A Short Guide to Graphics in Corporate Video

In an era of seemingly limitless digital possibilities, the word “graphics” gets thrown around quite a lot. But what does it actually mean? Perhaps unsurprisingly, graphics refers to a staggering array of visual mediums and techniques. It’s even common for “graphics,” “motion graphics,” and “video” to be used interchangeably, making it difficult to parse what’s being referred to and what to expect.

 A guide to graphics in corporate video
Graphics in corporate video

Put simply, a graphic is a visual representation of an idea or an object. But that definition doesn’t do full justice to the range of methods, media, and capabilities which fall under this heading. Animation refers to any moving, artificial imagery, while motion graphics is a distinct subset of this category, and the two often bleed into one another. To keep things simple, graphics can be broadly broken down into the following:

  • Two-dimensional, 2.5-dimensional, and three-dimensional computer imagery
  • Animation, joining a series of images together to simulate motion
  • Motion graphics, which create the illusion of movement, often combined with audio and text, including moving text known as “kinetic typography” 
  • Video effects, or “VFX,” a combination of live-action footage with graphic effects

Each of these has separate advantages and applications to which they’re best suited, so without further ado, let’s dig into each of them and learn more about their uses by the top video marketing agencies and best corporate video production companies in London and around the world.

2D

2D computer graphics derive from, and typically represent, symbols and images traditionally displayed on paper, such as text, maps, and charts. These images work on a 2D plane: they have no depth, and can only move along two axes, up and down and from side to side, although making them smaller or larger can create the illusion of a depth of field.

2D Animation for corporate video
2D Animation for corporate video

Most graphics are two-dimensional, created through software programs including Adobe After Effects and Nuke.

2.5D

An intermediate stage in simulating spatial images is 2.5D, otherwise known as pseudo-3D. With this the same 2D images are placed on top of or just overlapping each other to simulate a three-dimensional picture. 

More commonly this now refers to a process in which still images are manipulated to give the impression of a 3D space and so more like film. Figures or objects on different focal places are cut out and new backgrounds are added to fill in the space behind them. Now a virtual camera can move along 3 axes which allows the camera to see behind an object or figure. The aim is to create parallax, an effect in which background images seem to move more slowly than foreground images in order to create the illusion of three-dimensional depth. 

The effect can be enhanced by including moving elements, such as windblown clothing, dust and smoke, or moving water to complete the illusion. Our good friends at Compost do this brilliantly. https://vimeo.com/217538242 

3D

3D graphics incorporate depth and details which allow the viewer to perceive space, movement, light and shadows, and a greater sense of realism. Unlike 2D or 2.5D images, three-dimensional objects can be viewed from all angles.

3D computer animation first became viable in the 1980s, with digital elements added to films individually, until the release of Toy Story in 1998, the first all-CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) film to be released. In the 21st century, 3D graphics finally overtook traditional animation in both cinema and marketing as advancing technology streamlined the production process and cut the time, and cost, required to make it.

3D animation for corporate video
3D animation for corporate video

Corporate videos and video marketing often feature 3D graphics and animation to display the same sort of information as 2D graphics, albeit in a more dynamic fashion. Video marketing agencies will often create 3D animated logos and the preferred graphic format for illustrating products. These product graphics are often built up from the CAD (Computer-Aided Design) files used in the design and manufacturing process. Modelling a product in 3D allows the viewer to get a tangible sense of the product, with views from all angles. ‘Exploded’ views allow a video production company to take the product apart and put it back together, either to illustrate function or to just bring energy and gloss to a video. Besides showing the viewer the structure and components of an object, a ‘photo real’ finish can be added to the model to illustrate what it looks like in real life.

The above applicator seen 'exploded' to view its constituent parts
The above applicator seen ‘exploded’ to view its constituent parts

Animation

Animated videos comprise a series of images or drawings placed in sequence in order to achieve the appearance of movement, often in combination with a script, sound or music. Any process which causes static images to move in concert is animation, including motion graphics, CGI, or claymation/stop motion (e.g. Wallace and Gromit).

Animation is typically associated with characters, such as humans or animals, although it can refer to any object made to appear mobile. The range of levels of animation are as varied as the styles of individual animators. Some figures may only move or bend slightly at the joints, while others can have a full, life-like range of motion.

Animation of all types is a great way to evoke the sentiments you want to associate with new products or services, particularly complex ones which might not engage the audience effectively, or even be possible, in other formats such as live action. 

Motion Graphics

Motion graphics is essentially animated graphic design, consisting of animated elements – such as symbols and signs – often with text, edited with audio effects and music for a more evocative finished product. This is an effective and engaging way to communicate information to the viewer.

Kinetic typography – ‘kinetic’ meaning ‘moving’ and ‘typography’ being any form of font or text – is a type of motion graphics, often used by video marketing agencies and corporate video production companies to support what is being said by a contributor. The text tends to slide on to match or reflect what the speaker is saying. 

VFX

Visual effects, or VFX, is any imagery, enhancement, or manipulation added to live action after footage has been shot. VFX falls broadly into three categories including: 

  • Compositing, in which two or more images are combined, as in matte painting or green screen filming, whereby digital imagery replaces the green background or an additional layer of imagery, such as fire or explosions or smoke, is composited onto a video.
  • Computer-generated imagery (CGI), itself a broad term under which 3D animation can fall, including early instances such as Tron or the famously extensive use of the technique in 2009’s Avatar. Put simply, CGI is any still or animated visual content created with digital means.
  • And motion capture  which involves actors – dressed in neutral-coloured mocap suits and sometimes outfitted with additional prosthetics – covered in sensors that enable the VFX team to record their motions and use this information to create a movement map. Digital characters can then be added to this base. Popular examples include Andy Serkis as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and again in the rebooted Planet of the Apes series.

Unlike special effects – on-screen or mechanical effects such as mechanised props, fire, or water – VFX are strictly a post-production technique, requiring pre-existing footage as a referent before they can be successfully created and used in a finished film. To achieve the desired look, it’s sometimes necessary to film the individual elements separately and composite them later.

Graphics in Corporate Video Production 

Graphics of each type have their role to play for video marketing agencies and corporate video production companies.

Front Cards, End Cards and Name Captions

Front and end cards can be static or animated. Unlike film title sequences, which sometimes incorporate graphic effects to set the scene or establish a mood, as in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), the front cards used in branded content, corporate video or marketing videos tend to be very simple. Front cards in corporate video generally include a logo and the title of the video. 

End cards usually contain the logo again, a call to action, and links to webpages or social media sites for customers to explore further information. A popular style of end cards for videos hosted on Youtube are pre-formatted pages that succinctly state their contents as a teaser, inviting viewers to click through and engage with further video content. YouTube calls these End Screens. This is a highly effective way to keep viewers interacting with your brand’s content. 

Name captions, usually combined with a job title, are used to identify interview subjects in videos. This helps the audience to understand better the perspective of the speaker, a COO’s perspective will carry more weight than an intern’s after all, and also establishes credibility.

All of these should be considered in relation to an organisation’s brand guidelines by including the correct fonts, colours, and even behaviours, language, or tone. 

Motion Graphics

Most companies measure their performance and their successes in numbers, with statistics demonstrating their value and distinctiveness to customers, partners, and investors.

 

Unfortunately, even hardy viewers switch off in the face of a dry recitation of raw data, which is where motion graphics comes in. By animating key data points and embedding them in a colourful, visually satisfying format, what was a meaningless number becomes a memorable fact elevating your appeal to audiences. 

Kinetic Typography

A versatile and widespread method of achieving this is through the use of kinetic typography, meaning moving text. This is one of the older graphics techniques, first becoming widely popular due to its use in Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, followed by Star Wars, whose opening title crawl was evocative of 1940s movie serials. Digital technology has elevated this practice even further, allowing the text to shift, change shape and colour, and dash across the screen feeding information to viewers and evoking key questions and ideas. 

Using a clear, easy-to-read font, viewers can be led to a desired conclusion by controlling the speed, motion, and placement of text, making it easier for audiences to grasp the core concepts you want them to take away. Kinetic typography is often used to support what an interviewee is saying.

Why do infographics work?
Why do infographics work?


Infographics  

Some ideas cannot be succinctly expressed in words, which is where infographics come in. This digital and artistic representation of data and information combines to tell a story, helping to visualise relationships and statistics easily with minimal text. It quickly conveys insights by showing rather than telling, which is why it is a popular inclusion in many marketing videos. 

Why Graphics Matter in Video Marketing

A Stanford University study demonstrated that 63% of listeners remembered speeches presented as stories, whereas only 5% could recall a single isolated statistic. https://mannerofspeaking.org/2009/10/13/making-it-stick-tell-stories/ 

The purpose of animation, motion graphics, and other forms of graphics in marketing or corporate video content is simple: to enhance stories about your business and to transform concepts, information, and pitches into elements of a narrative that make them more memorable. 

Today, viewers are inundated with a constant stream of information, and the best way to penetrate that stream is to present who you are and what you offer quickly and visually, appealing to the primary human sense – sight. 

It’s surprsing then that some data suggests only 34% of marketers https://venngage.com/blog/visual-content-marketing-statistics/ use infographics, illustrations, or other styles of graphics to supplement their video marketing content. At NextShoot, we believe that adding minimal graphics elements to your videos will support your brand identity, while more complex offerings will attract more views and ultimately lead to more conversions.

We believe our graphics work has established us as one of the best video marketing agencies in London and one of the best corporate video production companies in the UK. For examples of our graphics work see here (link to new graphics showreel page).