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Animation in Education: Drawing a Line Under Live-Action

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In recent years we’ve found ourselves creating a lot of very cool animated videos for educational purposes. Now using animation for explainer and marketing style videos makes a lot of sense. More scope for less cost, a good way to create a visual identity, simpler to edit if you make changes to your product down the line.

But why animated video for teaching people? First I guess the question, “Why video at all?” That one is pretty easy, as the Internet has grown and grown and the ability to self learn using video content on the internet has become a big draw. You need to know how to poach an egg? YouTube. You want to continue your studies whilst raising a family? Take an on-line course.

However, there are countless wonderful teachers out there you can stick in front of a camera and let the magic happen. So why, more and more, are we ditching them for animation?

Let’s break it down.

Personal Learners

These guys are at home and just thirsty for knowledge. They also have certain expectations from their media built up by summer blockbusters, million dollar ad campaigns and weekends watching Netflix. They demand a little more than a talking head to engage them and animation presents the perfect way to catch their attention.

For example, some of the great TED ED videos we’ve worked on. Rather than having an extremely knowledgeable expert sit and tell you the story of Archimedes, it’s far more impactful to hear their words over the top of the story playing out. This visual/audio connection also helps information retention.

Corporate Training

As digital training grows in businesses big and small, the turnaround times are becoming more intense. Simply the speed of creating high-quality animated content that will engage employees is a big plus, as well as the previously mentioned options it presents no matter the budget.

Also, say you create a sales aid for your staff featuring your best salesperson. Then six months down the line they move to a different company. If this was live action your content will be rendered useless. However, with animation, two days work replacing the animated character and dropping in a new voice over and your video is good as new and fit for purpose.

Complex Subjects

When it comes to something really complex it can still be tempting to get the expert in front of the camera. You want that air of authority, right? Well research suggests that’s the wrong approach.

Let's take the enduringly popular whiteboard animation style made popularised by the RSA series. Neuroscience believes that our brains struggle to process complex new ideas and information when it’s delivered by a talking head. The theory is that we are so focused on developing our opinion of the person we can’t keep up with everything they are telling us. Even the backgrounds of the video can be distracting.

However, with a whiteboard animation all these background distractions are removed allowing our brains to solely focus on the information being provided with the simple images reinforcing the words in our memory. The way our eye is lead across the screen also aids our memory in processing a logical, linear story. The end result, greater retention and better value for money.

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