Eleanor Hanwell
Eleanor Hanwell on 17 May 2021

5 Reasons why Animation is excellent at tackling emotion

If you’ve read our No Nonsense Guide to Animation you’ll already have a pretty good idea as to the power of animation and how it can be useful. But in this blog, we’re going to delve into what makes animation so excellent at tackling emotions.


1 – It is a visual medium

Visuals cause a faster and stronger reaction than words. In fact, animated content in particular, grabs the attention of consumers in less than 1/10th of a second. Visuals also help users engage with content and remember it. This is because the visual memory is encoded in the medial temporal lobe of the brain, the same place where emotions are processed.


2 – It keeps things simple

The best animations distil the message down to the aspects that you need to see and let your brain fill in the rest. This approach means that you fully engage with the animation and any emotions that are being conveyed.

For example, our animation for World Happiness Day used simple animated lines to create objects, which showed what happiness means to members in our team. From dancing to enjoying a cup of coffee.


3 – It doesn’t rely on actors

With filmed footage it’s easy to immediately not see yourself in the protagonists’ shoes if they are a different age, race or gender to you. But with animation almost anything can be animated to convey an emotion, even shapes!

Have you ever caught yourself anthropomorphizing (or assigning human traits and motivations to) animated objects before. It’s actually a pretty common thing do as humans have a funny habit of projecting human characteristics and motivations onto objects, especially ones that move. 

In fact, in the 1944 study by Heider and Simmel where the below film featuring simple geometric shapes was shown to a group of students, almost all of the students saw emotional motivations or personalities in the shapes.


This is important for animation, as it opens up the opportunity to use all kinds of elements as ‘characters’ to convey emotions and purpose.

4 – It reminds us of being a kid

Animations in many ways take us back to the cartoons of our childhood and so instantly feel less threatening. This means that unlike filmed footage, a concept that is scary, upsetting or awkward when presented through an animated character is instantly a lot less daunting. 

Using animation can help us to connect with the emotions of a story by using visual analogies, helping us to understand and process the emotion without needing to physically ‘live’ through it as you would with other styles of video. This makes animation excellent for both explaining concepts to children and for thorny emotional topics. 

For example, this animation from Greenpeace takes the approach of showing the audience a little girl who discovers a mischievous orangutan in her bedroom. The intrigue we feel in the first half of the animation means the difficult overall message that is shared in the second half is much more hard-hitting.



5 – It can be humorous

Humour can often be the perfect tool for communicating an emotional message as viewers want to be entertained. Humour can also give us the release we need when a topic is difficult or emotional as well as hooking your audience’s attention and keeping it until your message sticks. 

With animation we can also often follow a storyline purely from visual cues and sounds, which is perfect for emotional topics. We’re also more likely to remember something that made us laugh, so humour can be a fantastic combination of engagement and retention.

Take this example, where we can follow the emotions of the main character in the story without any recognisable speech. Through this animation we are able to be entertained watching the old lady and it isn’t until the end that we understand the full message about kindness and not making assumptions about someone based on their appearance.


Let’s get animating!

Thanks for reading our top 5 Reasons why Animation is excellent at tackling emotion, we hope it’s helped you see how animation might be the best option for your next project. 

Why not book a call with our team to see how we can help you create animations that work.

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