As you prepare to create your company’s next video, you might be wondering whether it’s better to film real footage, or to use motion graphics instead. Both can give fantastic results. In fact, there are plenty of highly successful brand videos in both categories.

When choosing between film and animation or motion graphics, there a few key factors to keep in mind. Most often, your main concerns will be the budget, the staff and time available, the video’s message and structure, and your target audience. With that in mind, here are some of the main benefits and limitations of both types of video production.

Video Footage

Pro: You Can Keep It In-house

Perhaps the greatest benefit of using video footage is that you can carry out a large part of the production process in-house. Provided, of course, that you have the staff and the time.

It’s possible to shoot quality video footage even with relatively little experience filming. Read this article for more tips on producing high quality videos on your own.

Pro: You Can Do Most of It On the Cheap

There are plenty of ways to cut corners with video production while still producing sleek, professional-looking brand videos. This isn’t as possible with motion graphics and animations. Typically, they require the skills of a trained graphic artist.

Con: You Can’t Skimp on Editing

While you can carry out the pre-production process and even filming with minimal training, editing your video does take some skill, or else you have to be ready to pay someone to do it.

Types of Content That Will Work Best with Video Footage

Subject matter has a big role to play in the decision between film and digital graphics. Any video that is location-specific, for example highlighting a particular city or workplace, will probably benefit from showing the real place.

Videos designed to humanize your organization, such as testimonial videos or views into the roles and people in your company, will also most likely be suited to film rather than digital graphics. Below is an example from the team member profile series from WholeFoods whose subject matter is best suited to film:

Motion Graphics/Animation

Pro: No Need for Video Production Equipment

All you need to create an animated or graphical video is a designer, and his or her editing software and workstation. In most cases, the latter come with the designer. Alternately, you can hire a digital design firm to produce your video.

Pro: Creative Freedom

The main benefit of a graphical or animated video is the total freedom that comes with not having to rely on the limitations of real people and places in storytelling. You can tell virtually any story you want, in any way you want, if you find the right designer.

Pro: Creative Control

You also have complete control over the finished product if you go with a digitally designed video. As long as you can afford it, you can send the piece back to the designer for revisions as many times as needed to get the exact effect you want.

Con: Designers/Design Firms Can Be Expensive

Depending on the length of your video and the type of graphics needed, paying a professional designer to bring your vision to life can be pricey. Both filmed and designed videos can range from relatively inexpensive to very expensive to produce. However, the baseline cost of creating a professional look and feel tends to be less expensive with filmed video.

Types of Content That Will Work Best with Motion Graphics/Animation

Graphical videos can be used to capture the imagination of your viewers. This is perfect if your video is covering a “world of possibility” subject. For example, a new product launch or recent initiatives for your organization.

If you’re trying to appeal to new audiences, particularly younger audiences, video that is visually exciting is a smart way to go. This is especially true if you want to market your brand as edgy and technologically savvy.

Companies also often use graphic design and animation to demonstrate how something works that would be difficult to film. For example, this video from Intel:

Did you recently make the tough choice between motion graphics and film? Give us a shout at @SproutVideo on Twitter, or leave a comment below.