The value of animation for education is promising regarding its power of visual. Instructional designers have applied animated videos as better learning materials for students’ retention rate and outcomes. Nevertheless, most people think that animations, especially tailor-made ones, are costly. Animated learning videos are not cheap obviously. Still, there are various ways to make it an efficient investment that fits your budget.
Identify the purpose of your animations
I think the best way to save budget is learning how to use your money effectively. You could produce a beautiful series of animated educational videos. However, if the series is nothing but a fun distraction in your course, it is a waste of money. Then before we jump in the low-cost animation process, you would better identify if the animations serve anything in the learning objectives. Would they engage learners, increase their learning outcomes, or are they just nice decoration?
Decide the learning content to produce animations
A whole animation-based course would be expensive since one minute of animated videos cost at least $3000 if you work with a professional studio in US, UK, or AU. One quick solution is just combining different type of learning materials with the educational animations.
If you are recording talking head videos, an animation will make a beautiful visual explanation as an alternative to figures, charts, or graphs. Then when you teach some complicated concepts, instead of showing the illustrations or drawing the images on board, you could show students an animated video.
This video example is part of a biology course by CrashCourse. Since it has 2 million views, you may have watched or heard of it somewhere. The producers have done such an excellent job in editing and combining live-action and animation in the same footage. There is still the presence of a funky teacher. However, whenever there is a difficult concept, he resorted to animation for education.
The same idea could be applied to courses with presentation slides. You could take it lightly as the animated explanation in slide-based classes.
Keep the video short
It sounds simple: save money by producing less of animation. However, other than the economical benefits, keeping the video short brings great values to your eLearning program. The concept of short animation is to skip unnecessary information and get straight to the point. The straightforward content makes the learning process faster and helps students retain the key ideas better. And short videos keep the audiences engaged. The longer a video is, the less likely learners would watch it until the end.
One’s concentration stays best within 2 minutes. That is why most explainer videos for commercial purposes you see on the Internet are shorter than 90 seconds. Personally, I enjoy learning with videos shorter than 5 minutes. If your video covers lots of ideas, then you could divide it into smaller chunks. Each chunk should portray only one concept.
Affordable styles of animation for education
3D animation should only be used to explain concepts that need high precision like medical training for surgeons. 3D gives learner more realistic experiences and allows them to observe the objects and processes in different angles. The only drawback of 3D is the cost. High quality comes with a price. Lower-quality substitution may not be the wisest decision since graphic design is an essential element in the learner experience.
2D animations are a more affordable option comparing to 3D videos. Some say 2D is expensive, but it is the case of hand-drawn animation. Hand-drawn is the traditional type of animation you see on Cartoon Network. They require the artists to draw every frame, which means 15-24 frames per one screen second. Although technology has reduced the workload of the animators, hand-drawn animation is still costly. Nevertheless, you can resort to 2 other types of 2D:
Motion graphics: They are generated from vector-based illustration. The vector allows the animators the create movements without the need to draw every frame.
Whiteboard animations: Nice and simple. They present a hand drawing images on a whiteboard.
Motion graphic and whiteboard animation have as strong power of storytelling as hand-drawn animation. Both are more limited in movements than hand-drawn animated videos, but they are still entertaining and educational. Trading cheaper moves for the same quality of information delivery is reasonable then.
Animation partner and tool
Good news for teachers or eLearning instructors who want to give students new experiences without spending too much: you can do it yourself. Cloud-based animation tools like GoAnimate, PowToon or VideoScribe could help you create beautiful animated educational videos without mastering any skills in designing or animating. They provide a huge library of ready-made characters, objects, backgrounds, and even music as well as special effects! You can drag-and-drop to customize your own stories. And these tools are cheap, starting from $30 a month subscription. However, they are best at describing dialogues for scenario-based learning only. If you need something more like a visual explanation for complicated concepts or you care about unique branding benefits, you should consider tailor-made animations.
You have to work with an animation studio to create tailor-made animations. They would give you authentic animation materials that fit your audience, subject area and branding perfectly. However, such custom-made videos from a professional studio in US or UK is hardly ever lower than $1000 a minute. Such price is overwhelming if you intend to create a whole series. Now what?
The best option is you work with studios in developing countries (yay, like F.Learning Studio). In fact, most large animation studios also outsource animations to reduce operation cost. The pay rate in developing countries is lower, so we can have the same animation quality with more reasonable cost
Involve more in the production process
Let’s say you choose to work with an animation studio. Then you can negotiate the price a little bit by joining in the production process. You could help them with the script, the storyboard, and if possible, the design also.
Unless you intend to do something like Ted-ed videos, you should write the script on your own. Ted-ed provides general knowledge via storytelling with various characters. To make an engaging story, you may need a scriptwriter. However, when animations play mostly as the visual explanation in addition to your teaching material, the videos focus more on the information visualization than story progression. It means you do not need to stress out on script writing but pay more attention to how to deliver the information correctly.
The same goes for storyboard and design. However, these two steps require a decent set of illustrating skills. If you are not confident in drawing, then you could write down suggestions to the storyboard. It would at least save you some time, and time is money.
Record the eLearning voice-over on your own
A voice talent could give you fantastic voice over quality. However, students would have better learning experiences from the animated educational videos with their lecturer’s voice overs. In fact, hearing the instructor’s voices may enhance the connection between learner and lecturer. And you do not need to stress out about the VO. I think the animation audio needs to focus more on being natural, conversational and clear. You can save some money by recording the VO yourself, other than hiring a voice artist.
Also check THE COMPREHENSIVE TEACHER