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How Do I Decide What I Want My Video To Look Like?

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One of the first topics that tends to come up on projects is, “so what do you want it to look like?” Good question. For obvious reasons, visual style is what sets animation apart from other video techniques, and there’s often no right answer to creating a distinctive look for your message. That being said, here are a few things to keep in mind that we’ve found helpful over the years:

Who is your target audience?

What is the mood or tone of your script?

Does your script deal with character stories or more abstract concepts?

What are other people doing?

What do you like?

One of the first topics that tends to come up on projects is, “so what do you want it to look like?” Good question. For obvious reasons, visual style is what sets animation apart from other video techniques, and there’s often no right answer to creating a distinctive look for your message. That being said, here are a few things to keep in mind that we’ve found helpful over the years:


Who is your target audience? Maybe it's retiring parents. Maybe it's twenty-somethings who are interested in a phone. Maybe's it's people buying their first house. Regardless of the category, it's good to keep in mind who they are, and what they want, as the visuals in your video should reflect that demographic. A lighter, whimsical story might not be the best way to sell life insurance (Or, depending on the script, maybe it's perfect!) Which leads us to our next item:

What is the mood or tone of your script? How serious is the subject matter? Are you selling a common necessity, or a luxury item? Different subjects need different ways of presentation. Animation by it's very nature lends itself very well to a more light-hearted tone, but at the same time, we've seen videos using cartoon characters work very well as a "subvert-the-expectations" approach to more serious topics. And speaking of characters:

Does your script deal with character stories or more abstract concepts? If you're showcasing your newest consumer product, technical accuracy might be more a concern than creating a fun visual world. 3d wireframe graphics are very good tools for giving detailed presentations on laying out how things work, whereas using simplified, exaggerated characters tends to make things more immediately engaging. Except when it doesnt! There are almost always people doing things in the total opposite way (and succeeding!), which brings us to our next point:

What are other people doing? Changes are, you are not the first person to try and create a video for your type of product (and if you are, congratulations!) A quick glimpse (or long detailed observation, whichever) into your friendly internet machine of choice can answer this question either way, and give you a very good idea of how your competition is presenting their products to the world. That being said, just because someone else is presenting their stories in a certain way doesn't mean they're the be-all-end-all authority on the subject. Maybe you want to subvert expectations (see above), and create a more attention grabbing approach than anyone else a the table? In other words:

What do you like? What do you not like? This is your video. You can create a video where the visual style touches on all the questions raised earlier, but if you, personally, hate the style, then what's the point? Maybe you really like Powerpuff Girls. Or older Batman comics. Or Tim Burton movies. Or you've always been captivated by the alluring mystique of stick figures. Whichever. It's your call, and we're certainly not going to tell you you're wrong. Now, that being said, not every style translates as easily to animation. However, there is *usually* a middle ground that will work for production, and no matter what, there is always a solution to finding a visual style that will work (and sometimes, there is more than one!)