Creating characters for video: the devil’s in the detail

Creating characters for video: the devil’s in the detail

We all know that one person who speaks about characters on TV as if they’re real people. They feel connected to the lives of the personalities on the screen and can relate to them. Feeling this way about characters instantly makes the show they’re watching more memorable. 
 
Corporate video production works the same way. Creating characters gives viewers something to identify with and your video will be more likely to reach people on a deeper level. 
 
Characters are also incredibly versatile – even more so when used in animation. Think about it… With animated characters, you can literally do anything you’d like. They can live in space, have polka dot skin and be able to fly all at once. They don’t even have to be human; the limits placed on characters by human actors are entirely lifted. Characters are can also be very useful in explainer videos, to get across the story or narrative, rather than using icons or motion graphics.
 
Our approach
 
When our video company gets a new contract, the first thing we do is decide whether we are going to use characters or not, bearing in mind that they’re not always appropriate. If the topic of the video is sensitive or if the product and message are very technical, for example, icons may be a better way to go. 
 
However, just because a topic is more serious it doesn’t necessarily mean that characters won’t work. Take this video we made for Hayne Solutions. It’s a financial company and more often than not, companies like this opt for conventional and corporate visuals. However, in this case, the client wasn’t scared to push the boundaries.  
 

The “Fred” character we used in their video made it relatable, and the superhero character personified their brand. Overall, these characters worked together to make accountancy a more approachable topic. 
 
Characters are so flexible you can very easily represent things like gender, age, race, emotions, and personalities through them. The ability to do this opens the door to conveying a huge range of messages and emotions to the viewer. It is equally important to note that you can just as easily avoid referencing these aspects. For example, if a client wants to avoid mentioning a specific race or gender, you can make your characters blue and generic. Problem solved.  
 
With characters in explainer videos, tiny changes can make a huge difference. In our Artificial Solutions video, we purposely did not give the characters eyes. The video is for Artificial Intelligence software and we found that with eyes the characters looked too playful. So, we removed them and the effect was instantaneous. One small change went a very long way towards giving the video the feel we wanted it to have.   
 

There are hundreds of tiny changes you can make to your characters that will have an effect on the overall feel of the video. When creating characters if you want your audience to feel something different – you can change your video to make it happen, if you have a particular target audience in mind, you can make small changes and instantly become more appealing to certain groups. 
 
In this video for Every Fan, we used characters to target a certain demographic. The ‘Top Lads’ video narrative is built on three mates overcoming the odds and the characters are pivotal in getting the company’s message across. 
 

There are many different styles for a corporate video production company to use when creating characters. Many companies pick similar ones, but be brave, we promise, it is fun and most importantly it will pay off! 
 
Believe it or not, there are actually some pretty good videos out there that weren’t made by us. We especially like this video British Gas commissioned for their Hive heating systems. Signing off on something like this showed their bravery and willingness to try something new. It is playful, memorable and accessible, not unlike this video they also did. 
 
So, take heed and remember, when creating characters for video, there is literally nothing you can’t do. The sky is the limit. Or rather, the sky isn’t the limit, which is kind of the point. 
 
Think great characters are exactly what your business needs to get its message across? Our head of production Jamie Field would love to hear from you

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