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You’ll often hear that video content encapsulates many of the positives of a broad range of content styles. It’s accessible, easy to digest and it feels more personable.  If this is the case, we want to tap into that ability and draw out the best qualities that the video content can offer, whether that be to get more traffic to your website, more audience engagement or to showcase your business to as many people as possible.

Whatever the goal may be, let’s 10 types of explainer videos so that you can choose the best one that represents you. In order to choose the right style for your explainer video you need to know;

  • what your goal is 
  • who your target audiences is
  • the message you want to share
  • what your budget is

The clear identification of all these elements not only will help you create a great explainer video but can add more value to your customers. 

Now, let’s dive into looking at the many styles of explainer videos! This is in no particular order.

1. 2D Character Animation Explainer Video

2D animation explainer videos are often seen as a traditional style animation but it is one of the most popular formats used by a wide variety of businesses and start-ups. This is because it is highly versatile and allows plenty of room for customisation. It also is the mid-ground of animation, it’s pricier than motion graphics, cheaper than 3D, and offers endless possibilities of artistic freedom. This is why it’s favoured by many businesses and brands. 

2D Animation types of explainer video
2D Animation from our Crown Couriers Animation Explainer Video

2. Motion Graphic Animation

If you have a complex product or service that you want to showcase, Motion Graphics can be your best friend. This style of animation brings still graphics to life by adding visual effects, animation and other cinematic forms, however,  Motion Graphics are not usually story-based or character-driven. It often involves manipulating abstract shapes, texts and figures to simplify your message. Motion Graphic Animation is also great at visually compiling huge amounts of information in an engaging and straightforward way, in just a few seconds.

Motion Graphic Style Example from GB Labs Hyperspace Animation

3. 3D Animation Explainer Video

Although 3D animation can be costly to make, it certainly delivers that high quality finish. 3D animation undeniably captures the realism excellently, as it provides superior visualisation, details and accuracy of movement. However, there are more restrictions on the creative aspect due to limits to movement and action. 3D animation can look really nice and has its perks but it is used rarely in explainer videos due to the high production cost, longer delivery time and complexity associated with making amendments. This is part of the reason why you often see Google or Microsoft using 2D style animation for their explainer videos.

3D animations are often seen on TV adverts too, and not as much online. If you can afford 3D explainer videos the chances are you can afford to get it broadcast too. Whilst it’s possible to keep the cost down for inanimate objects, characters will make this one of the most expensive types of explainer videos you will find.

3D Animation Style Example from our Haworth Tompkins – Kingston University Library Proposal

4. 2.5D

I know what you’re thinking…what the heck is a 2.5D animation right? Well, let me explain… 

2.5D animations are basically 2D style animations created in 3D space. It is a technique used by animators to give that 3D-like feel by using tools such as shadowing, layering, perspective adjusting and morphing on 2D images. 2.5D animation explainer videos can achieve similar results to that of a 3D animation, but costs a lot less. They are also faster to create so ideal for businesses that want 3D animation done fast or on a budget.

2.5D Animation Style Example from LandAid’s Explainer Video

5. Whiteboard Animation

Whiteboard Animation is a popular technique where a story or explanation is shown on a white background using hand-drawn style artwork. This type of animation allows you to be straightforward whilst permitting a deeper explanation for your product, service or process. Whiteboard Animation can also be a preferred method for businesses and nonprofit organizations to show their history and to provide educational video content. Although there are many positives in incorporating this style of animation, it can also look cheap as it has a similar feel to a homemade video.

Also, by choosing a whiteboard animation you are already stuck with a specific style which thousands of other businesses have chosen, making it difficult for you to stand out. Along with this, the cost difference in a  cheaper whiteboard video vs expensive whiteboard video can be difficult to identify, once again due to the same repetitive style of using white or plain background with hand-drawn style artwork. If you do decide to go with the Whiteboard Animation explainer video, it is very important to really think outside of the box and go above and beyond what everyone else is doing to avoid being forgotten.

WHERE GOOD IDEAS COME FROM by Steven Johnson

6. Stop-Motion

Stop-Motion animation explainer videos are highly engaging and fun to watch. It utilises the technique of making small adjustments to a series of pictures, objects or illustrations. After that, they compile it into a sequence and smoothly stitch the scenes together to create the illusion of movement. Although this style of animation can be highly effective, it does have its drawbacks.

Firstly, it usually ends up having a high production cost. Secondly, it does not give you much flexibility or room for amendments once it’s halfway through production. For these reasons, they’re quite uncommon.

Lastly, depending on the type of stop-motion animation you want to create, the effort that goes into manufacturing that video can be immense, from making props, intricate editing for a seamless finish etc. However, Stop-Motion animation is undeniably a very unique style and when executed well, it has a strong ability to take your audience through a story which can leave a lasting impact.  It is definitely uncommon, and can be reminiscent of classics such as Wallace and Gromit.

Our advice would be create a 2D animation, but use digital effects and creative art direction to make it look like a stop motion animation.!

7. Typography Animation

Typography animation is actually called Kinetic Typography, which is a really fancy way of saying ‘moving words’. By the clever and simple use of fonts and animated text, your message or idea can be expressed effectively. While typography animation can be quite niche in terms of its effective use, it certainly delivers for highlighting data, figures, underlining and reinforcing specific passages.

This method could leave an impression on your potential customers, audiences or your potential business partner, it is also the most affordable of all of the previous options as there are very limited assets and artwork to be created. This style is consistently going to be one of the cheapest types of explainer videos you will find.

8. Screencast – Screen Capture

One of the simplest forms of explainer video you could make is Screencast video. It comprises digital recordings of screen-captured footage, typically with a narration in the background. Screencast video is very popular because of its simple nature and low production cost, it allows you to create very large quantities of video’s for low cost. While it may be simple, it certainly doesn’t mean that it won’t bring you your desired results. As there is minimal asset creation involved, Screencast is also one of the most affordable types of explainer videos you will find.

Screencast Video for Probrand Marketplace – Explainer Video

9. Live-Action Explainer Videos

Next style is the traditional yet still very popular Live Action videos. This style of explainer video unquestionably gives that human touch which is a lot harder to achieve with animation. Although Live-Action videos do the same as the other styles of explainer videos in terms of explaining your product, service or business, the main difference is that it’s done by a real person. Live-action explainer videos, for example, are great for people-oriented services or when it involves the CEO or employees of the company where the audiences can match the face to the business. It gives that ultimate realism and personable impact.

However, making high-quality Live-Action videos can be costly, due to requiring camera equipment, lighting, more people/staff, and you may also need an actor/actress etc. It also has the downside when it comes to updating the video as it is nearly impossible to recreate the exact scenes if you wish to update certain parts of the video which means you may have to create an entirely new video, adding up your cost. 

Live Action Explainer Video for ‘James Kowper Kreston’ – Please note we don’t supply live action ourselves!

 10. Live-Action with Visual Effects

Last but certainly not least is this style of explainer video which is produced by meshing the live-action with animation to give that extra pop. It is a great way to make your conventional live-action video stand out. As an example, utilising 2D motion graphics to accentuate your brand, service or a product can be a great way to promote your message both visually and verbally. Also, showing an actual graph or data as the live-action actor/actress talks about statistics not only creates the feeling of interaction but leaves more of a memorable impact on your audience. The downside, as mentioned above, is that high-quality Live-action video productions can be costly and incorporating animation on top of that means accumulating more cost.

Visual Effects example from a project created in partnership with a video production company.

Which is these 10 types of explainer videos resonate with you?

So there it is, these are 10 of the best types of explainer videos that you can incorporate in your business. I hope that this article offered you some insight into the style of explainer videos that are out there and helped you identify or even narrow down on your choice. 

Would love to hear what your experiences were incorporating any of these styles in your explainer video and what you learnt from that production experience. 

Now you’ve learned what the 10 best types of explainer videos are, checkout our previous article to better understand how long your explainer video should be!

— A bit about us —

MIC Animation helps you get results with bespoke and brand tailored Animation Explainer Videos and Animated Content.

Combining animation with a  jargon free philosophy delivers crystal clear messaging to the hearts of your audience. MIC creates content ranging from small internal HR animations all the way through to animated educational content for children. In their short history MIC have created content for your small local business all the way through to global brands such as GKN, Maritime Transport and Greene King.

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