Back to all

The Ultimate Battle: Live Action Explainer Video vs. Animated Explainers

The thumbnail from a video that explains differences in live action explainer video productions as compared to animation

I know you’re just sitting there, agonizing over the style of your upcoming explainer video. Your brain keeps asking…

“Live action explainer video…or animated explainer video? Live action…or animation?”

I’m sure many sleepless nights have been tormented by this question (ok, maybe not, but stay with me here).

Well by golly, thank goodness you found this blog so that you can get your life back on track.

Ok, ok, so that question may not torment you, but it’s still one that we get quite often. The truth is there is no easy answer (sorry!), but we’ve attempted to put the two styles head to head for the ultimate battle of Live Action Explainer Video vs. Animated Explainer Video, in the latest installment in our vlog series.

Video Transcript:

If you’re considering making an explainer video, the first question that might pop into your head is whether you should use…

Live action or animation?!…. Live action or animation?!…

We get this question all. the. time.

The answer really depends on what you do, and who your audience is. But let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of each.

Live Action is a good way to demonstrate a tangible product or service.

Take Oven-2-Table for example. We did a Live Action explainer video for them because they have a tangible product to sell (in this case, it was bread). When given the option, most people would probably rather see a product or service in action than see it as an illustration.

Live Action is also a great tool for connecting with your audience, especially if you run a personal business, like a consulting firm, or a restaurant. People like seeing other people. It gives them an emotional connection, which can be powerful and effective when telling your story.

On the flip side, Live Action can be somewhat limiting.

Say you want to have a duck fly through the sky with a cape on. This is very difficult with Live video. VERY. Difficult.

With animation, you can do just about anything. It works well for tech companies and web services, and it’s a great way of demonstrating something abstract or conceptual, like a “cloud” service.

Animation makes it easy to brand your video. By using similar colors, styles, and themes, your video can fit in seamlessly with your website and marketing materials.

And if your product or service is constantly evolving, it’s easier to make an update to an animated explainer video down the road than it is to a live one.

So there it is. Animation vs. Live Action. Or Live Action vs. Animation as to not prioritize one over the other.

Whether you’re selling duck capes or cloud services, both have their unique benefits, but either one can be a great tool for marketing your company!

Video Blog Music: “Rythme Gitan” by Latché Swing

Watch some live action explainer videos we’ve made

Showpad Live Action Explainer Video

For this production, we filmed over the course of a few days in order to bring our color-coded sets to life in the most strategic way possible. Pacing the action out with the voiceover, and adding some animated elements of their UI in the middle, really brought this video to life.

AWeber Live Action Explainer Video

Shot on location here in Chicago, right before a winter snowstorm, this video pairs a live action setting and real actors with a bunch of fun animated characters. So, a nice way to show a mix of both styles!

Zipongo Live Action Explainer Video

In this live action explainer video we focused on where most food is consumed…at the table. Shot over the course of a few days and at several locations, we were able to setup the problem and solution all while looking down.

Discovery Techbook Live Action Video

The example below is one of five live action explainer videos that we shot over a two-day period. By coming into the shoot with a strong sense of how we’d get through that many videos in such a short period of time we were able to optimize our studio time.

Happy Cards Live Action Product Video

for this unique approach to an explainer video, we used bright colors and stop-motion to create the illusion of gymnastics-level physical reactions.

Unrefined Live Action Product Video

We were very excited to work with dogs in this live action explainer video, especially because the concept let these dogs run wild and for us to make sure we captured them being their best selves. The outcome was a fun, upbeat live action explainer video.

And here are some animated explainer videos we’ve made:

CariClub Animated Explainer Video

This explainer video came together through the use of cel-animation and a fun sports metaphor.

MatrixCare Animated Explainer Video

One of the more minimalistic designs we’ve used for an explainer video, many scenes pair illustrated UI in the foreground with character motion in the background.

Canon Animated Explainer Video

Using clear and sharp 3D animation, we were able to deliver a compelling message and visualize Canon’s efficient and effective technology.

Written by Laura Irons
When Laura’s not starring in our videos, she’s selling them. Send us an email or give us a call, and you’ll probably talk to her. Make sure to ask about her irrational fear of cotton balls, underwater scenes, and 3D printing. Follow Demo Duck, a Chicago video production company, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.