Blog: Top 11 Animation Trends In 2020 | LAI Video

Top 11 Animation Trends In 2020

2020 Animation Trends

Renowned graphic designer and filmmaker Saul Bass once explained, “design is thinking made visual.” As companies search for new ways to highlight innovative products and ideas, animators are developing novel approaches to their craft. While new techniques emerge each year, not all are so groundbreaking, effective, or memorable that they raise the industry’s standard of excellence. From minimalistic approaches to highly textured worlds, here are our eleven top animation trends.


  1. Seamlessly Simple
  2. Camera-Tracking Compositing
  3. Mixed-Media
  4. Illustrations
  5. 2D/3D with Scene Transitions
  6. Gradients and Character "Moments"
  7. Floating Shapes and Character "Moments"
  8. Full World-Building
  9. Thin Lines
  10. Virtual Reality
  11. Digital Surrealism

Keep reading for explanations and examples of these techniques.


Using this approach, brands apply motion to the “building blocks” of visual design in order to stir emotion and convey new ideas. These videos build off of established design conventions (like lines and colors) to create something that feels fresh, elegant, and profound.


In its “IBM Design Language—Philosophy” explainer, IBM stunningly uses clean, minimal text overtop moving lines and dots. This approach very simply reinforces IBM’s message that good design is at the heart of all of the relationships the company serves.


A motion tracking effect can expose viewers to new, interesting, or unexpected ideas within a live-action world.


In "Bhavini Sheds Light on Spot Beams," Gogo uses a spokesperson to describe spot beams with the help of simple, camera-tracked overlays.


LAI Video’s “In the Blink of an Eye,” produced for the National Maintenance Agreements, uses motion-tracked graphics to show how safety is the perspective through which construction professionals see the world.


Purposefully complementary or clashing, the mixed-media approach uses a decidedly eclectic mix of imagery, footage, and photographs. The digital collages enhance real life elements with motion graphics to quickly explain a story.


In its “How to Start Saving for College in 3 Easy Steps,” Northwestern Mutual uses black-and-white, mixed-media items with bold vector icons and text. Like a student’s decorated planner or bulletin board, the video is informative, but brimming with personality; instructional, but also lively and fun.



For our Inspire conference “bumpers,” we recorded footage of specific props in our studio that embody each keynote speaker—boots, globes, phones, even tube TVs! From polar exploration to millennial media consumption, we immersed these live-action visuals with “cut out” graphics to build a multi-media world that comfortably brings personal brands into the overarching brand of the show.


Animated illustration fuels a willing suspension of disbelief, brands can explore highly fanciful ideas and perspectives.


Our “The Changing Face of Signs,” produced for the International Sign Association, incorporates bold and expressive illustrations that bring to life the role that signs have played throughout their history—which is like 4,000 years!



Our “Know Your Enemy” spot for CropLife America features more cartoonish illustrations, positioning crop-eating pests as nefarious as any comic-book villain.


Transitioning viewers through 2D frames that feature 3D objects, these videos can convey a variety of new ideas within one seamless viewing experience.


In its “IBM + Watson Video Services” explainer, IBM takes viewers through fully realized character scenes with zooming 2D / 3D transitions. It’s futuristic look-and-feel reinforces how IBM Watson helps companies to continuously improve and evolve their video services.


Using deliberately patterned color gradients, companies can evoke viewers’ emotions and resonate in powerful ways.


In its “We Make Things Move” identity video, Never Sit Still uses a clean, cubist perspective and a love of gradients to show off its ability to make things move with big and small motions.


Animated characters do not need to be realistic—they can be stylistically deconstructed and rebuilt to emphasize mood and personality. Using nothing but bold shapes, these figures can communicate a lot to the viewer before any movement, script or sound design is introduced.


Animator Nal Alhusain, in her video "Procrastinators.," visualizes the types of procrastinators by reimagining the human form into a collection of limbless, ever-changes shapes.


Using full-frame and layered designs, this immersive approach transports viewers to vivid renderings of a particular story or anecdote. Requiring ingenuity and an attention to detail, this approach provides the flexibility—and the responsibility—to reimagine a new world that most effectively portrays the story at hand.


Western Union, in “Bicycle Coin,”  uses a fast-moving camera to follow the journey of a gold coin moving through immersive, stylized terrains that mix solid shapes with scratchy textures.


LAI Video’s promo, produced for the Federation of State Medical Boards, reflects the complexities of selecting a doctor in today’s fast-paced, digital world.


Utilizing thin lines in an animation can make the creation look like it is hand drawn and gives it a simplistic, yet clean and modern look. Thin lines function as direction-givers, shape-definers, and mood-setters.


Briza, in their “Explainer VIdeo,”  uses thin lines to set the tone to share with their audience how simple and easy it is to connect individuals in the insurance world.


As we move to a more futuristic sense of the world, more and more people have become hooked onto the idea of VR and the ability to interact with and experience a 3D world, very different from their everyday lives. We can see virtual reality become one of the top video animation trends in 2020.


Virtual reality has thus far been dominated by the gaming industry, as Oculus Quest shares in "Oculus Quest | Reality Meets Virtual Reality." The company has led the way in VR headsets and equipment, allowing users to turn their gaming experience into one that feels real.


Surrealism is nothing new to us - it has been around for approximately 100 years and embraces ideas of chaos and unconscious desires. Digital surrealism adds fascinating and sometimes uncomfortable visuals in unexpected ways that feel oddly familiar. 


German artist, Oliver Latta, also known as Extraweg, has mastered the art of digital surrealism with his many different projects. He strives to create content that is different, eye-opening, and forces people to think about the meaning behind his work.


At LAI Video, we're always discovering new and innovative ways to bring our client’s creative visions to life through animation. Let us help identify your industry’s hidden stories, curate cohesive messaging, and deliver engaging videos to create deeper connections with your audience. We’ll help identify the right approach to build greater brand awareness, broaden your campaign’s reach and do right by your brand.

Do you have a story that needs explaining? Do you have a message just waiting to be shared?

If you're looking to create compelling videos to showcase your industry story and bring your organization to life using any of these 2020 video animation trends, please contact our team to get started today!


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