Animation Videos: An A to Z Guide to Creating Engaging Animated Content

Companies and businesses all around the world have been having a strong reliance on videos nowadays because of how effective and engaging they can be. What is great with choosing videos is that there are a lot of different options available like live action videos and especially, animation videos.

With 81% of businesses using videos as a marketing tool and 78% of people watching online videos every week, videos are highly valued by businesses and consumers alike.

Because of the recent advancements in technology and in the internet, more and more people and businesses are interested in making animation videos. They can be more affordable, quicker to make, and can allow you to showcase more creativity compared to live action videos when they are made by experienced video creators.

What are Animation Videos?

Animation videos are videos that use animation. Animation refers to using and manipulating drawn figures, shapes, or elements that appear to be moving.

Normally, most of these movements done in animations are made by computer-generated imagery. These types of videos allow for more creative opportunities that may not be possible to shoot in live action videos.

Why Create Animation Videos?

Now that you have a better idea of what animation videos are, here are 4 reasons why you should start creating animation videos for your company:

1. Animated videos allow you to have more creative freedom to entertain your audience.

Content, especially video content, is about sharing memorable and entertaining stories about your business, its products, or even your customers. These videos allow you to achieve this without any real world limitations.

This is one great advantage of animation videos as they provide limitless possibilities to your video’s creative treatment because of the impressive hardware, software, and techniques that are available. Without these limits, you are able to be more free in creating stories that your audience will find entertaining.

Live action videos present limitations in almost all aspects of video creation like color and capability. Animation videos do not have these constraints as they allow you a creative freedom to create scenes that are physically impossible and bring characters to life which will delight your audience.

Related: Live Action Videos vs Animated Videos: What’s Best for Your Business?

2. Animation videos can help you deliver your message clearly.

If your product or a topic is abstract or complex, videos can be a great way of simplifying these and explaining them in a highly visual way to aid your customers.

If you can’t just point a camera to your product or to a presenter to explain it, then using 2D or 3D animation is your best option. It is why you will often see whiteboard videos or animated explainer videos that explain complex products or services.

This is why companies are making a lot of explainer videos using animation as they provide a 20% increase in conversion rates when they use them.

3. Animation videos can be more affordable and cost effective.

Live action videos can turn out to be very expensive, especially ones that require a large production. You have to take into account factors like location, casting talent, props, equipment and so on.

With animation videos, you will have to just worry about your creative input and the software that will be used or you can just hire a video production company that is equipped in helping you out in making your animation videos.

Another way that shows how affordable animation videos can be is that it allows you to change storylines, settings, or characters just by simply clicking, dragging, or replacing them which makes it a lot easier to manage details of all these elements.

4. Animation videos are flexible enough to work for all types of marketing channels.

For live action videos, they will often require tweaks or edits like adding graphics or text to make the information or story more impactful to their viewers for certain marketing platforms.

While for animation videos, they can typically perform well across all marketing platforms. They can work well on TV, websites, social media platforms, video platforms, and digital entertainment outlets because of how it can strike the balance of casual, fun, and professional.

The Process of Creating Animation Videos

With a better understanding of some important animation terms that are being used, here is the general process of creating animation videos:

1. Come up with a story.

When it comes to making a video, one of the first and most important parts is to come up with the story of the video. If you are not able to flesh out the idea and story of the video from the start, it may lose its essence during the whole video creation process.

The more work you put into developing your story will lead to less time wasted during the whole animation process. So, make sure to come up with a solid and entertaining story that can be executed using animation.

2. Write a script.

Once your video idea and story is ready, you can now put it into words by writing a script for it. It is important to write and develop the script as quickly as possible so that it can be easily checked before production and animation begins. Here is a beginner’s guide to writing scripts for animated videos.

3. Create concept art.

With a finished script, you can now create concept art to establish the visual style you want to go for in the animation video.

Creating concept art is a fun step because this is where you can have a first look at how the video can look like. This is the part where you can explore and try out different art styles or elements that would work best for the video and its story. To learn more about concept art, you can read this article.

4. Craft a storyboard.

Now that you have a better feel for what your animation will look like with your created concept art, you now have to craft a storyboard for your animation video.

Having a storyboard allows you to look at the animation video as a whole and to spot story issues if there are any. It also is a good way to visualize and show other people for their initial feedback on your video. Check out this article that describes how to storyboard a marketing video.

5. Make an animatic.

An animatic is what your storyboard will look like in motion. This is where all storyboards are placed in an editing program.

In the editing program, the storyboards will be edited with correct timing and can also include temporary music, sound effects, and some dialog to convey enough of the story.

An animatic will give you a first glimpse into what the animation video is going to look like in motion.

6. Create the assets you will need for the video.

You will now need to create the different assets needed for your animation video which will depend on what type of animation you are going to use.

For 2D animation, this is where you would draw the backgrounds, finalize the look of the character designs, and rig the characters in a 2D animation software if needed.

For 3D animation, this is where you would create the models for the characters, sets, props, and the environments. The concept art and model sheets will be used as references. The models will then have to be rigged with a 3D skeleton so that it can be animated in the video. Here’s a detailed guide on 3D videos.

For stop motion animation, this is where you would build puppets, props, clothing, and sets that are needed for the video.

7. Create a previs (or pre-visualization).

Before the process of animation begins, another important step to make is to create a previs or a pre-visualization.

A previs is a more advanced version of an animatic because this time it includes using 3D models. Shots and final camera angles are being set up in this step along with including basic animation to convey enough of the actions.

Since animation takes a long time to do, this is the last chance to change or alter anything in the animation video.

For more pre-production tips, check out this article!

animation video software

8. Start animating.

After the previs, the process of animation can finally begin. This is the stage where the video will finally come to life. The characters can start to move, and the soul of the film will also start to show up.

This process will take a lot of time is the most important part. Even if you have a great video idea and a creative story, people may not notice it if the animation doesn’t come out looking good.

9. Work on texturing, lighting, and rendering.

While this step applies mostly to 3D animation, some 2D animations go through similar post-production steps which are similar to these and stop motion animations also spend a lot of time doing other effects on top of their usual shots as well.

For 3D animations, models need to be textured, which means making different materials which are assigned to the model’s different parts. Some examples of textures are metal, plastic, and even skin and hair.

Then the shots will be lit with virtual lights, which will look as close as possible to how light works in real life. When the shots are textured and lit, the rendering process starts.

The computer will calculate all of the data in the scenes and create still images from it. After this, the images will be taken to a compositing program like Adobe After Effects to extract the necessary data from the images and combine these to create the final images.

Related: Explainer Videos: 2021 Guide to Creating Videos that Convert

10. Edit and color correct the elements in the video.

Once the images are composited and ready, they can now be brought back into the editing program to replace the shots used during pre-visualization stage.

You are now able to see what the finished animation video will look like on the editing timeline for the first time. However, there is still a need to do some color correction and color grading.

Color correction is about making sure that colors of shots stay consistent all throughout the video by manipulating certain colors in shots to match those that come before or after it. This process also works on getting consistent and correct colors by making sure shots do not have too much black or white.

11. Finalize the music and sound design of the video.

Ideally, you would have been working with a musician since the start of your animation video process to make sure that the music to be used will fit with the video’s story.

The sound designer can then finalize the sound effects that may be used for your animation video as well as mastering and mixing the final audio that will be used.

If you need help in the process of creating animated videos, our team at fewStones can help you out. Our animation video experts will be able to help guide you throughout all the steps of creating thes.

Types of Animation Videos

Now that you have a better grasp of the process of creating animation videos, here are some of the most popular types that are being used today:

1. 2D Hand-Drawn Animation

2D hand-draw animation can also be called traditional animation or cel animation. This is the classic animation type that most people will probably be familiar with.

In the past, animators drew characters and elements one frame at a time. After that, their drawings would be transferred onto clear acetate sheets called cels so that it can be painted.

Then during the 1990’s, almost all animation studios adopted an alternative for using cels which was scanning the drawings into a computer for digital coloring. Nowadays, many hand-drawn animators are now drawing directly on devices like tablets and drawing monitors instead of on paper like before.

So hand-drawn animation can either be done on paper, on digital hardware like tablets and monitors, or a mix of both. What is important is that these animations are still created frame by frame using the same principles that were used in the past.

Here is an example of a 2D hand-drawn animation from British Gas:

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2luDz9xy1gI

2. 2D Vector Animation

Nowadays, a new way of creating 2D animation is by using a 2D digital puppet. A 2D digital puppet is a character that is built with a system of bones and controls that can be shaped in a way that is similar to a 3D character rig.

The difference between 2D rigged characters and the traditional hand-drawn characters can sometimes get blurry because of how most animation programs allow you to seamlessly mix and match them together.

A character in this type of animation could have bones that allow the animator to pose it, but can also have other parts that are animated by hand.

Here is an example of a 2D vector animation from Dupont:

Video Link: https://vimeo.com/85993669

3. 3D Animation

3D animation, which can also be referred to as computer generated imagery (or simply CGI), is one of the most popular types of animation that is used for movies, TV shows, short films, and even video games.

For this animation type, an animator will use a digital puppet called a character rig to position the character. Then the animator will use a system of motion paths or splines to illustrate the character’s movement between poses.

After this, the computer will interpolate the animation’s frames in between the key frames and will be refined by the animator until they are satisfied with the animation.

The process of creating 3D animation can be a technically intensive process because it involves a lot of elements like modelling characters, rigging them with controls, animating them, and then adding texture and light for the final result.

Here is an example of a 3D animation from McDonalds France:

Video Link: https://vimeo.com/21404932

Related: Interactive Videos: A Marketer’s Guide to Everything You Need to Know

4. Stop Motion Animation

Stop motion animation has different variants, but all of them involve the manipulation of real world objects. These objects are moved slightly, and are photographed to correspond to one frame. So, when these photographs are all shown in sequence, the frames will create the illusion of movement.

For higher-end stop motion, a specially rigged puppet is captured on a miniature stage. Claymation is another similar technique as it uses malleable characters.

Stop motion animation can also be done with objects and figurines. Another rare stop motion variant is pixelation which uses real people instead of puppets.

Here is an example of a stop motion animation video from Bacardi:

Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbEAwhMRtWk

5. Motion Graphics Animation

Motion Graphics animation focuses on making interesting presentations through dynamic movement of text, logos, or illustrations.

Motion graphics can be flexible because they can be both done in 2D and 3D. You can find them in explainer videos, news, sporting events, TV productions, and commercials.

Here is an example of a motion graphics animation from Reddit:

Video Link: https://vimeo.com/161938826

Animation Terms to be Familiar With

youtube animation

Now that you know all about the different types of animation videos, here are some animation terms you need to be familiar with so that you can have a better understanding of the animation process:

Timeline

The timeline is the part of the animation software that illustrates the progress of the animation over time. Depending on the animation software, the timeline may be used to make changes to the animation’s timing and also the position of the elements.

Frame Rate

The frame rate of an animation is the number of individual frames that are being displayed over the span of just one second. This is an adjustable setting in an animation editing software but typically, animations are usually done in 24 frames per second.

Working on One’s and Two’s

The term working on one’s and two’s is used in hand drawn animation. Working on one’s means making a new drawing over every single frame of an animation while working on two’s means holding one drawing for two frames.

Working on two’s is fine to do in most instances for 2D animation and sometimes there are cases where drawings are held longer. However, the standard for 3D animation is working on one’s.

Key frames, Breakdowns, and In-betweens

Key frames, breakdowns, and in-betweens are animation terms that are important but all have slightly different meanings depending on the type of animation being done.

For animations that are hand drawn, key frames (or just keys) are the important poses by a character that define the scene. Breakdowns occur between key frames and define what type of motion will be shown from key to key. In-betweens are all the frames that occur in between to smooth out the motion of the element or character.

For 3D animation, a key frame is any position on the timeline where the position of the character is defined by the animator. In-betweens are all the frames that the software automatically generates or interprets to move the character from key to key.

Timing, Spacing, and Easing

The terms timing, spacing, and easing are all closely related terms. Timing refers to the total number of frames that will be used for a certain movement.

Spacing is the term that refers to the amount of change that happens between each frame. Having lower spacing will make an object look slower and increasing the spacing will make it look faster.

For digital animations, easing is how spacing can be controlled. This is usually through a motion graph on the animation timeline.

Shots and Scenes

Typically, in live action videos and movies, the term shot means an image between camera edits, while a scene is all the shots and dialog that take place at a certain setting for a continuous amount of time.

However, for animation videos, the terms scene and shot can be used interchangeably. When talking about a scene or a shot, it is referring to one specific continuous piece of animation in between camera cuts.

Compositing

Compositing is the process of compiling all the individual pieces of a scene and putting them all together to create the final visual output.

Animators may have developed the scenery, backgrounds, and all the different characters involved all separately. Compositing is how they are able to place all these separate pieces together to form a scene in an animation video.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Corporate Video Production in Singapore

Software for Animation Videos

Here are some of the popular animation software that you can use depending on what type of animation you want to create:

1. 2D Animation

Animate CC

Animate CC (formerly known as Flash) is one of the most popular 2D animation software available. Animate has had a long history of animation making, even going back to the earlier days of internet videos.

It has an intuitive interface and a relatively affordable price point which makes it a great pick for those that want to get started with 2D animation.

Character Animator

Character Animator is a newer animation program that has an interesting twist. Instead of proving the tradition way of animating, Character Animator uses your webcam and microphone to automatically animate a pre-built character which is similar to motion capture.

This is another viable option for animation beginners because it does not require a lot of animation experience to use.

After Effects

After Effects provides you with great control when creating rigs for 2D characters using the puppet tool and other different expressions.

It is a good choice if you are already comfortable and satisfied with being in the Adobe ecosystem.

2. 3D Animation

Blender

Blender is a 3D program that is free, open source, and provides a broad spectrum of texturing, lighting, modeling, animation, and post-processing all in one package.

Because of its open architecture, Blender can operate on different platforms, has a small footprint, and gives animators a tightly integrated workflow.

Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is a very intuitive software that works directly with After Effects without the need to render first.

This is designed with motion graphics in mind but can also be a versatile program as well.

Autodesk Maya

Autodesk Maya is the industry standard for computer animation. This is the software to focus on if you want to try doing animation professionally.

It has features like 3D animation, simulation, modeling, and rendering. You can use it for animation, motion graphics, environments, character creation, and even virtual reality.

3. Stop Motion Animation

Stop Motion Studio

Stop Motion Studio is available for all devices and platforms and can connect to a camera, phone, or tablet to create great stop motion videos.

This is a great choice for those that are just starting out with stop motion animation.

Dragonframe

Dragonframe is the standard software that is being used by major animation companies for their stop motion animation.

Dragonframe is the best option if you are planning on making a professional stop motion video. Its software can be used with different attachments like a device that can control your camera, lighting, and focus.

Animation videos can take a lot of work to create but if you plan them accordingly and make sure that everything is well-made, it can provide a lot of value and benefits for your business.

If you are looking for a video production agency who can create animation videos for you, then our team at fewStones is here to help. At fewStones, we are able to create different types of 2D animations and 3D animations that will perform well for your business.

You can check out all the different 2D animation styles and 3D animation styles that we can do and some of our animation work we have done for previous clients on our website. If you are interested in our animation services, you can get an instant quote for free on our website as well.

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