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4 Tips That Would Prevent You From Having A Compromised Animated Explainer Video Quality

Animated Explainer Videos are extremely effective in putting across your message in a comprehensible manner. The real challenge, however, lies in making sure that the quality of your Explainer Video is just perfect. Here are four insightful tips that could prevent you from getting a low quality Animated Explainer Video produced.

1. Finalize your script before the animation process starts

In the video production process, animation is done on the basis of the script. Once the animation is completed and the final video produced, altering the script would only deteriorate the video quality. This is because, correspondingly, animation would also have to be altered, requiring that part to be made from the scratch. The altered part may then appear like a patch and break the flow of the video, thereby reducing its overall quality. Therefore, it is important to finalize the script before giving it for animation.

2. Specify the minutest of details, right at the beginning

It is advised that even the minutest of details, like color specifications, logo details (where and when to place in the video) etc., are given right at the beginning of the production process. Any redoing / revision is strictly ill-advised, as the new specifications may not fit-in as well, and may in fact, decrease the visual appeal of the video.

3. Final Voiceover v/s Dummy Voiceover

Voiceovers form the foundation of Explainer Videos. For a video to look professional, perfect synchronization between the voiceover and the animation is a must! Sometimes, during the video production process, animation is done first on the basis of a dummy voiceover which is then replaced by the final voiceover. This is a No-No! The final voiceover could have some variations from the dummy voiceover, in terms of the speed of voiceover narration, emphasis made on particular words, pause placements etc. This creates a mismatch between the animation and the voiceover, thus deteriorating the video quality. Even a minutely desynchronized video could confuse the viewers and make them feel annoyed by the low quality. Thus, it is better to animate the video based on the final voiceover instead of on a dummy voiceover.

4. Finalize step-by-step

Typically, the video production process involves the following steps in the given sequential order:

  • Research
  • Scripting
  • Storyboard Creation
  • Voiceover Recording
  • Animation
  • Delivery

Since the video is built gradually, based on the output of the previous step, therefore, going back to a previous step during the production process should be avoided. Since it is extremely important to have the perfect synchronization between the script (voiceover) and the animation, altering anything in these elements, often disrupts the flow of the message, making it ambiguous.

These precautionary tips could help in eliminating the unwanted elements that could put off your viewers. Follow these and pull off an amazing animated Explainer Video for your brand promotion.

5 Common Character Archetypes in Cartoons

Whether we’re looking at Shakespeare or SpongeBob, there are common character archetypes that appear in stories across time and cultures. Archetypes are characterized or classified by the role they serve or their purpose in a story. The classical archetypes of a good story include the protagonist and antagonist, the mentor, the sidekick, and the love interest. Let’s take a closer look at these five archetypes and how animation studios bring them to life.

The Protagonist

This protagonist is the main character in a story, show or movie. In many cases, this character turns out to be the hero. It is usually easy to identify the protagonist because the storyline revolves around them and their lives, problems and internal conflicts. Roughly, in Greek, the word protagonist translates to “player of the first part” or “chief actor.”

Why is a protagonist so important? They aren’t always the heroes; sometimes they are just the focal point in a show or even in an advertisement. A protagonist is typically on the “good side,” and follows a moral compass that many deem good. The protagonist is likely to change throughout a story and that action expresses the theme of a story an animation studio is trying to put out. A protagonist serves as a doorway into an emotional story or an emotional heart. They tend to draw a viewer or reader into the story. The best protagonists are characters that people can relate to. As a viewer, you may have shared hopes, fears or goals with a protagonist.

When we look to animation and some of the most well known protagonists we see characters like Buzz and Woody or Superman. Though heroes in our eyes, protagonists are far from perfect. They hold some type of flaw, whether it be internal or within their environment. The conflict they face then causes them to fight back or fall back from the big obstacle, and the way they choose to react to a situation is how we choose to interpret the character’s qualities.

The Antagonist

Classical forms of storytelling feature a main character known as the protagonist, which we discussed. This character will typically enter the story first. Then enters the antagonist. This character is typically depicted as the “bad guy” or the “villain.” Antagonists are without a doubt entertaining and bring a moral conflict to light, which as a result puts our hero at a fork in a moral road.

These characters serve to teach viewers wrong from right. These characters are an essential component to any story for many reasons. They are the primary opposition for a protagonist. They elicit the protagonist in the story to change their perception and try to live in a less flawed world, no matter who or what they must hurt to attain it.

When an antagonist or a villain in any story is personifying a central conflict, it brings a different element to a story that will benefit it. The pressure an antagonist puts on the protagonist eventually brings forth inner conflicts. These characters typically test their counterpart’s moral compass and commitment to being morally just.

The Sidekick

The role of a sidekick was once referred to as the “close companion.” This role dates back more than a century. Specifically, we have our first literary glimpse at a sidekick in The Epic of Gilgamesh, which features a protagonist-sidekick. The main character seeks not only friendship, but also advice from Enkidu. This character has defined many of the consistent and quality characteristics we seek in a great sidekick in regards to a production of a film, book or television series and more.

Gilgamesh was unarguably the main character. However, the epic reveals that the secondary character, Enkidu, played a smaller but still meaningful role in the story. When Enkidu is killed, Gilgamesh responds aggressively because he has grown close to his friend and confidant. The depth of the reaction Gilgamesh has not only adds depth to him as a character, but also lets the audience know how significant the bond was between the protagonist and sidekick.

Another common trope of the sidekick is to infuse the story with humor. This is especially true of animated characters. Where would Bugs Bunny be without Daffy Duck to set him off? Some may see Daffy as more of an antagonist, but he’s not really out to get Bugs. The two characters play off of each other and add lots of laughs along the way.

Other great sidekicks in time include Dr. Watson and Sancho Panza. These sidekicks perform different roles and functions in support of the main character they assist throughout a storyline. They serve a grander purpose than simply being a companion or assistant. They humanize the characteristics of a protagonist. They are also the character that moves the story.

The Mentor

The mentor is usually a great help for the protagonist in any story. They guard or protect them during a big quest or journey that involves both physically harmful obstacles as well as emotionally harmful obstacles. They can take many forms. Typically we imagine a grey-haired and aged man, but sometimes the mentor can take the most unsuspecting form.

These characters usually provide support and guide their “student” toward the right path. Mentors are known for having high morals and standards that can often challenge the student they are looking after. They always find a way to inspire them and push them to aspire for something good.

The Love Interest

This character might often be over-looked, but also plays a very important role in many stories. They are the person with whom the main character falls in love with. They serve, as a catalyst in the journey a protagonist must go through. Depending on the ultimate goal of the protagonist, the person who is their love interest can be of great assistance and motivation, much like a mentor can be.

So the next time you’re watching your favorite cartoons, pay close attention to more than the character design quality. Look into the roles you believe each character plays and their significant contribution to a story line. You’ll find it is hard to have a compelling story without these staple archetypes.


4 Ways to Speed Up Your Animation Working Time

One of the most important things ever in any project is the ability to save time. Perfectionists need to save time, so they can improve their work. Directors need to have the project ahead of time to review the work again and again and handle any changes before the deadline. Big studios need to be ahead of schedule.

So, here comes the bummer. Who is the one with the responsibility to deliver an animation on time? Well. Bad news. You. Yes, you, the Animator. The fate of humanity rests on your shoulders, think of yourself of a Hero on a journey that needs a couple of tips to make the adventure more enjoyable and short.

I. HAVE A HIGH APM (Actions Per Minute)

To be faster at anything, you need to have a way to measure Actions Per Minute. There are two ways to copy and paste anything in the virtual world. Navigating to the EDIT Menu, and select COPY, then move your mouse again all the way to the EDIT menu, and then click on PASTE. Or! You can press and hold the CTRL key on your keyboard (CMD on Mac), and rapidly press “C” then “V”. Right? Using your keyboard can get a higher APM than navigating through menus.

Use Shortcuts! I’ve seen some professionals navigate through menus to get things done, it’s embarrassing. Believe it or not, just by using shortcuts, I’m 20% faster than other animators. So what? Well, when I do freelance projects, clients hire me because they know I deliver ahead of time, because, even though we do the same things sharing the same process, I do it faster (using shortcuts).

Customize Shortcuts. Some software like After Effects doesn’t allow you to customize your shortcuts, but if you can, DO IT! The best Keyboard Profile is the one that handles your most used shortcuts near your right hand. The less your right hand has to move from left to right on the keyboard, the better. That’s why you should try to have all the major functions close in your keyboard “mapping”. Examples could be: CTRL+F, CTRL+G, CTRL+TAB, CTRL+SHIFT+W, SHIFT+3, ALT+SHIFT+3, etc. They are all close together.

Consider using a Gaming Keyboard, Gaming Mouse or Gaming Keypad. The one I recommend the most is the Gaming Keypad (like Razer Orbweaver or Logitech G13) because when the software doesn’t support shortcut customization, you can customize your Keypad to have all the major functions next to each other, and better yet, instead of pressing 3 keys (like CTRL+SHFT+P), you only press one single key on your keypad.

Automate using Macros. You can do this if you have a Gaming Mouse, Gaming Keyboard or Gaming Keypad. A macro is a sequence of key presses that can be automated into a single press of a dedicated key on your keypad. For example. In after effects

II. OPTIMIZE YOUR ANIMATION PROCESS

Optimizing means to make the best use of the resources at your disposal for your project. So the best way to approach your animation process is by handling the 2 most important things in any project. Your Pipeline and your starting Keyframes

Optimized Pipeline. The folder structure of all your files is vital to handling the project with ease. Have folders separately for your sounds, music, pictures, video references, characters and project files (toon boom, after effects, etc.). In our studio, if we do a bit of motion graphics, we have them in a folder named AFTER EFFECTS, and the main project in a folder named TOON BOOM, then the edited animation on PREMIERE. So if any changes have to be made, we know what folder to look, and if we need an audio file, we know exactly where to find it. Every Animation school is teaching the importance of this, and is not just because it looks cleaner and more beautiful, but because it works.

Set Up Key Poses first, handle details later. Yes, yes, you want to impress your boss or your friends, with how expressive your characters can be. It’s better if you block (pose your character) the important keyframes first, the starting position, the middle of the action and the aftermath. And then add additional animation later on.

III. USE A GOOD RIG (Avoid unreliable ones)

Using a good quality rig is essential, having to modify keyframes and poses only means that the rig is not good and is making you waste time. A good rig allows you to be free and more creative, because you can make your character change it’s posing with ease, so your animation process is more dynamic. If you are unable to come up with a good rig, then outsource (have someone else do it for you) or use the rig only to get the key poses, then, forget about the rig and handle additional animation (like hands, tail, hair) manually.

One quick way to know if the Rig is good, is by understanding Inverse Kinematics, and having them in your rig. If you don’t know what inverse kinematics means.

IV. RECYCLE WHAT YOU CAN

Recycle Keyframes. Don’t waste time blocking the character again, when the pose is very similar to one previously blocked, you can copy and paste keyframes and tweak them. For example, if you have a fighter giving a low punch, and you later need a high punch, copy and paste the pose, and then modify it. You will have the correct hip rotation, foot position, and will only need to modify the height position of the fist and maybe the torso. That’s faster than having to block everything.

Recycle Animations. I’m referring to a sequence of keyframes here. The most common example is eye blinking. Instead of manually opening and closing the eyes in the timeline, you copy and paste keyframes across it. Another example would be a walk cycle: if you need to have the character walking and doing something with the hands, like giving orders to other characters, you can recycle the animation, but delete the keyframes for the torso, hands and head, and animate them. This way, half of the work is already done.

Use Older Animations as Reference. Sometimes the timing is perfect and the animation curves (for the interpolation) give you the smoothness you were looking for, but now, you are working on another project and are having problems, you just can’t figure out what you did. This is when a previous animation can help as a reference. All you do is check the number of frames between keyframes, to get the timing right, and check the animation curves.

Instead of wasting time trying to achieve the same result, you can save time by getting the correct calculations checking a previous project. Like the timing and interpolation for the keyframes of the legs in an Angry Walk Cycle, in which every step was so energetic that made kids burst into laughter.


Produce No Budget Animation

The key to produce animation with no budget is by getting all the resources for free, like software or training.

Production Workflow

Of course, to produce animation you need to understand the complete process. Here is the summary of what is needed: Script, Storyboard, Audio Dialogue Recording, Music, Sound Effects, Sound Editing, Animatic, Character Design, Animation, Scene Compositions and finally, the Editing.

And if you want to achieve this, you need software. Don’t worry, at the end of this article you will find the names of the programs and applications that you can download for free.

Script and Storyboard

Before the script, you need the idea for your next story, once you have that, you can start writing. The best way to do this is by using a professional Script Writing Application that can be accessed online for free. I recommend Adobe Story.

Then, after the script, you continue to visualize your project in a Storyboard. How can you do this for free? Well, simple. Does pencil and paper ring any bells?

Audio

A word of warning for those who have projects with dialogue. you need a couple of dollars to at least buy a microphone. That’s why if you have no budget at all, stay out of stories with dialogue.

Now, if your project doesn’t have dialogue, then you need an Audio Software to mix all the sound effects and the music. I recommend Audacity, because it’s free and it has a lot of tutorials on YouTube.

Animatic

The animatic is a video of the storyboard with music and sound, maybe even some dialogue. This video can be edited in a Video Editing software. For that, you can try Avidemux.

Animation and Editing

Now that you have your animatic, you can do all your animation with Synfig, which is also free. Of course, it will not have all the features that any professional software has, but it will do the trick.

Once you have your animations ready, you can put all the scenes together using your Video Editing Software, click Render and you have your animation.

Final thoughts

You should know that everything free comes at a cost. In this case, because you are not spending a dollar, it only means you are going to work harder and invest more time because all the free software has limitations.

My suggestion is to go for two Adobe Products, one for animation (it can be Flash or After Effects) and one for video editing (Premiere Pro), which means spending $40.00 USD a month, saving a lot of time thanks to the great features they have.

And if you are a teenager reading this with no credit card, then you can try the free alternative, just keep in mind that this will mean more investment of your time.

Free Resources: Here are the names of the all the Software you can download for free. Look for them in Google.

Script Writing Online Apps

Adobe Story

Celtix

Drawing Software

Alternatives for Adobe Photoshop:

Gimp

Seashore

Alternatives for Adobe Illustrator:

Inkscape

Apache OpenOffice Draw

Animation Software

Synfig Studio

Audio Recording and Editing Software

Audacity

Video Editing Software

Avidemux

Royalty free music

Incompetech


3 Mistakes to Avoid in Animation

There are three mistakes that amateur animators do, and if you spot them in videos from YouTube, then you know the animator is a beginner, so don’t be so hard on them. But be warned, people who make mistakes don’t know they are doing them, and nobody is telling them, so, how would you know if you are doing things correctly?

Only Action with no Anticipation or Aftermath

Taking the example of the amateurish animators posting videos on YouTube, have you noticed the problem has to do with the unnatural movement of the characters? That happens because there is no anticipation or aftermath

For example, a martial artist throwing a punch while training. You can think of three key poses: clenched fists in guard position, then the “punching arm” extended, then back to the original position. That’s what the amateur has in mind. A veteran imagines the guard position, then the elbow going back to prepare the punch (anticipation), then the arm extended (action), then the arm going back with the elbow up (aftermath), and finally the character returns to the guard position, breathing slowly. Do you see the natural flow happening all around?

Approach every action by thinking of its anticipation and aftermath. How do you prepare for that action and what do you do after it?

Cluttered Timeline

Let’s face it, when you see the timeline full of keyframes you feel proud of yourself, because right in front of you is all the hard work with millions of keyframes. Well, guess what? A timeline cluttered with a lot of keyframes can harm your animation.

The problem is not the cluttered timeline itself, think about it, if you need to make adjustments, you are going to go through hell and back, making little adjustments to every keyframe. A bigger problem would be that cluttered timelines usually lead to unnatural movement: Jerky knees, trembling elbows or weird vibrations of the head, to name a few.

The unnatural movement is generated when you make an adjustment to the movement of the character by adding keyframes to change the rhythm. For example, if you have a character picking up a box, maybe you need the character to take a little longer to extend the arm, then move a little faster to pick up the box. You can either use more keyframes (easy, but risky), or adjust the interpolation curves (harder but safer and more natural).

Interpolation curves are the answer to the natural flow of movement. The best timelines are the ones that have fewer keyframes and a lot of movement of the character. It takes time but it pays off, especially when you go back to make adjustments. For example, instead of trying to alter 5 keyframes, you only have to change one pose (one keyframe) and you are done.

Have this in mind at all times: A good curve can defeat an army of keyframes.

Impulsive Animation, No References

Amateurs are the best practitioners of impulsive animation. “Yeah! Finally, after all the preparation I can just go for it and bring my character to life!” Sounds familiar? I know how tempting it is to just go head and start animating, but the best way to approach it, is by having references.

What references do professional animators use when working on big projects? Short answer: Anything that moves. It can be a leaf floating in the air, a facial expression, a walk style, anything, even tiny details.

If you check any behind the scenes of any animation you will see that animators often do field work, like getting a camera to record nature, people walking or just record themselves doing silly actions.

The trick is that if you are willing to do it, references are the secret ingredient to get the perfect number of frames needed for the anticipation, the action and aftermath.

Try it out, if you have an action in mind, record a reference first, and try to imitate it with your animation. Do you want a tip? Search on YouTube for “Animation References for <action>” and you will get what you need. Trust me, it will be worth it.


A Few Reasons Why Animated Videos Are Amazing

Animation is a form of storytelling that appeals to vision in a way live action movies sometimes cannot. They can present vibrant colors, unique characters, and stylistic art in order to tell a story. An animated video can tell a story in a unique way and there are many reasons for that.

1. Creativity

One of the main appeals of animation is its ability to tell a story in a variety of ways. It doesn’t even have to be grounded in reality so long as it is done well. The popular “I’m Just a Bill” video from Schoolhouse Rock is an example of that: a piece of legislation speaks (and sings) about how it becomes a law. Even as it approaches its 40th anniversary in 2015, the video is just as relevant today as it was in the ’70s and still helps young students understand the legislative process.

An animated video awards creative freedom that cannot be done with any other medium. The world, laws, and appearance of things in the video are all entirely created by the artist and animation production team, and the possibilities are limitless. It is a realm for imagination to run completely wild. It is here, in animation, where some of the greatest videos and characters are born, telling viewers stories that could not be effectively told any other way.

2. Reach

Animation also has a far-reaching effect. Animated videos are more accessible and can be viewed by more people in a greater range of age groups than an ordinary video. People are drawn to videos that evoke a different sensation in the mind and take imagination to a different world. Cartoons and animated videos from other countries can be viewed all over the world and it would be easier to understand the message than with live action alone.

It is easier to view an animated video, no matter your age, because it illuminates the mind and brings a level of engagement nothing else can offer. Not every animated video is the same – there are different artists, designers, and producers, bringing a unique experience to the wide variety of videos.

3. Appeal

Animation is captivation. People are, by nature, visual creatures. Through vision we take in the world around us, and our eyes look for things that please them. Animated videos appeal to that desire and engage the viewer in a particular way. Concepts are better understood when they are shown rather than told, such as the “I’m Just a Bill” video mentioned earlier. Animation makes it easy to learn a new concept or take in a story.

An animated video captures the audience’s attention, opens their eyes and minds to new ideas, and engages them in a unique, memorable experience. It is through animation that true storytelling is fully realized.


Animation – It Has Life In It

‘Animation’ the word itself bespeaks loud that it has life in it. It is all about putting life into characters and models and making them look real and life-like. The story goes, to a couple of years back when becoming an animator was like a dream come true. But going down twenty years, the dream was practically impossible, for many to achieve. Then becoming an animator meant going to college, studying an illustrative graduation degree or probably if you are lucky enough you might get yourself an apprenticeship from a professional animator. It was earlier a mere diploma degree. But these days the path to becoming an animator is easier as many of the colleges are offering a certified degree course in animation.

Disney Dreams are no longer intangible. With the advent of Pixar, Toy Story 3D, aspirations soared high in dreamy eyes and the animation industry got changed forever. Consequently, the demand for animators, both traditional and 3D including visual effects got increased with the success of each 3D movie. However during the economic recession that had hit worldwide, the booming industry saw a setback. Yet the spirits of the true animators could not be canned down and they fought their way out. Adversaries should never be allowed to dominate your spirit. Your goal is to put life into every non-living character and bring them closer to the human heart and life. The challenge is to make them appear so real that people are able to relate to them and yearn to see them even after the movie gets over. They become such real super heroes, that the fans go crazy about them. Films like Madagascar, Ice Age and Despicable Me got made into several sequels because there was a great furor amongst the public for the animated characters.

You might have dreamt to become an animator all your life, but have always discouraged yourself, only because you are not very skilful when it comes to drawing. You might have heard that the very foundation to animation is drawing. He who is good at sketching or drawing sees his future as a good animator. Then let me tell you, that drawing is a crucial part of animation, but not the only thing about animation. Do not feel intimidated if you turn out to be bad in drawing? Not all are naturally gifted. But it is through practise that one can acquire expertise in his skills. Drawing is like a muscle that requires to be flexed everyday, making your will and skill stronger with every passing day.It takes a lot to become an animator. Every shot is like a new challenge even to an experienced animator. Being able to produce a good quality animation, is not an easy task. Learning of animation does not end with the animation school course. It is just the beginning. Animation of every new character is a new chapter that requires thorough learning. One has to be meticulous and observant in his work. It is like your baby to whom you put in life and allow it to breathe.


Top 11 Anime to Watch

If you’re into anime, you’ve probably already seen all these.

But if you aren’t… you MUST try it! Anime is NOT like your regular cartoons. These stories are unique, chock full of intense characters, and beautiful animation.

Action, drama, sci-fi, psychological, horror, apocalyptic, comedic, what it means to be human, humans merging with machines, the meaning of life. Anime’s got it all!

You might have seen Pok√©mon or Sailor Moon. There’s many more complex storylines and characters than that. Much of anime is a reflection of Japanese and modern society’s reaction to globalization and technological changes of the 21st century. So don’t be surprised to find intense themes in these stories. It might even be a bit difficult to completely digest the meaning of some of these anime.

So… there’s my pitch. By the way, I have only recently gotten into anime, so feel free to suggest other great anime in the comments below!

11. Tokyo Ghoul

Length: 12 episodes
Genre: Action / Drama / Horror / Psychological / Dark Fantasy

Plot: Kaneki gets into an accident and receives organ transplants from a ghoul. He struggles to maintain his humanity while living as a half-ghoul who must eat human flesh to survive.

Intense character development and symbolism included! There is a postmodern feel you can see in Kaneki’s hopelessness. The story criticizes modern society’s excessive consumption and discrimination.

10. Haikyuu!!

Length: 25 episodes
Genre: Sports / Drama

Plot: Hinata has wanted to play volleyball since junior high. He finally gets the chance in high school. This is a story of teamwork and motivation between friends.

You learn a lot about volleyball from this anime. It is a fun, light story. If you’re looking for something not too dark but with fun characters, this is the story for you!

9. Death Note

Length: 37 episodes
Genre: Psychological / Drama / Detective

Plot: Light Yagami is a genius high school student who one day picks up a Death Note. He discovers its power to kill humans and constructs a crazy elaborate plan to rule to world and eliminate corruption through strategic murders.

It gets pretty intense and complex. The number of crazy plot twists in this story will keep you on your toes. This story looks into institutional corruption. But the most interesting part is how Light keeps coming up with such intricate plans that somehow work every time.

8. Attack on Titan

Length: 25 episodes
Genre: Dark Fantasy / Post-Apocalyptic

Plot: Eren Jaeger lives in a peaceful town walled off from man-eating titans. But after a colossal titan breaks through the outer wall, chaos ensues. Eren joins the military in order to fight against the titans.

This story brings to light the pain of losing innocence and the illusion of peace. It presents issues of the current state of Japan’s military, calling for forces to be at the ready1.

7. Blood: The Last Vampire

Length: 45 minutes
Genre: Action / Horror

Plot: Saya is a vampire who kills other vampires aka chiropterans. She goes undercover as a student on a US military base in Japan to destroy the threats. Her reasons for doing so? Unknown. Where she comes from? Unknown.

Saya is an interesting character. She’s super hardcore and cool. Besides the action, this story is also a reflection of Japanese and American relations.

6. Steins Gate

Length: 24 episodes
Genre: SciFi / Mystery / Romance / Drama

Plot: Okabe is your average guy with an intense interest in time travel. He stumbles upon a conspiracy involving the use of human subjects in time travel experiments. Okabe and friends must use their wits and determination to prevent the world from descending into an authoritarian dystopia.

Time travel makes this story a bit confusing, but once you get past the first few episodes, things begin to make sense. The best part about this story is the deep and meaningful relationships between characters.

5. Spirited Away

Length: 124 minutes
Genre: Fantasy / Miyazaki

Plot: Chihiro is moving to a new home with her parents. They stumble upon a spirit world and her parents are transformed into pigs after eating the spirit food. Chihiro faces many challenges in order to save her parents.

This is a coming of age story that incorporates deep themes about disappearing traditions, environmental degradation, optimism1, and courage.

4. Grave of the Fireflies

Length: 89 minutes
Genre: Drama / Anti-war / Historical Fiction

Plot: Seita and Setsuko become orphans as a result of the war. They struggle to take care of each other and survive in desperate times.

This story talks about WWII in an incredibly humanistic way. It is intensely sad.

3. Ouran High School Host Club

Length: 26 episodes
Genre: Romantic Comedy / Drama

Plot: Haruhi gets accepted to the prestigious Ouran High School on scholarship. She befriends the host club members and shares many hilarious adventures with them.

Many of the other stories I listed were intense and deep, but this one is just funny. It rates so high on my list because I’ve seriously never seen anything this funny before.

2. Ghost in the Shell

Length: 82 minutes
Genre: SciFi / Cyberpunk

Plot: Kusanagi is a cyborg woman working for public security agency Section 9. Their mission is to find a hacker known as the Puppet Master who has been taking control of people’s minds and making them commit crimes.

This story explores technology’s potential for enhancing or degrading the human race. It addresses philosophical and social ideas about what it means to be human.

1. Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood

Length: 64 episodes
Genre: Adventure / SciFi / Action / Drama

Plot: Edward and Alphonse Elric learn alchemy at a young age. In an attempt to bring their mom back from the dead, Al loses his entire body and Ed loses his arm and leg. The two brothers travel the world searching for a way to regain what they have lost.

This story has everything. Adventure, drama, hope, courage, inspiration, a good soundtrack. Ed and Al’s story is motivating as they face hardship after hardship with strength and a genuine belief in the good of mankind.


5 Reasons to Use Animation to Reach Younger Audiences

As an advertiser, you know the importance of capturing your target audience’s attention with appealing and relevant ads. For years, static ads have been good enough to do just this. However, in today’s market, animated ads offer an exciting and effective way to garner you the kind of customer attention you need to successfully grow your company, especially if you wish to target younger audiences. Following are a few of the reasons that using animation to reach younger audiences is the smart move to make.

Animated Ads Are Engaging

Part of the reason that animated ads are an effective way to reach younger audiences is that they are by their very nature more engaging than static ads. For instance, they tend to be more unique than static ads, and therefore more likely to grab your audience’s attention.

In addition, people are hardwired to respond to movement. As a result, the activity in animated ads draws the consumer’s attention away from whatever they are doing and focus it on your company’s message.

Finally, animation advertising is an engaging way to communicate your brand because it allows you to create appealing characters and worlds that draw the viewer in and give them a positive impression of your brand. Mascots such as Manny Mo and Jack from Pep Boys put a friendly face on a business that will make young consumers more likely to trust that business. Once drawn to these characters and worlds, your target audience will be more likely to respond to your brand, giving you more customers than you could have achieved with more traditional ads.

Animated Ads Are Easy To Understand

The goal of any advertisement is to communicate the company’s message to the consumer. Today’s young people tend to have shorter attention spans and, therefore, need advertisements that are concise and easy to digest quickly. The less engaging and more complex static ads, as a result, can make it more difficult to convey your message simply and quickly. This is especially the case if the message you are communicating is complicated or difficult to understand.

Animated ads, on the other hand, prove the old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Because they rely on pictures and characters to communicate instead of words, they can, within just a few moments, convey the essence of your brand in a way that static ads cannot do. In the hands of an experienced advertising animation company like Powerhouse Animation, your animated ad can boil your message down into a fun, appealing, and easily grasped format that will be more likely to convert younger audiences into paying customers.

Animated Ads Are Memorable

As an advertiser, your goal is to make your brand or product stick in the minds of the people who view your ads. In part because they are engaging and easy to understand, animated ads tend to accomplish this goal more effectively than do static ads. In fact, an animated ad enables the viewer to retain up to 58 percent more of the material than do other forms of advertising.

Today’s culture, which is so dependent upon screens like smartphones and tablets, is especially ripe for the use of visual representations in advertising. Because of short attention spans and the ease with which pictures and videos can be digested on a small screen, animation provides a way to more effectively help younger audiences remember your brand. As a result, a commercial animation studio like Powerhouse Animation can provide the expertise and material you need to create an advertisement that will communicate your brand in a memorable way to the younger crowds you want to reach.

Animated Ads Are Modern

Younger audiences tend to be drawn to the modern and stylish. Animated ads, because of their use of graphics, motion, video, and design, are more likely to draw the attention of these audiences because they give your brand a more modern feel.

The very fact that animated ads use animation, motion, and appealing graphics make them a modern update on the more traditional static ad. They reflect more accurately the type of medium with which younger audiences are familiar and comfortable.

In addition, depending upon the design and characters you use, you can create an ad that communicates style, polish, and savvy to the audiences you wish to reach. Alternatively, you can, with the help of your chosen animation company, design an animated ad using your own unique style and personality to draw in younger audiences who resonate with the qualities your brand embodies.

Animated Ads Are Fun

Finally, you may want to consider using animated ads to reach younger audiences because they are fun. Rather than just reading words or looking at a single picture, your audience will be drawn into the world and characters that you and your animation partner create together. Excellent character design, creative and well-designed worlds, and the right amount of movement and action will create a story around your brand that your audience will enjoy watching. The more fun they have watching your advertisement, the more likely they will be to remember your brand and purchase your products in the future.

Advertising animation has many advantages if you want to target younger audiences. This type of advertising has the ability to connect with young people through a medium with which they are familiar, characters with whom they can relate, and motion graphics that they will find both entertaining and memorable. As a result, it offers an effective and appealing way to promote your brand.


5 Common Character Archetypes in Cartoons

Whether we’re looking at Shakespeare or SpongeBob, there are common character archetypes that appear in stories across time and cultures. Archetypes are characterized or classified by the role they serve or their purpose in a story. The classical archetypes of a good story include the protagonist and antagonist, the mentor, the sidekick, and the love interest. Let’s take a closer look at these five archetypes and how animation studios bring them to life.

The Protagonist

This protagonist is the main character in a story, show or movie. In many cases, this character turns out to be the hero. It is usually easy to identify the protagonist because the storyline revolves around them and their lives, problems and internal conflicts. Roughly, in Greek, the word protagonist translates to “player of the first part” or “chief actor.”

Why is a protagonist so important? They aren’t always the heroes; sometimes they are just the focal point in a show or even in an advertisement. A protagonist is typically on the “good side,” and follows a moral compass that many deem good. The protagonist is likely to change throughout a story and that action expresses the theme of a story an animation studio is trying to put out. A protagonist serves as a doorway into an emotional story or an emotional heart. They tend to draw a viewer or reader into the story. The best protagonists are characters that people can relate to. As a viewer, you may have shared hopes, fears or goals with a protagonist.

When we look to animation and some of the most well known protagonists we see characters like Buzz and Woody or Superman. Though heroes in our eyes, protagonists are far from perfect. They hold some type of flaw, whether it be internal or within their environment. The conflict they face then causes them to fight back or fall back from the big obstacle, and the way they choose to react to a situation is how we choose to interpret the character’s qualities.

The Antagonist

Classical forms of storytelling feature a main character known as the protagonist, which we discussed. This character will typically enter the story first. Then enters the antagonist. This character is typically depicted as the “bad guy” or the “villain.” Antagonists are without a doubt entertaining and bring a moral conflict to light, which as a result puts our hero at a fork in a moral road.

These characters serve to teach viewers wrong from right. These characters are an essential component to any story for many reasons. They are the primary opposition for a protagonist. They elicit the protagonist in the story to change their perception and try to live in a less flawed world, no matter who or what they must hurt to attain it.

When an antagonist or a villain in any story is personifying a central conflict, it brings a different element to a story that will benefit it. The pressure an antagonist puts on the protagonist eventually brings forth inner conflicts. These characters typically test their counterpart’s moral compass and commitment to being morally just.

The Sidekick

The role of a sidekick was once referred to as the “close companion.” This role dates back more than a century. Specifically, we have our first literary glimpse at a sidekick in The Epic of Gilgamesh, which features a protagonist-sidekick. The main character seeks not only friendship, but also advice from Enkidu. This character has defined many of the consistent and quality characteristics we seek in a great sidekick in regards to a production of a film, book or television series and more.

Gilgamesh was unarguably the main character. However, the epic reveals that the secondary character, Enkidu, played a smaller but still meaningful role in the story. When Enkidu is killed, Gilgamesh responds aggressively because he has grown close to his friend and confidant. The depth of the reaction Gilgamesh has not only adds depth to him as a character, but also lets the audience know how significant the bond was between the protagonist and sidekick.

Another common trope of the sidekick is to infuse the story with humor. This is especially true of animated characters. Where would Bugs Bunny be without Daffy Duck to set him off? Some may see Daffy as more of an antagonist, but he’s not really out to get Bugs. The two characters play off of each other and add lots of laughs along the way.

Other great sidekicks in time include Dr. Watson and Sancho Panza. These sidekicks perform different roles and functions in support of the main character they assist throughout a storyline. They serve a grander purpose than simply being a companion or assistant. They humanize the characteristics of a protagonist. They are also the character that moves the story.

The Mentor

The mentor is usually a great help for the protagonist in any story. They guard or protect them during a big quest or journey that involves both physically harmful obstacles as well as emotionally harmful obstacles. They can take many forms. Typically we imagine a grey-haired and aged man, but sometimes the mentor can take the most unsuspecting form.

These characters usually provide support and guide their “student” toward the right path. Mentors are known for having high morals and standards that can often challenge the student they are looking after. They always find a way to inspire them and push them to aspire for something good.

The Love Interest

This character might often be over-looked, but also plays a very important role in many stories. They are the person with whom the main character falls in love with. They serve, as a catalyst in the journey a protagonist must go through. Depending on the ultimate goal of the protagonist, the person who is their love interest can be of great assistance and motivation, much like a mentor can be.

So the next time you’re watching your favorite cartoons, pay close attention to more than the character design quality. Look into the roles you believe each character plays and their significant contribution to a story line. You’ll find it is hard to have a compelling story without these staple archetypes.