Corporate video has been a part of most large companies marketing mix for a few decades now.

However, it's no longer as simple as hiring a videographer to come in, take some shots, and interviews, then put together an eloquent ego satiating piece.

The birth of animation and the rise of videos use online means you now must decide between live, animated, and a combination of the two.

Then, within each option, there are endless more options…

And that's without getting into how to distribute your content!

So, for the sake of time, in this article, we will focus on how to decide between using live video versus animated video as a part of your corporate content.

Follow these guidelines to produce a marketing video that best suits your situation.

Here's an overview of what we will discuss:

  • Animated video Styles - Strengths and weaknesses
  • Live Video Styles - Strengths and weaknesses
  • When you should use each (hint: use both)
  • Costs of animated vs. live
  • What takes longer to produce
  • How to implement both
  • TL; DR - Practical Takeaways

Animated Video Style

Since the first animated movie Fantasmagorie in 1908, we've been consuming animated content on the screen, right up until the first computer-animated feature-length film' Toy Story' that we all know and love. Everyone gets how animation can be entertaining, but does it have applications in the business world?

The answer is obviously yes leading to results like those shown in our '2018 trends'. Animated videos no longer cost millions of dollars to put together, since the late 2000's animated video companies have been popping up all over the internet. But why would you choose animated videos over live-action' corporate' videos that are the mainstay of most organizational video content?

Strengths and Weaknesses of Animated Video
  • It makes the complex simple

Animated video is best when you are trying to explain something complex or novel such as a new way of doing things in your company or a new product offering to your customers.

The human mind does a lot better at deciphering images with voice than just a human talking on screen.

Because we think in images,
with 60-65% of us doing so primarily, we should keep our content and messaging 60-65% visual.

If I tell you about how our corporate culture is as dominant as the Ottoman Empire threatening western civilization during the siege of Vienna, it may conjure some great images in your head. However, it's going to be a lot more engaging seeing what that looks like while I talk about it rather than having to imagine it while looking at my annoying face.

  • Illustrates the abstract

Building upon the above point, animation in a video can be even more effective if the message we are presenting is obscure.

Meaning the message is hard for us to conjure using our imaginations, because it doesn't exist physically, only mentally.

If your live video is focusing on a topic that's abstract, i.e., "existing in thought or as an idea but not having a physical or concrete existence" such as gravity, you are going to be bored listening to me talk about gravity. It's best to go for animated video in this case because you're going to be able to give viewers the pictures instead of expecting them to come up with the correct ones.

However, if I were to talk about gravity while you watched an illustration of an apple falling on Sir Isaac Newton's head, this would be much more engaging and resonate more in your mind, this is backed up in the research.

Leading to a more significant impact in terms of message retention, which is the goal of any promotional content, memorable images improve memory retention, here's some more brain science research to back up that statement .

  • Very simple to make changes when necessary

Beyond making a message more interesting and explaining the complex, animated video is also a lot easier to make changes to in the future.

With a live video you would need to gather the videographers together with the entire cast to do a re-shoot of a specific piece of content, adding thousands of dollars to your video budget, with animated video it can cost as little as $50 to make the same text revisions.

So, if you are in a fast moving and changing industry you will need an animated video so that you can make easy changes to it when necessary.

And given that most industries are fast moving or die in today’s digital world it’s a smart bet that being able to make changes to your video is a key feature and benefit of animated video unless you have the budget of investors or corporate funds behind you.

Live Video Style

Since video cameras became portable enough to be used by small production studios, corporate videos have been a useful tool in the organizational content tool belt. Most companies use these videos for internal and external use. The consensus is that only larger companies use these videos. However, these days they have become affordable enough for even the small and medium sized companies out there. Below we list the strengths and weaknesses of using this style in comparison to its animated cousin.

Strengths and Weaknesses
  • It’s a lot more personal, which is why testimonials work best as live action

One advantage of live action video is that you can be a lot more personal, and obviously, human.

Watching someone look at, and speak directly to, the camera telling their story has a powerful impact on us that goes back 10,000 years to when we would sit by the campfire discussing the last mammoth hunt.

We can empathize and connect much more strongly with a story or testimonial when a human, rather than an animated character, is telling it.

Although, this is just the argument given. You can also play devil's advocate, as most animation specialized companies will, in this situation.

Sure, a human is better, but is it $10,000 better than an animated version of that exact scenario? You be the judge.

This point does hold though, and if budgets not a concern, this should be a key consideration in deciding whether your situation requires live or animated video.

  • IF you have a real product or process to show, a live video will illustrate it realistically.

Like the above situation, often it can be a lot more practical to show something rather than illustrating it.

This is especially true for manual things, such as if you were to create a welding tutorial video it would be much better to have a live video to show the exact process so that the person learning doesn't have to imagine what it might look like, they can see almost as if they were there.

Sure, you can design all the necessary graphics and produce a high-end video that illustrates the process or product as realistically as possible but why not just shoot it live.

Again, it comes down to budget, as even with a high-end animated video you are still looking at a similar budget to a low-end live video.

  • Production time is usually faster

It's generally quicker to produce live videos in comparison to an animated video of a similar price.

This is because all that needs doing is gathering everyone on site and shooting the content.

You're not designing the content (the objects and backgrounds) you're merely filming it. So, it can be faster, but there is a caveat to this…

It's only faster when the budget is equal.

What this means is that because animation is much more time consuming than live video to produce, it will always take longer when the price/cost is equal.

This is because with a larger budget the animation team can put in much more work.

However, live action on average always costs more than animation, so if you took a live action and animation video at the same level of quality in terms of hours put in then the animation video will always beat out the live video in terms of quality, this is because there's more time to allocate at a lower cost.

  • More difficult to make revisions later

The main con of live-action video content is that it's costly and challenging to go back and make changes after production is complete.

The reason for this is simple. You would need to bring all the people showcased in the video and the videographers back on site for a re-shoot.

The only way you could get around this is if you already had footage of the thing you wanted to change, which is highly unlikely.

By comparison, with animated video content you can open the file and make the changes in a day, that could take months to implement in its live action counterpart.

Therefore, we always recommend companies on a tight budget to start with animated video content before venturing into the world of the live video later in their business life cycle.

When you should use each (hint: use both)

To sum up the above points, there are always pros and cons to doing different styles of anything.

If you only run ads for the short term, you are missing out on SEO over the long term.

What's most compelling is, of course, doing both.

The problem though, that's already come up in your mind, is how do I find the budget to assign to the abundance of content options out there.

Well, it's simple really, start slow, get the highest quality at the lowest cost, invest in the more cost-effective options in the beginning before expanding into others as you grow.

Just like anything else in business the goal is to get the highest return for the smallest investment in the short term while expanding into all areas to maximize yield in the long run (In a very general sense).

Costs of animated vs live

According to tubular insights, on average animated video costs $5,000-$10,000 while live action costs $10,000-$20,000 (Which is why it's so easy for us to undercut our competitors).

That's 100% more!

So, you're probably asking yourself, why would I pay double the amount for live vs. animated?

Well, only if you had a much larger budget and a different aim.

Above we discussed why you would choose a live video vs. animated video from the standpoint that you had the budget for either.

In that case, you could justify the reasons to go live vs. animated. But if you only have the budget to go animated, then you should, because it's always better to use video content over no video content if you want to maximize performance.

How to reduce live video costs

Shoot the video content yourself!

Sure, you aren't an expert with the camera, but super polished footage isn't in fashion right now anyhow.

What is in fashion is expert editing, that makes any raw footage look professional and pleasing to the eye.

If you need live video at a budget, record the raw footage, and hire a team to edit it.

At PSV we take a lot of these gigs, it's much cheaper than us sending in a videographer to shoot your content.

All we do is take your raw footage, edit it, add in effects, clean it up, and deliver a ready to use the file.

What takes longer to produce

As discussed briefly above it does take longer to create animated video content vs. live video content, if revisions and editing are equal.

This is because creating an animated video, if done at a high-quality level, involved illustrating every character, background, icon, text before the animation even begins.

The only time animated video doesn't take as long to produce as live is when it's a template-based video meaning the graphics and movements were taken from a library and programmed for specific actions already.

Sure, we can say either or in terms of what takes longer to produce because it depends on the project. Sometimes you will create an animated video in 7 days, occasionally 7 months. A live video can be shot and edited in 24 hours, but it can also take a year to put together.

It's all dependent on your requirement, and we recommend you always discuss expectations in terms of timeline with the production team you work with.

If you fail to do so, you could be waiting months, instead of weeks had you gone with another team, for the same level of quality.

How to implement both

Use live video when you want to show a live tutorial or process, and when you want to tell a story, case study, or testimonial about your product.

Animated video is best when you want to explain something or communicate a message more engagingly, making the abstract, complex, or boring interesting.

But how would you implement both?

This all depends on budget, topic, and goals.

When considering how you're going to tackle your marketing strategy, you must plan according to what is essential

Do you want that live branding video of your CEO talking to the camera or the animated video explaining a module of your software? Which one first, can we afford to do both at once, do we need to do both at once?

Focus on budget, potential content and messaging sources, and your desired timeline for implementing these components.


The practical takeaway of this article is to determine which vendor and style best suits your budget in the beginning.

Along with the budget, the concern is whether you will get a style and level of quality that is at least satisfactory no matter what the video style is.

You need to be able to use your video, and it needs to work.
If you focus on prioritizing the essential topics, you will be heading in the right direction.

In the long term though you will want to utilize both live and animated video as crucial parts of your companies' content – just as you should be advertising on both Google and Facebook.

It's all a budget concern, in the end, so your decision will come down to the price in the beginning.

Use the strengths and weaknesses to help you decide between live and animated video for your first pieces of content, before rolling out a full force video content strategy.

If you're interested in learning more about how a video marketing production strategy can impact your bottom line without spending excessive amounts of time and money check this out.

Related Posts:

Corporate Video – How to Decide Between Live and Animated
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