Video Production

Principles of Animation: How to make it right.

Michael Pirone
March 13, 2019

Animation is allowing companies of all types and sizes to press play on an online video marketing strategy as they can explain any kind of complex products and be produced quicker than a live-video. However, the process of creating an animated video (see our example for Acast) and using it in your marketing is not exactly simple. Like any production process, there’s a structure for animation to follow, and a set of animation principles that you’ll need to know before getting started.

We want to cover not only the principles to create an stellar animated video but also the best practices to promote it.

Before reading, watch this explainer video for BotCentral to establish the appropriate context:

Animated Video Creation

Let’s start with the 12 principles that form the basis of all animation work the idea is not to get very technical on this, but help you understand what makes a powerful animated video and therefore make better decisions.

The following principles were first introduced by two Disney animators Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas in their book The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation back in 1981.

  • Squash and stretch: you can give your characters and objects and illusion of gravity, weight, mass and flexibility. When applied, it is important to keep the object’s volume consistent. So when you stretch something it needs to get thinner, and when you squash something it needs to get wider.
  • Anticipation: it has the effect of making the object’s more realistic by preparing the viewer for what’s about to happen.
  • Straight ahead action and pose to pose: these are two ways to handle drawing animation. If you’re looking for fluid, realistic movements, then straight ahead action is your best bet.Pose to pose technique gives you a bit more control within the scene and allows you to increase the dramatic effect of the motion.
  • Follow through and overlapping action: when your characters / objects where moving and suddenly stop, it’s important if you want your animation to flow realistically, not to stop the entire object at the
    same rate but overlap some parts of it at different rates.
  • Slow in and slow out: to give your objects more life add more frames at the beginning and end of an action sequence.
  • Arc: your animations should reflect the shape of an arc when they’re moving.
  • Secondary action: they are used to emphasise the main action going on within a scene. It helps adding more dimension to your objects.
  • Timing: Objects and characters should move as quickly or slowly that they would naturally move in the real world to make the effect be believable.
  • Exaggeration: the right amount of this it’s helpful to make animation more dynamic and avoid it seems static or boring.
  • Solid drawing: keep the perspective throughout the entire animation. That means knowing how to draw in three-dimensional space and remain consistent.
  • Appeal: this means align the characters, objects and the world in which they live to appeal to the viewer. The key is to think about your audience first and start with a strong character development.

On the character animation front, look at how we treated this component in our explainer video for AllTrails:

Animation Video Marketing: best practices to promote your video.

Now that you’ve got a clear idea of the components of a good animation. Let’s dive a bit more on the best practices to promote that piece of art you will create.

  • Set your goal and describe your target market

This is something every marketer knows but sometimes just skip or rush on it for the pressure of make everything happens. Nevertheless, taking the time to do it it’s what marks the difference.

Each of your videos needs to have a primary objective which can be engaging or selling. The content of the story you will tell throughout animation will change depending on the action point you want viewers to take.

It’s much better is you can break down those action points into small ones. For example, to create engagement by getting people to comment on a video to gather insights about them.

Define your audience in much detail as you can as making sure that the right people see your video highly impact the results of your campaign.

  • Aim for memorable visuals

Avoid generic visuals by using a distinctive aesthetic like whiteboard video, creating vivid imagery that sticks in your viewer’s mind, making the animation emotional. It needs to make you perceive how the situation feels.

  • Get emotional

What exactly emotion to include comes down to your target market. However, you  might want to invoke how they feel using your products which could be joy and delight, sense of pride, love, belonging or ambition.

  • Always have a call to action

Even if you’re just doing a brand awareness or an engagement campaign think about the smallest possible action viewers can take to move closer to the end of the funnel.

Besides, not only mention the call to action in the end of the video, but also provide context and reinforce the call to action around the copy and design of the video.

  • Measure more than just views

There is so much more useful data you could be tracking. Here are just a few examples:

    • Play rate, which let you know if your video is relevant or not.
    • Conversion rates, to see the percentage of people who actually acted on your video.
    • Video completion rate, it gives a context about how effective your calls to action are.
    • Engagement metrics.


Need some help with your animation video strategy? You’re in luck. Vidico are experts in producing videos that convert. Get started with a free script today.

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