Why Explainer Video Animation No Longer Works Like It Used To for SaaS

The secret’s out: Major brands are adapting to a certain video marketing trend when creating their SaaS explainer videos.

Video marketing statistics show that 42% of businesses use live action videos, 33% use animated ones and 15% use screen recorded content.

And nope, not only the numbers talk. CEOs and startup heads have said it themselves.

These are their actual words:

Alok Jha, Head Startup Coordinator at ICIB, said, “People do not relate much to animated videos unless edited beautiful with a nice story.”

Charlie Patel, CEO of RocketHub & 99 Robots, made the same point. “I’ve found that whereas SaaS companies keep asking for animated explainers, they should really be asking for explainer and overview videos that include faces of people that look like their target user.

Yep, you got it – live action is in, animation is out.
But let’s take a look back…

What are animated explainer videos?

In animated explainer videos, still images are stitched together to give the videos the effect of motion, all while showcasing your SaaS. There are many types and styles, but they all have one thing in common:

Using sketches to bring your content to life. Essentially, they are similar to the cartoons you grew up watching. And they all look very much alike.

The pros and cons of doing animation today

Animation videos were quite popular and booming back then, but that was already a long time ago. Take a look back and see how explainer videos have evolved:


By now, animated explainer videos are already outdated (they were already being used 10 years ago).

Now, you may want to consider the pros and cons of cartoon-style videos before deciding to create animations for your SaaS explainers.

Here are a few quick points:

1. Quick yet challenging

Animated videos are often regarded as quicker to make than live-action ones. Apparently, the public believes that producing animations is as simple as putting sketches together.

These images, however, are entirely crafted from scratch. During production, other challenges can arise when animators use low-tech hardware or when rendering takes so long. You’ll see later.

The process of doing animated videos may sound easy but might require more effort than live-action ones, where actors may just improvise scenes.

Meaning, actual humans as part of the production process can also help brainstorm to better the scene and make production faster than leaving everything in the hands of the creative team.

Editors may just have to insert all these into the video content rather than sketching all over again.

2. Cheap yet comes with extra fees

Since there is this myth that animated videos are easier to produce than live-action ones, the fact that animated videos are also more cost-effective comes with it.

But a graduate of BA Multimedia and Animation Quora user argues with this saying that “At the end, something that start to pay for any animation costs more than expected”.

explainer video animation

At first glance, people see live-action videos as more expensive since one must hire actors, a production team, not to mention all the site-scouting and preparation but it all boils down to the final cost in the long run.

Animated videos may be more expensive than live-action ones if you want high-quality videos (which you should have for your SaaS marketing needs).

There are many factors that can contribute to this result and it is intertwined with the previous statement above – that creating animations is actually really, really challenging.

When it comes to animation, it’s all about precision when copying realistic emotions, things, or places–something that’s not a problem when using live action.

3. Cute yet unoriginal

Think about this: Animations all look the same! That’s why they can be easily ripped off.

Can’t seem to wrap your head around this? It’s insane, even Disney has done it! 

But here’s a screenshot from 4 animated SaaS explainer videos, which we won’t identify. 


This is how replicable animations are. They look the same. Heck, they can even move the same way if you snag your competition’s drafts!

4. Creative yet unrealistic

Animated videos are more flexible when it comes to showcasing abstract topics and complex concepts and may give you a more straightforward understanding of them, but from a different perspective.

Live action videos are better suited to integrating abstract concepts with reality.

Animated videos may give you more easy content but at the end of the day, a product or service is used in real life and is more than just a flight of imagination.

Simply put, yes animation sells but your SaaS will always be connected to real-world needs.

In a nutshell, below are some pros and cons of using Animated videos for your SaaS:


  • Quicker to create
  • Cost-Effectve
  • More Flexible
  • Can Explain difficult concepts
  • Saves time and energy


  • Takes time to produce from scratch
  • Costly when tech challenge arise
  • Unrealistic
  • Hard to articulate emotion
  • Inefficient when unplanned carefully, thus challenging to amend

What are live-action explainer videos?

Live-action videos refer to cinematic productions that utilize real actors and are called so because the actors really interact with their surroundings.

These videos are a great way to add interactivity and emotionality into your content as they have the ability to feel more authentic than other types because they’re not completely animated or digitized.

And they’re way hotter.

explainer video animation

Scene from eggcrate filming

Interestingly, big SaaS brands like Grammarly, Descript, ClickUp, LinkedIn, Rise of Kingdoms all have one thing in common – they make use of professional actors in their SaaS marketing videos…and yes, their SaaS explainers are effective in producing their desired results.

Apparently, there is no doubt that this is what the future of SaaS explainers will look like.

Also, checkout standout brand videos as inspiration; you’ll be surprised that a common thread runs through them all: they’re all live-action.

Why are SaaS moving to live-action videos?

The next time you feel like giving up on your video marketing efforts, consider these facts:

1. Live-action shows the humanness of your brand

Your brand can be humanized through live-action videos. According to Wistia, our minds are hardwired to read faces, thus helping us to find social cues in others.

Moreover, if you present marketing or tutorial videos by the same person often, your audience will become more familiar with him or her, and “Pretty soon, your viewers will start to feel like they know that person (and your brand)”.

Live-action videos are the closest thing that we have to a human experience as we can relate to these content.

Videos with live action show off your company’s personality in a new way. By understanding this, your SaaS brand can establish rapport and connect with viewers.

2. Live-action videos establish a stronger sense of empathy

Videos of this type are not only meant to make the audience engage with the content, but also to enable them to put themselves in the shoes of other people and experience things from others’ perspectives.

In fact, live-action videos are the best way to create an impression on people in only a matter of a few milliseconds: A Princeton study found that we form an impression of strangers based on their faces alone in just a tenth of a second.

Live-action videos are better at triggering emotion than static ones because they encourage greater levels of empathy.

Because viewers feel like the character on screen and get drawn into their story, live video has become such a popular tool for campaigns.

3. Live-action videos allow people to “experience” your product or service

To make sales, it’s important for your customers to experience what they are buying.

You can demonstrate all of the features and functionalities of your SaaS in detail with live action videos for your SaaS explainers, demos, or tutorials.

A live action video can help you sell your product faster. You can use your content to show not just how it looks but also what you offer, which could be helpful for customers considering buying from you and want more information.

4. Live-action videos can be a powerful tool for building credibility

Live-action videos have an undeniable impact on SaaS products. You can use them to establish credibility and trust with potential customers, especially since so many people have grown tired of generic, similar-looking animations – which makes sense since we all want our experience transactions to be validated by something real.

Live-action videos can take your SaaS idea from concept to reality by putting human faces on your content.

At this time when everything has been reduced to digital sketches, live videos offer an immersive, human experience that is impossible to replicate with still images or computer-generated graphics.

4 points to consider when choosing your video marketing strategy

1. The purpose

It’s important to know the right questions and your goals when you’re deciding which type of video is going to make your brand stand out.

Do you plan to have a strong online presence? Is it your priority to generate more sales leads? Are you trying to educate your viewers? These are just some questions that you could ask yourself during the explainer video pre-production.

Here are some kinds of videos you might want to invest on for your SaaS:

  • Explainer videos
  • Brand videos
  • Demo videos
  • Testimonial videos
  • Tutorial videos

Whenever you are uncertain of what video content to create, a video production team can help you. They can give advice on which one would work best for your brand and customers, based on their knowledge about the industry as well.

2. The Cost

The cost of a video production can vary depending on what you want it to achieve. You need to think about the cost of your video production before you start.

For live-action videos, it’s going to involve paying for performers and equipment. Animation services which can be costly depending on the duration of your project or how intricate it is to produce.

Though animated videos can be produced cheaper, they can still end up being more expensive than live action ones when they require additional work, just like the hidden fees in your airline tickets.

It’s no wonder big brands are willing to spend money on these videos because video has been proven to help 76% of marketers generate a positive ROI.

And be a cooler brand.

For example, HubSpot’s YouTube channel has been garnering multitudes of views each day, ranging from hundreds to thousands. It consists of formal intros, demos and tutorials for their users.

Two of its live action explainers were game-changing, attracting more than 10 million viewers altogether.

Neither lasted more than a minute – the power of captivating content that clicked to the public. Because whowever said that CRM-brand explainers should be boring? They can be witty and funny and can star a pirate with a case of rum.

explainer video animation

Customer Experience :15 Ad 

explainer video animationA Smooth CRM for Rough Seas :30A Ad 

Tip: Make the most out of your live action SaaS videos by repurposing the videos.

Live actions can create a set of videos from its own long form content?

Here’s how: Live action has the ability to give you a long-lasting marketing campaign in today’s world of content.

You can get amazing videos for Top of the Funnel (TOFU) and then during that same shoot, your production team can capture new unique but related material which will be perfect Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) shots too, resulting into many short videos forming one whole audiovisual experience.

Pretty cost-efficient, huh?

As long as you know how to market and distribute it all over your marketing funnel and know how to produce content that will hit the spot.

3. The timeline

An animation video is a long-term undertaking.

Contrary to live action videos, you can’t shoot a few clips then add the effects later.

There are several reasons why animations take longer than non-animated counterparts, including how detailed some traditionally drawn pictures may be, and how viewers today expect tiny details from their films.

Generally speaking, an animation production typically takes weeks rather than days if compared to a live-action production but it all depends on the project you are undertaking.

4. The effectiveness

The effectiveness

The human face is the most powerful tool in marketing.
A person’s name, voice and appearance are what make them memorable to others around him or her– which means that if you want your business remembered then it should be tailored specifically for this effect.

Yes, animation and live-action videos both have the power to attract attention, but human faces tend to draw people in more so than anything.

Even infants stared twice as long at a black-and-white simplified human face than at black-and-white concentric circles, according to Robert Fantz’s research.

It’s not that you’ll have newborns as clients but it makes sense that videos featuring humans are more successful in captivating the audience, and therefore, making it more effective.

Key differences between animation and live-action


  • Words for
  • Cost
  • Timeline
  • Effectiveness


  • All kinds of videos
  • Cheap but can end up more expensive than actual budget
  • Weeks, depending on the project
  • Attract viewers

Live Action

  • All kinds of videos
  • Costly but gives your brand a next-level authority and credibility
  • Days to shoot, weeks to edit, depending on the project
  • Engages viewers

The verdict: Live action is (waaaay) cooler

Live action videos really do work. And it’s time to debunk the myth that these types of videos are only for big companies anymore.

Fact is, with the right amount of planning and preparation, producing a live action video for your SaaS is doable, even if you’re not yet a unicorn.

That’s why we’re here. We love making live action videos like these accessible for newer, ambitious SaaS who are in hypergrowth.

So, if you’re looking for a video production partner that will help your SaaS brand pop, eggcrate is the right team for you.

We make live action videos that convert through storytelling, professional actors and real emotions. Not animated videos that look alike. Call us and let’s hatch a plan.


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