Live Action vs Animation: What’s Best For Your Business?


Choosing whether to make a live action video or an animated video is probably one of the first big decision points businesses come to when considering video content.

Many of us here at have a background in filmmaking, and thus we prefer to show real people and real locations whenever we can. But the truth is that animation can also be a highly effective tool for explaining products.

There’s no magic solution when it comes to making this choice, but there are many factors to consider that may push you in one direction. And one big point to remember is, no matter whether you choose video or animation–you will get what you pay for. High quality, professional work costs money, and the more you invest in it, the better your video will be.


Live action video (in our humble opinion) is often the more daring and original choice these days, since animation has become a bit “overdone,” especially in the startup world. That’s not to say there aren’t certain products or companies which definitely would benefit from an animated video over a live action one.

In general, live action video allows you to highlight and celebrate the human personality and emotion behind your company and product. Seeing real faces and real locations in a video lends a certain cinematic credibility that animation may lack.

If your company produces hard, physical goods (purses, watches, shoes, etc.), video is especially important for showcasing your products to potential customers. If you have a particularly abstract or technical product or service, animation may be more suitable.

Shooting a video means that you have a bit more flexibility during the production process, since you can shoot multiple takes and options for each scene and then choose the best one, whereas making changes in animation is more costly and difficult.

Timewise, the turnaround for a video can often be shorter than for an animation video (4-6 weeks, on average), though of course this can all change depending on the scope of the project and if you end up having many changes or rounds of edits.

Pricewise, there are a huge array of production companies who can produce very low budget videos and extremely polished high budget ones. In general, you may find that the costs for a short, live-action video may be a little bit lower than for a similar animation video.


One problem with live action videos is obviously that they involve real human beings, and humans are imperfect. If you think you like an actor initially in casting and then he turns out to be bad during filming, re-casting and re-shooting the video can become very expensive.

Likewise, if you need significant alterations to a video after footage is shot, anything you’re not happy with that can’t be edited away will have to be re-shot. Adding additional shooting days are almost never budgeted for in projects, and this obviously lengthens the time to completion and explodes the budget.

Live action video can also become obsolete pretty quickly, and updating a video with footage may become difficult without producing an entire new one. Similarly, your video may begin to look “out of date” quickly, since trends and styles for online video change quickly.

>> Check out our pricing calculator to find out how much your live-action video might cost


If you’ve paid attention to the startup world in the past five years, you’ve noticed the marketplace has been flooded with animated explainer videos that attempt to elucidate the benefits of a new product/service with pithy, fun animations that typically last 60 seconds or less.

While not particularly groundbreaking anymore, choosing animation for your new business/startup can make a lot of sense, especially when your product is not yet developed or live. Animation is also great for reducing complex concepts into simple, digestible pieces that audiences can understand quickly, so it works for very technical products that aren’t easily graspable.

Another great aspect of animation is that you’re only limited by your imagination in terms of what you can do–unique colors, characters, transitions, visual metaphors etc. that can be deployed to make your video memorable, fun and clever.

Animation also allows you to continue making edits up until the very end, since it doesn’t require re-shooting footage.


Beware–the more changes you make after storyboards and script are finalized, the more pricey your animated video will be. With video, it’s easier to improvise changes during shooting days or get multiple takes of each scene. For these reasons, animation also typically takes longer to produce (expect a 5-8 week turnaround time, or more.)

In terms of pricing, there is a huge range of vendors out there who can produce animated videos on the cheap, using simple methods like whiteboard drawings or cartoon-style templated designs. However, for more sophisticated motion graphic videos, expect to pay as much or more than you would for a live action video.

>> Check out our pricing calculator to find out how much your animated video might cost.


No matter which option you choose, the bottom line is that video content is an engaging and effective way to reach customers, and it’s where the future is headed. 75% of ALL internet traffic will be video in two years time, and having videos on your website increases the chances that you’ll be indexed on the first page of Google result by more than 50X. Not to mention that countless studies have shown that people are more likely to retain information that they see rather than just hear.

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