Masterfully written by: J. Bader
When we refer to talking heads we are referring to real people, not avatars or animations. Now I really like animation, and our company has done some real neat stuff using the technique, but in order to instill real human personality into a cartoon, even one that almost looks real, requires enormous time and cost; that is, if you want it to be effective.
For the most part, avatars and animations lack the human quirks and eccentricities that turn presentation into performance. I recently watched the big budget movie Beowulf, and sure I recognized Anthony Hopkins, John Malkovich, and Angelina Jolie, but trust me when I tell you, despite their distinctive voices, the real people are far more effective on-screen than their animated imitations.
Even with the high tech performance capture techniques used; the result resembles more of a stilted video game than an actual engaging performance. Talk about technique without purpose, let's hire world famous actors, hook them up to wires and stuff, record all their performance movements, then hire a whole bunch of world renown animators and engineers, and turn the result into second-rate imitations of real people that lack the fluidity, expression, and the non verbal communication subtleties that make these actors effective. What a waste of money and effort. I mean at least they could have turned them into penguins or something, but I digress. The point is, using an avatar or cartoon on your site to deliver your marketing message instead of a real human being, is in most cases, a mistake.
So I've convinced you that animated avatars are not the way to go if you're looking to inject some branding personality into your website. But why use a talking head at all? I mean, if you're going to do video, why not some really neat dolly shots, mixed with a little handheld action, multiple set changes, and heck, why not a car chase, or even better, let's blow something up? Yeah I know, you're selling toupees, but what the hell, it would be viral! Don't get me wrong, I like big budget projects as much as the next guy, but do you really want to pay for that kind of production, and more importantly, does it serve your purpose?