Top 17 Explainer Video Styles in 2019

top 17 explainer video styles 2019
"We’re operating in a digital world where one proper explainer video can make up for years of marketing effort."

What is an explainer video?

Simply put, it’s a video that explains. In most cases, it includes a narration (voice-over).

What can you do with it?

To name a few, you can promote a business, a product, a cause, a business plan or even a political view. The uses are basically endless. As it highly engages the audience (in a short duration) with audio and graphics, it is proven to be a very effective way in the marketing world. It doesn’t take much time to watch in most scenarios (30 seconds to 3 minutes average).

17 Explainer Video Styles To Date

Explainer videos are made of many different styles. They can be animated which is made using a broad range of techniques and styles or they can be live-action which also include many different approaches or both of the above mixed together! The list of options grows year by year as there is no end to creativity and people working in video industry are no exception. They always find amazing new ways to portray the message and impress us.

If you are about to start an explainer video project, you would most definitely want to explore what’s available in the menu before closing on one and hire the right people to do it.

This is why we have compiled a list of samples (representing each style category) below, hoping that it comes in handy when you’re ready to start your video project.

1) 3D Animation

Arguably the most advanced form of animation, 3D animation offers you a 360-degree view of an object, character or environment, giving you a visually enriching experience. As it is also one of the most complex forms of animation, it’s well suited for those who are looking to tell their stories using more realistic virtual world.

2) 2D Animation

2D animation can be in the form of traditional hand-drawn style, or created using digital applications.

Traditional hand-drawn style is usually used in cartoon series. The transitions are seamless but it is a more labor-intensive and time-consuming process.

The latter has gained popularity in recent years as it is more cost-effective and easier to produce, at the same time, it can be very visually appealing for the viewers with endless aesthetic possibilities.

3) 2D with 3D elements

We know what’s 2D but it gets whole a lot exciting when you add 3D objects and elements to it. This style creates more depth giving the viewers a more solid, rich dimensional imagery. 3D elements are used throughout the video to give more emphasis to an object to capture viewers’ attention. Frankly speaking it is quite challenging to mix (in a believable way) 2 dimensional elements with 3 dimensional elements as they are very different in nature. But the result worth all the hassle of production!


4) Motion Graphics

As confusing as it is, motion graphics are described as “pieces of digital footage or animation” which create the illusion of motion.  To make it more understanding for you, motion graphic is a complex type of animation that is put together in fast pace to impress your craving for complexity. The level of details in this type of animation can be painstakingly meticulous.

They are often used for projects related to the technology, science or financial industry.

5) Stock Footage and Overlays

This style is perfect for those who want to project a corporate image, but do not have the budget to hire a full production crew and talents for live action shoot. There are plenty of premium stock footages sites to choose from. The footage options are endless. You can type any keyword and find something related to it. The footages are edited and sometimes added with motion graphics to create a different look and feel.

6) Cel Animation (Hand-Drawn)

These are done using frame-by-frame technique. It is a much more complex style and time-consuming than typical digital 2D animations. However, the fluidity of these animations makes them absolutely stunning to watch. It requires very talented and experienced artists to make a proper cel animation hence the price can be on the high side.

7) Stop Motion

Stop motion is one of the earliest techniques of animation. Static objects are moved in small increments, photographed frame by frame. These frames are then played in sequence to project movements and bring the static object to life on screen. In case you have not seen one, some of our childhood favorite animations such as Wallace and Gromit were created using stop motion technique.

8) Interview Style

This form of video has gained traction recently. To obtain the trust of viewers, what’s better than the actual words coming from those who have tried a product or service before? Just like from written testimonials, interview video features the footage of real human telling their stories. Now, we can see the actual users of a product or service and hear from them personally.  Sometimes, animations such as motion graphics are added to the video to enhance the visuals.

9) Live Action

Live action videos are perfect for those who want to add human elements into their stories. It is an awesome way to connect with your viewers on a more personal level. So if you want to reach out to your audience emotionally, live action is the way to go. The outcome can be very effective and compelling if the production is done in the right way.

10) Isometric

Isometric animation creates the illusion of a 3D animation. All the elements in the video are illustrated in a three dimensional way that offers a more enriching visual experience. The animation, however, are usually done using 2.5D techniques.

11) Whiteboard

Whiteboard animation can be achieved using two techniques. The more traditional way involves an author physically draws on whiteboard using marker pens, while being recorded. It is usually paired with audio through the narration of a script. Whiteboard animation can also be done using digital software such as VideoScribe or Adobe Animate.

12) Kinetic Typography

Kinetic typography is basically moving text. Text are expressed through animated motions and visually engaging graphics (in some cases) to convey an idea. Whether it is a music video to show song lyrics, a heartfelt speech, or even a movie opening, kinetic typography can set emotions through the motion of text.

13) Screencast

This style is popular for those who want to show how their applications work. Instead of going through tedious manual, screencast shows you how to navigate through an application or software, saving you tons of time in educating or training your users. However, it can get quite boring just looking at the interface of an application. There are multiple ways to spice things up, one of which is by adding animated icons or minor motion graphics into the screencast video.

14) Outline / Dope Art

Characterized by visible thin, thick or even broken lines surrounding characters or objects, outline animation is refreshing to watch. The usage of different types of lines lends a different touch and attribute to the final outcome.

15) Collage & Cut-out

This technique is achieved through the cut-out portions of photographs, posters, cardboards etc. Through technology advancement, experts can now scan images or even use vector graphics to successfully execute this style. The end result can be pretty cool as demonstrated in the samples below.

16) Pen & Ink

As the name suggests, it is an effect that resembles ink or pen drawings. It is mostly faked using various post-production techniques such as Adobe After Effects or 3D software.

17) Abstract

It comes very handy when dealing with complex topics that are hard to literally visualize. Their simplicity can stun the viewers. Although they might seem easy to create (due to primitive graphics), they usually require comprehensive planning and concept development prior to execution. In fact, they might even take longer to produce than a typical 2D animation that we listed above.

Here goes the credits (from top to bottom):

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.