Live-Action or Video Animations: A Comprehensive Comparison
by Julie Weishaar
October 6, 2022
Live-Action or Video Animations

Are you attracted to video animations or are you a lover of live-action videos?

Interestingly, you can also have both combined as a live-animated movie, just like Jurassic World.

Live-action videos and video animations do not only have to do with movies.

TikTok streams, explainer videos, and other video graphics productions use animation elements, live-action scenes, or both.

This article explains live-action and animated videos alongside their similarities and differences.

What Is A Live-Action Video?

Live-action videos are called ‘live’ because they utilize real humans, real animals, and actual environments. Although, they might have a little bit of graphic manipulation.

Long before animation came into being, live-action videos were the standard norm of entertainment and presentation.

It is a type of videography that uses photography through business-level cameras or mobile phone cameras.

The basic idea is to capture every little gesture, emotion, and natural vibe from the actor or actress.

Film producers use the photography of actors and actresses. They also include sets of non-living but existing objects to create a near-life experience.

Some live-action films also introduce the use of magical effects, as seen in some top-rated movies like Merlin.


  • The aspects of human emotion and behavior are all depicted.
  • Some atmospheric effects are simpler to produce with a camera.
  • Live-action films radiate a sense of authenticity and direction to the audience.
  • Requires zero videography expertise for non-standard productions. With mobile phones, you can easily create a short live-action video to keep or upload.


  • Live-action videos are too inflexible for extreme edits. Most of the time, a scene might have to be retaken repeatedly until a satisfactory conclusion is reached.
  • Production time can range from as little as a minute to several years.
  • The cost of creating an entire live-action movie is enormous. Consider all the expenses on camera equipment, actors, insurance, and additional fees like catering.

What Are Video Animations?

Talk about renowned animes like the Avatar and Battle of the Titans or the legendary Tom and Jerry.

There is something common to these movies. It is the combination of rapidly changing illustrations and impressive storytelling techniques to produce a near-realistic video experience.

The old-style animation involves painting or illustrating images on transparent paper-like materials that are then photographed. This is why they were once called paper-like cartoons.

With the introduction of Computer Generated Imagery (CGI), better animation tools like Sketchbook and Procreate are now being used to create more realistic artworks.

Pros of Video Animations

  • Video animations make abstract ideas easier to illustrate.
  • You can express more ideas with unrealistic but mind-blowing cartoonist gestures.
  • Video animations have a longer shelf-life. You can make any edits down the line.
  • It requires less manpower than the hundreds of people usually needed to create an average live-action film.


  • Animated films are stereotyped. Most adults label them as “movies made for kids.”
  • It lacks authenticity and a feel of realism seen in live-action videos.
  • Requires advanced graphic tools and professional designers to create an above standard animation.
  • Animations require a certain level of expertise in art and illustrations. There are some ready-made animation templates for explainer videos. However, this is sometimes costly for an average individual.

Detailed Comparison Between Live-action and Video Animations

Live-action videos and video animations share so many similarities and differences.

This stems from their budget, time used for production, tools, and professionals employed.


Live-action Videos

According to the-numbers, $400 million was spent on the production of Avengers: The Endgame.

This is just a rough estimate, and the actual number could be much higher.

The various reasons include the tools and props used, location, professionals, and governmental expenses. Live-action videos, especially films, usually cost a lot.

One-minute video films shot on mobile phones for social media uploads probably cost nothing but a bit of time.

So, the entire budget for a live-action video depends on its purpose and proposed length.

Video Animations

The highest ever spent on animations is $260 million. This was for the production of Tangled, a fantasy-based adventurous movie.

Other animations cost much less than this and cannot be compared to the cost of producing a live-action movie.

Duration of Production

Live-action Videos

The time taken to create Live-action videos varies depending on the type of video you are trying to produce.

A few hours to some days is usually enough for short YouTube clips.

Long-duration videos like cinematic films can take as much as a year or several years.

Cinematic videos take longer because of the time needed for scripting, preparation, production, and post-production edits.

Video Animations

Video animations usually take less time to produce than long-duration videos. However, some more complex animations can take longer.

On the brighter side, you can produce short live-action videos in just a few minutes.

Even a short animation will still require at least an hour or half an hour, even if you are using pre-made templates.

Production Tools

Live-Action Videos

The most essential tool you need is a video camera. It can cost a lot of money depending on your preferred quality and specific needs.

Other tools include the lighting sets, video editing software like Adobe premiere pro, props, and others.

For casual live-action videos, your phone camera is usually enough.

There are some free editing tools like Inshot on mobile devices to make easy edits before publishing.

Video Animations

In comparison to live-action, video animations usually need fewer resources.

Tools used include an art and illustration graphic tool, desktop, and laptops. Mics are also required for voice-over.

Using pre-made templates and mobile phones is a norm for short-duration animations like a 2D motion graphic presentation.


Live-action and video animations are both fantastic means of conveying our ideas and emotions.

Depending on the target audience and concept, they can be used together or individually.

There is no one-size-fits-all, but you can decide which one to use based on the comparison above.

The Growth of Live Video

the growth of live video

Image source

Originally posted July 22, 2022. Republished October 6, 2022 to add infographic.

Live-Action or Video Animations: A Comprehensive Comparison

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