3D Explainer Video

A practical guide for any company planning to create a 3D explainer video.

Written by Aram Movsisyan

Senors Producer, Yans Media

Some people think that 3d explainer videos are something high level . Others, that it is very expensive and some people consider it the waist of money. Let’s break down every small detail and understand when we need it and how to plan right.

What is 3D explainer Video

A 3D explainer video is still an explainer video with one key difference. Instead of 2D visuals or live-action, the designs are modeled and rendered in 3 dimensions.

That said, the only difference between 2D and 3D explainer videos is in the way the visuals are created. There’s no difference in the marketing content, the quality of conversion, or the sales it can generate.

Of course, you do want to keep in mind which styles work best to deliver your message.

Things You Should Know About 3D Explainer Videos – Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • It’s the perfect tool for showcasing difficult-to-describe physical products or parts (like a mechanical product, for example) and show it from every angle in a realistic view
  • 3D animation can look very impressive
  • You have more options for visual effects

Cons:

  • 3D explainer video production costs are much higher than 2D explainer videos
  • Production time takes longer
  • Lack of flexibility when it comes to revisions or changes down the road

Let’s dig in a little deeper.

When is 3D The Right Choice?

Let’s say you want to show your product specifications and they are a bit technical. You need to showcase the ins and outs of its pieces, how the mechanisms work, and maybe even how it’s built. In this situation, you definitely need 3D.

Your goal is to explain your product in a way that shows what it would be like if it were physically possible to hold it in front of you, open it up, separate the pieces, and see all the inner workings from every angle.

2D animation wouldn’t give an accurate view of this, and live-action wouldn’t be able to give the same kind of “inside look”, or show every little detail unless you made a much longer, more complex video.

So your best choice here is a 3D explainer video.

 

When is 3D a Bad Choice?

It’s bad when you make a 3D video for no other reason other than it’s 3D. Let me explain.

Let’s say you need to explain how your app works. Why distract people with fancy animation? They’ll literally pay less attention to your message to focus on the visuals. If you need to explain how it works or tell a story, you can do that with great-looking 2D motion graphics.

Also, 3D is a very expensive animation style. Even the biggest companies like Google do not use 3D if there isn’t a specific reason like the one we mentioned above.

What If I Do Actually Need 3D, But Don’t Have The Budget For It?

In this situation, we recommend a hybrid – going with 3D in the scenes where it’s vital (again, complex product breakdowns), and 2D for the rest of the video.You’ll save time, money, and accomplish your 3D goal. 

Let’s say you’ve got a medical gizmo you need to explain. You can talk about customer problems and pain points in 2D, showcase the product in and out in 3D, then continue on to benefits, the call to action, and the rest of the video in 2D. Learn more about the classic explainer video structure here.

Action Item

 Learn more about the most popular explainer video structure here.

What to Consider When Creating a 3D Explainer Video

The message is most important

Before anything else, you should remember that in every marketing video the message is the most important thing! That the production is in 2D or 3D doesn’t make a difference if your message isn’t crafted properly and you’re not talking to your target audience.

You can spend a million dollars on the most beautiful, expensive video of all time, but if the sales message isn’t solid, you’re throwing your money away. You won’t accomplish your goal, whether it’s for viewers to contact you, purchase your product, or register for an event.

Bottom line – the message is king in marketing.

Here’s a great example. We have here 2 videos: one in 3d and the second one in 2d. Just watch both and ask yourself which one you would prefer considering the fact that the 3d one would cost multiple times more.

 

If you’re still trying to figure out how your marketing message fits within an explainer video, schedule your free consultation with a video strategist.

Execution should be top-notch

If your message is crafted properly, the next thing you should consider is production quality. Nobody will take you seriously if you’ve got a great message delivered in cheap packaging. Imagine visiting a low-quality website with a design that hasn’t been updated in years and ads all over the place. Even if the offer looks good, you’d probably rather avoid everything altogether and just close it off your screen.

It’s the same with marketing video. Everything about it should be executed at the highest quality. So don’t use any toolkit or online platform creators. There are some really bad looking 3D animations out there. And if your first thought when looking at one is, “yeah, that looks kinda bad,” trust your gut, no matter how much of a deal it seems. Nobody will look at your cheap 3D explainer video and think, “they must have saved a lot of money making that, I should buy their product.” Of course not. They will just think it looks cheap and lose interest.

That brings up another issue with 3D – there aren’t a lot of studios that have the capability to create high-quality animations. So select your vendor carefully. Look at their examples and portfolio and be sure they will provide the best value for your money. Or consider 2D motion graphics options.

Production Planning Tips 

Aspect ratio

This is something you might not be told when negotiating or talking with a studio, but if you’re planning to use your video on different media channels, you should plan your aspect ratio accordingly to get the best results.

For example, different social media channels have different orientations, which give different results. Know in advance if you need a vertical, horizontal, or square video – or a version of each.

You can learn more about that from this research.

So for this reason, 3D is not the best production style if you’re thinking of using it in different places. For example, with 2D motion graphics, to get a version in each different orientation, you would spend 15 – 25% more for a production budget. But in 3D, the studio will have to create a new video for each aspect ratio. Some studios hide this fact in the negotiations to get the deal, and then when you ask later on if you can get the video in different dimensions, they will say they are happy to – for a very large fee.

Duration Planning

Another thing you should let your production company know in advance is if you need shorter versions of your explainer video. That way, they’ll be able to plan that in their production process. Remember, 3D is not a flexible animation style when it comes to changes. And if you find out later on that the app store you want to put your video in doesn’t accept videos longer than 30 seconds, or your marketing team recommends shorter edits, your production company should know that in advance. Otherwise, you guessed it, you’re gonna spend a lot more money. So plan all your delivery channels in advance and agree with the production company in your negotiations.

You can always get a free consultation on everything above to help you make the right decision.

Who are the Best Animation Companies Creating 3D Explainer Videos?

Actually, there isn’t one master list out there when it comes specifically to 3D, because again, the message is the most important part. But in terms of explainer video companies in general, we recommend checking this list of the best explainer video companies, and/or checking out some independent rating agencies like Clutch or The Manifest to compare pricing and value.

Planning Your Budget

What is the Cost of a 3D Explainer Video?

The cost can vary between 15k – 100k for a 1 minute 3D explainer video. Depending on complexity, in 3D every small detail can easily add thousands of dollars. So we recommend planning every detail to the smallest point or consider other options like 2D. In that instance, you can pay 8k-10k and get an extremely high quality while still paying less than an extremely low-quality 3D video. Spending 10k on a 2D animated video almost always looks exponentially better than paying 20k on a 3D video that looks cheap.

Can Freelancers Handle My 3D Explainer Video Project?

This question always comes up for people who are working with a very limited budget. To be blunt, please get yourself out of that mindset. In every marketing video, you need a professional marketing team that will discover your product, craft a unique message, write a persuasive script, have solid creative direction, and use a full production team (which in 3D, can get quite large). Check the production pipeline below and tell me then if you think a freelancer can handle it all!

What are the Main Stages of a 3D Explainer Video Production?

  • Storyboard
  • Animatic
  • Design
  • Layout
  • R&D modeling
  • Texturing
  • Rigging / Setup
  • Animation
  • VFX
  • Lighting
  • Rendering
  • Compositing
  • 2D VFX / motion graphics
  • Color correction

Still, Is It Worth It?

Of course it can be worth it. IF – you are doing it for the right reasons, have enough budget, work with a good team, and plan everything in advance.

Conclusion

Go with 3D only if it’s vital for your message. In other cases, try to combine it with 2D, which is also a great option. But don’t overlook a 2D animated explainer video. Remember, fancy visuals will never replace a strong marketing message.

Free Download: Explainer Videos From A to Z

Everything you need to know about explainer videos to create successful marketing content

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Aram Movsisyan

Video Marketing Expert.

    Aram Movsisyan

    Video Marketing Expert.