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Live Action vs. Motion Graphic Videos—Which Is Right for You?


Are you thinking about investing in high quality video marketing for your brand? We often work with clients who know that they want a video but are unsure what form those videos should take. If you’ve ever found yourself in a similar situation, wondering “which is better? Live action or animation?” we’re going to help break down the strengths of each format for you, so you can decide which will best suit the purpose of your project and your brand as a whole.

To help shed light on the strengths of each of these styles of videos, we’re going to define each type, share their strengths and weaknesses and raise a few other considerations that might factor into your decision of which way to go with your marketing video. We should also note that the format that best suits one video project might not work for the next, and that’s okay. Most video marketing strategies will include live action, motion graphics and a combination of both over time.

Live Action Video

As the name suggests, a live action video features footage captured on a set or location with real people—either employees or actors, or both. A live video shoot typically involves setting up cameras, lighting equipment, and can include props, makeup, set designers and other production elements.

Live video should be your go-to choice if the goal is to create a connection between the people in the video and viewer. For example, if you sell orthopedic implants, you might want to interview a surgeon who has used your product. This personal connection can help other surgeons feel more confident choosing your implants as well. Live action is also well suited for videos showcasing a company’s facilities or real-life employees and team members.

Live action video strengths:

  • Can be affordable to produce
  • Create a personal connection between the buyer and the spokesperson
  • Great at humanizing organizations
  • Interviews with experts can lend credibility
  • Helps customers envision themselves in a place with a certain product

Motion Graphic Video

Motion graphic video can be just as engaging as a live action video. The biggest strong suit of motion graphic videos is explaining ideas and intangibles. When your video’s subject matter is highly theoretical or something that is difficult or dangerous to film in real life, motion graphics are the way to go. Here’s an example. Say you wanted to produce a video explaining how a software process works. That’s not something you can show in person, but a motion graphic video can do an excellent job of making a complex process or idea like that easily understandable.

Motion graphic strengths:

  • Fun and engaging
  • Great for companies with complicated products or intangible offerings
  • Have a long shelf life—doesn’t quickly look dated

A Mix of Both

Often videos combine both live video and motion graphics. Many live action videos feature aspects of animation in the intros, outros, and lower thirds or through animated words over live video. In fact, type over video is a popular video choice for tradeshow booths, as videos in this format can be easily understood without a voiceover and can be appreciated at a distance, like in a large convention center.

Another common example of text in live video is in more complex explainer videos that will be rewatched. You can add bullet points on screen, which can provide more detail than the higher-level voiceover or presenter.

What to Consider

By now, based on the intended purpose of your video project you might have an idea of which direction you want to head, but there are a few more considerations worth weighing before making a final decision.

First, is cost. The cost of each type of video is going to be strongly project dependent. Whether you’ve already completed video projects in one format or the other, you do or don’t have a space conducive to shooting video on-location, your talent requirements and more all have an influence on which video format is going to be more cost effective than the other. While you may have an idea of the option you want to go with based on perceived cost, it’s always best to tell your production team what goals the video is meant to achieve and ask that they provide you with their recommended approach based on your goals, budget and timing.

The second consideration is the ease of making edits. This shouldn’t so much as sway your decision for or against a style of video but is something to keep in mind. Live action video can’t be edited as much without a reshoot, which makes the pre-production planning very important. Selecting on-screen talent that can stand the test of time, shooting in an area that isn’t likely going to undergo a renovation in the near future, and highlighting product features that aren’t nearing an upgrade are all factors that should be thought through before shooting live action if you expect the video to remain relevant for the upcoming season, year, or longer. In a motion graphic video, on the other hand, almost anything can be edited or changed with extra work time.


To sum it all up, the decision between motion graphic and live action video should be driven by the purpose of your video and what you want to show. If you want to show your facilities, employees or create a personal connection with your viewers, live action might be the best choice for you. If the topic of your video is complex, theoretical, or otherwise can’t be captured on video, motion graphics are great solution for bringing your ideas to life or making complicated ideas simple. Finally, if you want to have that personal connection, as well as an animated series that details a process, then a mix of both formats could be the perfect solution.

Whichever type of video you need for your next marketing project, the dedicated in-house video team at B&Y can help bring your ideas to life. See examples of our work and reach out to start a conversation about spreading your brand’s message through video today.