14 Animation Trends to Watch Out For in 2021

top animation trends 2021
"Knowing about the animation trends is a crucial step before producing one."

Companies want to leverage on the power of video marketing in their strategies. When you create a video at different stages of a marketing funnel, you can create awareness, boost conversions and generate more leads. There are different types of animated videos that you can use for the various stages of a customer journey.

Different phases of a marketing funnel

First, at the top of the funnel, you have the awareness stage. This is the time when you pinpoint common issues that your customers face; and try to create more awareness so that they will be interested in your solution. The videos that you create here should be more educational in nature.

Next, we move to the interest stage. Now that your customers are fully aware of the problems they face, it is the time for you to present your solution. Tell them how your solution is the perfect choice for them in a clear, interesting and memorable way. You can opt for an explainer video to promote what you have to offer, or a how-to video to give a more in-depth understanding of how your product works.

Finally, it’s time to seal the deal with the decision stage. This is where you convince your potential customers to opt for you, not your competitors. You should make an animated video based on use-case scenario, or even a testimonial video to further ignite your customers’ purchase decisions.

In 2020, the COVID-19 outbreak has significantly affected the live action video production industry. With social distancing and lock-downs happening around us, video production seems restricted. I know it can be hard for many video producers. But the good news is that the pandemic has created a shift of marketers’ interests towards animation and animated videos in general.

I believe it is crucial to know what is available in the market before you start planning your own animation project. So I’ve gathered some animation trends in 2021 to give you a better idea of what’s suitable for your business. Here is the list:

2D Character Animation

This is probably the most famous style of animation. It is widely used in explainer videos and indeed is friendlier on your budget. 2D animation is extremely versatile. You can customize everything to fit the look and feel of your brand. You can even have the characters designed to portray your intended audience, so they can relate more to the video. Getting an aesthetically pleasing piece with the right messages will certainly help your brand to stand out from competition.

Whiteboard Animation

Whiteboard animation, also goes by the name of video scribe, will remain relevant in 2021. It’s minimalistic and conveys crystal clear message as audiences are guided by narration and a hand that draws illustrations on a whiteboard as the narrator speaks. It is usually black against white background, but you can customize the style of illustrations and add some colors to the scenes to make it look more interesting.

2.5D Animation

So, what’s 2.5D animation? It’s in between a 2D animation and a 3D animation. It’s basically 2D animation created in a 3D space to create an illusion of depth. 2.5D animation looks less flat compared to 2D animation and it does seem like a 3D piece in some ways, at a lower budget.

Stop Motion Animation

If you have seen Wallace & Gromit, or Shaun the Sheep, then you’ll have an idea of what is a stop-motion animation. The scenes are captured one frame at a time, with physical objects being moved between frames to create the illusion of motion. This is a costly style of animation as the production involves having to prepare the props, having everything setup to create the environment and it’s time consuming to produce. The fixes are also more complex to achieve once production has started. It is also possible to create stop-motion style using 3D animation.

Read about the history of stop motion here.

Screencast Video Animation

If you have a software, an app or a platform and you wish to educate your audiences on how to navigate it, a screencast video is the ideal style. It’s basically the screen captures of software, app or platform UIs, guided by narration.

3D Animation

Three-dimensional animation (3D animation) is the go-to choice for many brands with budgets to spend. It is highly customizable. The aesthetics can be tweaked from realistic, human like approach, to an artistic approach depending on preference. It can tell a story beautifully as we can rotate the camera to show 360-degree view of an object or a character, or the entire environment.

3D animation production takes time as it is a complex process. So it’s priced higher compared to most other styles of animations. Learn about the 3D animation production here.

Motion Graphics Animation

Motion graphics contain 2D animation, but it uses illustrations, icons and text instead of characters. It is usually fast-paced and dynamic, suitable for businesses looking to explain their complex solutions, such as tech platforms and even blockchain related solutions. It helps simplify complex matters with simple, clean and minimalistic illustrations.

Typography Animation

Typography, is the art of laying out letters and text in a way that makes the copy legible, clear and visually appealing. It is essentially an animation of moving typography (text). It can be in 2D, 2.5D, 3D or even cel animation.

Typography animation can create powerful impact as moving texts are accompanied by voice-over, further re-enforcing the messages that it is trying to deliver.

Industrial Animation

Industrial animation (or technical animation) is created using 3D animation to show the exterior, inner-working or engineering of an industrial or mechanical product. For example, the engine of a car, but it can also cover industrial process in a factory that manufactures food items.

Hand-Drawn Animation (Cel)

Traditionally, cel animation refers to 2D animation created using transparent plastic sheets known as ‘cels’, where the illustrations and actions in motion are drawn by hand over these ‘cels’ before being placed over painted backgrounds.

This can be done digitally now. However, the technique still requires artists to draw the illustrations and actions they made frame by frame, making it an expensive affair. It does, however, gives a very natural, authentic and artistic outcome as the animation is fluid and seamless. It is highly suitable for those looking to create a piece to evoke emotions.

Cut-Out & Collage Animation

Cut-out animation is similar to stop-motion. Instead of physical objects, this style of animation uses paper, cardboard or even fabric illustrations, as well as photos.

Traditionally, the technique to create this style of animation is similar to that of stop-motion animation. Today, it can be done digitally using scanned photos and illustrations. This results in a shorter production and at a lower budget. Read more about the history of collage here.

VR Animation

VR animation was born as virtual reality is becoming widely used especially in gaming and real estate industries. Animated VR videos create a whimsical world and take us into a world to experience things that most probably don’t exist in the real world (maybe not yet, in the case of real estate presentations).

They open up a totally new world of telling stories, engaging audiences. Virtual Reality animations help you promote your brand in a brand new, exciting way. In my opinion, there will be a lot of development and interest from businesses to invest in VR animation in the upcoming years.

Line Based Animation

This is a form of 2D animation, where the illustrations are created using lines or shapes. The transitions of this style of animation are done through the extension of lines, or transformation of shapes to create a seamless look.

Slideshow Animation (Image based)

Slideshow animation is the animation of images, pretty much as the name suggests, slideshow. Text and icons can be overlayed on the images to make it a more interesting presentation than PowerPoint.

Wrapping Up

It is essential that we widen our view and grasp the available options before making our ultimate choice. Every animation style offers a unique message that your brand or business can benefit from. I hope that by explaining all the different types of animation trends, you’ll be more well equipped in planning for the production of your next marketing video.

Jacklyn Chung

Marketing Executive at Explainer Videoly Pte. Ltd.
Being part of the Kasra Design family for many years, Jacklyn takes care of the marketing tasks, be it online or offline.