Warning! Graphic content!

That got your attention, didn’t it? We’re  pleased you’re so eager to learn more about using graphics and animation in your video.

What’s that? You thought this was going to be about something else? Shame on you. Where is your mind at?

It should be on finding the best way to use graphics in your video. You might not realize how often graphics appear in projects ranging from commercials to news magazine programming to explanatory videos about a company’s products. That’s because good graphics enhance, but don’t overpower the overall piece. All of these would look very different (read that as boring) if you took out the graphics. On top of that, many of them wouldn’t be nearly as effective in communicating the intended message.

Graphics artists and animators can take your video to the next level

Graphics artists and animators can take your video to the next level

They key to using graphics is to use a light hand, and to know when they’re absolutely needed. Let’s say you’re a chef and you want to do an expert tip video on the best way to cook chorizo. You’ve got several pointers, including the proper temperature to cook it at, how to handle it (by using tongs rather than a fork to turn it, so it retains its juices) and how to complement its flavors by serving it with grilled bell peppers and cipollini onions. Of course you’ll be demonstrating your techniques, but why not consider using a graphic or two to reiterate the highlights, to ensure your viewers clearly understand what to do. Let’s face it, halfway through cooking a chorizo feast is not the time most people want to be grabbing the iPad to listen to your video again. By reinforcing the highlights the first time around, your viewers are more likely to retain the crucial information. If they really have a need to grab that iPad, they can always fast forward to the graphic to get the tip rather than trying to pluck the needed information from watching the entire video on the fly. (“You were right dear, it was an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, not Celsius. Kids, you can put the welding torches away!”)

Like most elements of video production, the more elaborate the graphics, the costlier things will get. Simple graphics with text and maybe your logo or an image relevant to the topic can be created fairly quickly. But they can also look low-grade if they’re not created by someone who specializes in that area. This will lower the overall look and tone of your video. Consider well before going for the cheapest option available for the graphics you need. Having a well-shot and edited video won’t be nearly as valuable if you insert lower quality elements like poorly made graphics.

These considerations are amplified exponentially when it comes to animation. There are many different levels of animation available, and usually a video company will work in conjunction with a professional animating firm to give you the best range of options possible. It’s rare for a video company to be large enough to have its own in-house animation department, and even if you find one the cost might not be that much different than working with an outside animator. You can have basic animations, like stop-motion, all the way up to beautiful work with characters that move realistically (including their lips during dialog). Such work is literally crafted frame by frame. Of course you’ll pay a premium for that top-of-the-line quality, so you have to consider how much of an impact you need to make, and how long the animation will run. Generally animation companies will charge a flat rate for a set length of animation, for example 60 or 90 seconds. After that, additional rates are added on. Sometimes it’s calculated in increments like 5-15 seconds. Some companies are flexible, but be aware that if you were given a flat rate for a 90 second animation, but you need 92 seconds, you’ll probably have to pay the full additional fee for the extra time.

Animation can be crucial to giving your video a polished look. Consider having an animated opening and closing to your video. This is a pattern people respond well to, and you need look no further than any television channel for proof. While some shows may start off with a teaser introduction setting up the action for the rest of the episode, an opening theme is never excluded except in rare cases. If you plan on doing a series of videos, you should definitely consider having an opening and closing animation, as it will help cement your branding in the viewers’ minds.

One consideration when determining how complex you want your graphics and animation to be is the final deadline for your project. If you have a very tight turnaround time, even the most competent graphic artists and animators may not be able to accommodate you. First, understand that they have other clients ahead of you, and they may have limited wiggle room as far as how much time they can take away from those projects. Also, creating graphics and animation is a multi-step process. Once you give the artists the basic idea of what you want, they hit the drawing board to create a rough version. With animations, count on a storyboard being involved in the process, whether your video production company or the animation company does the work. You’ll generally be allowed to request a set number of revisions to both the storyboard and the look of the animation (it can be as little as one revision to a storyboard and two major revisions to the look and feel of the animation). After that, if you require more changes, you’ll be charged additional money.

Another consideration is whether your animation will require voiceover work. Some animation companies will find voiceover talent for you, but of course there’s a fee for that, which may be higher than you’d pay if you have your video production company get the talent lined up. If that’s the route you choose, time can be a critical factor. The sooner the animation company can get the voiceover track, the sooner they’ll be able to synch up the animation for you. If you don’t have animated characters speaking, but instead just have narrative track underneath the animation, the process is relatively straightforward and your production company will likely be able to meld it with the animation during the editing process.

Once you’ve given final approval to the overall look and flow, it can still take several weeks for the final animation to be completed. You may be able to request a rush job, but bear in mind that the costs will be considerable and there’s a risk that the overall quality of the graphics or animation will suffer.

All of this talk about deadlines, money, and multiple phases shouldn’t deter you in the least from exploring all your options for adding graphics and animation to your video. Hence will walk you through these choices during the pre-production phase. Details like these can take your video to the next level, elevating a good video to a great one.