The complete guide to animated video production in 2023
Great content marketing is all about telling a story. But the story is only as good as the execution.
Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in text. And animated videos turn even the most complex ideas into easy-to-digest entertainment pieces for your ideal audience.
Whether you're explaining a new app, promoting a new initiative or service, or need animated idents for your new podcast, animation can help you visually bring your message to life in the right tone, without creative limitations.
In this lengthy article, we're going to go through everything you need to know about animated video production in 2023. If you want to skip to different sections, we've anchored some handy links here:
WHAT TYPES OF ANIMATED VIDEOS ARE THERE? (with examples)
WHAT SHOULD AN ANIMATED VIDEO INCLUDE?
HOW LONG SHOULD AN ANIMATED VIDEO BE?
HOW DO I MAKE AN ANIMATED VIDEO?
What types of ANIMATED videos are there? (with examples)
From explainer videos to brand stories, animation engages audiences like no other style of video.
Whether your goal is to help audiences visualise a tricky concept, or simply keep them engaged and entertained with something akin to your favourite nostalgic cartoon, there are so many different video animation styles to choose from.
Let's look at some examples!
Animation mixed with live action
Choosing to go down the live-action route means you can include real locations, elements and actors to add a more personalised, real-world feel.
But it's good to mix it up! Adding a sprinkling of animation can take your video to the next level by providing more creative freedom for those tricky-to-visualise concepts. The result is a combination that's much more creative, engaging, and far less limited than live-action alone.
Here's an example of a live-action video with animated elements, created by Skeleton Productions:
2D animation videos
2D animation is probably the most common style of animation. And while these graphics can be manipulated to look 3D, ultimately, if you can’t rotate the object to get multiple views, it’s classed as 2D animation.
One benefit that 2D animation gives marketers is that it's likely going to be the most affordable type of animation, mainly because it's less time-consuming than stop motion or 3D animation.
Here's a 2D recruitment animation video made for the NHS by Skeleton Productions:
3D animation videos
3D animation is a more dynamic, eye-catching and engaging video style. They're essentially graphics that are modelled in a 3-dimensional environment and then animated.
This means you can rotate the assets around in 360-degree space to get whatever angle you want for the composition. In fact, some 3D animations are so well done, you may not even realise they're animated!
Here's another example by Skeleton Productions:
Motion graphic videos
Motion graphic design refers to the combination of text and design elements set to motion in a clear, minimalist way.
This doesn’t mean a full animated film, but usually refers to shorter pieces of animation, like an animated logo, for example.
Kinetic typography videos
Kinetic typography simply means ‘moving text’. It’s an animation technique that pairs text with motion to convey ideas and evoke emotions in your viewers.
Here's Skeleton's Manifesto film, which includes kinetic typographical elements:
Stop-motion animation videos (including claymation)
Remember making flipbook out of your school books when you were a kid? Well, stop motion animation is a kind of like that, but more advanced.
It involves photographing and then physically manipulating objects within your frame, so as each frame is played in sequence, the technique creates the effect of the object moving by itself.
Think of larger film productions like Wallis and Gromit or The Nightmare Before Christmas. Of course, you can probably guess that this is a very time-consuming way to create animations, so not many businesses use it for video advertising. There are some, however, that take the plunge! And boy is it worth it.
Whiteboard animation videos
These are designed to look like the content is being hand-drawn on a school whiteboard, and are a simple way to communicate complex information.
It's probably the easiest and most accessible form of animation, with plenty of low-cost tools to help even the most artistically challenged among us create engaging, informative videos that look like you're doodling on a whiteboard. Here's an example!
Rotoscoping is the process of creating animated sequences by tracing over live-action footage, frame by frame.
Like stop motion, it takes a lot of time to do successfully, and is usually a technique reserved for game production or films.
But the benefit is that it helps animators create life-like characters who move just like people in the real world.
What purpose might an animated video serve?
- Explainer videos — A powerful and engaging way to introduce and help prospective customers wrap their heads around brands, products and services. Great for if you've got a new app to sell and want to show people the intricacies of how it works, for example.
- Promotional videos — A crucial part of the modern-day buyer journey. Whether you're looking to promote a specific marketing initiative, product, or event, promo videos are a great way to grab your audience's attention and draw them in to learn more.
- Training videos — A way to use creative, visual storytelling to help people learn new skills and change behaviours.
- Recruitment videos — A powerful way to inspire potential candidates, encapsulate your culture, and drive job applications for brands.
- TV adverts — They're targeted. They reach large audiences. And by telling a compelling story with the right creative approach, you’re harnessing that power to evoke real emotion.
- Corporate videos — A business video that energies and inspires your audience, keeping them invested in whatever message you have to communicate.
- Idents — A short moving graphic, image or logo that visually identifies your organisation to your audience at the start of your video/show/podcast.
- Social adverts — Short, engaging ads made to grab attention from audiences across social media platforms and inspire them to learn more about your business or purchase from you.
What should an Animated video include?
A great animated video tells a story and has a clear call to action. They should be short, punchy, eye-catching, engaging, and fun. The best animated videos out there include most of the following features:
- One clear, simple message. The clearer your message is, the easier it is for your audience to understand and get on board with it.
- Visual cues. If your product or service is complex, animated and abstract visual elements are a great way to join the dots, engage your audience, and help your message come across clearly.
- Your brand identity. By featuring your tone of voice, your brand colours, logos, and other visual markers, your video will be recognisable against competitors.
- A use case or testimonial. Let the results speak for themselves!
- A call to action. To persuade viewers to look further into your business' product or services.
How long should an ANIMATED video be?
Your audience’s attention is valuable. You’ll be working hard to get it in the first place, so it pays not to waste it once you have it. And this means being concise in your communication. The shorter, the better.
However, generally speaking, most animated videos are around 90 seconds long. This gives you enough time to get your point across without bombarding your potential customer with information.
If you feel that your animation does need to be longer, then this is still possible — just make sure it adds value.
How can I make ANIMATED videos?
Step 1: DECIDE ON YOUR VIDEO OBJECTIVE
I) IDENTIFY YOUR BUSINESS SITUATION AND ISSUES
Your objectives are most likely to blossom naturally from a problem, weakness, or opportunity for your business. So you'll need to start with an up-to-date SWOT analysis of your business.
Ask yourself how your business and its marketing efforts are doing and where your strengths and weaknesses currently lie.
Be as detailed as you can, but don't worry about getting every single thing down. This doesn't need to be War and Peace. It just needs to give an accurate view of where your business is at, where it's acing things, and where it could improve.
II) PICK YOUR PROBLEM
Call me Ishmael, because it's time to find your own Moby Dick.
From the information you've filled out, decide which of the issues facing your business you want to try and fix (or opportunities you want to go after).
III) LINK IT BACK TO your marketing STRATEGY
Do you have any wider goals currently in place that your animated video content could contribute towards?
You want to be certain that whatever videos you create tie into your bigger aims and are relevant to where you're heading as a business.
So write down which higher-level goals your video content will feed into.
For example, by tackling poor conversion rates you might be helping to meet your business goal of generating 200 new customers this year.
IV) CONSTRUCT YOUR OBJECTIVE
Okay, it's time to get that objective down.
Keeping your problem or opportunity in mind, turn it into an objective that will also help achieve your bigger goal.
Most importantly, you need to make sure your objectives are SMART.
- Specific (not vague)
- Measurable (ideally containing statistics you can track)
- Achievable (realistic considering the circumstances)
- Relevant (tied into your wider business goals)
- Time-bound (within a set deadline).
V) SPECIFY HOW YOU'LL MEASURE SUCCESS
This is something people often forget to do, but it's so important to track how your video content is performing.
Be sure to note down specifically what numbers, statistics, or video metrics you'll need to keep an eye on to see how and when you hit your objectives.
And use the exact figure that you're aiming to achieve, so there's no room for confusion.
VI) MAKE NOTE OF YOUR STAKEHOLDERS
Finally, write down anyone who might need to be aware of or sign off on your video objectives.
This might be a Marketing Director, the owner of the business, or your direct superior. Or all three.
Whoever will need to know, it's pertinent to start getting them involved now. That way you won't come up against any surprise roadblocks further down the road.
And if you're lucky enough to have sole control over your animation, leave this part blank!
SOME COMMON VIDEO goals & OBJECTIVES
Okay, I've shown you the process you need to follow to come up with your objectives, but you might still be struggling for inspiration. Well, the truth is: video can be used to achieve almost anything.
At the end of the day, your objectives are going to rely heavily on your marketing strategy and the overall aims of the business.
But to help get you started, here are some of the most common objectives for animated videos:
- Increasing user retention and engagement
- Converting leads
- Increasing sales
- Launching a new product or service
- Providing customer support
- Teaching a new skill
- Attracting new job applicants
Don't feel limited by these. Done right, video content can reach any goal.
Step 2: RESEARCH YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
Your audience might well be the single most important aspect of your animated video. And you're going to have to get to know them even better to do this thing right.
If you haven't done enough research into your target audience, there's no way you'll be able to create a video that appeals to them and engages them. That speaks to their heart.
In practice, that means going way beyond simple demographics like age, gender and location.
It means getting to know your audience as people.
Step 3: WORK OUT YOUR CORE MESSAGE
What action do you want your target audience need to take? And what state of mind will lead them to that action?
In other words, what do you want your target audience to:
Let me give you an example. If we want to increase our conversion rate on our product page to 3% (and considering what we found from our research) then we want our audience to:
- Feel: invigorated, and excited to get started
- Think: our product will offer more than our competitor(s)
- Do: purchase our software
BOIL DOWN THE CORE MESSAGE
Next, we have to work out the one thing your audience needs to know to encourage them to feel, think and act that way.
I strongly suggest you focus on a single core message. The more precision you have on what you want to say, the less diluted your point will be.
Think of your video content like a laser, dividing your video between different messages is like separating the laser into different beams. Each message becomes weaker overall.
But if you leave the laser as a single beam, your message emerges far stronger.
So what's your core message? What do you need to get across to your target audience so they will think, feel and do what you're setting out for them to do?
You basically have to infer this from everything you've discovered so far.
In our example, our core message would most likely be:
Our software offers [core benefit] to a higher standard than our competitors, and here's how it does that.
Step 4: Create your strategy
All the above boils down to strategy, which is at the heart of your animated video production. Without a clear strategy filled with the above insights, your video is going to be just a load of pretty imagery. Which is great and all, but it'll probably miss the mark when it comes to speaking clearly to your target audience.
Your video strategy will ultimately be what guides you — in terms of your budget, your timelines, your production processes, your conversion metrics, and even where your video is going to live. In other words, all the things you need to create a bangin' brief for the creatives who will be working on your corporate video.
If you've not done that strategic thinking yet, we can help you look at your objectives, goals and audience and support you on this journey. We manage projects where clients have had no video experience, all the way through to those very familiar with the medium and what’s involved.
Have a gander at our strategy services and get in touch!
STEP 5: YOUR VIDEO PRODUCTION BRIEF
Now, this document is probably the most important part to get right. Here, you need to combine all of your thoughts into one place to ensure no important planning is missed.
Whether you're creating video internally or working with a video agency, your brief is vital to make sure everybody involved is working towards the same goal.
With decades of video production experience the team at Skeleton know what a great video brief looks like - so we've uploaded a video briefing template for you to download, free of charge.
DOWNLOAD OUR VIDEO production BRIEF TEMPLATE
Kickstart your latest video project with our simple brief template. Learn how to lay out your brief properly and make sure your videos are produced simply & effectively.
Remember that the more detail you can include in your brief before production begins, the more likely your video is to be a success that engages your audience and meets your goals.
Our simple video brief template asks you all of these questions in even more depth, with preview examples. So now you know how to write a video production brief (and why), download our template and get started today!
STEP 6: THE CREATIVE BIT
Want to know how the corporate video production creative process works? Whilst every creative agency is different, we can give you some insight into how we do things here at Skeleton:
I) PROJECT BRIEFING
First, your animated video production team will begin by understanding your destination through your brief. They should be using it as a guiding principle throughout the whole of your video production process.
II) CREATIVE DEVELOPMENT
Then, your animated video production company or team will begin to develop strategic and creative ways of telling your story. They'll take your brief and get to work researching and creating mood boards to develop a key creative idea based on real insights.
III) CREATIVE PRESENTATION
Once ideas have been sparked, the real excitement begins as your video team presents their thoughts and creative ideas to you for feedback.
STEP 7: SCRIPT AND STORYBOARD
Once you’re happy with the direction of your animated video, it’s time for those working on your video (i.e. your chosen video production agency, motion designers and animators) to get to work on your video scripts and storyboards.
What’s a storyboard, you ask? A storyboard is a visual representation of your video sequence broken down into individual panels. It’s pretty much a series of ordered drawings that include camera direction, dialogue, and other important details. Essentially, it’s where the creatives sketch out how a video will unfold, shot by shot.
In order to tell your story in the most compelling way possible, you’ll need to ensure that the script for your video syncs well with what you have in mind visually.
STEP 8: ANALYTICS AND HOSTING
Understanding how and why your content is performing across multiple platforms and channels is vital for taking your marketing to the next level.
Regular analysis and reporting across a range of metrics and KPIs mean you can chart how close you are to reaching your objectives. And that means you can fine-tune your strategy and create even more powerful, compelling content.
You'll need to have a video analytics software in place that allows you to discover what your audiences are watching and benchmark against your competitors.
Wistia is our go-to video hosting platform at Skeleton. We use it for our clients' video content as well as our own, as it's specifically designed for businesses. What makes it one of the best video hosting sites on the market is its focus on data, customisation and ability to integrate with third-party services.
Once you publish your shiny new video on Wistia and the views begin to rush in, you'll have access to a whole host of advanced metrics to work out how close you are to your goals.
If you don't measure your video marketing properly, you can easily under-report the value it is providing and it will quickly start to look like a bad investment.
STEP 9: VIDEO ACTIVATION
A brilliant video won't go very far on its own. Planning where your video will live is vital to its success with your target audience. This is where you need to make sure your content is hitting your target audience in the right place, at the right time.
To start you off, let’s get thinking about some of the following questions, so you can decide where it's most worthwhile to invest your time, money and effort.
I) WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
Every business has its own goals, from boosting awareness to increasing sales to better engagement on social media platforms.
Your goal will ultimately shape what success looks like to you and whether your campaign has gone well. But it also defines how you should distribute your video.
Think about your sales funnel: consider whether you're trying to raise awareness, push leads, drive decision-making, or keep customers interested, then decide how your corporate video can help you do it.
For example, if you're launching something new? You should think about promoting your video with paid social. Helping customers out with an explainer video? Put long-form content on YouTube for them to view while they research.
II) WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?
Time to look back on your personas. Think about the channels they use, the shows they watch, and ultimately, which platforms are worth pursuing.
Is there anything your target customer is looking for or expecting from your sector? Knowing the answers to all these questions will help you figure out the best platforms to achieve your goals.
For example, you might know you want to use social media advertising to boost awareness, but your target market is under 18s. So, you're better off using TikTok or Instagram, which have more users in that demographic than Facebook.
Or, if you know you want to speak to an audience that watches DIY shows, you might think about spending on pre-roll ads or Sky AdSmart.
Most people in the research stage of their buyer journey head over to Youtube or Reddit for answers, so maybe that's where your video is best off being published.
Ultimately, to reach the right people you have to be in the right place, because if you don't think it through from the start, you risk wasting your budget, and your chances.
III) DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT FORMATS?
Once you've answered the questions above, you should have an idea of how you want to activate your video. But just as one video won't work for all people, on a technical level, it won't work for all channels, either.
That doesn't mean you necessarily have to create additional content, though. It's often a case of adapting what you have for different platforms.
It's worth setting aside some budget to create edits of your video, so it can be trimmed and tailored for all kinds of applications (more on that on p. 7 of our Video Activation Guide).
If you're not confident or comfortable with doing this, ask us to step in and take the reins.
IV) WHAT'S YOUR advertising BUDGET?
93% of marketers agree video is an important part of their marketing strategy (HubSpot), but whether you're using social media, TV (be that connected or traditional) or another channel, budget is crucial.
It all depends on what you're trying to achieve and which platforms you use. But, even a small budget will stretch further than you think.
TV is no longer just for big brands; there are lots of advertising options on connected TV, streaming and on-demand platforms, which allow you to target specific audiences too.
And on social media, you might want to invest in more targeted advertising to reach particular people, or to give your video content a wider reach.
You'll always need to set some money aside for media spending, or you won't be able to get your video out there, but if you're unsure how to use it wisely, we can help.
READY TO START YOUR ANIMATED VIDEO PRODUCTION?
Whether you've got a spark of an idea or a fully-formed plan, our door's always open. And it all starts with a conversation. Call us up or send an email to book a kick-off meeting, where we'll build a picture of your brand, talk you through our process, timings and costs, and decide the next steps.
video production company that helps brands understand their audiences, win their attention, inspire them to take action, and deliver results.Marketing Manager for Skeleton — an award-winning