Future of Conservation: Affordable Animation Strategies for 2024

Conservation Of Nature

According to the 2023 State of Nature Report, the UK is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Despite nature's resilient struggle for survival, more than one in seven native species face extinction, and over 40% are experiencing a decline.

Despite a growing recognition of nature's significance, concerted conservation efforts, and ambitious targets set by the UK through the Global Biodiversity Framework, the state of the country's nature and environment continues to deteriorate.

The scale of the crisis necessitates a more substantial response and investment. Bridging the gap between knowledge and action remains paramount to effectively address the challenges faced by the UK's biodiversity.

On a different note, it’s no secret that video content has boomed over the past decade. Whether that is animated explainer videos, character-driven e-learning courses or even concise animated report videos for stakeholders. Animation has been a proven and powerful tool when it comes to education, advocacy and information retention. 

There’s just one problem.

It’s really expensive. Well… that’s what most think.

In this article, we explore how animation can serve as a powerful tool to bridge the knowledge gap in the conservation space while dispelling the misconception that animation is inherently expensive.

We even share some top tips to keep costs down and maximise your investment in the project.

So how can conservation animation be used to bridge the knowledge gap?

When environmental messaging is overwhelmingly fear-driven, visual storytelling becomes a compelling tool. Its unique capacity to personalise and humanise the challenges faced by nature becomes a means to create empathy with something the viewer hasn’t experienced themselves.

Through animation, we can bridge the widening gap in the viewer's understanding and emotional connection to the environment, sparking renewed passion and commitment to conservation efforts.

Here’s how animation can help!

Animation simplifies complex concepts

Whether it's explaining scientific concepts, illustrating business processes or highlighting social issues, animation creates engaging visuals that make your message easy to understand and remember.

A meticulous production process combines visual elements, voiceovers, and music with a well-designed storyboard to create content that can really connect to the viewer.

You can learn more about this process by checking out our Campaign with the Department of Health and Social Care. We’re helping them communicate the digitisation of the whole Social Care Sector in a friendly and non-threatening way.

Characterisation builds empathy

To date, there have been many live-action videos which showcase the threats facing our planet and wildlife. However, these broad discussions haven't deeply engaged audiences enough to inspire further learning that turns into action. 

Yet, when we follow an individual character's story as seen in documentary-style videos, such as 'My Octopus Teacher,' we become invested in the character, no matter how ‘alien’ they may appear.

By crafting characters that embody the challenges animals and the environment confront, viewers gradually develop a sense of familiarity and emotional connection. Animation can do an incredible job of bringing empathy to the most unique characters.

Just take a look at Oatly's “The New Norm&Al Show”, or Aldi’s “Kevin the Carrot”.

When we feel connected emotionally, we are more likely to remember what we are hearing and seeing.

Unlimited Assets for Your Cause

Crafting an animation, particularly character animation, involves creating an array of captivating illustrations and assets to convey your message visually. And these custom assets hold immense value beyond the provided videos.

Whether your story contains icons, environments, or even characters, every single component can be extracted and repurposed across various content platforms. Characters can become brand mascots, environments can become backgrounds for social media content, and icons can be used on the website. 

From your website and social media posts through to brochures, slide presentations, and campaign posters—the versatility of these assets can be endless.

How to keep your animation project on budget?

Animation doesn’t need to be a costly process and it’s important that when working with organisations in Conservation and Environmental Service, that maximum value is extracted from the budget available.

These tips should serve to drive the highest Return on Impact from whatever project you embark on.

Strategic planning and effective communication

It is crucial to invest time in understanding your project's needs, goals, and intended outcomes, before embarking on your animation journey.

If you find it challenging to articulate a clear "why" behind the need for animation, no matter how visually stunning the animation may be it won't effectively address the problem you aim to solve. Having crystal-clear plans is an absolute must! 

This clarity not only will help in the script-writing stage but also in the overall direction of the whole animation process. It also ensures that the creatives involved in the project clearly understand the problem they need to address.

In line with clearly articulating your brief, be specific about what you expect from the studio or person you're working with before you start the project. If you ask for ‘a’ video, you will likely be provided with a single video. Does the project involve translations, an accompanying graphics library, social media clips, ownership, thumbnails?

You may be in for a nasty surprise if you assume the creative studio you’re working with will hand these over free of charge. 

Many creative studios, agencies and even freelancers will retain ownership of the artwork. The sole reason for this is to prevent you from leaving to a competitor should you need any future content. 

Keep your videos short and sweet

It should go without saying that the longer the content you want to create, the more expensive it is going to be. However, there are definitely some exceptions to this rule.

For example, If you have a 5-minute motion graphic video that is mostly text, graphics and no characters, this would actually be much cheaper than a 2-minute video with full 2D character animation.

There are many variables to consider when evaluating cost, so don’t be afraid to set a budget and ask what can be done within that if you don’t have any scope to increase. A respectable creative studio will let you know the options and variables to make any budget work, or at least explain to you why not.

Short animated content helps keep the cost down and allows you to test audience engagement, which could lead to longer content down the line. 

Additionally, keeping it under 60 seconds means it’s compatible with the duration limit that a variety of social media platforms (Instagram reels, TikTok, YouTube Shorts etc) has, thus making it easier to share and post.

It’s worth mentioning that if the animation is being showcased in a way where the audience has to watch the animation, it’s okay for the content to be a little longer.

Avoid 3D animation wherever possible

If you want to keep your animation project budget-friendly, 3D is a surefire way to throw your money away.  The software is more expensive, the skillset more niched and the process far more complicated. 

When clients ask us about the price difference between 2D animation and 3D animation, the shortest answer is to add a 0 to the end of the quote. A competent creative will be able to use any 2D tools available to create awe-inspiring visuals that help meet your objective, you can even ‘fake’ 3d where needed.

3D is hard to do properly, and when cutting corners to make it happen you typically end up with content that falls flat and outdates very quickly.

Balance complexity

When aiming to fulfil a strategy within a set budget, it's vital for the complexity of characters, their quantity, and the storyboard intricacies to align seamlessly. 

Introducing numerous characters, props, complex environments, and transitions can escalate production costs significantly. Hence, having a storyboard that strikes the balance between seamlessness, engagement, and budgetary constraints is pivotal. 

To maintain project expenses, favouring a few strategically embellished scenes over consistently intricate and complex ones proves more cost-effective.

Another option is to focus on having beautiful illustrations accompanied by minimal animation sequences as this will reduce animation complexities which in turn can help keep the cost down. 

Remember, the more characters that are involved or more intricate animation sequences means more complexity, time and manpower required. 

Prioritise bespoke, existing and stock content

Opting for stock images in storytelling isn't ideal, as it lack uniqueness and is often of poor quality, it may compromise the visual quality of your narrative. However, in cases where cost containment is essential, a blend of bespoke and stock images could serve as a viable solution to staying on budget.

Many people see stock assets versus bespoke artwork as an either/or situation. When push comes to shove, you can weave a story where points of focus are developed bespoke, with environmental filler tapping into stock where necessary. 

You can still tweak stock to make it fit where necessary

And don’t forget to leverage existing content, you may already have a stockpile of graphics that can be used, previous animations you’ve made and much more. Bringing these into your videos can help maintain brand consistency and keep the budget down. 

Ensure an adequate timeline for the project

Let's imagine you need a video but you only have three weeks to turn it around. This creates immense time pressure on the studio to deliver something of high quality given the amount of stages involved. This sudden demand for resources often means a need for the studio to outsource at a higher cost to be able to deliver on time. 

After all, the only way to condense 10 days of animation into one week is to use two or more animators depending on the complexity.

Now what would happen if you gave the exact same studio eight weeks, or twelve?

The studio can ensure adequate time is given to each area, and fit it in appropriately with other timelines. A well-structured timeline ensures a smoother workflow and minimises the need for rushed manpower, ultimately contributing to cost-effectiveness.

On average, we’d say always aim for eight weeks' notice of a launch date if you’re looking for a fully developed animated video. 


Animation stands as a formidable ally in the realm of conservation campaigns, offering a potent means to bridge the gap between understanding and action. Its ability to simplify complex concepts, engage emotions, and yield versatile assets renders it an invaluable tool in advocating for nature's preservation.

We hope that our outlined cost-effective strategies for animation serve as a guide for conservation organisations seeking to integrate animation into their campaigns and broader marketing strategies.

Looking for a reliable animation studio to bring your video, animation, and motion design ideas to life? Motion Manor can help! Click the link here to get in touch.

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