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2D vs 3D Animation - Which Should You Choose?

by Steve Day, Founder of ideaMachine Studio

There are quite a few elements to consider when tackling a video project for marketing and advertising purposes. A video project requires a script, voice over, character development, themes and movement. Whether it's for a game, marketing or entertainment, animation is a great and creative way to bring a story to life. While animation is a top choice for video development, it requires a few extra elements to consider, such as deciding between 2D and 3D animation. For those who don't have much video production experience, it can be difficult to decipher which animation method will yield better results. But believe it or not, there's a time and a place for each one. 

First, let's tackle 2D animation. 2D animation has existed since the 1800s and used to be drawn solely by hand. Now with the advancement of technology, 2D animation utilizes computer software for development. When is it most appropriate to use 2D animation? 2D animation is the most common choice for traditional marketing. Generally, it's best used for simple and quick projects that require minimal engagement, such as explanatory videos. Other
  • Pros
    • 2D animation is known for being the cost-effective choice for video projects. 
    • 2D animation is easier to create and can be less demanding because there isn't as much technology and software involved with developing 2D animation compared to 3D animation.
    • The controls for creating a 2D animated video are basic. Those with little experience can get the hang of 2D animation without having to heavily rely on tutorials.  

  • Cons
    • This form of animation can be boring at times. Unlike 3D animation, 2D animation doesn't challenge the eyes as much. Animation is all about illusions and 2D animation is limited in the creation of certain illusions, like movement.  
    • 2D animation is starting to show a lack in demand. As 3D animation becomes more and more popular, people are preferring to watch 3D over 2D.
While 2D is still the most common choice, 3D animation is gaining popularity and is best used when challenging marketing norms. 3D animation is fully developed and produced through computer software. The images for this form of animation must exist on an X, Y and Z plane. More specifically, 3D animation giving each character and image height, weight and depth. When is it a good idea to utilize 3D animation? 3D animation is a top choice for video games, because it's highly engaging to the senses, making the player feel as if they're really part of the game. Marketing professionals are constantly trying to find new ways to create engaging content for their audiences and stay ahead of trends, which is why 3D animation is starting to be incorporated in campaigns. 
  • Pros
    • 3D animation has high engagement from audiences.
    • 3D animation is superior when portraying movement, making 3D animation a better choice if the video goal is to be realistic. 
    • This form of animation is in high demand because it challenges marketing norms.
  • Cons
    • Due to the mathematics and graphing that 3D animation relies on, it also requires deeper thought outside of the creative mindset. 
    • 3D animation typically takes longer to develop than 2D animation. The extra production time and resources needed often times leads to higher production costs compared to 2D animation.
Making the right decision for a video project can either make or break the intent and overall perception of the content. Visual preferences are usually the ultimate deciding factor for picking between 2D animation and 3D animation. However, it is important to consider target audience, timeline and budget when making the decision between the two forms of animation. In the past, 2D animation was the way to go for animation projects. With the advances of animation technology, 3D animation is becoming more doable and accessible, thus making it more popular. However, there's still a time and place for each form of animation. It is necessary to have a very clear idea of what the video should be and what you are wanting to create and the objectives before you have to pick between 2D animation and 3D animation. 

About the Author
Steve Day is the Founder and CEO of ideaMACHINE Studio, an award-winning Brooklyn-based video production studio. The company has produced thousands of marketing, advertising, and training videos for 600+ clients, including AETNA, ESPN, Intel, Trader Joe's and more. Since opening in 2010, IdeaMACHINE has won industry awards year after year, and has animated for numerous Fortune 500 companies.

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Related Keywords:2D Animation, 3D Animation


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