Spotlight: Animating on video

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14 Feb 2024 | Industry insights, Spotlights
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At Reuzer, we don’t do bland. And one of the ways we bring training resources to life is through animating on video. In this Spotlight, we’re taking a closer look at how we do it, the types of projects it works well for, and the benefits to our clients.

What do we mean by ‘animating on video’?

This is when we combine 2D and 3D elements with real-life video footage. It might be 3D text in the frame with talking heads or on-site footage where we add visual elements that aren’t there in real life.

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How does animating on video impact the filming process?

It might impact how we frame our subjects, such as interviewees sitting behind a table or off to one side so there’s space for animated elements too. We also take photos of our equipment and lighting set up, so we can create these same positions in the virtual environment.

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What tools and techniques do we use to achieve this effect?

Reuzer uses the Maxon software suite, Cinema 4D, and Adobe After Effects to create these eye-catching effects. Some of the graphics are created in Adobe Illustrator – text and simple models in particular – while other more complex models we source from 3D stock websites to save time and money.

For one client, we created a 3D version of an icon that was used across safety resources, imported the Illustrator file into Cinema 4D and then physically extruded it to give it the necessary volume.

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What’s the creative process like?

We decide what to animate by reading the script (if there is one) and watching the raw video footage. Then we’ll focus on animating the main talking points to bring longer sections of interviews or on-site footage to life. For longer stretches of animation, we’ll typically create a storyboard and some still frames so clients have a clear idea of what we’re going to do.

Because we’re not creating giant 3D worlds or structures with the potential for errors, our clients don’t need to be heavily involved in the production side. They just let us get on with animating, and then we can make any tweaks once they’ve seen the end result.

We’ll also consider the client’s branding, such as their colours or brand fonts. And we can build branded elements, like icons, into the videos if the client doesn’t have their own, which can then be used on associated materials.

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What types of resources lend themselves to this technique?

“The video visuals always come first in terms of communicating key messages. We’re not trying to detract from it – we’re trying to add something that brings it to life. With talking heads, it can become quite monotonous for the viewer, but the animation keeps them focused on the information.”

Nick Smith, Creative Media Designer, Reuzer.

Animating on video is a great way to enhance talking-head footage. Clients can still include faces from across the business, helping viewers to connect, while ensuring the footage is interesting to watch. We can also animate over still photographs or on-site footage, for incident reconstructions, for example. It’s all about balancing the cost and time required to shoot something on-site or to create it completely in 3D (which we can also do!).

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What are the benefits?

This technique can take simple interviews, static imagery, or footage shot on-site and add another dimension for the learner. It helps to make key points more memorable, less complex, and more digestible for the viewer. And because we’re pushing boundaries, it’s not something used widely across the safety-critical sector. It’s attention-grabbing and will help your training materials stand out from other organisations’.

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