Choosing An Animation Company:
A How-To Guide
If you’re currently on the lookout for an animation company to craft a compelling explainer video that introduces your product or service to your target demographic, you should immediately come over here for a high five. Good on you for identifying the one marketing tool that is basically guaranteed to put your viewers in a buying mood! In this article we will give you the rundown of everything you need to bear in mind when you choose an animation company to help you make some magic.
Did you know that more than 70% of global consumers have reported that they are more likely to buy stuff (goods, products, services, SaaS, the whole shebang!) after they’ve watched a video about it?
Those are some serious stats right there, and when you partner with the right animation company you can tap into all that visually-engaging goodness to build your brand and increase conversion rates like you would not believe.
Animated explainer videos also cost less than live action explainer videos of the same scale. But that’s not the main reason companies are using animated videos to market their product.
The thing about animation is that you have the freedom to present your brand story in any way that you imagined. A top-notch animation company will know how to use visual metaphors and analogies to explain complex concepts and abstract environments in a way that helps your audience really feel that you understand their world.
Plus, creating environments using animation is a huge advantage. Imagine animating Green Market Square without causing gridlock traffic in the Mother City and having to deal with the soul-destroying permits process.
Or how about showing a sunrise over the Valley of a Thousand Hills or a pride of lions chasing down a zebra in Kruger National Park without the hassle of getting a drone license or paying an arm and a leg for stock footage. It’s entirely possible!
The trick lies in choosing the right animation company, and that’s where it gets a little tricky. Fortunately, there are a few guidelines that will smooth the way. Here you go!
Know what you need from your animation company
Before you start shopping around for an animation company, you need to know what you’re shopping for. Different companies specialise in different styles of animation, and knowing what look and feel you’re going for will help to narrow down your options quite a bit. Here are a few animation styles to consider:
• 2D & 3D motion graphics. If you’re looking for a time-efficient, cost-effective animation style, 2D is what you should be looking at. It’s a great way to create tailor-made graphics that speak your brand language loudly and clearly. 3D, on the other hand, is a little more involved and requires more of the animation company’s time and resources, but allows for more realistic visuals and objects that can be viewed from different angles (i.e. the camera can ‘move around it’ in a shot). It’s very contemporary and exudes a modern, cutting-edge vibe.
• Whiteboard animation. The term ‘whiteboard animation’ is a clear-cut case of calling a spade a spade – it’s animation drawn on a whiteboard, which often shows the process of the animation and the hand drawing it. It is very entertaining to watch and affordable to produce, so it works a charm if you want something straight-forward in an educational style. The only possible downside is that there are lots of other businesses doing the same thing, so if you’re looking for a fresh angle, this might not be it.
• Stop-frame animation. Stop-frame animation takes a long time to produce, but it’s riveting to watch, which is why many clients still prefer it as a medium. It requires a series of photos of objects or people, which are then stitched together to create the sense of motion. This frame-by-frame filming process is time-consuming to say the least, so be ready for a heftier bill if you want to go this creative route.
INSIDER TIP: Once you’ve settled on a look and feel, it will become a whole lot easier to determine which companies will fit the bill. Take your time to figure out what feels right and take it from there. It helps to have a look around YouTube to see which explainer videos speak to you. Once you’ve identified a few you like the look of, a pattern is likely to emerge that could point you towards the animation style you prefer.
Be ready to talk numbers
Next up, you need to know what you are willing and able to pay for the services of your chosen animation company. A high-quality animation that will show your brand in a good light will cost anywhere between R30 000 and R250 000, depending on the nature of the content you want to create and the visual execution style you’re going for. This price will be influenced by factors like production hours, the level of expertise of the team working on your video, location, hardware, software and a bunch of other variables.
INSIDER TIP: When you’re discussing rates, be sure to find out if the animation company you’re interviewing are able to offer a fixed price, or if you will be billed according to time spent. This will affect how you should approach the project as a whole. If you’re being billed per hour, you will have to ensure that the brief is crystal clear and communication is as streamlined as possible from your end, so you don’t end up going over budget due to a lot of back-and-forth.
Scope out animation company portfolios
An animation company is only as good as their showreel. If the proof lies in the pudding, this is their family-recipe milk tart. Have a look through the videos they showcase on their website (which is likely to be the cream of the crop) and then make your way to their YouTube and Vimeo channels to get a broader lay of the land. New to animation and not sure what you should be looking for? Here’s a quick summary.
Poor videos have badly-drawn graphics, awkward characters, weird transitions, overbearing voiceovers and limited movement. Good videos are nice and slick, with an engaging storyline, effective music, voiceovers and sound effects that add to the narrative, well-paced animation, and transitions that are so seamless that you barely notice it. That’s the gist of it.
INSIDER TIP: If at all possible, try to find an animation company that has experience in your particular industry. It really helps if they know all the jargon already and won’t have to start from scratch to learn the lingo and get to grips with a brand-new school of thought.
Assess story-telling ability
Telling a story is one thing, but doing so effectively is quite another. While you’re assessing an animation company’s showreel, make a point of dissecting their storytelling style as well. Did you feel captivated and inspired throughout? Could you identify the consumer pain points that were being addressed and how the brand in question was being positioned as the ‘hero'(i.e. the ultimate solution to the consumer’s challenges)?
In short: ask yourself whether you clearly understood the product/service and if you were seriously considering buying it by the end. Those are the hallmarks of an excellent explainer video. If an agency’s videos ticked these boxes, you may well have a team of seasoned storytellers on your hands.
INSIDER TIP: Ask about storytelling style while you’re interviewing animation companies. If a company is any good, they will happily give you a rundown of how they approach a story, with plenty of examples to illustrate their points. If they seem less than sure-footed or battle to give a clear answer you should be hearing warning bells.
Snoop around a little
Yes, you are 100% allowed to check out an animation company’s reputation before you sign on any dotted lines. In fact, you should! Thanks to the internet, you can do so very quickly and simply by doing a search for the company name on a reputable search engine and social media platforms. Start by going over online testimonials and reviews, and then take a good hard look at their social media pages and digital footprint.
If you find any complaints, take heed of the source and remember to play devil’s advocate before accepting it wholesale. If you’re find raving reviews online, you’ll know you are onto something good – there are very few clients that will take the time to go online and sing the praises of an animation company if they did not enjoy a fantastic experience.
INSIDER TIP: If you want your information straight from the horse’s mouth, go old school and pick up the phone. Most animation companies have a list of clients on their websites. Call up one of the businesses and ask to speak to the person in charge of their marketing department. It often helps to speak directly to someone about their experiences rather than reading the short-hand version thereof online.
Enquire about procedural hoops
No-one likes jumping through hoops, but with any animation project there are a few unavoidable hoops that need jumping. It’s the nature of the beast. If you want to ensure that the production process does not drive you around the bend, it’s very important that you find an animation company that has procedures that will align with your own.
E.g. if you prefer to be hands-on and sit in on every meeting pertaining to the video, you need to find a company that will be flexible enough to allow you to do so. On the other hand, you may prefer to have a single point of contact within the animation company who keeps you abreast of progress, and leave the rest up to the creative professionals.
This is why it is important to find out how an agency works before you make any firm decisions.
INSIDER TIP: Do you need your video by a certain date? E.g. to include on the homepage of a new website, or to use as promotional collateral at an expo, or for a big sales launch? If so, you need to speak to your animation company about timescales. It can take anywhere from two weeks to five months to create a video, so if you’re timeline is tight you’ll have to collaborate with an agency that offers fixed turnaround times.
Take a look at additional resources
Any animation company worth its salt will offer potential clients some additional resources. Ideally, you want to partner with an agency that will help you to position your video effectively once the animation is done. It’s all good and well to have a beautifully crafted piece of consumer-centric content, but if you don’t showcase it correctly, all the effort would have been for nothing.
Your chosen animation company should be able to advise you on hosting options and promotional tactics once they have finished creating your video. INSIDER TIP: Have a look at their blog and website. Do they offer any insightful E-books or whitepapers that help you with marketing activities? A company who does is far more likely to support you in your marketing endeavours than one who doesn’t.
There you have it – a concise guide to choosing a South African animation company in 2019. Following these guidelines will pave the way for a fuss-free evaluation process and lay the groundwork for a happy and productive creative collaboration. The key takeaway here is that the animation company you choose should be there to serve you, not the other way around. Choose an agency that makes you feel heard.
You should be energised and inspired every time you leave a meeting, and there should be a well-balanced sense of respect between both parties that underpins every interaction. When you have these essentials in place, creating a captivating explainer video becomes a wonderful adventure.
We wish you all the best with the hunt! Feel free to reach out to the HolyCow team if you would like to learn more about our animation services. Our team of South African animation company experts will happily evaluate your needs and give you some insight into the way we do things here at HolyCow. We look forward to learning more about your business, discussing your needs and telling you more about our animation company.