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Business Explainer Video: What Video Style Do You Choose?


Creating your first business explainer video can be a pretty intimidating process. There are so many questions to answer. A lot of those questions involve terms that are new to any novice video maker. One of the first questions anyone bidding on your video will ask, is what type of video style do you want to make? Which is when most people say, I don’t know. Therefore, it’s time for us to identify the different types that are available for businesses to use in their explainer video production.


Animation is a large umbrella label for a number of different video types. In addition to a wide range of animation types, many animated videos will mix a number of these types together in a single video.

Pros and Cons of Animation

Animation gives you a lot of flexibility in regards to the video style and tone you produce. Some videos rely on a character-driven story, others use icons to build a compelling story, and others offer a first-person view of your product in action.

No matter the vision, it is easy for an animated video to rack up costs. The more complex it is (character’s, colors, animated elements, etc) the longer it will take to produce and the higher the cost will be. Additionally, anyone who is considering producing an animated video should start discussing the project with producers before getting too attached to a specific concept.

Production timelines for many animated explainer videos are 5 – 8 weeks unless you start straying into the very complex arena (longer script and/or lots of 3D animation). As with all videos, the more complex your concept is, the longer it will take.

We recommend having a minimum budget of $1,500 for a 60-second custom animation. Additionally, costs go up from there and it’s not unreasonable for a producer to charge $40,000+ for a very detailed and complex animation.

Different Types of Animation


A simplified, drawn style of animation. This style was wildly popular from 2007 – 2012 due to its accessible price and the quick proliferation of producers.

Whiteboard videos are typically produced very quickly. If you’re going this route, don’t just choose the quickest and cheapest producer. Look for a whiteboard animator with a portfolio that displays a range of different characters, treatments, and script structures. Avoid creators who indiscriminately mix different styles together in one video style.


The screencast video style is often incorporated into other animated elements or live action. It gives a user for an app or software an inside peek to the functionality of that technology. It’s a popular way to share new product features, onboard users, or sign up clients for new trials.

Screencasts can be detailed and true to the actual product or a more loose interpretation of the software/app. Some startups use a screencast for pre-Beta testing as a proof of concept stage.

2D Animation

This is the big bucket that most animations fall into. Within this bucket are the two styles we’ve already described as well as a couple additional styles that typically are just referenced as 2D animation.

Outside of whiteboard and screencast, a choice can be made between a character-based and more of an animated infographic animation.

3D Animation

3D animation, today, is a lot easier for independent animators and small firms to add to their skills repertoire. This is due to recent upgrades to computing speed and software advances. As a result, you’re now able to produce a 3D animation for a slightly larger investment than a standard 2D animation.

3D animations are a great way to tell your story in a modern way or introduce a 360-degree view of your product.

Animation + Images

This approach can be tricky to pull off, but when done correctly has a big impact and is very budget friendly. It’s important to use very high-quality images that fill the entire video, with a lot of flashy animation on top. If you see anything that looks like a 90’s real estate video style, walk immediately away.

Live Action

There are primarily two types of live action explainer videos. First, there’s the true live action video where the footage is all shot by a videographer based on a script. Additionally, a live action video can also be built using pre-filmed stock footage.

Pros and Cons of Live Action

As babies, we learn to seek out human faces when viewing the world around us. This is an extremely powerful trait that marketers increasingly exploit throughout marketing campaigns. And a strong reason to consider using a live action video style, if your budget allows for it.

Live action, naturally, has a few limitations built into the medium. You are limited to visuals that are naturally attainable for humans. However, with the accessibility of drones, digital cameras that can be stuck practically everywhere. Therefore, there’s an explosion of video content producers worldwide and the options are increasingly endless.

One tricky aspect can be the weather. Unless you’re looking to achieve the windy or thunderstorm look, those natural events can seriously impact your budget and shoot days. As with animation, it’s important to start discussing ideas and concepts with producers early. Make sure there’s no attachment to an idea that won’t work within the budget.

Live action videos can be produced in as few as 3 or 4 weeks, or much longer depending on the conditions needed for filming. Budgets start around $4,000 for a custom (stock or filmed) 60-second video and it’s not unreasonable for producers to charge in the $50,000 – $100,000 range.

Stock Footage

The availability and range of stock footage has exploded in recent years, making this a much easier live action video style for any business to create. Typically, these videos feature a 3rd person voice over of the story or tell the story entirely through visuals. You can find stock footage that features a range of individuals in various locations or purchase a collection of clips featuring the same talent.

True Live Action

The cost and logistics of live action shoots have become much easier to swallow in recent years. However, true live action is really only needed when you have a very specific set of shots needed, a 1st person narration, or want to introduce specific members of your team.

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