Motion Graphics vs. Cinematic Videos

Not sure which video type is right for you? We explain what you need to know (using small words and, yes, some video).

Videos tell a story and capture your audiences’ attention in a way that nothing else does. Think about it—we’ve had a love affair with moving pictures for well over a century now that shows no sign of abating. If anything, this attraction to video has only expanded and morphed into new directions as technology has developed.

When it comes to sharing information about your service or product, you’ve got two main choices—motion graphics or cinematic videos. Here’s the lowdown on each:

Budget friendly, big impact

Very few things in life get decided without money entering into the picture, so we’ll cut to the chase—in terms of which video option is less expensive, motion graphics wins. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require work and talent. You will need to develop a tight storyboard. You will need to source music and voiceover talent. And you need a graphics person who really knows their stuff.

On the plus side, motion graphics is a great option if you don’t have a big budget, many brand assets or a lot of time, because you can make something beautiful, fun and creative from still photography and video clips. When done well, motion graphics provide viewers with a better understanding of your company.

Take a look at one of Ethos’ motion graphic videos.

Huge impact, bigger budget

Which brings us to the other main video option you have—cinematic videos. This choice is going to require more financial input and time than motion graphics, but on the flip side it gives you all the control in terms of shaping the final outcome. And who doesn’t like to have complete control?

The pros of cinematic video include a more immersive experience for your viewer, incorporating candid interviews and footage. You still need to create a storyboard, but it can be less detailed than what you will need for a motion graphics video. You also will still need some source music, but you can skip the voiceover talent.

For this type of video, you will have to hire a crew, find a location and even consider your budget for wardrobe and makeup—which may fall into the con category for many companies. And then there’s the people factor. A cinematic video puts you are the mercy of the real people who will be featured, and sometimes real people get a bit freaked out once they are put in front of a camera.

Here’s an example of this style from our own archives.

No matter which video format you choose, both are great because they provide multiple repurposing options—from a presentation to social media, from an event to an email. Your motion graphic or cinematic video can have a long lifespan, providing you even more bang for your buck.