BudgetingTraining Animations

4 approaches to animation in e-learning development for manufacturers

How to minimize your animation costs for your online training courses

Companies that manufacture products usually have a need for animation in their e-learning modules, and rightly so. In training applications, animations are exceptionally good at illuminating a number of key concepts in a training program, such as:

  • Demonstrating what can’t be seen – Animations can provide views into hidden areas or small areas of machinery and clearly illustrate the operation of a product or process
  • Providing a process overview or virtual tour of a manufacturing line and show how key processes tie together
  • Dramatizing the proper method for performing a potentially dangerous task or procedure
  • Magnifying the important details on a small part

There’s no doubt that animation can be a great help to communicate your message, but it can also be quite expensive. Be sure that animation is truly the best technique to achieve your training objective. Have you considered video, photos, or illustrations and ruled them out? If so, animation may be the best solution.

I’ve put together a tiered list of 4 methods of producing animations from least to most expensive. If a less expensive method will adequately illustrate your message, why spend more?

  1. Series of photos or CAD drawings
    The simplest way to animate or show a change is to take a series of photos or CAD images. You can use them side-by-side, down the page or combine them into a video with dissolves between images. An example of this would be showing the order of how a product is disassembled by displaying CAD renderings of each step of the disassembly.  Depending on how familiar your learners are with the product would dictate how many still images or drawings would be necessary.
    2 Aug 26 rev
  2. Photo, line drawings or CAD drawing with graphic enhancement
    A photo or CAD drawing of your product or the machines on your line can be composited with animations on top to show liquid/gas flow, a process or to call out specific features or areas.Line Drawing
  3. 2D animation
    Your product or materials can be drawn in Photoshop or Illustrator and then brought into a 2D animation program like After Effects for further enhancement.  Adding things as simple as text builds along with arrows pointing to what the text is describing can go a long way in further educating your learners about your specific product.2D
  4. 3D animation
    3D animation entails the use of 3D models of your product, machines or materials. Due to the extensive amount of modeling, rigging, animating, lighting, and rendering required , 3D animation becomes a time consuming and costly process, but the end results can be quite impressive.This type of animation is best suited for illustrating processes and procedures that can’t easily be seen or explained in text or audio alone.  An example would be showing the inner-workings of an engine and how an exhaust system works.  You could see a cut away of the engine and all the working parts while it is running and then highlight specific parts and even rotate around them to get a better view of it.3D

Animation can be a very effective training tool, but costly. With careful consideration, you can maximize your impact while minimizing your costs.

Ron Trilling
Author of Learning Lines | Founder and Partner, at Media Dynamics
Ron is a great source of information when it comes to eLearning. He has a background in instructional design and has worked with many companies to help develop their eLearning content and courses.
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