Once you have decided to embed Custom eLearning Videos into your eLearning modules, the inevitable question you will face is this: How do you decide whether to use videos with film, with animations or a combination of the two?
There will be many factors which will eventually impact your decision but here are 4 which will most certainly be somewhere at the top of your list.
1. Which type of visual will your audience accept the most? Film or animation?
Think of your employees.This of the culture of your organization. Think of the profiles, ages and education levels of your target audience.
If you use animations will they complain about being taught something by “Mickey Mouse”? If yes, then consider using film.
Then think of the reverse. If you use film, is there a good chance that when your employees watch the film they will see themselves in the situation you are depicting? If yes, then you will succeed. If no, then your film will not be believable and most learners will leave with the impression: “Oh, this looks fake. It doesn’t apply to me”.
So choose the visual which will have the most positive impact on your learning audience.
2. What are you trying to show?
Next you will need to think about what exactly it is you are trying to communicate.
If you are trying to show a virus flying through an internet tunnel, it’s going to be pretty tough to show with film – you are going to need an animation like the one you see below.
Similarly, if you would like to show the working of a process – you are better off using animations rather than film.
But on the other hand if you need to show the maintenance of an industrial machine – yes of course you could use animations but it would be so much powerful to use a film and actually show someone maintaining the machine. Makes it more believable.
3. How frequently will you need to make changes?
If your learning content is going to change frequently and more importantly your visual content is going to change frequently you are better of using animations rather than film.
Generally, speaking it is easier (and so less costly) to make changes to animations rather than to film. But … often it depends on the changes to be made.
Consider the following contrarian examples:
(1) If you make a 3D animation showing the working of the insides of a machine, and if these insides change, it is very likely that the modifications to the 3D animation will not be trivial. You may even have to rebuild the entire animation from scratch.
(2) If you have filmed an industrial process and after a few months a portion of the resulting video is obsolete, maybe by re-filming just the small portion which changed you may have a brand new version of the video which is up to date. An animation of the same process may have required greater effort (and cost) to make the same change.
So before embarking on putting a film crew in place or hiring a team of animators, think of the changes you will need to make to your eLearning content over the next months and even years and then choose your medium of visual display accordingly.
4. What can you afford? And how much time do you have?
We have already looked at Typical Costs Associated With Building Custom eLearning Videos With Film and Typical Costs Associated With Building Custom eLearning Videos With Animations. But how do you compare the two types of costs with each other? What’s more expensive: Making films or making animations?
Most people I have met assume that film-based videos are more expensive than animation-based videos. But this isn’t necessarily true.
The costs associated with making animations are fairly predictable and grow relatively linearly with the length of the animation. So every extra minute of animation will probably cost you more or less the same as the previous minute. And upfront fixed costs are low.
Films on the other hand can cost a lot to make but every additional minute can be less expensive to make than the previous minute. Think of this scenario: Let’s say you are filming an office scene with two actors. How much more will it cost you to film and then edit another minute of film footage with the same two actors in the same location?
Generally, speaking – not that much more. So once you have accepted the fixed costs of filming (the crew, the actors, the equipment, the location, etc) then as long as these remain the same, you can quickly get more content at low incremental cost.
Bottom line: Look at both options – films and animations – carefully before you discount either one on the basis of cost. Your findings may surprise you.