• 1.800.672.8698
  • Blog: MediaLab 3D Perspectives

    4 Reasons Animation is Superior When Teaching a Process

    Recently, Ruth Clark, a specialist in instructional design and training, challenged the use of animation when teaching a process — for example, how a toilet flushes or how brakes work.

    Clark referenced an experiment comparing animation with still images. The experiment begs the questions:

    • What type of animation was used?
    • How well was that animation designed?

    While Clark claims that animations “risk imposing too much mental load,” we suspect that the research is referring to Flash-based video rather than interactive instructional animation where the user can control the time frame and order in which information is presented. And, of course, the quality of the animation could easily impact the effectiveness.

    Well-designed instructional animations (especially interactive) are effective in demonstrating processes for several reasons:

    1. Animation harnesses the power of multimedia learning.

    In fact, as educational psychologist Richard E. Mayer’s research proves, combining auditory verbal information with visual graphic information reduces the learning curve and increases retention. Again, this assumes that the animation is high in quality, well designed and well organized.

    2. Interaction increases engagement.

    For example, many of our homebuilder clients find that homebuyers spent quadruple the time engaging with interactive floor plans than they do with traditional static floor plans. The fact is, they learn more, experiment with options and can more effectively see how their home can be built.

    Another recent example that has worked well for Netgear’s customers is the interactive Connected Lifestyle — showing how the networking process works using animation:

    Networking Process

    3. 3D animation demonstrates motion.

    3D animation is simply unmatched when it comes to showing zooms, moving cross sections, and revealing cutaways or exploded views. By giving the learner a photo-real view of the inner-workings of a process, they can see processes such as water flow, how parts fit together and why machines work the way they do. Showing detailed motion is nearly impossible with still images or photography.

    A terrific example is Whirlpool’s animation below which demonstrates the HE washer’s basket movement and impeller motion. Because consumers can more easily understand the washer’s process, they’ll also understand why it sounds and behaves differently than their old traditional washer. This results in happier customers and fewer calls to Whirlpool’s Customer Service department.

    Why HE Top-Load Washers Use Less Water


    4. Quality animation is realistic and immersive.

    With the highest-quality animation, most subjects can’t detect that they’re viewing animation instead of video. In fact, animation often excels over video because it’s less distracting. With well-executed 3D animation, our clients are able to educate their customers by pairing real-life environments with instructional cues, graphics and process-focused information.

    One example is this animation that shows how induction cooking works.

    How Induction Cooking Works

    Chime In

    Does your product require a complex process that’s simply impossible to show with video or still images?

    How do you currently demonstrate that process for your customers? Add your comments below or join the discussion on Twitter!

    Print Friendly


    1. Jared Ferreira says:

      Top shelf information provided here. I love all the points you stressed to maximize engagement for the audience/ learners. There needs to be more of this kind of interaction besides your typical dry, cut and paste stuff out there.

      • Thanks for stopping by…and for the kind words Jared! Indeed, engagement is key when it comes to any kind of learning. And, when it comes to learning a process or how something works, 3D animation is often a perfect fit. Thanks again!


    1. […] be incorporated into instructional product animations […]

    Speak Your Mind