Animation case study: Amokabel

Distribution networks bring electricity to our communities, powering homes and businesses. Traditionally, they use bare overhead power lines which can be incredibly risky. If humans, wildlife or vegetation interfere with these powerlines, it can be fatal to them and possibly cause power outages or even wildfires.

Amokabel, the leading supplier of covered conductors in Scandinavia, approached us to help them create a 2D animated video showcasing their new Covered Conductors. They wanted an animation style that was engaging, not too childish – sleek and modern – much like their technology.

Covered cables remove the risk of wildfires and increases a network’s reliability compared to its competitors and old designs. They offer a cost-effective and rapid method to increase the resilience of the world’s power networks. Amokabel’s Covered Conductors are quickly becoming the most sustainable solution for utilities around the world.

Amokabel’s brief was ‘sleek, modern, clear and concise.’ We wanted to create something that was informative, yet still visually engaging for the audience. To do this, we produced a style in keeping with the brand look and feel. However, as it’s pretty stripped back we really leant into colour shading, pretty artwork and illustration for the key scenes where we could go into detail on the environment (scene with the landscape, power cables, sky etc). We primarily used their key colour blue alongside a neutral colour palette to tie everything together.

You can watch the film here!

Peter Eriksson, Amokabel’s CEO commented: “Working with TopLine Film was an enjoyable experience. They quickly got familiar with the core arguments for our solution and were very responsive to our feedback. The project consumed very few resources on our side and we couldn’t be more happy about the result and choosing TopLine to support our B2B marketing.“

Animation case study: reimagining the future of supply chains

Zero100 is committed to helping organisations develop equitable, sustainable supply chains. So when they needed a video to introduce some of the new concepts they are bringing to the supply chain world, we knew an explainer animation would do the job perfectly.

The company needed a teaser video to describe the valuable content, connections and research it offers to inspire global operations leaders to reimagine the future of supply chains. And they needed it ASAP.

Our team immediately got stuck into learning about how supply chain management can impact everything from customer satisfaction to the environment to the company’s bottom line, and to understanding Zero100’s vision of a zero percent carbon, 100 percent digital supply chain. Our script writers distilled what they had learned into a script that simplified the concept for a broad audience. Once Zero100 was happy with the script, our illustrators produced a storyboard before the project moved on to our animation team.

Working with Zero100, we chose a montage/cut-out style that stands out compared to other content in the supply chain space. This worked perfectly to incorporate their existing bold brand assets and look and feel. We adapted a traditional style to make it more contemporary and sophisticated. We would usually discourage our clients from voicing their own videos, but Zero100 had a few compelling reasons for taking this route: they had other content voiced by this individual, the execution was good, and it offered internal consistency.

We managed to turn this project around in record time. You can watch it here, or on Zero100’s website:

 

Our Head of Production, Sian, loved working with Zero100: “They came to us with a clear direction, an appetite for creativity and drive to work together to get the project done on time. We loved learning about supply chain management, working with the team at Zero100 and we are really proud of the result.”

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Our 38 best explainer animations

We asked our explainer video production team to head out into the internet on a voyage of discovery and find the explainer animations that really inspire them. They selected these 32 examples.

Mobike

 

They said: Beautiful environment design and love the stripped use of the colour palette.

Selfridges

 

They said: Aside from the pretty colourful watercolour paint style, we most love the fact it’s voiced by ‘real people’ working at Selfridges. Super effective and engaging.

Goodbit

 

They said: This animation perfectly explains digital currency. The message and voiceover are strong and I felt totally engaged right through to the end.

Botcentral

 

They said: We totally fell in love with these characters.

Eatruscan

 

They said: Abstract elements working harmoniously with illustrative assets and subtle and effective sound design. What’s not to love?

SendGrid

 

They said: We like this one because it’s so dynamic and playful. We also really like the bright colours, shapes and gradients – and the animation itself is exceptionally well done.

Thor Token

 

They said: Another really nicely animated one, with excellent blend of a 2D look in 3D space. This one also has really good sound design, both in the music and subtle sound effects.

Adyen

 

They said: Nice little explainer for an app. No voiceover, but nicely animated and smooth, with a very slick design.

Plutora

 

They said: Really nice, thorough animation. It has characters and abstract shapes and ways to explain a very complex idea which works very well for it.

Freighty

 

They said: Very simple but friendly and to the point.

Acast

 

They said: Nice explainer with great use of textures and a lot of character animation.

Meet Bixby

 

They said: Expertly animated and very slick looking. Works great for a tech product.

What is MS?

 

They said: Nice explainer visualising a complex medical issue in a simple and abstract way, also demonstrating the effect on people’s lives.

Square Online

 

They said: Mixed media piece which is incredibly effective. Covers filmed content, examples of interface and animated elements.

Sensei

 

They said: Very detailed illustration style, with some lovely 3D environments and camera moves.

Aromastick

 

 They said: Lovely abstract and modern style that demonstrates the product in action.

Croxley Recycling

 

They said: This animation is a great way to show a process, with really nice transitions and a quick pace.

Cylance

 

 They said: Great animation for a cyber security business. The style works very well and the sound design really adds to the whole thing.

Thumbtack

 

They said: This video looks deceptively simple, but there is so much great animation involved in it. The transitions in particular are fantastic.

Panoply

 

 They said: This animation uses a really nice limited colour palette in its brand colours, which works great for it.

Squarespace

 

They said: A great mixed media piece with 3D animation and filmed content. Using realistic visuals in an abstract way is very interesting.

A History of ‘Spinny Things’

 

They said: Animation has an amazing way of helping you digest lots of information, quickly and simply. We really love the way this animation is a 2 min visual history lesson.

Beech Nut

 

They said: Another mixed media piece with 2D animation over a live action background. It’s very effective in making the brand feel genuine and organic.

Verizon

 

They said: We’ve just never seen anything like this, and the slo-mo character section is so much fun. We love that a big company took a chance being super creative to explain something so functional like networks and data.

Ooohlympics

 

 They said: This one is a few years old but we love the colour and movement throughout.

Death Explained

 

 They said: We know this one is pretty dark but we like the use of animation to overlay anonymous interviews.

NYT and Singapore Airlines

 

They said: IT’S JUST SO SO PRETTY! The art direction is beautiful, the colour palette stunning and in such a short amount of time you get an understanding of what the airline is all about.

Trendy Butler

 

They said: There is great detail in the background and the characters’ movement is pretty natural. There are also a number of perspective changes that make it more interesting to watch than a typical explainer.

EJI

 

They said: Nice use of different animation styles, from illustrative to cut-out.

Xroad

 

They said: Eye catching colour and great use of shapes from 2D -2.5D make this animation really pop.

Cherry.tv

 

They said: Lovely example of a quality animation that tackles a risqué subject matter. Really professional, fun and informative.

Stairwise

 

They said: The flow of this big bold explainer about a boutique consulting firm is spot on, the use of colour and flow perfectly implemented.

Stekio

 

They said: Simple and subtle grid and line based animation, staged beautifully and underpinned with a gorgeous music track make this text led explainer a hit.

Auto Finance

 

They said: As explainers go, this one is pretty bang on. Everything works perfectly in harmony – beautiful art direction, slick transitions, clear narrative and subtle sound design.

Torrebia

 

They said: We really enjoyed the great character animations mixed with seamless transitions between scenarios in the film. The light and bright VO seals the deal.

Samsung Bixby

 

They said: So simple, so gorgeous, the animation somehow gives a sense of what Samsung’s Siri clone is capable of -without saying a word.

Slack

 

They said: We love the seamless flow created from start to finish. The illustrative style is very different too. Creates a very dynamic layered feel.

Apple

 

They said: It all comes together in this one. Motion, graphics, sound, music and video. It really shows how Apple has been able to keep its brand minimalistic and always on top.

Feeling inspired and ready to get started on your own explainer? We know just the explainer video company for you.

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Animation case study: G4S Pay

We collaborated with G4S to produce a brand new explainer animation for the launch of their new pay product, G4S Pay; a complete suite of payment services bringing together cash, face to face, online and over the phone merchant services to all business types.

We were delighted to be working on this project, because we have worked with so many merchants in the past who have struggled to cobble together different payment formats into one simple system.

The brief

G4S were looking for a super-fast turnaround for a slick, 2D animated explainer to use as part of the G4S Pay launch campaign. The animation would be a promotional tool for the campaign as well as be used to generate awareness and support their sales teams. The animation needed to be recognisably G4S, utilising their identifiable brand look and feel. It also needed to be clean and easy to follow.

Our approach

With the script pretty much in place from the offset, we set to work on mocking up style frame options for the G4S team – focusing our ideas and offering two directions to choose from. Once we were agreed on the overall look and feel, we adopted the style to produce a fully worked up storyboard.

We used illustrative 2D icon assets, clean environments and smooth, steady movement, and we pulled it all together with a friendly, personal voiceover.

explainer animation style frame for G4S Pay

 

explainer animation style frame for G4S Pay

The result

 

“TopLine Film took our brief and script and managed to deliver a production that is exactly what we had envisaged. The team worked to a very tight deadline and were communicative and highly professional throughout. We look forward to working with the team again on our next project”.

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Animation case study: Teledyne e2v

Teledyne e2v approached us to produce a new, promotional product animation to engage with prospects and current customers and to help drive interest in their new DDR4 product. The animated video would be used by their sales team, product managers and marketing department.

The brief

Teledyne e2v delivers space qualified electric components for demanding applications and challenging conditions. The company needed the video to introduce its new product: the world’s most compact, radiation tolerant 4GB DDR4 memory for space systems.

The animated video needed to show realistic models of the product, 3D environments to demonstrate the features and benefits and it needed to feel slick, modern and dynamic. Importantly, the video should reinforce Teledyne e2v as a leader in Space and Aerospace as well as showcase their expertise behind product development.

Our approach

We worked closely with the product developers and marketing team to understand how they approached the design of DDR4 memory chip, what was involved in building it, the features and benefits and why customers would be interested in purchasing it.

We then tackled scripting (we were thankful for our STEM specialists on staff), making sure all key messages were included and that it ran to the correct duration. We then proposed a ‘look and feel’ for the animation before fully working up a storyboard frame by frame alongside the signed off script.

This animation included heavy 3D scenes, 3D assets and 3D product models. We needed to ensure that all assets and design details were fully signed off before we started animating. This was essential to ensuring we avoided tricky updates later in the production process.

Story board image of the Teledyne DDR4 animation

The result

 

“Everything is perfect, and the whole team are very happy with the final result”.

Find out more about our animated video production services.

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Animation looks better with some finishing touches: see for yourself

It’s tempting to buy a cheap animation, but you really do get what you pay for – and sometimes even less. Cheap is cheap for a reason, and it means that corners have been cut somewhere. The average viewer might not be able to put their finger on what’s wrong with the video. They’ll simply register a cheaply-made video as sloppy or unprofessional, but the keen eyes at our video production company catch every inelegant cost-saving measure.

We’ve created a ‘spot the difference’ video so that you too can identify some of the specific differences you’ll commonly spot in cheap videos and how they might differ from the animations and explainer videos that we produce.

You get what you pay for

A cursory Google search will reveal the incredible proliferation of advertisements for cheap animation, and we’ll readily admit that it’s tempting to be lured in by the ‘special offers’. But remember, these animated videos are cheap because very little time and effort is spent on them. That doesn’t just mean low-quality visuals with crude detail, audio and movement – it also often means a tacky marketing concept, the wrong message and poorly chosen hooks or triggers. Ultimately, an animated video is a marketing tool, and its quality reflects on your business.

In the example video we created, we’ve shown what a video might look like if it was done on the cheap. The illustrations are nice, but the animating has been rushed. This is representative of a lot of the cheap videos you see advertised.

We’ve then taken the same clip but added the finishing touches you only get when using a reputable video production company. You’ll notice the more detailed movements, fluid bounces, and appropriate sound effects. These seemingly insignificant differences make a world of difference and show that while cutting corners will save you some money in the short term, it ultimately costs your video.

https://vimeo.com/manage/436056735/general

Choosing the right video production company

Professional video production companies work full time and should have a portfolio of consistent, impressive work. Because these companies insist on producing content to high standards, they may be willing to turn down work where the budget is too low: it’s better not to take a job than to do it poorly. A proper production company will also work with you to refine the video until it’s perfect, whereas with cheap animations you’re stuck with the one-and-done product they produce. We think that this side-by-side comparison makes it clear that quality animation makes all the difference, and quality is worth paying for.

If your company wants an animation with high production values, contact us today.

 

Written by: Jamie Field, Managing Director

Why NOT to use whiteboard animations!

We asked a team of marketers and video production pros what they thought of whiteboard animation as a style.

They gasped in horror.

They did not like it one little bit.

CHEAP!

“They feel cheap because the idea lacks creativity. The drawings themselves can be creative, but it really doesn’t matter because the idea is such a turnoff”

DATED!

“They are super dated. There was a point when it seemed absolutely everyone did one of these. That was maybe 5 years ago.”

LAZY!

“It looks so low effort that it makes your audience think you don’t care about it, and then why should they if you don’t?”

GENERIC!

“’It’s nearly impossible to make it on-brand. A very narrow style of illustration and artwork works with whiteboard, and it’s unlikely this happens to be your brand style. It also means they all look the same, as a consequence.”

SILLY!

“The particularly heinous ones use a static hand holding a pen and move that around and it looks really quite silly. That’s not animation. It’s nonsense.

“This style shows that the company has zero consideration for its audience.”

Well there you have it! If your heart’s still set on a whiteboard animation, then maybe this one didn’t do a good enough job of convincing you. If you’ve changed your mind…then we’re in an endless logic black hole.

To escape, contact a real animation company.

The top five promotional animations

Promotional animations are a great tool for explaining what your business does. They don’t tend to be too long, and can help translate big ideas into a format that is easy to watch and share online. They also have the added benefit of being evergreen content, given they don’t feature employees (or a client) who might leave the company in the future.

If you’re thinking about making your own promotional animation video, a good starting point is to look at other animations to get some ideas. As a video animation company, we try and keep an eye on the latest and best promotional animations that companies are putting out.

Here are our top five favourite promotional animations for you to take inspiration from.

Meet Bixby

This promotional animation video about Bixby, Samsung’s AI assistant, makes a great case for simplicity. It doesn’t even use a voiceover, only text, but isn’t at all boring. It’s a great, stylish looking animation, that gets the job done.

Airbnb Pacific

Airbnb recently made a series of short promos (emphasis on the word ‘short’, as this video comes in at only 15 seconds). They’re full of character, with great pacing, design and animation. Plus, the script is succinct and gets the message across in a very short space of time.

LinkedIn Slider

LinkedIn created an animation specifically to promote the ‘slider’ tool that it offers on its platform. The graphics are clear and simple, but still tie in with the brand.

Google / Android Wear

This one’s from a little while ago, but it’s so good we thought a throwback was in order. Google put together this energetic but goofy mixed media piece to announce its own wearable range. There’s no voiceover, just a great animation, bright colours and a memorable soundtrack. A job well done.

Golfbidder

You’ll have to indulge us for a moment here, as this promotional animation video is one of our own. This Golfbidder promotional animation is bright and colourful, while covering a lot of information without being overwhelming. If we do say so ourselves.

If you’re looking for a video animation company that can help you create a promotional animation video for your business, get in touch with Jamie, our MD.

 

Guide to corporate animations and explainers

According to Cisco, video will account for 82% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. Now, granted, most of that is just cats falling asleep. But there’s a significant amount of non-feline traffic there, just waiting to be exploited by your company.

So, when it comes to commissioning a video, you’re faced with a number of difficult decisions. Chief among them is: should you go for a live-action production – or an animation? As any video animation company will tell you, animation has its advantages.

Why would you even need an animation?

Well, let’s start with the obvious: animation just lets you do more. Live-action filming is great, but it can be limiting, for the simple fact that you can’t really do anything that isn’t physically possible.

Animation has no such limitation: if you can think of it, it can be done. Want to fly? Want to go to outer space? Want to turn your CEO into an anthropomorphic goat? You can do it, and it won’t even cost that much money. But when it comes to promoting your product or service, there’s far more to it than that.

Animation CEO goat

Animation lets you stop being literal and start being fantastical and metaphorical. When your product isn’t the most immediately engaging, it can be an arresting way to present its features and benefits. When new staff don’t respond to dense training manuals or 10-year old VHS instructional videos, an animation can give them an education they’ll surely remember. If you’re trying to visualise something that hasn’t been built yet, it can help you do so.

We could name countless more. That isn’t an exaggeration: there really are countless uses for animated content.

Types of animation

There are loads of different types of animation, all with sub categories and small differences that often come down to the techniques that are used to make them. But the three main kinds used by corporates are:

Motion graphics is basically graphical images that move. Think logo stings, moving infographics, software demos and typography animations that have words animating into other words. Motion graphics is a simple, cost effective form of animation that is well suited to corporate communication. Motion graphics can also be embedded into live action video footage (remember Minority Report?)

2D character animations are extremely popular and a great way of identifying with your customer. This type of animation is a form of motion graphics that uses illustrated characters to tell a story and often has a strong narrative at its foundation.

3D animations use many of the same techniques as motion graphics and 2D animation, however objects are modelled in a 3D space to give greater depth. When working with 3D, you still have lots of creative options, including photorealistic products, abstract shapes and even characters.

Types of animation 3D 2D

Choosing a style of animation

So what style of animation should you go for?

That’s not a question we can really answer. It always comes down to your company’s target audience, personality and tone of voice. If you’re selling enterprise accounting software, you probably won’t want something bright, bouncy, and character-based – and if you’re running a children’s toy company, you probably won’t want some musty, diagrammatic animation that outlines every component of the product. (Oh and if you are selling accounting software, check out our 16 best accounting videos for inspiration).

When we’ve received a commission for an animated explainer video, we first get to know the client, and make a recommendation based on their preferences, initial ideas, brand identity, and its objectives. Sometimes moodboards can be effective starting points: we’ll put together what we think the client might like, and then they select one or two images that they think best represents their brand. From there, we can narrow it down further and create a bespoke styleframe based on their feedback.

But this whole process is much easier if you prepare a thorough, comprehensive brief outlining your aims and expectations.

Briefing an agency

The best brief should contain:

Your objective

Quite simply: what’s the point of your animation? Far too many corporate videos exist for the sake of it – and consequently, far too many corporate videos are a giant waste of money. Do you want to attract higher-quality job applicants? Do you want to drive revenue? Or do you want your customers to use a self-help guide on your site instead of contacting your support desk? Whatever it is, defining your objective is the starting point for any animation project.

Your target audience

Who is this animation for?  And, perhaps more importantly, who is it not for? You don’t want to spend thousands of pounds on a video that’s not particularly relevant to your most important demographics. Telling them that your target audience is middle-aged insurance salesmen with two ex-wives will prevent the agency from creating something ‘zany’ and ‘on fleek’ for millennial teens.

Your key messages

Effective animations are seldom more than two minutes long. If you think that two minutes isn’t nearly enough time to get all of your corporate messaging across, you’re absolutely right – so don’t even try.

Whittle it down to three or four key takeaways, and ask yourself this simple question: What absolutely has to be in the video?  Remove everything else. And if you absolutely have to include more content, consider whether you need another video.

Your budget

How much money do you want to spend on your animation? There’s usually a sweet spot between Pixar and hand-drawn flip-book-level stuff, and it depends on exactly what your business needs.

Talk to the agency about the pricing structure associated with different animation formats – and be honest about what your company can and can’t afford. A video that’s only half-finished is no good to anyone.

Your deadline

Simply: when do you need it by? The longer your lead time, the better the final product, but if you’re looking to time the release of your animation with an event or a big summer promotion, tell the agency well in advance of said event.

Animation agency

Choosing an animation agency

The best animation agencies are honest, communicative, and willing to put their expertise to good use – if they don’t agree with you, or if they think it could be done more effectively another way, they’ll say so; they won’t simply take your money and shut up.

If you’re going to hire an agency, you also want an end-to-end experience with full project management and a dedicated producer; you don’t want a freelancer who’ll simply animate your idea before promptly vanishing back into the murky netherworld of the gig economy.

Before you hire them, however, look for examples of their work. If they haven’t made an animation that’s caught your eye, you probably don’t want to work with them.

There are also a few telltale signs of a poor animation to look out for when trying to decide if a company is right for you. The most obvious is the way characters and objects move. Shoddy work won’t feel fluid, and can often seem entirely unnatural.

Font size can be surprisingly telling: if they haven’t read the brand guidelines and used the correct typeface for on-screen text, you’ll be able to tell (system fonts like Arial, Myriad and others can be especially revealing). Stock illustrations, icons, and templates can also suggest a studio that’s more or less doing your project on autopilot: a surprising number will throw something together with little care or attention, colours that work together poorly or not at all, and negligible detail.

The ideal animation agency will take care of the big picture and the little things alike.

The animation process

Working with a quality agency, the animation process is straightforward.

Firstly, you’ll be assigned a dedicated producer. They’ll serve as your key point of contact and are largely there to guide you – and the employees working on your animation – through the production process. Got a complaint? Want to change something? Take it to them and they’ll work something out.

The producer will also work closely with the agency’s scriptwriters to develop a concept for your animation. Assuming you’re happy with the script – and this part of the process can take several attempts – the animation team will create a storyboard (accompanied by visual direction) that will suggest a proposed narrative for the final video. This will give you a chance to make sure you’re completely happy before the actual animation work begins.

Fortunately, it’s not your last chance. Based on your feedback, the agency will create style frames to illustrate how characters, objects and environments will look in the final animation. If they’re not quite what you’re after, you can feed back with suggested changes before the team proceeds to the next step of the process.

Most videos will require voice actors and music, and a good agency will have a large rolodex of talent to call on. They’ll send you samples, you’ll pick the ones you like best, and from there, your narration will be recorded in-studio – directed by your producer. In the edit suite, music will be added to your animation, along with any sound effects that you may require.

From there, you’ll be presented with a short preview of your animation – and if you’re happy enough to sign off, all illustrations will be designed and the first draft of your video will be uploaded for your feedback. If you require further changes, you’ll be sent further drafts.

When your animation is complete, it can typically be supplied with finished master files in your chosen format. Specific versions can also be tailored for website delivery and online hosting.

Don’t make these common mistakes

The process of commissioning an animation may be straightforward, but that doesn’t mean you can’t screw it up. Here are just a few classic mistakes.

Don’t write the script yourself – unless you’ve got your own copywriters, unless they’re experienced in writing for video, and unless they’re damned good. Leave it to the professionals.

Don’t request a proposal before you’ve got a budget. Unless the agency knows how much money they’re working with, they won’t know what to propose. Ballpark figures are fine.

Don’t overthink – or overpack – it. Not all information is essential information. Focus on what’s necessary for the video to communicate your message and hold the attention of your viewer.

Don’t involve too many stakeholders. It’s very hard to make a creatively satisfying and successful animation by committee. Your opinion absolutely matters – but ‘opinion’ isn’t plural.

Don’t feed back late.  Late feedback is feedback that takes longer to action.

Don’t project your personal wants over the requirements of the project. In the 1990s, Hollywood producer Jon Peters wanted to relaunch Superman. His big ideas were for Superman to 1) not fly 2) wear black and 3) fight a giant mechanical spider. These were all terrible, and his Superman project failed because they were terrible. The big spider was eventually featured in Wild Wild West, which is widely regarded as one of the worst movies of all time.

Don’t be Jon Peters. Don’t overcommit to bad ideas. Focus on what your project needs, not what you think is cool.

Don’t suggest your CEO does the voice over. She probably has a lovely voice. But there’s more to it than simply reading lines off the page.

Don’t do anything unless you have a plan for it. If an animation won’t help you provoke business growth, drive sales, hire better people, or meet any of your other goals, don’t spend money on an animation.

If it can, contact our MD to discuss your brief.