Live Action vs Animation Video – Which One Is The Best For You?

Koushik Marka
January 10, 2019

So you’re about to create your first branded video and embark on your video marketing journey, hoping to make your business's message resonate with audiences.

But there’s one major decision you need to take first.

Is your company video going to be a live-action production or an animated one?
To help you make your decision, we’ve compared animated and live-action video styles. We’ll break down the pros and cons of each and show you when to use them to convey your message more effectively.

Live-Action videos

When you create a live-action video, you use real people, physical props and actual locations. The realistic nature of these videos makes it easier for the audience to connect with the situation. But before you start creating a live-action explainer video, a corporate video or any other live-action production, you’ll need to understand the pros and cons of this style.

Pros of Live-Action videos

Giving your video the live-action treatment can do a lot to help your message get through to the audience.

1. You add a human touch

The biggest advantage of live-action production is the use of real actors and locations. 

By using a real person in your company video, you make your film feel a lot more natural. 

Real facial expressions, actual body language, and relatable situations can more easily create an emotional connection with the viewers.

This helps the audience connect with your message better than if they had watched an animated video.

If your business involves a lot of human interaction on a daily basis, live action videos would be more effective than animated videos.

2. Show how your products work in real life

If you’re thinking of creating a demo video for a physical product, live-action production is going to help.

Consumers want to see if the products they’re considering actually work as advertised.

An animated video is never going to be as convincing as actual footage of the product at work.

If you have a tangible product, you can show exactly how it works using live action

3. Faster turnaround time

If you’re running short on time, creating a live-action video is probably a good idea. 

The turnaround time for a live-action production is much lesser than that of an animated style video.

Animated videos require you to create motion graphics and character designs from scratch.

For a live-action production, however, you create your video using real actors and actual objects.

So with a well-thought-out plan in place for the scene, cast and location, shooting a live-action video becomes much quicker. The post-production and editing phases are also much quicker for live-action videos when compared to animated videos.

If planned properly, a professional live action video can be shot, edited and published within a matter of days.

4. Best used for serious messages

If your video has to deliver a strong, serious message to the target audience, a live-action production is your best bet.

Live-action videos can make a much deeper emotional impact than charming animated videos because you’re using real, relatable scenarios and actual people.

Cons of Live-Action Videos

Granted, the live-action production style can add a lot of value to your video’s core message. But before you jump to a decision, you need to consider the disadvantages as well:

1. Requires a bigger budget

Granted, you can make a live-action video on a low budget

But if your brand wants to make a mark on the viewers, you’ll need to create a quality live-action production.

And professional live-action videos cost a lot more to make than an animated video of the same quality.

You’ll need to invest heavily in cameras, props, equipment, location, actors and a lot more to create a brilliant live-action video.

The better the final video quality of your live action video, the more expensive your budget is going to be.

2. Revisions are a nightmare

The reason live-action productions require a lot of planning is because it’s really hard to make changes to the production at later stages - no matter how small.

Animated videos can be revised in a couple of minutes, but there’s only so much editing you can do on live-action footage.

Revising the script late will mean hiring the actors, equipment, and location all over again to shoot a newer version.

Time-consuming and expensive.

3. Creative limitations

The realistic touch that a live-action treatment can bring to a video is also this style’s biggest problem.

You can’t really let your imagination run here.

Animated videos allow you to create entire worlds from scratch for your video, while live-action productions require you to work more practically.

Animated Videos

Animated videos combine multiple illustrations to form the illusion of continuous motion.

These motion graphics videos are pretty popular for their ability to simplify abstract concepts.

Let’s dig a little deeper and check out the pros and cons of an animated production style.

Pros of Animated videos

Animated videos can bring a lot of clarity to your brand’s message. The production is easier to control since it isn’t dependent on actors or location constraints. Here’s how you benefit:

1. Your imagination is your limit

Unlike live-action productions, animated videos are not bound by the laws of nature. 

You’ve got characters and objects on a screen and you can get them to do whatever you want. 

Animation and motion graphics allows you the creative freedom to build entire worlds to convey your message.

Create your own characters, build entire backgrounds, animate your transitions… do what you want!

Your imagination is the limit in an animated video.

2. Unlimited Revisions

You’ve got complete creative control over your animated masterpiece. Making changes to your character, scene or color palette are comparatively simple - whether it’s a small change in the scene or a major production overhaul. Whether it’s at the beginning or the very end of your animation process, alterations and iterations can be made with ease.

3. Simplify complex abstract ideas

When you compare live-action explainer videos vs animated explainer videos, a live-action video might feel more realistic, but an animated video will help you simplify your message more easily to the audience.

Simple motion graphics can break down even the most complex and newest of ideas into easily understood language.

That’s a huge added advantage to your video’s effectiveness.

4. Cost friendly

Your animated video’s cost depends on the revisions, duration, and complexity of the project.

However, animated videos are pretty economical when compared to live-action videos.

No actors to pay, no equipment to rent, no need to book studios or cordon of locations.

A high quality animated video will be far cheaper than a live-action video of a similar standard

You can even create animated videos on your own,  without prior experience, using a number of easy to use animation softwares.

5. Easy branding

Thinking of creating a video in your brand’s colors? 

Want characters that fit your brand’s personality?

Every pixel of an animated video can be used to convey your brand’s identity to the viewer, helping you convey your message to a more receptive audience in a consistent manner.

If you’re thinking of uploading your video to your website, an animated video will help you match your website’s colors for a more immersive experience.

You’re not going to get such branding control in a live-action video.

6. Works brilliantly for evolving products

For software products that are constantly undergoing updates, creating a live-action production every time is a task. Animation offers you the freedom to create a mock-up interface and simplify the screen to its basic elements. This removes the distractions from the video and helps the viewer appreciate the product’s update better.

Cons of Animated Videos

Animated video does seem to be the way to go, especially considering how effective they are at conveying messages for a lower budget.

However, all those benefits come with one major downside:

1. Longer production time

The turnaround time for high-quality animated videos is much longer than live-action productions. 

Everything needs to be designed and built from scratch.

From the initial concept to the final notes on the soundtrack, everything is designed to be in line with your message.

So, if you’re working under very tight time constraints, a live-action production will help you create your video faster.

A high quality animated video of 60s takes around 4 weeks to produce

Now you know the difference between live-action videos and animated ones.

With a clearer understanding of each production style and what they can bring to your brand’s message, you can now decide which direction to take your video in.

If you’re looking for the best animated production companies to work with, check out this listicle.

If you’re already looking for a partner to help you with your next animated explainer video, look no further. Contact us, and let’s get started on your video today!

Koushik Marka

Founder @ Studiotale. He is passionate about helping brands grow with video and has expertise in video marketing & 2D animation. When he is not working, he loves playing video games and traveling.


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