Animated Mobile Video: How to do it Right

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Even if you haven’t seen any official statistics about it, you probably instinctively know the majority of people watch videos on a mobile deviceThat makes perfect sense. As the internet skews more and more toward video and people continue to use their phones to surf the internet, it was only a matter of time until mobile video viewing took over.

Over half of YouTube’s vaunted one billion users watch video on their phones and that’s not just short form videos. People watch entire TV shows and longform content like documentaries on their phones. People watch video when they want, where they want and it’s up to you to cater to them.

Fortunately for you, it’s easy to cater to this increasingly on-the-go market. All you need to do is make your videos mobile-optimized. The best way to do that? A little thing called animation.

Follow these simple tips and you can create an animated video that is perfect for on-the-move viewing.

Spend Some Time on that Thumbnail


The oft-forgotten part of a video, the thumbnail is what hooks your viewers before they even become viewers. Yes, platforms like Facebook start autoplaying a video, but others like YouTube or your own mobile website have to rely on viewers being enticed by a static image that promises entertainment should they click on it.

Simple text overlay on a white or light-colored background is a good choice for mobile because of the smaller screens, or you could opt for a screenshot of a pivotal moment in the video that can clearly be seen in a thumbnail.

You don’t have to spend a ton of time on the thumbnail, but do spend some time on it.

Start with the Hook, Even if it’s in the Middle

Jasleen Kaur/Flickr

You’ve got about three seconds to hook people and keep them watching. These are people on the go with a million other things vying for their attention, so eschew the slow build up and get right to that hook, even if it’s in the middle of your story.

We at Wizmotions agree with Facebook’s video best practices that say you should show brand or product imagery within the first few seconds and also focus on storytelling. Although Facebook does talk about having a cohesive story arc — and we agree with that — what it doesn’t mention is that you don’t have to necessarily start at the beginning of your story. In fact, it’s probably best that you don’t.

Instead, start at a pivotal point in your story that will hook the viewer, even if that point is in the middle. You see this kind of storytelling in Hollywood movies all the time. The action starts at a dramatic moment and then the story shifts back to the beginning to tell how everything got to that moment. You can use this storytelling technique, too.

Coupled with this storytelling technique, animation’s ability to capture people’s attention with captivating visuals makes for a better video experience. Unlike with live-action video, you are already starting with something that people feel more compelled to watch. After all, who doesn’t like a cartoon?

Keep Cuts Quick


Long, steady shots are great for documentaries and other long-form content, but not so much for quick, animated business videos. Switching angles and making rapid (but smooth) cuts will keep your story humming at a mobile-friendly pace.

And that pace is fast. We’ve already mentioned the three second hook you need, but a typical attention span for people watching videos on their phones is about 30 seconds. People might be glued to their phones for hours at a time, but they’re consuming short little bursts of content while they are. That doesn’t mean you should rush through your video at the expense of clarity, but be cognizant of these tighter timeframes when dealing with mobile. You should still take as much time as you need to tell a coherent story, though.

Drama: Now for Angles, too.

Kevin Dooley/Flickr

Dramatic angles will add visual interest to your video. The beauty of using animation is that you are not governed by the laws of physics. You shouldn’t go hog wild, though. People still expect to be presented with a video that uses traditional camera angles, even if it’s animation. But, because it’s animation, you can really get dramatic with your angles.

That’s not to say every shot should be looking up or down at 80 degrees, but peppering in some low angles that frame your subject dramatically or high angles that show a bird’s eye view of a scene is a good idea. For transitions, consider using Dutch angles or pullbacks. Experiment and have fun with it. It’s animation, after all!

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Have Good Audio, But Don’t Make the Video Dependent on the Audio

Brett Levin/Flickr

According to visual marketing content creation firm Flashstock, 85% of Facebook videos are played while muted. You are probably aware that the default setting for autoplay video on Facebook is muted. Most Facebook users don’t bother turning the sound on if they can glean what’s going on from the visuals alone. Even for those wearing headphones, the audio of a video can be lost in the ambient sound of the world around them.   

That’s why you shouldn’t rely on a voiceover (no matter how smooth) to communicate the message of your video. This is where animation really shines. Unlike the typical talking head video that absolutely relies on audio accompaniment, animation that portrays those same ideas can say the same thing using striking visuals without having to rely on the audio.

You’ll require text overlay for product information, announcements or your call to action, but remember that when it comes to mobile video, visuals outweigh audio. Always.

Text: Be Big & Bold

Michael Riedel/Flickr

Speaking of text overlay, it should be visible from space. Well, maybe not that big, but it should be a large font size and it should contrast well with the surrounding colors and content of whatever it shares the screen with.

Simple white text usually works well, but you may want to give it a thin black outline for appearing against lighter colors or, if you’re really concerned about visibility, you can put a dark background behind the text to make sure it’s visible.

Font isn’t a huge concern when choosing your text overlay. You just have to make sure it’s legible. Here are 10 open source Google fonts you can use for your video.

Keep CTAs Simple

Dwight Sipler/Flickr

Your call to action should be something that’s easy to do. Some suggestions:

  • Click a link
  • Use a hashtag
  • Push a button
    • Like
    • Share
    • Buy now

The action should be singular and measurable so you can easily track the results and use those results to influence future decisions on campaigns.

No matter who you are trying to reach, they are watching video on their phones and it’s up to you to cater to their content consumption habits. Animation is an ideal way to make compelling videos for mobile viewing. Click here to schedule an appointment with WizMotions to see how we can help you make the perfect mobile optimized business video.

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