Spotlight: 2D Animation

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5 Mar 2024 | Industry insights, Spotlights
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Animation can bring your training resources to life. And a 2D (rather than 3D) approach can be just the ticket for your budget and timescale.

In this Reuzer Spotlight, we take a closer look at our different styles, animation process, and some of the projects where we’ve used 2D animation to great effect.

What is 2D animation and how does it differ to 3D?

If we compare 3D animation to a sculpture, which you can look at from any angle, 2D is more like a painting. You can create depth with light and shade, but it’s still a flat object. In terms of software, 2D animation tends to be done in Adobe After Effects.

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How can 2D animation bring your projects to life?

While we can use static photos or illustrations to explain or emphasise training messages, our 2D animation, used well and in the right scenario, can be far more engaging for the viewer, especially for longer and more intricate projects.

A bit of movement helps to grab the audience’s attention and keep it. When it comes to safety messages, for example, animation can help make things clearer and relatable.

What different styles of 2D animation does Reuzer offer?

Well, really we can turn our hand to any style, however there are two main styles we use a lot across our projects, designed to suit a range of budgets.

The first involves using icons, symbols, simple silhouettes of objects or people, and text. This style conveys ideas easily and clearly without requiring much detail, helping you flow between text, illustrations, structures, and diagrams. It’s easy to incorporate clients’ brand colours into this style of animation too.

“In this project on rapid risk assessment, the client wanted to show the rig as a crocodile – if you didn’t remain vigilant, it would bite you! Because rigs and crocodiles are complex shapes, a simple 2D style was perfect for conveying the message.”

Ed Suckling, Creative Team Lead at Reuzer

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The second more detailed approach also involves using vector software like Adobe Illustrator, but with a little more realism. This is a flat but cartoonish style, without a huge amount of texture. It’s great for showing more detail, such as characters’ gender, skin tone, and facial expressions. We use this style a lot for incident reconstructions.

“On another project, we were showing how marginal gains can help improve safety by looking at how the Team GB cycling team prepared for the Olympics. The more detailed 2D style allowed us to show the specific improvements that were made, with some freedom to bring in other graphic elements.”

Ed Suckling, Creative Team Lead at Reuzer

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Do you ever create new styles for specific projects?

We’ve recently developed an eye-catching collage style that includes patterns, photo cut-outs, and graphic shapes for Shelf Drilling. The organisation needed eight modules covering a variety of subjects, including leadership and stress management. The collage style incorporated sound effects and music, making the subject matter energetic and engaging for the viewer.

We’re also using more 2.5D work in our projects. This is where 2D characters and objects are animated in a 3D space, layered behind or in front of each other to add more depth and visual interest.

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What are the key stages you go through creating 2D animation?

We start by nailing down the script, which gives us a rough idea of duration and helps us iron out any issues. Next we determine the illustration and animation style that’s required. We typically produce storyboards which guide our team and help the client understand our approach. If we’re creating a new style, we’ll produce a short clip to demonstrate what we’re proposing too.

Once everything is signed off, we’ll go into production. That’s when the voice over will be recorded and the team will start animating each scene. After animation is complete, everything is edited together. We then add sound, music, and any other finishing touches, preparing the animation for its final destination, whether that’s as a standalone video or part of a presentation deck or e-learning course.

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Got a bigger budget?

We also offer a range of 3D animation services including animating over video content to liven up your staff interviews.

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