Video: Animation

A short animated film produced solely using software that explains a certain topic (“explanatory videos”).

Area of application

Animations refer to “explanatory videos”, i.e. videos that explain a certain topic in a few minutes, using visual elements (mostly illustrations), narration, and sound. This format is frequently used for training (see examples below) but is also suitable for other purposes, e.g. awareness raising.


The following milestones are usually a part of developing an animation:

  • Rough concept: at a minimum identifying the learning objectives and the content to be covered.
  • Storyboard/script: describing the media in detail, namely the narration text, screen content, animation details.
  • “Animatic” : a version of the video using preliminary narration and images. The aim is to see whether the timing fits, whether the texts are comprehensive, whether text and visuals match, etc. This step is optional but it has been shown to be helpful.
  • Final animation: video with the professionally developed illustrations, narration and sounds.

The video is typically produced in cooperation with an external company. 



Typically, the video is distributed through a platform such as Youtube or another video-sharing platform. It can be uploaded on the PTB website/intranet, its learning platform (see Moodle) or shared offline, e.g. via NextCloud or on a flash drive.

Virtual mode

Animations are a digital medium especially suitable for virtual events or trainings but can be shown in face-to-face events as well.



Animations can be used in many ways just like other video formats (see the general profile “Video”).



First, a clear objective needs to be defined before proceeding with the detailed planning. Questions to be considered are: who is the target audience? How much detail is needed? How much (or little) content can be transmitted?

It is always a good idea to involve the target group. If possible, it is recommended to ask the partners/international designers to participate in the process and/or give feedback to assure that the video makes sense to viewers from the project area.

An instructional designer should be consulted to develop the video. She or he will make sure that the “flow” is consistent (and hopefully engaging and inspiring), that narration and visuals fit together, and that the audience is not overwhelmed with too much narration while nothing happens on the screen and the other way around.

It is highly recommended to produce an animatic before implementing the final version of the video (see above). In this way uneven or hard-to-understand passages can be fixed without huge additional expenses. “Stumbles” in the flow are easier to identify once you really “feel” the video. It is hard to identify these simply by reading the storyboard.

Consider in advance whether translation in different languages is needed. There are several options to translate a video.

One option is to use captions. They can be included using the video production software or – if the video is published via Youtube – captions can be included on the platform in several languages. Keep in mind that for this option language bits on the screen (like text paragraphs or “take-home messages” or language-specific technical terms) need to be avoided.

As an alternative, different language versions of a video can be produced, which comes with full translation of the entire content of the video, including separate narration. While this requires more time and budget, the video will be more easily accessible to the audience. Moreover, text in the visuals can be used in the video, too, which might be helpful or even necessary to transmit the message.




The time to develop an animation depends on its length as well as the experience and availability of the people involved. Most time is usually devoted to communication and feedback loops. In general, it takes a couple of weeks to produce an animation.



The largest amount of the budget is usually used for labour costs. Very often an external company is selected to consult on the rough structure, write the storyboard (in cooperation with the subject matter expert) and do the technical implementation of the video. Some costs might also be incurred if it is necessary to purchase the rights to use music or images. As of time of publication, the budget to produce an animation of a few minutes usually can be estimated in the range of 5,000 – 10,000 EUR, including storyboard and implementation.



The production of the animation requires the use of an appropriate software application. Professionals usually use applications like Adobe AfterEffects or Camtasia, which offer broad flexibility to design such animations. There are also many applications, specifically designed for the production of animations (like PowToon or Simpleshow). They offer less flexibility, but are usually more intuitive to use.



The roles correspond to those for general video production. When producing animations, the specific tasks usually are:

Subject matter expert:
provides input in setting up the rough structure, writes the storyboards in cooperation with the instructional designer, and accompanies the implementation process to avoid content mistakes or unclarity.


Heike Koch

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