Live-Action vs. Animation: Which One Is the Best for My Explainer Video?

For more than a decade, we’ve been around in this explainer video industry. One of the most asked questions by our clients is:

“Which one should I go for, animation or live-action explainer videos?”

The biggest decision most companies face when making an explainer video (especially for the first time) is choosing between animation and live-action.

Anyway, which one is better?

I hate to be “that” guy, but the answer is: … there’s no defined answer, actually.

Both animated and live-action explainer videos have their own distinct features and functions that can appeal to specific target audiences.

In other words, both are powerful tools to engage your customers and boost your sales.

Of course, you still want the answer, right?

I don’t want to leave you hanging with the question. That’s why I wrote this article to give you insights about the right type of explainer video that suits your business the best.

So, is it animated or live-action explainer videos?

Let’s find out!

Animated Explainer Videos

Animated explainer videos are probably the most popular ones. When we talk about explainer videos, then we talk about animation.

Animated explainer videos have various types based on the animation they use, from motion graphics to kinetic typography.

Right now, the style on-trend is to use illustrated characters in fun color combinations and animated to visualize a story.

To give you more insights about animated explainer videos, take a look at this video:

From the video above, you now understand how each animation style has its own characteristics to catch viewers’ eyes and deliver the message effectively.


The reason why animated explainer videos are popular isn’t only because it’s a shiny, new trend. But, there are some other factors that you and other fellow marketers can’t ignore:

  • Scrappy animated explainer videos are easy and quick to create. There are a bunch of tools you can utilize to create your own videos. Not to mention those ready-to-use templates that you can custom. The hand-made one is always better than nothing at all, right?
  • It reaches broader target audiences. Animation appeals to audiences of all ages, from elementary school kids to professionals.
  • The only limit is your imagination. Anything is possible with animation. Flying pigs? Talking bear? Laughing Dinosaurs? You name it. If you can imagine it, then you can animate it.
  • It makes the explanations more fun. The endearing animated characters and intriguing storyline make it easier for audiences to enjoy the content and retain it better.


Despite all those promising advantages of using animated explainer videos, there are also possible pitfalls. Here you go:

  • It can be quite challenging to convey a “serious” message. The simplistic and entertaining styles that animation has doesn’t suit formal information so well.
  • Lack of human touch. Since everything is drawn or made by hands, animation doesn’t show real human emotions.
  • Professional ones require time and patience to create. The process of creating professional-looking animation can take such a long time to make sure that everything is well put together.

When Do You Need It?

Looking at those pros and cons above, one thing is clear: animated explainer video is the best bet for explaining complex topics in such a compelling way, so the viewers don’t get bored or overwhelmed easily.

It makes use of graphics and visual metaphors to explain abstract concepts and show what you and viewers can’t see.

Using animation won’t only help you to catch viewers’ attention faster, but also hold it. It’s easy for them to focus on the content since they are always curious about what will happen next with the animation.

This engaging medium is cost-effective, easy to manage, and will help your key points pop. It’s a good option for businesses of all sizes — yes, even the small businesses with a shoestring budget but still determined to deliver powerful messages.

There is always a type of animated explainer videos that match your budget.

Related Articles:

Live-Action Explainer Videos

That’s been animated explainer videos. Now, we move on to the live-action ones.

Unlike animated explainer videos, live-action videos are mostly focused on acting to deliver a brand’s message.

More often than not, touches of humor are used to make it more entertaining.

Take a look at this iconic live-action explainer video from Dollar Shave Club. I mean, seriously, who hasn’t watched this video?


A well-thought live-action explainer video (like you just seen above) can bring you some good, juicy results for your overall marketing campaigns. The reasons are because:

  • More relatable. The main perk to shooting a live-action video is authenticity. Since it shows human emotions, it’s easy for viewers to relate to the script.
  • Highlight the product. Live-action explainer videos show the appearance of your product in real life, so the viewers know what to expect.
  • Don’t need any particular skill set. A scrappy live-action can be made easily by everyone (without any design skills). All you need is a camera to record.
  • Easy to improvise. You can easily come up with a good idea and improvise on the set while filming the live-action explainer videos.


Below are some of the disadvantages of using live-action explainer videos:

  • Cost you some (or a lot of) bucks. Live-action explainer videos are quite expensive because of the cost for actors, the crew, and the location. Everything has a price tag.
  • It’s hard to update. Updating a live-action video means that you have to assemble your original casts and the team to shoot another necessary, “more updated” footage.
  • It depends on the location. Since live-action explainer videos rely on lights and the overall aesthetic of the frame, it’s all limited to the company’s office or an outdoor environment.

When You Need It?

If you want to deliver a message with a human touch or demonstrate your products, live-action explainer videos are the clear winner.

It can also be an ideal medium to build a more personal, human-level connection for your prospects. So, no wonder if most sales pitch videos use live-action explainer videos to get their message across.

Human emotions are nothing like them. With relevant jokes and a well-executed script, live-action explainer videos can easily make your audience laugh or cry.

The Verdict: Which One Is It?

Still no wiser which one you should choose? Here is the cheat sheet:

  • Use animated explainer videos to: deliver complex ideas and make the video asset easier to edit in the future.
  • Use live-action explainer videos to: connect with your audience on a human level and show products in action.

One thing you need to bear in mind, though. Whichever method you decide to rely on, keep your audience top of mind.

Try to always put yourself in your target audience’s shoes before putting any effort into explainer video production.

There you go. So, which is the explainer video type that aligns with your business? Is it animated or live-action ones? Let us know in the comment below!

Oh, and anyway, if you ever need a hand in explainer video production, Breadnbeyond is here to help! Contact us here for more info about explainer videos.




Helping startups and business grow faster with explainer videos at

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