Table of Contents ×
- 1 The Story of Our Animation Styles
- 2 1. Whiteboard Animation
- 3 2. Motion Graphic Animation
- 4 3. Kinetic Typography Animation
- 5 4. Paper Cutout Animation
- 6 5. Digital Cutout Animation
- 7 6. Cartoon Animation
- 8 7. Silhouette Animation
- 9 8. Animated Music Video
- 10 9. Live-Animated Video
- 11 10. Stop Motion Animation
- 12 11. Animated Stick Figures
- 13 12. Animated Infographic
- 14 13. Screencast Animation
- 15 14. 3D Mechanical Animation
- 16 15. Flipbook Animation
- 17 16. Claymotion
- 18 Bonus: Combination of several animation styles above
- 19 Closing Thought.
The explainer video industry is moving up in the world. Earlier in 2017, this short visual content can be found in many places including the news, TV, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Animated explainers provide amazing results when it comes to showing viewers’ problems and immediately offering a solution to them. They’re also good education media due to the eye-catching visuals, snappy animations, and narrative audio — making them an obvious center of attention that is hard to skip or miss. Add all of those up and you’ll get the perfect marketing tool to execute any business marketing strategy.
This is precisely why animated explainer videos are being used frequently today. Global companies use this short movie form to tell their stories; they can benefit various industries and cover different topics such as health, travel, tech and science, fashion, food, film, etc. A user can advertise almost anything on the web by using them!
The Story of Our Animation Styles
As the industry grows, video production companies started popping up everywhere, which causes fierce marketing and creativity competition. The rise of animated marketing videos in various industries is also causing demand for explainer animation as a tool to increase brand awareness.
Each company tries its best to come up with video styles and new animation styles to establish a signature for its creation. After all, animated explainer videos are a form of art in the era of social media and online media — which are bound to have signature looks — and useful content to watch for a company’s target customers. That means if your company thinks about creating an explainer, 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. A quick search on YouTube shows that there are hundreds of animation explainer video styles that range from short ones (10-20 seconds) to longer ones (>4 minutes).
If you’re wondering how many words in a minute an explainer video has, it’s usually between 160 and 180 words per minute.
Our recurring clients are already familiar with our animated styles, and most of the time they call us knowing exactly what they want.
With years of experience in creating explainer videos, my team and I have tried out – and also seen – lots of styles from top-level studios.
Some of them we love, and some are a little out of our taste. Some require god-tier techniques, some can be done by new learners.
We came to 16 different styles in total and each of them requires a different animation technique that you can explore. That’s what I want to share with you right here.
1. Whiteboard Animation
A classic and traditional definition of explanatory video content. It is the simplest form of 2D animation.
As you can see, this style is all about illustrations and is mostly done in black and white.
You can see the hand of the illustrator drawing image after image on a clean white surface to explain a concept to you. Whiteboards are by far the best bang-for-the-buck video style for corporate purposes.
Whiteboard animations are known as the most effective type of explainer video animation thanks to its minimalistic design that allows viewers to concentrate on the content. They are also great for video series and you should definitely consider this approach.
2. Motion Graphic Animation
Just as the name suggests, this video 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.
A motion graphics animated video explainer is incredibly fluid in various ways — you almost can’t go wrong with it, whatever the case may be. That is why motion graphics explainers are always in high demand (at least for us).
Do you want to engage the audience? Make an interactive video — it has dynamics.
If you want to pitch your brilliant ideas to investors or create a character for your brand, motion graphics look awesome and can get them easily awed.
In our company’s culture, we believe that motion graphics are designed to be both entertainment, communication, and marketing content.
A sharp set of skill and a lot of special training is required to draw and animate one of these videos.
Every movement in motion graphic videos needs a tremendous amount of attention to detail and method to execute, especially the transition between frames and movement of small objects. That’s why most of the time motion graphics take a bigger chunk of animators’ time (and therefore your budget) compared to other styles.
This explainer video from Saleswhale is an excellent example:
3. Kinetic Typography Animation
The idea of this style is to deliver a message through words. This type of video is quite common on the Internet, try searching ‘kinetic typography’ on Google and you’ll see what I mean.
Obviously, as the name suggests, this type of explainer video relies heavily on text and numbers. Coupled with relevant animation and accompanied by background music that matches the overall feel you’re going for in an ad. Kinetic typography has the power to inspire someone’s mind, express an idea and way of thinking, as well as move people’s feelings.
Look at this stunning kinetic typography animated explainer video from Adhesive:
4. Paper Cutout Animation
Traditional cutout stop-motion animation is normally created on a physical medium (paper of fabric). After that, it is cut into its component parts, which can be controlled. Let’s say if you want to show a character walking, you simply move its legs cut-out.
Here’s an example with a clear sign of a basic paper cutout-style video from FindYahan:
It’s really simple in terms of look and movement, which can be either its main strength or weakness. Essentially, cutout animation features 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, even with no fancy animation and whatnot, the audience still can really concentrate on listening to and grabbing the message.
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
With the rapid growth and use of technology, traditional cutout animations are now replaced by digital animations, which is a more elaborate version of the cutout style.
This digital style is richer in the features that a simpler cutout style is lacking. Using the software, the cut-out pieces are created digitally and controlled in movie frames as needed.
Check out the example from The Drink Card below:
6. Cartoon Animation
Who says cartoons are only for kids? This style of animation is most commonly used in explainer video production. As a strong sense of humor is the main appeal of cartoon animation, it has a wide range of applications.
The cartoon animated explainer video from Astra Life Insurance below will help you to get more insights:
With this style, you can go for a more fun, adventurous concept. Lots of colors, and humorous bits complete with sound effects, expressive characters, and detailed environmental elements.
Some videos even add extraordinary background music to empower the story, and make it more engaging, while others avoid background music to put more emphasis on the narration.
7. Silhouette Animation
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:
This style of animation works best to introduce a new product since it highlights the product itself and leaves the rest of the elements as just shadows.
8. Animated Music Video
Pretty much the same as the usual animated 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, but some still stick to 2D.
Music videos are at their finest when it’s mixed up with some kinetic typography for the lyrics for viewers to sing along – like this video here:
9. Live-Animated Video
Live-Action vs. Animation is an eternal debate when choosing videos for your business. Why not use them both?
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. Just please make sure to get a high-quality camera beforehand.
Check out this live-action animated explainer video that we produce for Codemeet:
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 – manually or digitally – then take photos, change an element of that image (moving the hand, for example), and then take another one.
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 of these styles, but it involves a tedious process of taking pictures and it goes frame by frame. Not to mention that a hundred pictures can result in a video that is only a few seconds long.
The medium can be anything, including puppets, graphics, papers, and anything else you can imagine. Since this style of animation is extremely fun to watch, it’s ideal for companies that want to leave a long-lasting impression with their brand’s introduction.
Take a look at Timewax’s stop motion explainer video below:
11. Animated Stick Figures
Just as the name implies, everything will be drawn in stick figures. Very simple. Playful but not overwhelming. This animation style breathes life into the drawing of your 5-year-old daughter, and that is simplicity at its finest.
This style of animation is ideal to use if you want to tell a complicated topic where the focus of the audience is more on the story rather than the characters.
There are many popular animated stick figure animations around the world of explainers, 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 based on a script. It can cover any subject and transform often boring figures into engaging, visually pleasing statistics so viewers can retain it much better.
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.
Look how Red24 presents the infographics in the most compelling way:
13. Screencast Animation
Screencast animation is the best style to use in explaining products, a website, or an 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 desktop site or mobile 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 them easy to understand.
Like this video, we made for eChalk:
14. 3D Mechanical Animation
This type of animation is commonly used for introducing a physical product. It’s normally crafted with 3D software to show the assembly process or product details. The main purpose is to visually represent the configuration of a mechanical product and its components.
That’s why its animation techniques need to be of the highest quality to ensure that the result is realistic. No wonder the cost of production is quite higher compared to other styles of animation.
Look at the example from I-COOP:
15. Flipbook Animation
If you need an informal type of homespun animation, a flipbook can be one of the best options.
The old style of this type of animation requires a series of hand drawings that gradually change from one page to the next. When it turns rapidly, the pictures appear to animate by simulating motion.
Now that everything turns digital, the digital flipbook has stolen the scene. With the help of animation software, now it’s much easier to create realistic pages and turn them into animations.
This video from Modo Modo shows you how it’s done:
Along with flipbooks, claymation is another informal, simple type of animation. As you can tell from the name, clay or plasticine is used as a primary medium for production.
This style of animation uses the stop motion technique, where each movement is a new “shot,” and the “shots” are combined at the end to create a whole video.
Play-Doh, a famous modeling compound brand, is one of the companies that often uses claymation in their advertising campaigns to give the brand a strong trademark identity.
Look at one of its video campaigns using claymation:
Bonus: Combination of several animation styles above
This last style is a mix of many different animation styles, from cartoon to music, and from stick figure to silhouette.
Using the combination of various styles of animation is a creative way to add fun to your story and enhances the video’s impact even more.
When those animation styles are paired with a well-done production strategy, the result is none other than a real gold mine: a video with a powerful impact on your audience.
Looking for the right animation style for your explainer video is not easy, but I’m hoping this article will help in your search for the best types of explainer clips for your company.
If you want to see more videos that we have created, click here to see our portfolios.
There are many tools and resources out there to help you look for the best animation style you can use for your explainer video.
Before you place an order, have in mind that creating an animated video requires a computer with compatible hardware and software. And the cost to update this equipment to follow the latest technology isn’t cheap.
That said, whichever explainer video company you hire to create your video explainer must have a reason to charge a certain price.
Check our other blog posts or subscribe to our emails to find useful resources for video marketing. If you’re intrigued to start your first explainer video with us, we have an infographic to walk you through our explainer video production process.
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