Animation for Business Communicators: A New Generation of Creative Tools Lets You Move Customers by Putting Products in Motion

By Jeff Utschig, Saratoga Communications,

Imagine freely moving around inside a compressor as big as a house, as you watch the inner workings of the massive machine compress natural gas pumped from beneath the floor of the North Sea.

The ability to do things like this (without hospitalization) is a testament to the power of today’s computer-generated animation, which has itself been transformed from a costly add-on to a much more cost-effective way to tell a story.

In the past few years, animation has had a tremendous transforming effect for motion media companies and their clients.  Breakthroughs in technology make explaining abstract, detailed or inaccessible topics easy, using the clear, simple and visually compelling tools of the animator’s art. A new generation of fast computers and powerful software… in the hands of computer-savvy design professionals…are bringing the costs of animation to the point where they can sometimes rival live action for affordability.

One of the biggest spurs to animation’s growth has been the explosion in the availability of source material. Most of our clients’ manufactured products are designed on CAD programs, whose files import into today’s animation software packages.  Plus many of the generic items animators seek out (like homes, cars or cityscapes) exist as object files that are ready for importing. Where early animators spent hours of painstaking work animating backgrounds and basic shapes, today’s animation pros simply call upon off-the-shelf animation elements. The result is impressive visuals in a fraction of the former time.

All these innovations make a huge change in the creative process for motion media companies and their clients. A scriptwriter’s discipline once forced them to limit their imagination to whatever a video camera could shoot. Today’s creative designers can afford to let their thoughts run wild.  While there is clearly no substitute for real live video, blending animation and rolling footage is now financially within reason.

The popularity of Flash video has been another step forward for today’s recession-ravaged video budgets. The universally viewable format of Adobe Flash makes impressive video graphics possible for a client with little more than a handful of still images and an audio track. This means a client who once limped along with static Web pages can now impress their Website visitors with very effective top-quality motion graphics.  There are even ways to incorporate animations within PowerPoint, for a double whammy at your next client presentation.

While much has changed in terms of capabilities and budgets, one aspect of animation is the same now as it was in Disney’s day. There is still no substitute for the creative eye and skillful hand of a talented animator. Authoring great programs may no longer call for tens-of-thousands of dollars in software and rendering farms of computer processing power, but there’s still no substitute for a trained creative professional. Their knowledge of color, movement and style define the difference between an average visual and one with impact.

At the end of the day, creative solutions are what keep professional communication companies in the forefront of the constantly changing animation industry. Almost anybody can now afford to buy the digital equivalent of paints and a brush, but it takes the experience and the soul of a trained, inspired artist to create an enduring masterpiece of communication.

To see some samples of BtoB animations, visit

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