With video content accounting for well over 75% of consumed content online, it is not surprising that you will have watched many videos. Some you have long forgotten but then there’s those occasional rare gems that you fondly think back to and even have saved as a favourite or shared with colleagues. Those are the videos you should strive to create.
No one wants to put time and effort into something to be ‘forgotten’, be bold but be honest, really consider why you want a video in the first place. If it’s to train and educate, then great, keep it factual and clear and use imagery to re-enforce your message. If it’s to attract new customers, build awareness and drive traffic, then more than ever you want to strive for something that stands out from the crowd.
Of course you want to remain true to your brand and company ethos, and it’s impossible for anyone to say doing a video in a certain way will guarantee it going viral, there are no guarantees. Viral by it’s very nature is an uncontrollable beast, all you can do is push the boundaries of creativity, be original and be bold.
I had best stop there as we are going slightly off-topic, perhaps a post for another day. So back to the main objective of this article; to explore why creating artwork and animating in a particular way can have a dramatic affect on the production costs. Aside form the length of video, there are three very clear factors that effect the price, one is the art style, the second is the animation Style and the third consideration is always given to the ‘amount’ of each. Here I aim to explore these 3 main factors over the course of 3 separate articles, in the hope you become better informed when planning your video.
If we tackle the art style first, as this would be the natural first piece of the puzzle when it comes to planning how your video will look and animate. Now art is a very subjective thing, so there are no true rights or wrongs when it comes to how best to approach explainer videos. More often than not you decide upon a ‘look’ for your video because you personally find it pleasing to the eye, or that it matches your brand and that you can see your target audience relating to it. So this is always a good place to start, understanding what you like and what you don’t like provides a good foundation to start researching and building ideas.
I would always look at the client brand, the colours within the logo, the style of font, if I look at their website and social media what does this tell me about the company. A lot can be learned by really looking at how the client is presenting itself.
With my creative head on, I would ideally love an endless budget to be super creative and really experiment with ideas and creativity. But then the commercial side of the brain kicks in and reality hits home that there is always going to be a budget and an expectation, the trick is to produce something that meets both. So if we ignore working within a given budget for the moment, and look at 3 clearly different art styles and break these down to understand why one can be easier to work with than another and how this can effect the production budget.
In the image below, I have drawn a single character in 3 slightly different ways.
If we look at style A, the colours are solid and clean with no outline shapes, this gives the character a more ‘computer generated’ feel rather than too hand drawn and is quite a common style used in explainers. This style is also preferred by many studios as it can be created using programmes like Adobe Illustrator, with only a keyboard and mouse without needing drawing skills. Plus achieving a more ‘drawn’ technique requires more expensive equipment such as the Wacom Cintiq style screens where you can draw digitally direct onto the screen.
You will notice within style A the arms and legs merge into the body in a way that you cannot see any actual joins or defining lines such as line creases or stitching. So this makes it very easy to position body parts. The body itself is a single shape with the face and clothing having very little detail. Making these generic provides us with the opportunity to easily clone the main character to create additional characters without the need to create something new from scratch.
Style B has some noticeable changes such as more detail within the design of the character. The face has more features and provides more scope for expressions. The colour fill style now has a more textured and drawn feel adding a bit more depth to the character and bringing it to life. The body has been broken down into more parts with a head and torso with limbs being more defined and showing a clearer connection to the main body.
Style C has a much more drawn look, the character itself no longer feels like it is made of parts, feeling more organic. A more solid outline, in this case black, helps to define the character details and shape.Whilst an outline is not essential I used this here to demonstrates how it can effect the way a character can look.
This same principle can be applied to other assets (props) that need to be created. In the image below you can see 3 examples of the same prop, a filing cabinet which follow the same rules as the character described above with style A,B and C being progressively more complex and time consuming to create.
Creating characters, scenes and assets in style A would certainly be quicker as it requires less detailing and with the blocky colour fill objects can be made to look more stylised without the need to make them look too ‘real world’. Style B adds a bit more depth and character to the overall design but will certainly add to the cost of art working almost doubling the time it would take to create each asset. Then finally Style C which would require each asset to be drawn by hand, coloured by hand and textured.
When designing characters and assets, their complexity does not necessarily mean the animation needs to be complex too. In fact this is where things get really interesting as you can offset one against the other. Creating really complex artwork and doing only very subtle animation can look just as effective and cost the same as creating a simple stylised artwork with lots of animation.
Stay tuned for part 2 where we explore how these designs can impact the animation style.