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Animation VS Live Action: All Pros & Cons for Video Marketing


Choosing the appropriate video style is the third most significant question in video advertising after marketing strategy and video type.

Depending on the context, like your audience, objectives, and core message, your choice of style can make or break the whole video marketing campaign.

When it comes to video advertising, there are two primary style choices: live action video or animated video. Each one has its pros and cons, and each can be used in some instances, no matter if your company is B2B or B2C oriented.

In this article, we will carefully review the differences between animated and live action videos. And the first question we’ll tackle is – how much each kind of video can cost you?

How Much Live Action and Animated Videos Cost

Cost is one of the first people ask about video marketing. The answer depends on the number of variables, one of which is, of course, the style of your video content.

Video Animation Cost

The standard creative process for animated videos almost always starts with script writing. Then goes the storyboard, animation, any voice-overs, sound effects, and music. Then you’ve got to request and check the revisions, in case you need any.

So say you choose to go down the video animation route. The next decision you should make is whether you’re going to recruit freelancers or use a video production company.

Choosing freelancers can offer you variety in skill types and budgets. If your budget is low, this could mean you can work with people who charge a lower fee. However, in this case, you have to take into account the costly time investment required to manage a team of freelancers.

You can also hire a production agency to create the video animation for you. This means you can hand over the reins to them and check up on the project at each stage, without over-complicating your usual responsibilities.

Make sure you negotiate the price beforehand, however. As some agencies will provide set prices and delivery times, others will charge after completing the project.

Live Action Video Cost

For live action video content, there is a more complicated process.

First of all, you have the usual script and storyboard part to think about, which you can tackle on your own or hire a professional to do it for you. However, there are additional requirements for the actual filming stage are much harder to manage without professional help.

With live action filming, you have to think about insurance, cast, location, props, set, wardrobe, etc. If you settle for doing everything on your own, prepare for a lot of legwork required to get all the preparations done (even if you have a team of loyal subordinates).

Plus, there’s also the post-production stage, which involves voice acting, editing, music, sound effects, and any graphic design, just like with animated video.

It’s worth noting, however, if your resources are tight, it’s doable to shoot a DIY live action video in just a few days.

Here’s when one of the most significant benefits of live action starts to shine – you can utilize resources that you already have. For example, use your home or office as a set and your friends or colleagues as actors.

Overall, the end cost depends on what resources you can utilize and what you need to source. Upon weighing these up, you can budget accordingly.

The Pros and Cons of Using Animated vs. Live Action Videos

When it comes to video advertising, the budget is never the only concern. There is a whole list of other differences that a particular style choice introduces, so sometimes a larger budget may be justified as it can provide a higher ROI.

Here is a quick overview of the main pros and cons of each style (explained in more detail below):



✔ Easily Stylized and Branded

✔ Can Express More Abstract Ideas

✔ Creatively Liberating

✔ Easier to Alter Down the Line

✖ Slower Production (Sometimes)

✖ No Viable DIY Solution


Live Action:

✔ Humanizing and Personal

✔ Shows Practical Examples

✔ Faster Production (Usually)

✔ Many DIY Solutions

✖ Creatively Limiting

✖ Harder to Alter Down the Line


Animated Videos’ Pros

The most alluring benefit of video animation is that they save you money, time, and energy because they don’t require real-time actors or sets.

Animated videos also work best for more complicated products or services, making it possible to explain more abstract subjects in an easy and accessible way. While still being fun to watch and engaging for your audience.

Here’s an animated explainer video we’ve created for a blockchain startup called “Prediction”:

Now imagine a blockbuster live action video in the same style. It would cost this startup a fortune!

It’s harder to articulate complex ideas via live action, and it usually ends up as a combination of live actors and digital effects anyways. This is also why there has been a noticeable rise in animated videos within the tech world in recent years.

Plus, you can always get back to the animated video and edit it. Given that you have all of the original filed (which we always securely keep for our clients forever, might they need them again), this can save your company a lot of time and money.


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Animated Videos’ Cons

The biggest pitfall video animation can have is that it often comes across as less personal than live action videos.

‘Etsy: One of a Kind’ is an example of a promo video that would simply lose all its charm if it was animated. Living, breathing people with great personality and compelling stories can make your video unique and relatable like nothing else.

It doesn’t have to be long either, this Etsy commercial is only 30 seconds.

On the flip-side, when JotForm trialed animated content against live action, they discovered that animated videos performed better than live action, noting a 20% higher amount of clicks, leading to a higher serve rate in YouTube.

Video animation can also take up to seven weeks to make, but this depends on how long and complicated the content should be. If you have limited time – keep this in mind.


Live Action Videos’ Pros

A big pro of live action videos is that they carry a slightly more authentic, instructive tone, as well as feel more relatable. Partly thanks to the natural human instinct to read body language.

Live action videos are also quicker to create given that you keep it simple. Although, keep in mind that the more writers, actors, locations, and camera angles you add, the longer production process will take.

Speaking of actors, the human factor is what makes live action videos both special and more challenging. You will need a skilled acting talent on board, including experienced stuntmen, if the script requires stunts. And, sometimes, a whole lot of dumb luck.

However, when you get the right people, and you nail that challenging scene – it’s priceless.

Just remember the last time you’ve watched a scene with real tricks, like this one:

Sure, modern CGI is slowly killing the art, but you can still make a lasting impression by incorporating unique talent into your marketing videos.


Live action Videos’ Cons

What puts most companies off live action video marketing is the cost, which often increases the more resources and staff you require for the project.

Another drawback of a live action video is your lack of ability to modify already recorded scenes. If you missed even one shot or want to edit in some extra words, setting everything back up again can be challenging. Whereas with animated videos, revisions and changes can be easy, instant and incur little to no extra cost.

Imagine working on a video like this famous commercial for Old Spice. Countless things can go wrong:

So try to take into account the resources already at your disposal first. Extra location, cameras, sound gear, and talent you add can all carry a hefty cost.


When you’re at the stage of choosing the exact style and production approach for your video – there are many more variables that come into place. So you will have to make the time to compare exactly what you want to achieve with the number of choices you have.

Make sure that your video marketing adheres to a well-thought-out marketing strategy:

And don’t forget that it’s also possible to incorporate different styles from both live action video and animated (for example having animated graphics pop-up on a live action footage) – an approach that can give you the best of both worlds.

Like in the explainer video we’ve made for Nucleus Vision:

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