Claire Fennelow, executive director EVCOM, the event and visual communications association, on the power of animation in a time of COVID.

Animation has provided a lifeline to the brand film industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, but will this trend continue as social distancing rules are relaxed and filmmakers seek out human connections once again? Ahead of EVCOM’s London Live and Film Awards, which have a special category to recognise excellence across this sector, Claire Fennelow, executive director of the event and visual communications association (EVCOM) looks at why animation is seeing a resurgence, the current trends and predictions for the future.

We have seen a wealth of animation being created over the past 18 months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions as a huge range of businesses and brands have turned to animation to deliver their messages when social distancing rules have made it almost impossible to film.

Many elements of animation production lend themselves to remote working and despite it being a highly collaborative process, the technology has allowed it to thrive. Animation production pipelines can also be substantially cheaper than many live-action approaches, with COVID compliance often adding cost and time-pressures.

However, understandable as the trend has been, will the popularity of animation endure?

Dean Beswick, Creative Partner at Gorilla Gorilla! a production company that specialises in working with brand and corporate clients, and EVCOM Board Member, believes animation can deliver messages in a way other films cannot:

“The magic of animation is its ability to tell emotionally and visually engaging stories and to simplify complex messages.” He says.

It is highly flexible and uniquely able to tackle sensitive or taboo subjects in ways that live-action cannot, often with broader appeal. As we saw with health messages during the pandemic, “it can soften tough subject matter and allow it to be treated in more visually interesting ways” says Beswick.

Animation is also particularly good at using humour to talk about complicated subjects. Making something funny is a great way of getting messages to stick in audiences’ minds, particularly if the subject is a little bit dry.

There has been a sharp rise in the use of animation on social channels. Of the 250 UK brands and businesses surveyed in Gorilla Gorilla’s! 2020 report, Awesome Animation!, all but seven were using animation to communicate a range of brand stories, a three-fold increase on surveys in previous years. Beswick expects their next report to reveal adoption has plateaued but of the brands using animation, there is likely to be an improvement in the quality of work.

For Beswick, “Brands have woken up to animation, and rather than simply creating one or two short pieces, we expect animation to really become embedded in all brands’ internal and external communication. Animation is a flexible and exciting medium; it is uniquely able to respond to many of the communication challenges facing brands today.”

Jon Creamer

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