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Animated videos are quickly becoming a leading medium of choice for impactful story telling. That’s hardly surprising, considering how difficult it is to grab – and hold! – the attention of an audience these days. Consider this: in a study published back in 2008, nearly half of new web page visits lasted only 12 seconds, and another 17%: less than four seconds. What are the chances that we spend even less time than that now, five years later and with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and countless new blogs and websites throwing fresh content at us 24/7?
Video is one way to rise above all this noise and deliver your message in a way that leaves a lasting impression.
In October 2013 alone, 189 million Americans watched 49.1 billion online content videos, according to the latest online video rankings by ComScore, with an average duration of 5.1 minutes. And while the number of viewers has slowly increased over the past few years, the average duration has remained somewhat constant since 2010, ranging between five and six minutes.
That’s a message that companies, organizations, non profit or academic groups — and anyone looking to get their message across with video — has heard loud and clear. We saw many fantastic animated videos released in 2013. Below are 20 of the best that showed on Visual.ly this year.
1. History of Activism by Jot Reyes
Powerful videos often have a meaningful message or support a worthy cause. With History of Activism, Causes showed how animated videos could be a major player in activism. Since the historical record doesn’t have great video footage, Jot Reyes built the video out of primarily static images.
2. Losing Nemo by Mister Lee
One worthy cause is protecting the fish in the ocean. Losing Nemo is a joint effort from several animators and does an incredible job of motivating people to care about sea life. The different animation styles from each of the animators does a great job of portraying the mood of each segment of the story.
Climate change is having a dramatic impact on the populations of sea life, and potentially on the Global Conveyor Belt. This video by Philipp Dettmer masterfully uses 2D animation and illustrations to convey a fully 3D set of spatial concepts.
Climate change is an extremely complex topic, and seeing all of its effects and the factors impacting it is a difficult thing. This beautiful animation shows the State of Climate Change Science in a way that makes it easy to understand exactly how complex the topic is, and how much we need to address it. The video aggregates immense quantities of data and displays them in eye catching style with a gorgeous rendering of Earth.
5. The New Zealand Oil Spill Map by Dumpark and Mohawk Media
Undeniably, the biggest factor in climate change is CO2 release into the atmosphere from fossil fuels derived from oil and coal. Oil drilling poses other risks as well, including massive spills. This Oil Spill Map of New Zealand shows the extent of damage of a potential spill in that region. Dumpark do a great job of showing complex simulation data in a clean and simple style.
Our planet is precious, and we definitely need to protect it. Of all the planets in the Solar System, Earth is the only one we can live on. Philipp Dettmer rocks it again with an excellent breakdown showing both details and context for our solar system.
Some of the most spectacular things on our planet are the mountains. For The Love of Mountains takes a look at a dozen mountains around the world. Al Boardman is a mountain lover himself and showcases these majestic giants in a way that makes them both iconic and comparable.
We all agree that Earth is beautiful, but when it comes to the economic reality of the countries its inhabitants have formed, the discrepancy between the rich and the poor is astounding. Global Wealth Inequality uses charts and maps to look at how wealth is distributed around the planet, and the sad state of inequality that the distribution produces.
Inequality isn’t just a problem between countries, of course, as shown by Wealth Inequality in America. The animated charts in this video are taken to the next level, with great detail put into the illustration and animation, leading to extremely effective communication of the concepts.
Wealth inequality has an enormous impact on the American economy, but so do immigrants. The Economic Impact of Immigrants shows just how immigrants have improved the American economy. Paragon Design Group’s have used music and flashy graphics to help drive home just how big of a positive impact immigrants have, and continue to have, on the American economy.
11. Bitcoin Explained by Duncan Elms
Bitcoin has made quite a splash this year, entering the economy as a new currency, recognized and used by several major services. The exchange rate has skyrocketed, as more and more people use the currency. If you don’t know where to start, Bitcoin Explained is a great overview of how the currency works, using wireframe models and spaces with no apparent physics or gravity to communicate the intangibility and transience of the currency.
12. No Child for Sale by Andrew Davies
Child labor is another unfortunate reality in parts of the world today. The idea is appalling, and No Child For Sale helps raise awareness of the problem using a restrained palette and dark and foreboding graphics.
Few people have struggled as much with raising awareness as Edward Snowden. This video takes an objective look at what Snowden did, and what the ramifications are. VideoChef rocked this story with limited character animation and simple imagery to help explain convoluted situations.
14. Coco: Inside Chanel by Chanel
This video pays homage to the legendary Coco Chanel with an amazing black and white theme to pay tribute to her legacy. The video is all about figure-ground and clever animation with dynamic wipes and transitions: one of the most successful examples of native advertising we’ve seen this year.
Apple, many would argue, has an equally iconic presence in design history, present and future. This video does a fantastic job of explaining what Apple is about with a limited black and white palette and simple geometry. Despite such a limited toolset, the video manages to visually communicate a number of abstract concepts.
16. Food Waste by Matt Stone and Sofya Yampolsky
Food Waste is a big problem in the modern world, and has a major impact on our environment. This video uses live action footage by Matt Stone overlaid with stats and minimal graphics designed by Sofya Yampolsky to help convey the reality of the problem.
America’s justice system seems to be wasting resources as well, sending thousands of non-violent criminals to jail while Violent Criminals Walk Free. The objective and authoritative narration and Nick Vaka’s texturized graphics explain the severe setbacks in our justice and correctional system, including the ineffective and inefficient war on drugs.
The war on drugs often involves violence, particularly wherever drugs are smuggled into countries. The Violence of Mexican Drug Cartels by I Shot Him uses a strong anecdotal narrative to present how US drug policies have contributed to violence at the border between Mexico and the US.
Drugs will always remain a controversial topic in our culture, and sports are no exception. The long plagued Tour De France had yet another year of controversy as Lance Armstrong confessed to years of doping. This video’s playful animation and bright color schemes help to focus the viewer on the positives of the race, its long history and legacy.
Do you like our video selections so far? If you do, you might feel compelled to share this post with your social networks. As you do that, though, remember to actually connect with people in the physical world too. The Innovation of Loneliness covers the growth in reported loneliness despite massive networks of “friends.” Shimi Cohen uses simple geometry, icons, and spatial relationships to display the ideas presented in the video, and help encourage people to really connect on a deeper emotional level.
These videos are exemplary models of visual content that really reaches viewers. Each of them provides valuable information in a way that is fun to experience, with beautiful graphics, interpretive animations, and clarifying audio.
Disclaimer: Six of the videos on this list were produced through the Visually Marketplace. Click here to find out more about Visually’s process and pricing.
Drew Skau is Visualization Architect at Visual.ly and a PhD Computer Science Visualization student at UNCC with an undergraduate degree in Architecture. You can follow him on Twitter @SeeingStructure