s great for testimonials

Trust is a key factor when it comes to growing your business. And to build trust, testimonials will help you on your journey.

Live actions are great for testimonials because customers can relate to them. Consumers are skeptical and for them to spend their money, you must show the value of your product or service through a live-action video.

You can highlight the success stories of your customers by addressing the problem they were facing and how your product helped them solve it.

Read more: How to Take Advantage of B2B Testimonial Videos


It limits your imagination

The worst part about having a live-action explainer video is that there is little room for creative imagination.

Consider this, you are selling a new smartwatch and want to have scenes that show the main actor wearing the watch but also being chased by bad guys that are evil robots, supported by their alien ships.

Hollywood proves that creating all this is very much possible, but let’s face it, not everyone has a Hollywood budget, especially for an explainer video. If you don’t want to break the bank on your explainer video, your choices will be limited to a normal live-action video.


Revisions are a nightmare

Live-action explainer video production is like a mini-movie shoot. In fact, it is a mini-movie shoot. So once you have finalized it and you are using it, you might want to change it as businesses grow and add more products and services.

If you want, for instance, to add a new feature in your explainer video, it will cost you a lot. Not to mention that you will also have to find the actors again, have to bring in the same props, etc.

In fact, most studios would suggest that you shoot a new video compared to the cost and challenges of making changes to an existing one.

So if you go live-action, keep in mind that you’ll want to create a video that will stand the test of time.


Animated Explainer Video


Your imagination is the limit

Unlike live-action explainer video, you can do anything in an animated video. So if you want to add aliens chasing your main character in their alien ships, an animator can create that for you, easily.

When you choose an animated explainer video, you start with a storyboard where the animator or the illustrator will create all the scenes for you. It is here you can add more stuff, delete some and even change it completely, no sweat.

Check out this animated explainer video we did for SmartVel

Related: 10 Best Animated Explainer Videos That Did It Right

Revisions are an option

We live in a world where the trends and everything in the market is subject to change almost every day. It is smart to make a video that is flexible and can be changed depending on the situation.

If you want to make significant changes in the later stage, it might cost you extra. Let’s say if the agency you hired for your video is working on the animation stage and you’d now want to change something in the script, they will have to record the voice-over again, make the necessary changes to the storyboard, and update the animation. That’s why it will cost you some fee for the changes made.

An example of this is work that we did for Elance, now Upwork. Because they went with animation, Upwork can easily keep their video up to date as the business grows and reshapes to meet customers’ needs. Check it out:


The Cons

Animation can take longer than live-action

When you opt for animated videos, you can expect it to take longer than live-action video. However, there are some studios (ahem, us) that can do it fast as well.

The reason is that the animation process is different and everything needs to be done from scratch. The illustrators design the backgrounds and characters, and then the animators work their magic. Then the voice-overs and sound design. If you have a tighter turnaround time, then this may be a consideration when working with some studios.

But as we mentioned above, time doesn’t always have to be a limitation. Check out the video we created for Popl Enterprise in only six weeks!

The Bottom Line

Now that we have the pros and cons in front of us, we would say that the decision between live-action and animation ultimately lies in what your product is, and what your goals are for the video.

There isn’t a winner because there isn’t a competition. Both the styles are versatile and can be used in different ways.

If you are still unclear what you want to do, we recommend that you call us and we can mull it over together whether an animated or a live-action video will work best for you.

Posted by Samra Tiwana

Subscribe to the MotionCue Newsletter

For monthly video and marketing insights from company founder/CEO Osama Khabab

Contact Us

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.