Animation now, more than ever, delivers an incredibly accessible and adaptable medium to tell your story, promote your product and engage your audience. But what's next for this popular marketing medium...
Like video production, the future of animation is currently sitting at the intersection of some awesome new technological innovations and more traditional, hand crafted techniques that are tried and tested over decades. Animators have access to a creative landscape where there has never been so many tools or so many options for how to produce animated content. A myriad of cost effective 3D tools (where app cost boundaries would have once been prohibitive), the emergence of AI supported content, as well new forms of realistic motion capture and a wealth of other emerging digital tools.
As well as visual trends, animation in marketing holds great promise as technology continues to advance, providing marketers with innovative tools to engage audiences in increasingly dynamic and immersive ways. One key aspect of this future lies in the evolution of personalised and interactive content. Animated marketing materials will likely become more tailored to individual preferences, utilising data-driven insights to create content that resonates with specific target audiences. This personalisation can enhance the overall customer experience, making marketing messages more relevant and compelling.
The rise of animated storytelling in marketing is also expected to continue. Brands will likely leverage compelling narratives and characters to convey their messages, fostering emotional connections with consumers.
Animated characters can become brand ambassadors, creating memorable and shareable content that resonates across various demographics.
As we look forward, the future of animation unfolds as a realm of limitless possibilities, inviting creators and brands to embark on a thrilling exploration of new dimensions, styles, and narratives that will redefine the very essence of animated storytelling. Here are a few different areas within animation that we think will continue to evolve into 2024 and beyond.
Interactive marketing, AR and VR
The emergence of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) has marked a groundbreaking shift in the marketing landscape, offering brands innovative ways to engage consumers and create immersive brand experiences. AR and VR serve as dynamic marketing tools by blending the physical and digital realms, providing users with interactive and captivating experiences that go beyond traditional advertising formats and tel incredible immersive stories.
AR, in particular, overlays digital elements onto the real world through smartphones or AR glasses, enhancing the user's perception of their surroundings. This technology enables marketers to offer interactive product demonstrations, virtual try-on experiences, and location-based promotions, transforming the way consumers interact with brands.
On the other hand, VR takes users into entirely virtual environments, creating a fully immersive experience. In marketing, VR can transport consumers to virtual showrooms, simulate product experiences, or even offer virtual tours. The ability to provide users with a sense of presence in a carefully crafted, branded environment is a powerful tool for building brand engagement and fostering a deeper connection between consumers and products.
Both AR and VR are expanding beyond gaming and entertainment, becoming integral components of marketing campaigns across various industries. As technology continues to advance, the integration of AR and VR into marketing strategies is poised to become more widespread, offering a new dimension of creativity and engagement in the ever-evolving landscape of consumer communication.
With intuitive interfaces and real-time editing capabilities, these tools significantly reduce the time traditionally spent on animation production. Animators can experiment with different movements and visual elements, fostering a more dynamic and iterative design process. Real-time collaboration features further enhance communication and teamwork, making the animation production process more interactive and cooperative, which leads us to...
Virtual Production & Real-Time rendering
The incorporation of virtual production and real-time rendering into animation workflows is transformative, promising a future where creativity and efficiency converge to elevate the art of storytelling. Think of the Disney Hit 'Mandolorian' . The production of this series was in main to the possibilities of virtual production.
Virtual production involves the integration of physical and digital elements in real time, allowing filmmakers to see and manipulate the final output on set. This dynamic approach not only accelerates the production process but also fosters a more collaborative and immersive environment. The importance of virtual production and real-time rendering technology within future animation workflows cannot be overstated, as these innovations have revolutionised the industry by enhancing efficiency, creativity, and overall production quality.
Real-time rendering technology plays a pivotal role in this transformation. Traditionally, animators faced lengthy rendering times, hindering the iterative process. With real-time rendering, artists can instantly visualise complex scenes, make adjustments on the fly, and experiment with creative ideas in a fraction of the time. This agility not only streamlines production schedules but also empowers animators to iterate and refine their work more rapidly.
Furthermore, virtual production bridges the gap between pre-production, production, and post-production stages, fostering a seamless workflow. Filmmakers can visualise complex scenes before shooting, reducing the need for extensive post-production edits. This convergence of stages enhances collaboration among different departments, leading to a more cohesive and integrated final product.
As these technologies continue to evolve, they will undoubtedly shape the landscape of animation, offering new possibilities and pushing the boundaries of what is achievable in the dynamic realm of animated storytelling.
Unavoidably, AI-driven tools will play a significant role in the future of animated marketing. AI can automate the creation of personalised animations based on user behaviour and preferences, enabling marketers to deliver more targeted and timely content. This can result in more effective communication, increased customer engagement, and ultimately, higher conversion rates.
Also the latest advances in video AI tools like Runway, Pika, Adobe Firefly, and AI motion capture are reshaping the animation industry in several impactful ways. These tools automate time consuming tasks in animation production, such as rotoscoping and character animation, freeing up animators to focus more on creative aspects. This automation accelerates production timelines and contributes to increased efficiency.
Motion capture tools powered by AI such as MoveAI, Rokoko Vision and Plask Motion make the capture of realistic character animation data much more accessible to animators who don’t have the money to spend on expensive mocap suits, gloves and headrigs. Some AI tools such as Wonder Studio go even further by automatically adding CGI characters into a live action scene, adding lighting, automating lip-syncing and creating backplates for you.
Fight the (AI) power
The flipside of this is that some brands prefer to use more hand crafted styles in their marketing such as traditional cel animation and stop motion techniques to add authenticity to their brand. The pushback against AI tools in animation is often rooted in a desire to preserve artistic individuality, craftsmanship, and the personal connection between the artist and the animation. Balancing the benefits of AI with the preservation of traditional methods will likely be an ongoing discussion within the animation community.
New software tools such as Procreate Dreams allow a powerful cross pollination of hand drawn techniques through digital brushes and an interactive touch based timeline. Some of the results are pretty spectacular.
This traditional approach to animation is now taking centre stage in big budget animation and lower budget social media animation aalso, with 3D /2D hybrid techniques becoming more commonplace.
One of the most exciting and unique visual trends lies in the seamless integration of traditional 2D animation techniques with cutting-edge 3D animation. This convergence represents a harmonious marriage of artistic heritage and technological innovation, offering a new dimension to storytelling in the animated world.
Traditionally, 2D animation has been cherished for its hand-drawn charm and expressive character designs. On the other hand, 3D animation brings a level of depth, realism, and dynamic movement that captivates audiences. The merging of these two approaches not only pays homage to the roots of animation but also introduces a fresh visual language that transcends the limitations of either technique alone.
Artists are increasingly leveraging the strengths of both methods to create a hybrid animation style that combines the fluidity of hand-drawn characters with the immersive environments made possible by 3D rendering. This fusion allows for greater flexibility in storytelling, enabling creators to explore diverse visual styles within the same narrative. It also opens up new avenues for creativity, enabling the manipulation of space and time in ways that were previously challenging with either technique in isolation.
Animations such as Blue Eye Samurai, Spiderman: Across the SpiderVerse and the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film are excellent examples of this 2D/3D hybrid approach, with their unique visuals captivating audiences of all ages around the world.
This trend is starting to filter down into smaller marketing budgets, with animated explainers, app promos and other animated content adopting this eye-catching hybrid style.
As you can see, animation stands as a dynamic and invaluable tool in the realm of marketing, offering a myriad of benefits that can significantly elevate brand presence and engagement. Through its ability to captivate audiences with visually compelling narratives, animation not only enhances the memorability of messages but also facilitates effective communication of complex ideas. The versatility of animation transcends traditional boundaries, enabling marketers to tailor content to diverse target demographics. Furthermore, the interactive and entertaining nature of animated content fosters a deeper emotional connection between brands and consumers.
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, animation remains a powerful ally, propelling marketing strategies into the future by delivering impactful, shareable, and resonant storytelling experiences. Embracing the creative potential of animation is not just a trend but a strategic investment in building lasting connections and staying ahead in the competitive marketplace.