Live Action or Animation? 4 Key Things to Consider for Your Next Video

It can be tough deciding between the right approach for your video – animation is fun and lively while live-action can really bring a real-world or human element.

There are plenty of pros and cons for either so let’s take a look at four major considerations you should take into account when deciding between live-action and animated video for your next project.

Tone and Audience

The first two things to consider when choosing between animated and live-action video are tone and audience.

Tone is probably the single biggest factor that can determine which approach you need to take.

Animated videos certainly aren’t just for kids – and animation can deal with very heavy subject matter – but fun, animated videos are usually seen as less serious than live-action videos. Live-action video is usually much better at conveying important information and helping an audience empathize with subject material.

Audience is also important – you must consider who you’re making the video for. For example, a startup has a different audience than a large, heavily-structured multinational corporation.

While a fun, interesting animated promotional video may work for the smaller company and their corporate tone, it may feel jarring or off-brand if released by a gigantic corporation.

Determining your tone and audience should be the first thing you do when making a choice between animated and live-action video – does an animated video fit your intended audience, or would a live-action video be a better fit?

Subject and Purpose

At first glance, subject and purpose seem similar to tone and audience – but they’re actually quite distinct.

A tone is the approach taken to the subject itself – if you are marketing pediatric products, for example, you could either use a fun, animated video with a light tone to appeal to children and their parents or a more informative, live-action video to appeal more to adults, doctors and nurses. Some subjects are appropriate for a more light-hearted tone – and many are not.

Another example, a large bank presenting information about a recent merger to their board of directors probably wouldn’t want a fun animated video with a ukulele playing in the background – the difference between tone and subject would be visibly and audibly apparent.

Purpose is also an important consideration. This is related to both tone and subject – what is the actual purpose of the video? Are you trying to share information to a specific audience, or simply evoke an emotional response in a much larger audience?

Together, tone, audience, subject, and purpose are the four biggest creative factors to take into account when thinking about live video vs. animated video.


Even after reading all of this, you may not have a “right” answer – and that’s okay. Perhaps your video could be done in either medium and you just have to make a decision, or you want to consult with video studios and animation teams before beginning.

Whatever your decision, bear in mind the considerations above, and we know you’ll make the right decision for your company, your video, and your needs.

Written by Tristan Pelligrino

Tristan Pelligrino is the Co-Founder of Motion. He’s a serial entrepreneur who started his career as a consultant with large IT companies such as PwC, IBM and Oracle. After getting his MBA, he started and grew one of the fastest video production companies in the country – which was listed on the Inc. 5000. Tristan now enjoys leading the content marketing strategies of some of the most innovative B2B technology companies in the country. You can find him on LinkedIn and Facebook.


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