The explainer video industry is moving up in the world. Earlier in 2017, these short visual content can be found in many places including the news, TV, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
As the industry grows, explainer video production companies are popping up everywhere, which causes a fierce competition.
Each company tries their best to come up with video styles and new animation styles to establish a signature for their creation. After all, explainer videos are a form of art — which are bound to have signature looks — and a useful content to watch for a company’s target customers. That means if your company thinks about creating an explainer video, there is a long list of video styles to choose from.
However, there are people who find it harder to choose between so many options.
Once, there was a client who contacted us to create a web series of explainer video to post on their blog. It was a pretty big company that has many kind of services, and it only made sense that they demanded good quality from a top level company ;).
Let’s call this client Bill.
Obviously, I pitched different video styles to Bill so he can decide himself which one he liked best before we start the project. He got back to me and choose cuttoons.
(Cuttoons is one of our unique animation types that my team and I came up years ago — essentially, it is a combination of cut-out animation and cartoons, hence the name.)
Naturally, I followed up by sending more cuttoons video to Bill. He replied back “I’m not really into cuttoons, so no cuttoons.”
No cuttoons, when exactly ten minutes ago, Bill clearly mentioned cuttoons.
My first thought was: Bill mistook another animation style for cuttoons, or Bill had a hard time to learn the difference between types of animated videos I just sent him. Whichever the reason was, this incident showed me the importance of explaining to you a little more about our types of video styles here at Breadnbeyond.
With years of experience in creating explainer video, my team and I have tried out – and also seen – lots of styles from top level studios. Some of them we love, some are a little out of our taste. Through a long and winding process, we came to 14 different styles in total and each of them requires different animation technique. That’s what I want to share with you right here.
1. Whiteboard Animation.
Here’s an example of one of our videos that uses the whiteboard style of animation, for DC HomeBuzz:
A classic and a traditional definition of explanatory videos. It is the simplest form of a 2d animation. As you can see, this style is all about illustrations and is mostly done in black and white. You’ll see the hand of the illustrator’s drawing images after images on a clean white surface to explain a concept to you.
2. Motion Graphic Animation.
Just as the name suggests, this animation style conveys an explanation through simple animated graphics. Since there’s always constant movement, this style is designed to be engaging and easy to follow. It’s perfect for explaining and clarifying a rather complicated services or products.
A sharp set of animation skill is required in making one of these videos since every aspect of motion graphic animation needs deep attention to detail, especially the transition between frames and movement of small objects.
This video is an example:
3. Kinetic Typography Animation.
The idea of this style is to deliver a message through words. Obviously, this type of explainer video relies heavily on text. Coupled with relevant animation and accompanied by background music that matches the overall feel you’re going for, it’s usually used to inspire people, or to express an idea or way of thinking.
4. Cutout Animation.
Here’s an example of a basic cutout style video from Buck Institute of Education:
It’s really simple in terms of look and movement, which can be either a strength or weakness. Essentially, Cutout animation shows characters and objects that are cut out of paper, hence the name. It’s that simple.
However, since it’s not demanding on the eyes, no fancy animation and whatnot, the audience can really concentrate on listening to and grabbing the message. That is the way this style works for me when I view it. On the other hand, however, the video might also come across as somewhat plain or downright boring for those who are attracted to color and movement.
5. Digital Cutout Animation.
A more elaborate version of the cutout style, this one is richer in the features that simpler cutout style is lacking. See it for yourself:
6. Cartoon Animation.
Who says cartoons are only for kids?
With this style, you can go for a more fun, adventurous concept. Lots of colors, humorous bits complete with sound effects, expressive characters and more. Some videos even add an extraordinarily composed music to empower the story, make it more engaging, while others avoid background music to put more emphasis on the narration.
7. Silhouette Animation.
Next up is silhouette animation. This style shows a character in the explainer video, but only in form of a silhouette. If you’re afraid a silhouette character may come off as a little cold or scary, don’t be! You can still play up the expressions, or even use your company’s color instead of the usual basic color; just as we did in this video:
8. Animated Music Video.
Pretty much the same as the usual music video we see on MTV, this style has an animated character instead of a real live singer. Music is liberal, and the animation that represents it should be too. Many MV creators have tried using 3d animation style, some still stick to 2d.
Music videos is at its finest when it’s mixed up with some kinetic typography for the lyrics for viewers to sing along – like this video here:
9. Live Action + Animation.
When a single style of video gets boring, mixing both live action and animation gives you the best of both worlds. You can be personal and build trust with the live action part, while also entertaining and illustrative with the animation part.
10. Stop Motion Animation.
Do you know, or remember, Wallace and Gromit? If you do, that’s the perfect example of stop motion animation. You draw a character – manual or digitally – then take a picture, change an element of that picture (moving the hand, for example) and then take another picture. When you’re done with the drawing/taking a picture routine, stack the pictures together and you have a stop motion style video!
Stop motion animation is the least complex between these styles, but it involves a tedious process of taking pictures. Not to mention that a hundred pictures can result in a video that is only a few seconds long.
11. Animated Stick Figures.
Just like the name implies, everything will be drawn in stick figures. Very simple. Playful but not overwhelming. This animation style breath a life into the drawing of your 5-year old daughter, and that is a simplicity at its finest. There are many popular animated stick figure animations around the world of explainer videos, including many created by Epipheo Studio.
Here’s a video example of this style:
12. Animated Infographic.
Basically, this is a motion graphic video that aims to explain, educate or inform. Infographic videos rely heavily on, well, information. Animation like this is packed with a lot of facts, data, numbers, charts, and other kinds of statistics. Having all this data animated is very helpful in avoiding putting the viewer to sleep while reading through the data.
13. Screen Capture.
This is the best style to use in explaining a website or app – as long as you don’t intend to have an update to the UI at a later stage. Mostly it’s an animated version of your website (or mobile app), showing the viewer how to use the website or app – step-by-step. This type of video is very helpful to improve customers’ experience in using your product service, and therefore increase, or at least maintain revenue at a steady level. Most videos that intend to become a tutorial or a how-to video, would want to use animated screencaps to make it easy to understand.
Like this video we made for Sprofila:
14. Other Animation Style.
Like this video we made…
…this last style is a mix of many different animation styles, from cartoon to music, and from stick figure to silhouette.
Hopefully, this article will help in your search of the best types of explainer video for your company. If you want to see more videos that we have created, click here to see our portfolios.
We developed these styles one step by another based on the exchange of tips between our artists. There are many tools and resources out there to support our endeavor in developing our art style.
Our friendly reminder to you is that creating animated videos might seem simple on the surface, but it is not. It requires a computer with compatible hardware and software. That said, whichever company you hire to create your explainer video must have a reason to charge a certain price.
Disclaimer for the featured videos: all rights reserved by Breadnbeyond and its client(s), usage of these videos are permitted with attribution.