6 Best Video Special Effects To Elevate Your Visual Content

It’s the question every video marketer has had at some point: what actually makes a marketing video engaging? Take a moment and think about some of your favorite commercials and ask yourself, what aspect of their creative concept made the greatest lasting impression on you?

Consider the wildly popular “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign Old Spice first ran in 2010. It has the classic hallmarks of an effective video ad: a charismatic talent and a script that was instantly memorable and endlessly quotable that became part of our cultural lexicon.

But even though the talent drew us in, and the script made us laugh, why–when you consider all of the elements that go into making a commercial popular–does this specific marketing video ad still resonate with us over a decade later?

Because it has stunning visual effects. 

Learn More: Social Media Video Ad Specs & Placements Guide

The commercial seamlessly mixes in-camera optical illusions with special video effects that elevate the ad like no other. It utilizes a number of different visual techniques, from dynamic transitions and animation to text effects that fade in and move with the frame. These visual effects support the ad creative’s narrative arc, helping Old Spice tell a richer story through an extremely imaginative concept.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Learn how your brand can capture attention and convert with targeted video in our Ultimate Guide to Video Marketing for Brands.

If you want to hook your audience’s attention and keep them engaged you must lean on special visual effects to elevate your video marketing ads. They do not need to be as advanced as the techniques used in big-budget brand commercials; simple visual effects can still help your audience retain information through a memorable viewing experience. 

A report by BorixFX (formerly GenArts) found that target audiences were 9% less likely to stop watching a video with visual effects compared to those without. On the eCommerce front, the study found that purchase intent was 9%-12% higher for videos with visual effects versus those without effects.

There are a myriad of different visual effects that can elevate your marketing videos. We’ll break down a few of the best special effects for videos you can start utilizing to drive action, make a lasting impression, and grow your brand!

First, let’s break a misconception. What pops in your head when you hear the words “visual effects”? Does your mind go straight to the expensive CGI of a Hollywood blockbuster? It shouldn’t. 

Video ads don’t require the same complexity of visual effects necessary for large-scale productions. Often, video effects in an advertisement are more low-lift; a way to effectively–and efficiently–bring a bit of that movie magic sparkle to how you promote your brand or product.

QuickFrame’s video production marketplace has makers who are experts in video ads for every objective, platform, and style.

1) Cinemagraphs

Cinemagraphs–sometimes referred to as motion stills–are short videos that animate a single part of a photo. Cinemagraphs are a great option to draw audiences in with a video that looks like an optical illusion, adding texture and personality to a still image through simple animation. 

This visual effect is particularly successful for Product Marketing. Cinemagraphs can dynamically showcase an entire line of products, or even highlight unique benefits with a thumb-stopping style.

In the video example above, just the sky is animated, creating an eye-catching asset. Cinemagraphs are easy to create yet you don’t see them very often, making them a good option if you want to stand out on a social platform like Instagram. This type of visual advertisement can also work extremely well at bringing personality and an edge to your eCommerce experience.

This visual effect is perfect for:

2) Motion Graphics

Motion graphics add animation to existing still photography to transform your assets into new video content. This technique can animate any number of photos and often uses on-screen text or voiceover to drive messages home

RELATED: 4 Ways to Repurpose Assets for Video Marketing

Motion graphics videos are fully customizable and easy to iterate so you can test various styles and messaging for your different audiences. They can be a clever way to establish brand identity by leaning into your organization’s unique style and layering in branded colors, fonts, and logos. Use this visual effect to call out value propositions, product features, or anything else that you know will land with your targets. 

You can achieve two separate effects by applying post-production motion graphics: you can make a photo appear as if it is actually a video or you can add visual diversity to a static image by animating just a part of the frame.

The Macallan example above employs a standard video production technique—the zoom—to draw attention to the product. As the product takes up more of the frame, additional motion graphics create the effect of luster, further highlighting the bottle.

Animating just a part of the frame is also an option. This example, also from a video QuickFrame produced for The Macallan, layers on motion text to communicate brand values and seasonal messaging. This is an excellent demonstration of how you can get a lot of mileage out of a single photo—post-production motion graphics can be employed time and again to this same asset to customize messaging for specific audiences.

This visual effect is perfect for:

  • Product Spotlights on any channel, including eCommerce
  • Direct Response Social
  • Social Commerce

3) Stop-Motion Animation

Many stop-motion videos feel high gloss, so it’s a great technique to employ for broadcast-quality creative on any channel. 

Stop-motion is an animation technique that creates a video from a series of still photos edited together in post-production. It’s an excellent option to consider if you want to bring an element of surprise, quirk, or fun to your video ad. To achieve fluid motion, stop-motion artists use 24 individual shots per second, which parallels the standard frame rate for live-action videos. The longer your concept is, the more still photographs you’ll need to take. 

For example, a 30-second commercial with 24 frames per second means you’ll need to take 720 shots. That pales in comparison to stop motion films like Kubo and the Two Strings which took over 140,000 shots to complete, but you’ll still want to stay mindful of your schedule so you can get all the shots you need in a single shoot

While stop-motion is technically achieved through video post-production editing, it’s different from the other video techniques here as it requires a specific shoot, so you can’t simply repurpose existing still photography with stop-motion

Stop-motion videos drive 58% higher sales so use the visual effect in your eCommerce experience to showcase a product line or individual product features. QuickFrame created the unboxing-style stop-motion video above for Jaanuu that works well as a brand commercial. 

This visual effect is perfect for:

  • Unboxing eCommerce Product Videos
  • Brand Commercials on any channel, including linear or CTV/OTT
  • Explainer Videos
  • Product Spotlights for eCommerce
  • How-Tos

4) Transition Effects

A simple way you can give your videos a flashy style is through dynamic transitions. Being able to seamlessly and cleverly transition from one shot to the next can keep your audience engaged as you move them through a narrative journey.

There are a number of different transition effects for videos you can employ. Cuts are the most common type for quick transitions between shots, as well as Crossfades that seamlessly blend one shot into the next so you can’t tell when one shot ends and the next begins. An even more dynamic transition uses Wipes, where one shot travels across the frame to replace another. 

Think outside of the box when it comes to transitions to land memorably. Are there ways you can layer in motion graphic techniques to add an extra layer of gloss to the way your videos move from scene to scene? Consider all of the eye-catching design elements that personify your brand and how they might be applied to your video ad transitions.

This visual effect is perfect for:

  • Sizzles
  • Brand Commercials
  • Educational/Content Marketing
  • Mini-Docs
  • Explainers

Need help making videos? See how our video production platform can help your business.

5) Text Effects

In today’s content landscape, videos are often played without sound. This is especially true on mobile devices where 69% of consumers say they watch video with sound off

For social media, that number is even higher. 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound. Leaning on text effects can be a dynamic way to convey your brand’s message in an attention-grabbing way that plays to the viewing experience users prefer.

When ideating text effects, especially for trending social media videos, keep the native video experience top of mind. Look at popular videos on each platform and take note of how they are using text effects to draw you into their message. You want to make sure that your visual effects feel appropriate to every channel your content runs on.

Text effects can also be a great way to give kinetic motion to subtitles, keeping your ads accessible and inclusive to a wider audience. Every user within your target audience has unique needs, so be sure that you are catering your content to your diverse demographics. 

This visual effect is perfect for:

  • Direct Response Social
  • How-Tos
  • Sizzle Reels
  • Educational/Content Marketing
  • Explainers
  • Customer Testimonials

6) Augmented Reality Effects

This face filter QuickFrame created for McDonalds demonstrates the unique ways augmented reality can inspire creative interaction.

Augmented Reality (AR) filters, like those found on Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram, are a visual effect that allows your audience to play and interact with brand creative directly on their mobile device. They turn an interactive effect into an immersive experience, blurring the lines between native content and sponsored advertisements. 

You’ve likely seen the different ways organizations have attempted to introduce AR to our everyday lives–we see you Google Glass–but augmented reality is truly finding a foothold as a fun filter effect brands can rely on to instantly engage consumers. These filters allow brands to harness the unique playfulness of augmented reality, turning their marketing videos into an interactive brand experience.

DISCOVER: Learn More About Snapchat Filters in our Ultimate Guide to Snapchat Marketing.

Augmented reality filters can be applied to both a user’s face and the world around them. Face filters recognize a user’s eyes, mouth, and head, transforming them into creative characters like puppies or aliens. It’s an interactive way for your target audience to test out products virtually, like trying on new jewelry from a fashion line or a pair of glasses from an eyewear eComm store. 

World effects transform the real-time environment in a regular camera lens. By using their rear-facing camera to superimpose AR on their video, audiences can place your brand or product into their everyday surroundings, like this clever new gamification campaign from Pizza Hut.

This visual effect is perfect for:

  • Product Spotlights
  • UGC-style
  • Brand Awareness
  • eCommerce and Social Commerce
  • Immersive/Experiential Content

Video Special Effects: The Takeaway

To stay competitive in the highly saturated content landscape of our video-dominated world, your brand needs to continue to produce, iterate, and test a constant stream of marketing video ads using multivariate tests on every platform. With the battle for attention more fierce than ever before, you need to leverage every tool to stand out with your creatives.

As you strategize your video content, experiment with visually creative ways to break through the noise and make a lasting impression on your audience. You can achieve this by leaning on engaging visual effects techniques for videos that elevate your concepts so the mesmerizing content that’s in your head can be translated to the screen.

By connecting with the right content makers you can easily begin generating stunning marketing videos with unique visual effects that can engage new consumers and convert them into loyal customers. 

FREE DOWNLOAD: The Ultimate Guide to Video for Performance Marketing 

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