Live Action vs Animation: 13 Crucial Differences To Analyse

Apr 5, 2023 10:51:06 PM

Which is better, live action or animation?

This is like asking which is better, jazz or classical music. 

The medium of video is ultimately an art form, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

And just like any other art form, it comes in a dazzling array of styles and formats, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. 

One question that pops up a lot with our clients is whether to use live action or animation to tell a story.


And the answer is simply that it depends on the message you’re trying to communicate. 

So we thought we’d make this quick guide to help you narrow it down.


Live Action


Visual Styles


Varied animation styles - Sky’s the limit


Real actors performing for the camera

Drawn characters created by artists and animated by a team


Live-action acting

Voiceover / voice acting, motion capture, regular keyframe animation, etc

Production Process

Filming and post-production

Script / screenplay / storyboard / animation production work

Time and Cost

Expensive and time-consuming

Can be expensive, but less time-consuming depending on factors like length, animation styles chosen, etc.

Flexibility / accessibility

Limited by real-world factors like studio space, budget, etc

You’re essentially limited only by your imagination

Target Audience

Any mainstream general audience

Suitable for adults and children alike, but especially well-suited for children and young adults


Generally well-suited for character-driven, real-world stories

Not limited to any genre - sci-fi, adventure, fantasy, etc. Any world can be depicted, real or imaginary

Sound and Music

Recorded on-set or added in post-production

Sound must be created using voice overs / voice actors, Foley art, all sound effects, often accompanied by musical score


Requires a large team with various skills (writers, actors, directors, set designers, camera operators, etc)

Requires a team of writers, artists, animators and voice actors

Level of Realism

Best suited for a realistic portrayal of real-world scenarios

Better suited for imaginary scenarios, fantasy / sci-fi, cartoons, suspension of disbelief

Production Time

Longer production times due to filming

Shorter production times due to animation, especially with larger teams depending on budget

Special Effects / Stunt Work

Practical stunts and VFX needed, constrained by time and budget

The existing framework of animation and special effects creates the action sequences, which means no real change to the budget - if you can imagine it, you can create it.



This is by no means an exhaustive list, of course.

But it should help give you an idea of where animation simply works better to explain things easily and clearly. 

Like any format, there are advantages and disadvantages.

And even within animation itself, there’s a myriad of graphic styles, and each of those are better suited for certain messaging and moods than others. 

If you’re still confused, don’t worry!

When you partner with a good animation studio, their creative team would be happy to help you navigate all the options and ideas and help guide you towards what’s best for your message, budget, and audience. 

Also remember that since animation is ultimately an artform, there’s no set hard rules for what works and what doesn’t.

You must be willing to experiment and try new things. 

Remember that it’s ultimately your own message, your own story, and only you can really tell it well.

The world’s waiting for your story! And it’s time to tell it your way!

Still confused? 

Subscribe by Email

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think