Mark, a fun guy with great hair and sneakers, explains the topic “secure server connection” to his interested audience. Something that I would need at least 5 minutes for, he can do in 20 seconds. How does it work? Mark is the main character in an illustrated and animated explanatory video (character animation).
Whoever plans an animated explanatory film needs a character like Mark: A person who fits the company, has a certain depth, can be used exclusively and long-term for the company.
Cloned Characters Flood the Net
Many of the illustrated explanatory films that are currently flooding the net have one thing in common: a striking similarity of their protagonists. This is not a coincidence. They are all clones! But these cheaply produced films have a catch: the characters are used over and over again by the production company. CI and CD of the customer or an individual design and animation get lost in that process. That’s too bad, as this causes the videos to somehow all look the same and become quite mainstream. Also, the characters are not animated, but merely placed into the picture. One of the main drawbacks of these clones, however, is that they convey much less emotion. After all, they themselves cannot express feelings.
Good Character Design Makes Figures Unique
A character designer specialises in developing characters that are individually tailored to the customer. He draws these in characteristic key positions. That way they can be animated later in all different perspectives necessary. They become individuals like we humans – something that also makes them likeable.
Character Animation is Elaborate
Not just the character needs to be developed and designed so that it lasts for years, the complete stage set needs to be drawn as well. After that, the graphic artist creates “joints” for the character or the animated object. Professionals call this process “rigging” and it is implemented with a special software (e.g. Adobe After Effects). Thus, the motion graphics artist can later animate individual limbs / parts. Between the creation of the graphics and the final stages, the client needs to sign off intermediate steps regularly as later changes can produce gigantic amounts of work.
Explaining Complex Facts with Character-Animation in a Simpler Way
If the real image is no longer sufficient to explain facts, character animation can be helpful. Complex processes are reduced to the essentials and presented in a simplified way. For example, a server with its numerous connections, cables and buttons converts to an icon 1, which is now connected to icon 2, a simple PC. In addition to image / animation we use language and text to create a better understanding.
Something Funny Will be Remembered, “Shared” and “Liked”
Animations bring unreal objects or figures to life. And this is mostly one thing: funny! Funny is good. For one thing, we remember things we found funny. On the other hand, we like to share them with colleagues and friends. In the age of “share” and “like”, a video (and its sender) can generate quite a stir in social media channels.
Thanks to YouTube and others, we’ve gotten used to getting knowledge served in an easily digestible way. Even reading a DIN A4 page is often terribly difficult for us, mainly, because the emotions are missing – emotions that a character can often develop from the very first moment. They help remember and retain information. The more senses are addressed at the same time, the more intensive and personal an experience becomes for us – and it sticks in our memory.
Encouraging Corporate Communication with Character Animation
Whether it’s about explaining high-tech products or a recruitment process or a newsletter – there are many applications for character animation in the external as well as internal communication of a company. The only important aspect to keep in mind is that the chosen characters and the setting need to suit the company and CI / CD: funky artist or experienced manager, flashy or rather subdued colors, a cheeky or a rather formal language… There are multiple ways to get it right!
It’s certainly worthwhile for every company to explore to which extent character animation could support internal and external communication. Characters and the whole setting have to match the company and CI / CD.
Of course, character animation does not replace the real image. For example, if you want to introduce employees and show real emotions, you need the “real picture”. Presenting a new vehicle model in the form of a character animation would also make little sense. We’re happy to advise you whether a drawn or a real image are more suitable.
*Credits: Character Design by Stephan Meyer-Metelmann, Graphics by Julia Ferstl