Animated Video Production

6 Popular Animated Explainer Video Styles

Shawn 01.17.2014

Animated explainer videos raise brand awareness, communicate complex information, improve search engine ranking, increase conversions, and engage users. They’re awesome. But before you rush out and buy the first one you see, take a look at the 6 main style of animated explainer videos to understand what each one can do for your message:

1) Whiteboard Animation (“Scribe Videos”)

This is by far the most popular style, due in large part to the success of the RSA animated lecture series. The strength of this style is clarity. Whiteboard videos explain – no muss, no fuss. Great for corporate videos, training material, and any number of topics. The storyboard look and feel adds an element of transparency as the viewer is allowed “behind the scenes access” into the creative process, as the characters on screen literally appear before their eyes.

2) Stop-Motion Animation

The nostalgic low-fi feel of stop-motion animation is impossible to duplicate. No matter the medium – puppet, clay, cut-out, graphic, object, or silhouette – stop-motion always manages to capture our imagination, making it ideal for brand building as opposed to heavy explanation. The only drawback is it’s difficult to change or add elements on the spot like computer generated graphics, so commit to a concept before production begins.

3) 2D Animation (“Traditional Animation”)

2D animation is what most people picture when they hear animation – which is great. Immensely popular for its ability to create iconic, recognizable characters and engaging narratives, this style of explainer video has the broadest range and the largest market.

4) 3D Animation (CGI)

Similar to 2D animation, 3D spaces are rendered for a more dynamic feel. Often these videos illustrate more complex facts than story and are an excellent way to combine data from multiple infographics into a comprehensive and engaging whole. Longer production times can be a factor.

5) Screencast

This is a cheaper option (generally) and works for tech heavy explanations – specifically apps, software, or videos targeted at specific users. It highlights the user experience and promises easy to follow instructions with the product or software in question.

6) Typography

This style works best for storytelling. Just like the bouncing ball in used car commercials, viewers can’t help but watch as words leap onto the screen synced to the voice over as a story unfolds. The range of this style is limited, but when done well, these animations are tough to beat.


Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at

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