Updated April 2021
Comparing animated safety videos with filmed videos highlights the differences more clearly when making your own workplace safety video choices.
With animated safety video production on the increase we asked Studio Rossiter's Creative Director, Linda Rossiter for an opinion of this trend.
Linda reports ".... a few years ago filmed safety videos were the norm for H&S managers. Now 2D animated video is often seen as the first option, as it can be cheaper and quicker to produce than a filmed video alternative. And once clients use it they tend to stick with it.
Many H&S advisers also try out self-drive, cloud-based animation packages like Toonly or Powtoons in their search for the cheapest possible video price."
Overall, animation helps resolve concerns from many sources, indicating how quickly safety information is forgotten and frequently not retained beyond a week, or even a day, obliging health & safety managers to seek more effective ways to motivate safe, compliant, legal behaviour.
With this in mind we thought we'd share with you our Hot List of 36 things you probably didn't know about animated safety video production.
Animation v Film - 36 comparison points
1 - Speed: Animated safety training videos can usually be completed far more quickly than a live shoot video production, as all the work is carried out offsite in the animation studio, which might be your office if you're using one of the self drive subscription animation packages
2 - Cost: Expensive actors and presenters are eliminated at a stroke.
3 - Audience: You can show a perfect demographic mix of characters on demand. No person is left out, inc children or any young person, who need special permission to appear on camera.
4 - Foreign languages: You can translate your animated safety video into any foreign language with ease.
5 - Outsourced price: Budget animated safety video is around half the cost-per-runtime-minute of budget filmed video when you outsource your video production.
6 - Difficult topics: Animation is perfect for showing safety procedures in difficult locations, such as working at height, confined spaces & respiratory protection, hot work, near traffic or moving vehicles, in a crowded city centre, tunnels, ships, aeroplanes, elite offices, railway lines, trenches, robot areas, forbidden zones, public buildings, doctors' surgeries, hospitals and any restricted areas. Be aware special high risk scenes will add to your your overall video design costs.
7 - Independence: You don't need the willing (or unwilling) cooperation of your workforce as you would with a filmed video.
8 - Viewers: Audiences love cartoons. We were all brought up on them, from Walt Disney to South Park. Every employee remembers the electrocution cartoon due to poor lock-off procedures gets remembered. Ditto for a contractor falling off a ladder or scaffolding due to poor fall protection.
9 - Mixed media: Photographs can be mixed into an animated video, or a clip of archive site footage, or a free clip from the HSE.
10 - Control: The bulk of any animated safety video is based on captions, drawn scenes and & illustrated talking characters with voiceover, in the language or accent required. These are all items under your control, unlike people or locations on camera.
11 - Reducing cost: Using simple backgrounds will keep costs down, as they take less for a graphic designer to draw or originate, and an animator to render as convincing motion graphics.
12 - Credible speech: Characters' eyes, mouth and shoulders can be synced to move with the voiceover wav track to convincingly simulate real speech. This means you can have a 2D or 3D safety presenter character leading the video, talking to your workforce audience instead of a real presenter who needs filming.
13 - Visual choices: Images in photographs can be bent or stretched to animate with the storyline. For example, a photograph of a suspended load in a warehouse could be made to wobble as if it might spill, or a leaning ladder be made to bend and warp to illustrate the effects of poor or unsafe footers, while fork lift trucks can be made to bump up and down a bit, behaving in a pushy way!
14 - Avoid complexity: Nothing drives up animated safety video costs faster than complex or highly customised animation, such as operating special equipment, or needing to know special tools. KISS still applies. Sometimes filming is less costly.
15 - Captions: These can be choreographed in a typographic style for greater impact, so long as they stay within the reading capabilities of your audience. It's important that your captions are understandable to foreign workforce audiences who may speak English as a second language, and possibly don't read it as well as they speak it. Captions in film are usually less dramatic.
16 - Memorability: Using mixed media (such as your on-the-job photographs) can increase audience information retention by creating the visual variety needed to hold the attention. By contrast photos tend to look weaker in a safety training film.
17 - eLearning: Animated safety video modules fit more easily into any safety training program, like elearning scoring programmes and learning management system databases, as they're usually much shorter than an equivalent filmed scene, and take less time to view.
18 - Safety leadership: Your employers may want to put your completed training video on the company's youtube channel, as well as Facebook and other social media - as well as your intranet, demonstrating safety leadership in your industry. They're much more likely to be watched than filmed clips.
19 - Creative freedom: Cartoon characters can say & do things that real people filmed on camera could not, giving you more leeway in how you want to project your safety message. For example, you can speak much more directly through the mouth of a cartoon contractor, instead of tiptoeing around a hot or controversial subject. Similarly you can highlight any safety hazard with an accident or incident - without creating an impression of "negative safety".
20 - Shorter: You can do less to accomplish more. Animated safety videos tend to be shorter, with higher impact and less waffle than filmed video alternatives.
21 - 2D animation is cheap: 3D animation is expensive. It's 2d animation that's affordable. For example, 3D animated safety video can easily cost £20,000 to £100,000, compared with budget 2D animation costing under £5,000 for a similar safety message. The exception to this is using a 3D animated presenter.
22 - Lower overheads: You take the whole training video production process offsite as there's no longer any need to film or plan in your premises. All production meetings can be with skype, webex or google hangouts, eliminating unnecessary travel. This is not only cheaper, it's also more environmentally friendly, eliminating the carbon emitted by travel.
23 - Less disruption: You no longer have a disruptive film crew going on site, which can lose you production time that can't be recouped. And you eliminate safety issues with outsourced video crew. For example, this really matters in the construction industry.
24 - Less organisation: No massive slice of your time is needed during production to organise crews, scenes, getting locations cleaned up, or press ganging extras from your workforce. It's less stressful for the H&S team. You also eliminate the time spent liaising with production managers to arrange a shoot, or needing a forklift and driver available at exactly 1pm!
25 - Less committees: You need minimal involvement of colleagues compared to filmed video. You only need the level of colleague involvement that gets the job done.
26 - Corporate style: The animation colours, font and design completely reflect your corporate style. Branding is easy.
27 - See invisibles: You can show medical impacts inside the body, such as the impact of lifting on vertebrae or smoking impact on lungs, or any long term RSI (repetitive strain injury).Or gas inside a confined space.
28 - Greater detail: Detailed lungs, spine, liver, bones, eyes, hands and ears can all be seen from the inside if required
29 - Showing incidents: Catastrophic incidents and hazards can be staged for a fraction of the cost of filmed video.
30 - Pay for what you need: All it takes to save money with animated safety video is a little imagination, and to think generically, ie, without needing to show every site-specific detail, which pushes costs back up.
31 - Mistake free: No more accidental bloopers are shown, compared to traditional filmed video. You no longer have to worry about some background rubbish appearing in a scene, or some minor unplanned hazard being visible. You have complete control over everything that is seen, which you'll proof in at the storyboard stage of video production.
32 - Recycling: The more animated videos you make, then generally the cheaper they get, as sets and characters can be reused in a number of different but related video topics. You build your own asset library.
33 - No limits: Animated safety video can be used to roll out a whole safety strategy, or Safe Systems of Work (SSOW). It needn't be limited to one or two hot safety topics.
34 - Even the CEO: Your CEO, CXOs and VIPs can still appear "on camera" as realistic talking cartoons if they're produced in an adult style that dignifies their appearance and the message.
35 -Less embarrassment: No more CEO bloopers to embarrass you in the way that filmed interviews do.
36 - Tidy site: Your site signage appears perfectly clean and unchipped every time. The same for everything else seen onsite.
There it is, 36 things you probably didn't know about animated video production. I hope you find this comparison and advice useful in your next video.