The ultimate guide to evaluating good 2D educational animations

What is this guide about?

It is not easy to tell the quality of different animations, especially if you are not some insider in the animation industry but an absolutely clueless instructional designer or educator.

Yeah, the high-quality animation ­is not that hard to spot, you may say! If you think animations by Walt Disney or DreamWorks are amazing, you are right! However, let’s be real. Those Incredibles are millions of dollar investment. Hence you could hardly reach such quality without an enormous budget. But we do not need the “Cartoon Network” standard to create beautiful and yet effective educational animations. The main propose of animated learning video is to deliver the knowledge in a clear and engaging way. Sparkles or unicorns may come as unnecessary (unless you are building an online course on Defense Against the Dark Arts for Hogwarts).

Then if the standard is not “Cartoon Network”, then how can we identify a good 2D animation?

Therefore, we would guide you through:

  • 4 common types of 2D animation in the eLearning industry
  • How to tell the quality of different animations

I hope you would learn valuable insights to make the right decision for your budget. Then you would have more explicit expectations as well as requirements for effective partnership with an animation studio.

Different types of 2D animations

Before we jump off to the technical details of animations, you must understand that different types of animations have different standards. You cannot judge a whiteboard animated video is poor in quality due to the lack of details it has. Whiteboard animations could engage learners as sophisticated hand-drawn animations do. As long as the videos stay consistent with the learning objectives, any types of animations would benefit the learning outcomes.

There are various types of animations in this digital world. You may have seen some of these common types:

1. 2D animated cartoons

2D animated cartoons are those you see on Ted-ed. They inherit the techniques of traditional hand-drawn animations, which means the animators would have to draw every frame to illustrate the movements. Although technology has reduced the animators’ workload, 2D cartoons are time-consuming. The artists still have to proceed frame-by-frame then. The great effort, on the other hand, results in a smooth and dimensional work of animation.

2. Motion graphics

Motion graphics appear everywhere in TV commercials, explainer videos, and of course, educational videos. Motion graphics are much different from 2D animated cartoons. The animators don’t necessarily understand the body mechanics of acting, composition or camera motion. They may not bother drawing 15–24 frames per second. In fact, the artists use software like Adobe After Effect to animate elements on the screen: objects, text, and characters.

Motion graphics hence are less dimensional than 2D animated cartoons. Most animation elements stay in the flat environment since the movements are generated from the software.

3. Stop-motion animations

Stop-motions is not the most popular in the animation world. They are somewhat like 2D animated cartoons. To give the illusion of movements, the artists take a photo of an object then another shot of it moving a little bit. However, the difference is they require the animators to set up the objects, characters, and backgrounds in the real environment rather than the digital workspace. Stop-motions hence are time-consuming and difficult to express complicated concepts.

4. Whiteboard animations

If you have seen those famous YouTube videos by ASAP Science, you must have acknowledged what whiteboard animations look like. Basically, the videos present a hand drawing on board with text and audio narration. The details are minimalized to strengthen storytelling. And yes, the essential part of whiteboard animations is storytelling. The design is pure doodles on board, so simple that one with no animation background could create this type of video. A more advanced version of whiteboard animated videos includes more color and movements to enhance the uniqueness and interaction.

How to tell good animated learning videos

Now you must have understood the diversity of animation. Yeah, a good animation is something nice to look at. Apparently, visual design is an important factor contributing to a good viewer’s experience. However, there are many other elements determining whether your animation partner give much effort or not.


Continue reading here.

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