Using Animations Versus Photos In eLearning Videos

Using animation in eLearning videos is becoming more and more popular, but is it an acceptable business practice? Should all eLearning videos be animated? Do photos of real people look more professional than animated characters? Does using animation compromise the validity of your eLearning course?

Choosing between animation and photos is an important decision. It can lead to increased sales. Or it can cost you a lot of money with little return on your investment. Keep reading to learn more.

What’s the Big Deal?

Does choosing animation over photos really affect the bottom line of your business?

While animated videos may not be a big deal to some, they can be offensive to others. Some people have a hard time relating to animation. They find it hard to take animated videos seriously. This is why you need to choose carefully. Lost customers = lost revenue. And no one is in business to lose money. On the other hand, other audiences may find animated videos that carry a serious message as a welcome break from their workday. Knowing where your target audience lies is important.

eLearning Videos And Animation: Things To Consider

When deciding to use animation vs. real photos, take a moment to consider the following.

Who is your audience? Maybe it’s an organization that feels strongly that animations don’t belong in the business world. Or perhaps it’s a class of graphic art students that relate better to animation.

What fits your organization’s branding? Do the branding guidelines state that only real people must be used in videos? Do they state that animation is acceptable but only in certain situations? Does your organization present itself as a serious, no-nonsense institute, or a group of fun-loving, young-at-heart nerds?

What is best suited for the content? Some topics lend themselves better to a particular mode of presentation. For example, human emotions are best captured in live video or photos, while abstract topics are usually demonstrated well through animations or iconography. Consider this deeply as you make a decision about the presentation of your content.

How will you know? Easy. Don’t assume anything. Ask questions.

A practical example: You are an Instructional Designer. You are creating a customer service eLearning video for a business unit. Ask them for a copy of their branding guidelines. If they don’t have any, ask them if they prefer animation or real photos? Even better, show them examples of both.

Animation at Its Best

Animated videos, commonly referred to as motion graphics, are excellent for explaining ideas or complex products. They also work well for making situational scenarios come to life. (scenario-based learning)

Photos at Their Best

Real photos are excellent when introducing the company to new employees. Real people deliver a more powerful message. Photos are also the better choice when you need to show a high emotional state, such as harassment or anger, because people tend to relate more to real people rather than animated characters.

Combining Your Efforts

Combining animation with real photos might work well for making a company appear modern and high-tech. But if done poorly, it could also create a hodgepodge effect that might be jarring. Like most things in life, there is no one right or wrong answer here.

Don’t Cheap Out

Why pay someone to create professional videos when you can do it on your own? Well. As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Cheaply produced videos look cheap. Your message will be lost in a low-quality video. If it looks like a kids’ cartoon or a home video, people are less likely to take your message seriously. Make sure you have the right idea and talent on hand before starting a video project.

Getting the Right Talent

People connect emotionally with other people. Animated videos also have emotion, but it’s harder to relate to animated characters than to a real person. Having real people in your videos helps your employees identify with someone they can trust.

You have a couple of options:

  • Hire a professional agency or actors
  • Use your executives and employees
  • Use stock footage

You don’t need to spend a fortune. If actors are in your the budget, go for it. But using your employees can work well too. Another possibility is to use pre-recorded stock footage with the right treatment.

Originally Published on eLearning Industry

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