When COVID times were upon us, the majority of industries were heavily affected by social distancing restrictions, lockdown procedures, and quarantine. For brands looking to promote during those times, it was hard to know where to turn, how to get content produced when filming is shut down, or whether they should stop advertising altogether. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bradadgate/2019/09/05/when-a-recession-comes-dont-stop-advertising/#50ba82164608)
But more than we could have predicted, the world was ready for a primarily digital age (at least temporarily). So lucky for us, the animation industry proved to be an absolute powerhouse when it came to promoting during the lockdown era. Today we’re taking a look at just a few reasons why animation is trending toward dominating the promotional word, permanently.
1) Animation is largely lockdown-proof
You may have noticed that social distancing caused the live-action film and television industry to all but grind to a halt. While some magazine-style shows (like The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: http://www.cc.com/shows/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah) were able to cut together host’s home-recorded videos as content, most high budget, scripted, and reality productions found themselves unable to get off the ground without breaking social distancing guidelines for their cast and crew. What’s more, networks were far more hesitant to greenlight new live-action productions as there was no clear idea when they'd be able to shoot normally again.
But amongst all this, one sector of production proved resilient. Animation, which requires far less in-person contact than live-action, quickly became the go-to medium for producing entertainment and advertising media. Through the ups and downs of social distancing and quarantine-ing, most animation studios stayed stronger than ever, sending their workers home with equipment and running at near-normal efficiency. Being a technology-based industry with technology-savvy digital artists only helped matters when a new (or for many freelancing animators, normal) work from home situation meant adjusting to remote networking technologies; making animation a surprisingly stable option for a range of video production needs.
2) In tough times, reality can be too real
In difficult, tragic, and downright strange times, reality can feel like a bit much. Many people looking for relief from the depressing news of the day can be put off by content that hits close to home. This can be a tough hurdle for brands and advertisers to jump, as promotion often involves showing real people trying to make an emotional connection with the viewer. Animation functions as an effective communicator for promotors during tough times because it places a layer of artistic fantasy between the viewer and the advertiser. For example, Dr. Dana Ross used animated videos as her go-to method for creating COVID-related online resources at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. In her words, animation allows for approaching, “serious topics with a touch of lightness”. (http://newsroom.royalcollege.ca/using-animation-to-connect-during-covid-19/)
Furthermore, while live-action relies on actors who are part of specific demographics (inherently alienating viewers who don’t fit those demographics), simplified animated characters can be designed to represent almost anyone without exclusion, making for an easier emotional connection to the content. Animated video content thereby provides a special kind of comfort for the viewer in times when many people are feeling confined and helpless, because in the world of animation, anything can be achieved.
3) Virtual collaboration with animators is simpler, because we understand storyboarding
Now more than ever, storyboards are a crucial step in making sure you’re getting the promotional video you want. In times when face to face meetings aren’t ideal, virtual collaboration has become the norm, but it can be easy to feel intimidated at the prospect of hiring a production house to create your promotional content for the first time. Whether you have a clear idea of your video script in mind or not, you’re probably wondering how the project will go from an idea to a full-fledged video, and how much involvement you’ll have in the visuals. That’s where storyboards come in. Storyboards are a quick way to give a shot-by-shot visual sketch of the video, allowing all sides of production to “pre-visualise” the script for approval before moving onto production. Animators are especially familiar with the ins and outs of creating clear, effective storyboards because the storyboarding process is a vital part in the early stages of the animation process, that was first refined by Disney in the 1930's.
4) Flexibility to adjust campaigns
It’s wise to invest in promotion that will still be around in a few months if everything around us changes. Live-action, which requires a lot of in-person team collaboration, is a volatile medium to rely on during times of uncertainty. Digital animation remains editable down the line and doesn’t require regrouping people to reshoot.
The major advantage of this edit-ability for promoting a brand is that it allows for dynamic changes in longer-term advertising campaigns. While animation can also be a labor-intensive medium, subtle changes can be made to digital character rigs, backgrounds, and text with a fraction of the effort it requires to recast and reshoot an entire video.
5) It’s always a great time to welcome the long-term trend of using animation for promotion
Digital animation has the magical capacity to both simplify and enliven an otherwise complex or visually uninteresting message. It can wield both a natural level of playfulness due to the vast possibilities of art and a strong sense of focus due to the fore-planning that goes into the design and storyboarding. The ongoing restrictions on live-action recording mean it’s as good a time as any to dip your toes in the water to see what the format can do for your brand.