As new technology and the widespread use of broadband Internet brings computer animation to the masses, the animation industry is growing at lightning speed. Animation is no longer the exclusive province of brands marketing to children; large corporations, startups and small businesses alike are using animation to present ideas to shareholders, promote brand awareness and convert website visitors into paying customers.
In 2016, the outsourcing of animation for corporate presentations and storyboarding will continue to grow, supported by the demand for affordable but high-quality productions. Here are some key trends that will impact animation services and animation outsourcing in Q2 and the rest of the year:
According to a study published by Markets and Markets, the global animation and gaming market is expected to reach $242.93 billion in revenues by 2016, based on a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.94 percent from 2011 to 2016. North America remains the largest consumer of animation services, followed by Europe and Asia-Pacific (including Japan). The main drivers of the growth of the animation segment are government initiatives and support for animation patents.
For more than 40 years, North American and European studios have maintained offshore production facilities in countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and now India, the Philippines, Singapore, China, Vietnam and Thailand. North American film and TV producers ship mainly 2D animation work (and 3D to a lesser extent) to Asian countries because low labor costs in this region make production significantly cheaper.
Today, as data from a recent study show, about 90 percent of animated TV shows are produced in Asia. Pre-production is usually done in the U.S. or Europe, and the work is sent to Asia for production. Finally, the work is shipped back to the original country for post-production. The growth of offshore animation is expected to continue in the next few years as providers build up infrastructure, skills and technology.
Outsourced animation is not limited to entertainment services; they include e-learning or e-education, web design, storyboarding, 2D/3D animation and visual effects (VFX) services for commercial and corporate clients. Local outsourcing of corporate storyboards and animation is also expected to grow this year as companies contend with shrinking budgets and high expectations.
Many creative firms are upping their game and creating edgy animated presentations and marketing videos. Designers are expecting to see more variety in style and technique and less reliance on trends. Progressive companies will offer immersive and virtual reality presentations, and forward-thinking marketing/art directors will use them.
The huge demand for 3D animation across the globe will continue this year and the coming years, and most animation providers, big and small, are trying to capture market share. Big firms like Sony, Disney, Pixar and Electronic Arts will continue to work with third party 3D animation providers locally and offshore to reduce costs.
Animators and storyboard artists are leveraging technology to make content more accessible. This year, more designers will incorporate interactive design into their storyboards and presentations with the goal of improving ease of use and audience engagement. The key is to help target audiences find what they are looking for as effortlessly as possible. Interactive design is hardly new, but interactive presentations will come to the fore in 2016 as animation and typography becomes more accessible every day. Many corporate websites already feature interactive elements to boost audience engagement and make visitors stay just a bit longer. Some websites feature visuals and action that change as the user scrolls up or down or clicks a button. And now that designers are not limited to web-safe fonts, the sky’s the limit.
Design tools like Invision were big in 2015, and they will continue to be popular in the coming years to help designers easily create and share interactive content and presentations. Invision, for example, allows designers to share their vision without actually building the product, thus saving money. Sketch is another tool that allows designers to mock up interactive designs without exporting visuals into another program. Sketch makes editing easy within the program and allows you to view designs on multiple mobile devices and standard/retina displays. Other design tools that create a solid visual representation of ideas will also be in demand. Cloud-based tools like Adobe Creative Suite will continue to be affordable alternatives to traditional design software.
2015 witnessed more companies getting on the “mobile first” bandwagon mainly due to Google’s new mobile-friendly ranking algorithm. 2015 was also the year more people visited the Internet form mobile devices than desktop computers. In this new mobile era, designers are creating pared-down apps and presentations for smaller screens and working their way up, adding enhancements as screen size gets bigger. This year, many companies will continue to work with third party designers and developers to create presentations for different devices.
More designers will transition to HTML5, CSS3 and SVG-based animations in the coming years, which will lead to the explosion of more varied and arresting animation, banners and presentations on websites and mobile apps. Google’s Material Design will also guide designers to create great interactive presentations that are not limited by code. Animated content can now can be shared and seen by target audiences and consumers more quickly.
Illustration brings a unique, earthy feel to an otherwise flat design-saturated industry. This year, more illustrated banners, design elements and presentations will be animated to boost audience engagement. Transforming illustrated graphics into moving visuals requires a series of steps that starts with converting hand-drawn pictures into digital files. Once digitized, the illustrations are converted into storyboard frames. Individual elements are changed to animate each frame and turn into a moving presentation. Animators that can make hand-drawn illustrations come to life will be in demand.
Liquid motion refers to animations or presentations that have a fluid quality, like what we see every day in nature. Games and CG movies are great examples of fluid animation. In the coming years, the industry will see more fluid animation in corporate presentations, marketing channels, mobile apps and websites.
Animation and virtual reality is converging into something that can transform brands and engage audiences like never before. In 2016, analysts expect more virtual reality presentations and immersive animations in corporate websites and marketing collaterals. Virtual reality presentations drop the audience right in the middle of the action, whether it is to test drive a new car, explore exotic destinations or renovate their kitchen.
Animated presentations are easier to digest than text, they engage viewers better than text, and they are more likely to be shared (or go viral) than text. Video marketing is expected to get bigger in 2016, and storytelling through animated presentations will get better as companies start to realize what works and what doesn’t. Companies are selling more products, winning over decision makers and engaging their audiences through compelling storytelling in videos and animated presentations. Creativity is the key to compelling presentations, with a focus on unique stories that resonate with viewers. To create professional and polished presentations, companies will continue to work with third party design firms that offer design services at affordable rates.
Episodic animation is all about cliffhangers and keeping the audience wishing for more. Closely related to storytelling, episodic animation builds anticipation by creating a narrative and breaking of the narrative into serials. Analytics show that episodic content receive more page views than one-off articles and videos. This year, more companies will use episodic animated presentations to build loyalty and brand awareness.
Corporate eLearning and Animation
Corporate eLearning is continuously evolving, and it has come a long way from the boring, mandatory training courses that employees had to sit through. Today’s corporate eLearning programs are more effective and engaging, and they are increasingly created with the mindset that employees are customers.
To boost engagement and improve outcomes, more companies are using gamification or the addition of game elements (like level progression and points) to non-game eLearning programs. Instead of being just another corporate obligation, game elements turn the experience into something more motivating. Studies show that 54 percent of employees perform better at tasks with game elements. This is pushing companies to invest in eLearning training programs, video modules and animated presentations. For example, an insurance call center used a third party gamified training program to reduce hold times and call transfers significantly.
Mobile Learning (mLearning)
Corporate learning programs are increasingly going mobile as employees use their smartphones and tablets more than laptops and computers. As much as 84 percent of employees also use the same device at home and at work. Mobile devices present an opportunity to deliver training programs and presentations to more employees and customers. Curriculum writers and designers are shrinking presentations and modules into more manageable chunks and shorter learning sessions. This year, companies will continue to work with third party developers to format content and presentations for small screen sizes.
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