From Live Action to Animation: A Walkthrough of the Most Popular Explainer Video Types

From Live Action to Animation: A Walkthrough of the Most Popular Explainer Video Types

In the world of explainer videos, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula. Instead, a variety of explainer video types exist, each with its unique style. These different types cater to needs, whether they are for websites or social media platforms.

In this blog post, we are going to:

  • Examine the characteristics of animated and non-animated explainer video types
  • Highlight the situations where different types of explainer videos excel
  • Show you different combinations of explainer video types for you to experiment with

Let’s explore the different explainer video types, from live-action explainers to animations, to help you find the perfect match for your next project.

Comparison of Explainer Video Types

We can trace the development of explainer videos back to the early 2010s. This was when Groupon became the first of many businesses to have its video go viral. Since then, explainer videos have become a go-to tool in communicating a message, concept, product, or service!

Do you also want an explainer video company to explain something cool about your product or service to your target audience? Explainer video types come in various forms, each with its special powers. By understanding each video type, you can make an informed decision about which style is most suitable for your business. Let’s compare them and discover which one suits your storytelling style.

Animated Explainer Video Types

Any explainer video company would tell you that the most popular type of explainer video is the animated explainer video. Animated explainer video types combine illustrations, motion, characters, music, narration, and visuals to explain complex topics or products.

Why do they make for many of the best explainer videos?

Animated explainer videos:

  • offer endless possibilities for creativity and storytelling
  • allow for more flexibility and can be tailored to match a brand’s unique personality and voice
  • are versatile, making them suitable for a wide range of industries and purposes
  • are perfect for consumer-facing companies because they are easy to understand
  • can be tailored to target a specific demographic

To reach your target audience with animation, here are the different animated explainer video types:

  • Whiteboard explainer videos
  • Motion graphics explainer videos
  • Kinetic typography explainer videos
  • 2D animated explainer videos
  • 3D animated explainer videos
  • Isometric animated explainer videos
  • Stop motion explainer videos

Whiteboard Explainer Videos

These include some of the best explainer videos on the internet. This is because whiteboard explainer videos have a charming and nostalgic appeal that resonates with audiences of all ages. With whiteboard explainers, you’ll see on your screen a big whiteboard where someone draws or doodles while telling a story.

Demonstrating complex ideas bit by bit becomes simple yet powerful when drawings are hand drawn. As the hand moves across the whiteboard, ideas come to life. It makes you feel you’re learning through a friendly and engaging conversation. This type of video also creates a sense of anticipation as the drawings unfold, keeping the viewers engaged throughout the video.

Thumbnail of a whiteboard explainer video by Impact Animated Videos

Motion Graphics Explainer Videos

Motion graphics explainers aren’t like traditional animations with moving characters. Motion graphics focus on graphic elements like text, icons, shapes, and colours that glide, bounce, and animate in and out. It’s like creating a visual symphony where each element plays a note in the storytelling. Motion graphics videos use movement to add excitement and energy, increasing engagement tenfold. No wonder they often make it to the list of best explainer videos!

Motion graphics explainer videos are all about visually stunning typography, icons, and illustrations. These videos are sometimes called infographic explainer videos, since they can be compared to animated infographics. They are known for their cohesive colours, smooth transitions, and dynamic elements. This style is effective for conveying statistics, data, and other numerical information. Motion graphics allow for the seamless integration of text and visuals. They enable businesses to communicate eye-catching complex information that leaves a lasting impression.

Clean and straightforward, infographic explainers can quickly and effectively convey a lot of information in a short amount of time!

Kinetic Typography Explainer Videos

Seeing static text on the screen can be boring. You need a visual show to keep your viewers hooked. Kinetic typography can do that job well. It creatively uses movement and animation to emphasize words. It’s as if the words themselves become characters that express emotion and energy through their animated journey. Kinetic typography explainer videos turn a simple script into a vibrant storytelling experience with words jumping, swirling, and changing on the screen.

This type of animated video uses animated text, often accompanied by sound effects and music. Kinetic typography videos are known for their creative use of fonts, colours, and animations. It can illustrate stories and ideas, create visual impact, and add energy and emotion to the story being told for more engagement.

A thumbnail of a kinetic explainer video by Impact Animated Videos

2D Animated Explainer Videos

Your favourite cartoons from childhood are comparable to 2D animated explainers. Unlike 3D, where things look three-dimensional, 2D stays flat like a drawing on paper. 2D animations are great for storytelling and can connect with viewers on an emotional level, thus making more of an impact than a non-storytelling marketing approach would. As a bonus, they are inexpensive to make!

A thumbnail of a 2D animation explainer video by Impact Animated Videos

3D Animated Explainer Videos

3D explainer videos come to life with the illusion of motion. It mimics the behaviour of tangible objects by offering a comprehensive, 360-degree perspective of every facet. What sets 3D animations apart from their 2D counterparts? In 2D animation, imagery is presented in a flat format, restricted to a horizontal (x-axis) and a vertical (y-axis) plane. On the other hand, 3D animation introduces an essential third dimension—the z-axis—which imparts depth, thus enhancing the visual experience with a sense of volume and space.

To create 3D animated explainer videos, an animator will first make a 3D mesh using a modelling tool. That mesh model is then coloured, given texture, and “rigged.” In rigging, a skeleton is set up for the animation character to move. In the next step, the animator uses keyframes and motion capture data to lay it out and animate it. The last step is called rendering, where the 3D character is further tweaked to give it more details.

Isometric Animated Explainer Videos

Instead of the usual straight-on view, isometric videos show things from a unique angle. At this new angle, everything looks stylish and interesting. It’s like looking at a scene from a different perspective, adding a touch of creativity to the storytelling. With isometric animations, you get a fresh vibe that sets them apart from the rest.

These videos are like crafting 3D scenes on a flat surface, seen from above and the side, making it 2.5D animation. It’s gaining popularity among businesses in ads and is now trendy in explainer videos.

Here is an isometric animated explainer video we made here at Impact Animated Videos. This picture captures the unique angle of the video:

Thumbnail of an isometric animated video by Impact Animated Videos

Stop Motion Explainer Videos

Without using continuous filming, traditional stop motion uses a series of pictures taken frame by frame. Each frame captures a slight movement, and when played together rapidly, it creates the illusion of motion. It’s like turning still images into a captivating animation.

Non-animated Explainer Video Types

Viewers usually experience non-animated explainer videos as genuine, because there is a real person on the screen. A real person’s body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice can sometimes make a faster emotional connection than animation. That said, these videos are not always more effective.

Jotform tested a live action vs. and animated explainer video, and the animated video far outperformed the live action video, with a 20% higher click rate.

Here are non-animated explainer video types:

  • Live action explainer videos
  • Screencast explainer videos
  • Explainer video types with stock footage

Live Action Explainer Videos

Videos with live action are like tiny traditional movies that bring real-life actors into the storytelling spotlight. Doing away with animated characters, they feature actual characters that act out scenes to explain ideas or concepts with the right personality for your topic. The actors, props, and real-world settings make the video makes it easier for the target audience to relate to and understand the information being shared.

However, live action explainer videos are normally expensive to make so they may not be the best choice for businesses looking into explainer videos. It might help to know that, in contrast to live action explainer videos, high-quality animated explainer videos may be the better choice because they are inexpensive yet packed with creativity.

Screencast Explainer Videos

A screencast explainer acts as a digital tour guide for your target audience about your new product, service, app, or website. Screencast explainer videos are like having a guide on the computer screen that shows how things work. These videos do not rely on characters and animations. Screencasts capture real actions on a computer or device. Viewers get to watch someone click, type, and navigate through software or websites. While they click, they explain what they’re doing. Screencasts make it easy to learn about digital stuff. You get to see exactly how it’s done, almost like having a tech-savvy friend right there with you. 

Explainer Video Types With Stock Footage

Explainer videos with stock footage are like putting together a puzzle with ready-made pieces. With this video type, creating every shot from scratch is not needed. It uses pre-recorded clips, known as stock footage, to enhance the storytelling. The clever use of stock footage creates a smoothly blended mix of scenes. It’s like having a library of video snippets that can be combined to tell your unique story. This approach saves time and resources while creating visually appealing and professional-looking videos.

Combining Explainer Video Types

Are you eager to share an explainer video on your website and social media platforms but can’t choose just one? Why not ask our explainer video company to mix and match these video types? It’s like creating your superhero squad of explainers! Combining them can make your explainer video even more outstanding.

Here are some great combos of explainer video types to try:

  • Kinetic typography + stock footage
  • Whiteboard + talking head video
  • Motion graphics + isometric animation
  • Kinetic Typography + 3D animation
  • Screencast + whiteboard or motion graphics
  • Kinetic typography and infographics

Kinetic Typography + Stock Footage: Immerse your audience in a captivating fusion of text and action that leaves a lasting impression. Let words add life to the stock footage with kinetic typography, injecting your message with a lively beat. Add some live action flair—real people, genuine excitement for more enhanced engagement. Blend them for a fun-filled video that tells your brand story like never before!

A thumbnail of a combined kinetic typography and live action explainer video by Impact Animated Videos

Whiteboard + Talking Head Video: Mixing hand drawn whiteboard drawings that appear while a person is talking on the screen can add a personal touch to your explainer video. You can link what is being said with visuals in real time, bringing the spoken message to life, elevating your storytelling.

You can also use this method to combine whiteboard with video testimonials.

Motion Graphics + Isometric Animation: Motion graphics infuse excitement into your story by transforming it into a dynamic visual narrative. Combining motion graphics with isometric animation creates a dynamic duo. The movements of graphics not only amplify but also complement the stylish perspective of isometric animation. This fusion captivates viewers, offering a visually immersive journey that resonates long after the screen fades to black.

Kinetic Typography + 3D Animation: Kinetic typography animation makes words move gracefully on the screen. Mixing this application technique with 3D can create a mesmerizing effect. The words themselves become characters, adding an extra layer of storytelling magic to your video. As they elegantly flow across the screen, your message comes to life in a captivating and dynamic visual experience.

Screencast + Whiteboard or Motion Graphics: Screencast explainer videos are like a digital guide through your computer. Combining them with whiteboard or motion graphics can make techy explanations more engaging. It’s like having a virtual assistant guiding your audience through the digital landscape, but with some added usual interest and explanation. These bring your software to life, turning mundane screen recordings of intricate processes into an interactive journey with your virtual guide.

Kinetic Typography + Infographics: This is a very common combination, and for good reason: it works extremely well. Combining animated icons and shapes with text to make it more clear is a winning combination.

Final Thoughts on Choosing and Combining Explainer Video Types

With explainer videos, choosing the right explainer video type is key to successfully delivering your message to your target audience. It is comparable to selecting the perfect flavour for your dish. Each type has its unique characteristics, and the decision depends on the story you aim to tell. Or you can make different types or mix and match these types for your storytelling to make it more exciting. Experiment, try new combinations, and find the blend that suits your story’s flavour.

So, grab your creative ingredients, and let’s cook up some amazing and inspiring explainer videos to share on your website and social media!

We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

  1. In what ways do animated explainer videos offer more creative freedom compared to non-animated ones?
  2. Can you discuss the role of motion graphics in simplifying and enhancing the communication of statistical or data-driven information?

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