Live-Action Vs Animation Videos: Differences, What Are They, and How to Pick One for Your Project

Updated 3-27-23

Social media is a fertile ground where advertisers continue to reap big time. With the right video marketing strategy, this platform delivers leads right to your doorstep, and the conversion rates are quite incredible. Animations and live videos are among the most used and most effective social media strategies. While there is always a question of which of the two is the best, both can work miracles if used appropriately in the right contexts.

When creating an effective video marketing strategy, the foundation for success all begins with the video style you choose. While you can use many video types when marketing your products and services, you’re still left with the fundamental question of whether you should use live action or animation to bring your message to life.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer when choosing which format suits your business since both have their own strengths and weaknesses. However, by examining the pros and cons of each, you can make an informed decision that best fits your marketing goals.

Understanding the Key Differences Between Live Action and Animation Videos

To help you decide between live action and animation video production, it’s vital to understand the key differences between each format.

What is a Live Action Video Format?

If you’ve ever seen a commercial on TV or online, chances are you’ve seen a live action video. Live action is the most popular form of video advertising and can create high-impact videos that engage viewers with stories, visuals, and sound. 

Live action video typically refers to filmed content with real people or actors instead of animation. It is often used for commercials and feature films and typically includes lighting equipment, cameras, props, makeup artists, set designers, and other production elements. The result is usually a series of beautifully crafted scenes that evoke emotion and tell stories in an exciting way.

The Live Action Process

The process of creating live action content involves several steps, including:

  • Scriptwriting
  • Scouting locations
  • Casting talent
  • Pre-production meetings with crew members and clients
  • Filming on site or in studio settings
  • Capturing quality footage using state-of-the-art equipment, and
  • Post-production editing sessions

Types of Live Action Videos

There are several different types of live action videos that can be used for various purposes, such as commercials, music videos, web series, corporate training videos, or even short films.

  • Some popular styles of live action videos include:
  • Scripted narrative videos, which tell stories through characters
  • Documentaries that provide an in-depth look into topics
  • Instructional videos or product tutorials, and
  • Promotional videos that focus on the features or benefits of a brand

What is the Animation Video Format?

Animation video format offers viewers a unique experience of witnessing stories come to life through visuals. By combining ideas and technology, captivating characters and backgrounds are crafted with the addition of effects to create a movement that makes learning fun or entertainment stimulating. Since its inception in the early 1900s, animation remains popular for various uses, whether it be recreational cartoons or educational health videos.

The Animation Process

When it comes to the animation video format, there are five basic steps:

  • Concept and story development
  • Character design and modeling
  • Background design and layout
  • Animation and effects creation
  • Post-production, which includes editing and sound mixing

Types of Animation Videos

There are many different types of animation video formats that can be used for various purposes:

  • 2D Animation: Traditional 2D animation is one type where drawings are hand-drawn on paper and then scanned into a computer, which is put together using software programs.
  • 3D Animation: 3D animation uses computer-generated imagery (CGI) to create objects that look realistic when rendered on screen.
  • Motion Graphics: Motion graphics use text and icons, and animation techniques to produce dynamic visuals for websites or presentations. Stop motion animations use physical objects instead of drawings to create motion on the screen, while claymation blends clay sculptures with stop motion techniques for an even more unique look. 

What Takes Longer — Live Action or Animation?

Live action videos typically take longer to produce than animation videos because of the extensive preparation and production steps they require. A single person or small team can create animations with relative ease and speed. At the same time, live action videos usually require a larger crew and are often shot over several days in multiple locations. Additionally, editing and post-production can take much longer for live action movies due to the complexity of the tasks, such as color correction and audio mixing.

When Is It Appropriate to Use Live Action and Animation Video Production?

When deciding between live action and animation video production, the goal of your project should be paramount. Live action can provide a realistic way to tell stories for commercials or documentaries, while animation offers an imaginative approach ideal for websites or presentations. Depending on budget and timeline constraints as well, one format may stand out as more suitable than another for any given project — it’s all about making sure you’ve chosen the right tool based on its intended use-case.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Animation vs. Live Video

Animations and live videos are arguably the best social media strategies but settling on either for your marketing campaigns can be quite a headache. Both deliver results if used in the right contexts and in the right way. When deciding on which of the two you will use, consider the following factors:

When deciding between animation or live action video, there are several factors you should consider to ensure you’re making the right choice for your project:

The Message

When creating a memorable video experience, consider the message you want to impart and decide between an animated or live format. For something more light-hearted or humorous that captures attention — animations offer captivating characters and settings for your story. When conveying realism, emotion, or powerful messages, then live action production would be best.

The Human Feel

Another factor to consider is the human feel you want your video to have. Animated videos are great for creating creative worlds and practical situations, but they don’t don’t have the same emotional impact as live videos. Live videos allow viewers to connect with on-screen talent in a much more personal way than animations do. So, a live video might be a better option if you’re trying to create an emotional connection with your audience. 


If you are bound to change or update your ad even after posting it on any social media platform, animation is the most ideal option. Updating a live-action video is quite a hassle, and while you could manage to make changes, it can be quite problematic—talk of reassembling your entire cast for another shooting and, of course, re-editing the project again. 

Another factor that you should consider is flexibility. Live videos require more planning and preparation than animations because all of the filming needs to take place in real-time (as opposed to post-production). This means any changes need to be made before filming begins, so it might not be as flexible as an animation would be if changes need to be made mid-way through production. Animating allows for much more flexibility because changes can easily be made during post-production without additional filming or editing time. 

Time and Budget

Time and budget are also important factors when deciding between animation vs. live video production because both require different amounts of resources depending on the project type. Live videos tend to be longer and more expensive than animations, so it’s important to consider how much time and money you have available for the project. On the other hand, animations can be done relatively quickly and on a smaller budget. However, a live video might be the better choice if your project requires realism or has a larger scope. 

The Pros and Cons of Live Action and Animation Video Production

Deciding between live action and animation video production can be difficult, but understanding the pros and cons of each type of video can help you make an informed decision.

Live Action Video Production Pros

It gives your marketing campaign a human touch; this makes it more personal and likely to appeal to your audience and shows a real-life feel and look of your products and services

  • More realistic visuals
  • Greater emotional impact
  • Easier to convey complex stories
  • Typically received as more professional

Live Action Video Production Cons

  • Requires more time and resources to execute
  • It is difficult to update
  • Higher budget requirements
  • Longer production times
  • Difficult to make changes mid-production

Animation Video Production Pros

Animation videos are the best for abstract and complicated topics such as health and technological advancements; animation videos are the perfect way to express intangible ideas and explain complex and complicated subjects. In addition, they are limitless; you are not limited in your creativity; you can get as wild as you please.

  • Flexible; you can make changes whenever the need arises
  • Very cost-effective and relatively faster to produce compared to other modes of social media marketing
  • Less expensive and faster to produce
  • More creative freedom for visuals
  • Additional flexibility to make changes mid- and post-production
  • Can convey complex messages in a unique way

Animation Video Production Cons

  • It does not have a personal human touch
  • Not suited for all clients
  • Can come across as less professional
  • Limited emotional impact

Live Action vs. Animation Examples

Although there’s no hard-and-fast rule for choosing between animation or live action production, it can help by visualizing some examples. Below are a few successful video examples of both types of production that Sparkhouse has created for our clients:

Choose the Best Video Production Format That’s Right for Your Business

Choosing between animation or live action video production is an important decision that should be taken seriously. Both types of videos have pros and cons, so it’s important to consider your unique project needs and decide which kind of video will be best for you. 

At Sparkhouse, we understand the importance of getting the right video format for your business just as much as delivering quality content. We’re here to help you figure out what type of video production format is the most effective for your business and create unique, engaging videos that will make a lasting impression. Contact us to learn more or visit our animation agency and  social media video production page to learn how we can help you with any of your social media videos using animation or live action


What are the differences between live action and animated videos?

Answer: Live action videos are videos that feature real actors and physical objects, while animation videos are computer-generated graphics that can be used to create characters, environments, and stories.

What advantages does one type have over the other?

Answer: Live action videos can typically be more realistic and engaging, as viewers feel directly connected with the video’s subject matter. Animation videos often offer greater creative freedom, allowing for more elaborate character designs and settings not possible in live action filming.

Is one type better than the other for certain purposes?

Answer: It depends on the purpose of your video. Depending on the complexity of your message and visuals, one type may work best for conveying a specific message or story, while another may be better suited for a different goal.

Can I combine live action and animated elements?

Answer: Yes! Many videos blend both types of media, which can be a great way to maximize visual appeal while effectively communicating your message simultaneously.

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