The Creative Toolkit for Marketers

5 Alternatives to Live-Action Video Content During the COVID-19 Outbreak

AJ Noel


If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you’re working remotely right now due to the global pandemic of COVID-19. Because of this, you're probably wondering if shooting live-action video is even possible.

When a crisis like this happens, especially one with huge economic ramifications, it’s easy to think about slashing or eliminating your marketing efforts. Instead, we argue that now is the time to continue producing creative content and positively position your brand. In fact, your marketing efforts during this time can make-or-break your impact on consumers as the level of noise from competitors decreases, the importance of company appearance increases, and the cost of advertising drops.


So, how can you continue with your video efforts with stay-at-home orders and social distancing mandates in place?


Technology is a beautiful thing and is helping the world remain connected in a time of physical isolation. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep producing captivating creative content while remaining healthy and safe.


Since producing live-action videos in the traditional way – shot in a studio or on location with a crew and talent – may not be a socially responsible option, for now, we’ve come up with other viable alternatives to share your message that can easily be produced remotely and still drive results.


This article will outline 5 alternatives to live-action video content so your business can continue to thrive in the months ahead.


1. Screen-Recorded Video

Since shelter-in-place orders are being implemented globally, springtime conferences (START, Build, F8, Mobile World Congress, Apple WWDC, E3, NAB, Gartner, Dell World, Digital Sales & Marketing World, and more) have taken a big hit.


A number of conferences have been outright canceled, while others have gone digital, utilizing livestreams and pre-recorded video to deliver the messages that would have otherwise been shared in dynamic presentations and keynote speeches.


One alternative for live keynote presentations, talking head-style videos, or on-camera interviews is to screen record the subject(s) speaking on-camera using a web conferencing platform like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Amazon Chime, BlueJeans, or Webex.


Then, the footage can be edited and elevated beyond just a simple full-screen video of a talking head by applying a motion graphics package to support the messaging and engage the viewer.


The edited video can also be integrated into a device that provides context for how the video was captured, like a laptop screen or mobile phone, using stock photos or a 3D model.



The benefit of this approach as a replacement for live speaking events is the editorial. It’s a win-win – your subject can safely record from anywhere and your message will be professional, attractive, and easily accessible.


2. Stock Video

If shooting fresh video is going to be precarious, why not utilize a vast library of stock video?


Online libraries like AdobeStock have just about every kind of b-roll (supporting footage) you could ask for, making it easy to tell a story when combined with motion graphics or animation and voice-over.



There are many benefits to this approach; the footage is high quality and professional, and we’re able to find and use relevant shots that wouldn’t be feasible to capture within a typical client’s budget.


This strategy is great for projects that are on a tight timeline as well since there’s no need to plan a shoot and production can begin immediately.


Who knows, your business might even have a stock library of its own to pull video from: this might include old marketing videos, unused footage from previous shoots, or professional pictures of your staff members and office space. Conducting an audit of video or pictures may turn up material you can use in future projects.


3. Animation (Animated Videos)

Another alternative to live-action video is animation. Animation ranges from simply designed line art to vivid, detailed 3D computer-generated animation.


Most animation projects can be completed from anywhere, negating the need for any in-person interactions, making it a safe choice as we self-isolate over the coming months.


Since the visuals can be anything imaginable, there are unlimited ways to communicate complex or abstract ideas, and it’s easy to condense a lot of information into one video.


Animated videos also typically have a longer shelf life than live-action videos, since they can easily be updated to keep the information current and accurate. For example, it’s much easier to change kinetic text on screen than to have an actor come back and re-record something that may have changed. The same can be said if you had an employee featured in the video who then leaves the company.


Another bonus of animation is once you create a brand asset, such as a character, you can repurpose those assets in other videos (which will save money in the long run). VMG Studios accomplished this with Starbucks’ Bean Stock program by creating adorable “bean” characters that were used throughout a series of animated videos. They’ve also since become a reoccurring character at Starbucks Corporate in Seattle.





4. Podcasts

If you’re like me, multitasking is second-nature and I’m rarely working without a podcast playing in my earbuds. Podcasts are ideal for the on-the-go learner since you can listen while at work, in the car, or my personal favorite these days, on a walk outside.


The good news for marketers is podcasts are popular. In 2019, there were 14 million more weekly podcast listeners in the U.S. than in 2018.


Podcasts are relatively easy to record, edit, and distribute. The content can either be entirely scripted or more of a candid conversation between hosts or interviewers/ees.


Podcasts can also position your company as a thought leader or expert in your industry. This can help build your credibility and capture more marketing share from your competitors who aren’t leveraging this type of content.


Traditionally, podcasts are audio-only, but many people are starting to visually record their interviews as well. Take IMPACT’s Film School for Marketers Podcast. You can find an audio-only version of the podcast on iTunes, Apple Podcast, and Spotify as well as a video version on YouTube.     


Film school for marketers podcast on Apple podcasts and YouTube    

So, why the shift to create video versions of podcasts? YouTube.


YouTube is the second largest search engine (behind Google) and has 2 billion active users. Creating video podcasts provides the opportunity to find new subscribers who may prefer to watch videos.


5. Stop Motion

Stop motion is an old-school animation technique in which objects are physically manipulated between frames to create an illusion of movement when it’s all put together.


Stop motion can be extremely complex, such as Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, which took 3 years to complete, or it could be a simple social media post that was completed in an afternoon with a single camera.



Stop motion can bring live-action and animation together in a unique, eye-catching way that may leave your viewer wondering, “How did they do that?!”


Here are some fun, more elaborate stop motion examples.






Moving Forward with Your Video Marketing Efforts

We understand that many businesses are adjusting, making tough decisions, and acclimating to a new work-from-home culture. We are doing the same here at VMG Studios.


Unlike so many, we are fortunate enough to keep our doors open. We’re committed to continuing to support our clients’ marketing efforts by meeting deadlines and taking on new projects.


This time is providing a unique opportunity for those who do have the bandwidth to continue their marketing efforts to position their business for continued success through digital and social media marketing. Those options include, but aren’t limited to:

  1. Screen-recorded video
  2. Stock video
  3. Animation
  4. Podcasts
  5. Stop motion

If you’re unsure how to implement these kinds of content into your marketing strategy, VMG Studios is here to help. We’ve been doing this for 15 years and our diverse team of creatives can produce remotely, wherever they may be.


Keep these ideas in your back pocket by clicking the image below to download a free one-sheet

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Tags: Live Action Video, Animation, Animated Video, stop motion, screen recording, video alternatives, stock video, podcasts

AJ Noel

Written by AJ Noel

AJ is a Sales & Marketing Specialist at VMG Studios. AJ has a background in Professional Journalism and is experienced in cross-channel marketing. She is well-versed in new media and acts as a client resource for best practices from creative to deployment to analytic measurement. In her spare time, AJ enjoys listening to true crime podcasts, hitting the PNW hiking trails, and spending time with her cat, Boomer.

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