Let's start with the basics of what explainer videos are and what they aren't. They are a short film that explains a topic in a simple way usually with animated characters describing the situation. They are often used to sell products, explain difficult concepts, and sometimes as training materials.They are different to television ads in that they are not always used to sell a product, but sometimes to explain an idea. They are animated to clarify a concept, but they are not like a children's cartoon. They teach a process but they are not educational videos. In fact, explainer videos are a genre of their own.
Video is relatively new in the internet.
At the onset of the internet all information was text based due to the low bandwidth and download speed of the net. Suddenly websites such as Youtube, Vimeo and Dailymotion appeared and videos have become an important way of explaining information in our daily life.
In addition to this, the advent of mobile phone technology has enabled humanity to enter the internet from anywhere at any time. Now we are able to be introduced to new concepts visually that previously were only visible on a television or in a cinema.
The spread and improvement of video production software has enabled a huge output of videos and has made its production cheaper and more accessible than ever before. This combined with more channels to view videos has greatly improved their relevance in todays age.
Why do you need an explainer video?
The advantages of explainer videos over text or pictures is that video has greater control over the tempo and rhythm of new information. Videos can combine the powers of strong images, an emotive script, and expressive music in ways that the other forms of communication cannot. Also as a salesman of your message, video performs the same way every time it is shown.
Video is a very simple form of communication, the viewer only needs to do one thing, view. A big chunk of text is often overlooked simply because the reader will have to spend a lot of time immersed in the material trying to figure out what is being explained. In a podcast or for example a sale that takes place over the phone, the listener can get distracted by visual stimuli and will zone out of your message and of course when communicating one to one with a salesman the listener is required to ask questions, to acknowledge certain points and gesture appropriately.
Video has the advantage of being able to take up the entire focus of the viewer with its visual stimuli, musical accompaniment, explanatory voiceover and all the subtle effects of timing, color, spatial relationship, brightness, focus, sound effect, tempo and rhythm.
Types of explainer videos
This is a method whereby a concept is drawn quickly on a whiteboard as it is explained via voiceover. They give the feeling of watching a teacher in school drawing on a whiteboard and explaining difficult concepts by their spatial relationship to other objects. Mostly whiteboard animations are made digitally since a lot more care and focus can be placed on the visuals and they are easier for the client to edit afterwards. Sometimes a hand is even animated in to complete the effect of a person quickly drawing what the speaker is saying.
This is a more detailed animation where the characters are a more complicated design, they move more fluently and are able to interact with their surroundings. This method is used often when a character is the focus of the animation and their adventure is being described by the video. Since each character is made up out of separate parts, for example a torso, arms, legs, head, hands and feet, they may take some time to animate but their possibilities of movement are quite great.
A beautiful animation style where a physical object is consecutively photographed in slightly different positions and movement is created when watched back at 25 frames per second (this is not the only frame rate possible). This animation method is typically quite time consuming related to other methods since the character's movement can not be programmed into the computer but must be physically positioned for each frame. The advantage of this style is a very different feel to the video, it is more graspable since the viewer sees a physical object moving around and interacting to its environment.
Like the old great cartoons of the past, hand drawn animation requires an illustrator to draw all of the positions of a character as they move around. It is also a time consuming form of animation with very few short cuts, each position must be drawn carefully to ensure the tempo and rhythm of the movement is precise. It is also very difficult to make corrections to the animation after a certain stage, so a lot of time is taken up by finalizing the storyboards and pencil sketches.
This stands for Computer Generated Images, a method whereby a character is created within a computer and is animated by keyframes. The animator decides upon a beginning position, moves forward some seconds and repositions the model, the computer then maps out the movement that would take place between these two points and thus animates the character. This is also a very time consuming and expensive form of animation but is unlimited in the scope of the designs possible, since forces such as gravity, air friction and mass can be programmed into the computer.
Half way between a three dimensional computer animation and a hand drawing is a 2.5D animation. Where flat characters are placed within a world of depth, enabling them to move behind and around certain objects. This effect can also enable a digital camera to move around the characters and fly directly into the image.
Process of making a video and how you are involved.
Before we go into this be aware that this is the process that the director of your video goes through. They must not only search for corrections, but also articulate them clearly to the correct department to improve the film. Your role when watching the video presented to you is to spot anything that the director has overlooked.
You tell us about your product or service in a precise way so that we have a good idea of what you are promoting. We are particularly interested in who you are, who the video is for and what the video is specifically about. We are also interested in knowing if there are any taboos we should not mention or any topics we should not explain.
The more we understand about you, the easier it is for us to make your video.
Once we have enough information about your product or service we condense it down into a script, here we map out the scenes, create characters and settings and work out the flow of the video.
Your main focus upon reading the script is to tell us whether there are any concepts in there that send wrong messages, any characters that are distracting and any lines of dialogue that are unclear. We want to make sure you are happy with the flow of your explainer video so that it explains the ideas you want to focus on.
Our team of designers will draw you our ideas for characters, locations and certain important props. This is based upon what appears in the script, so it is very important that you have given an 'ok' on the script before the major design work is undertaken. Otherwise it will take a lot of time to constantly redo the designs.
Your major feedback on the design stage is to decide whether the characters fit the target age and demographics of your target audience, if the locations are precise enough, for example there is a great difference between a hospital and a clinic and finally if there are any important design elements from your corporate design we can insert into the video.
Our designers will create a small storyboard out of the video which acts like a comic book, describing all of the action that will take place in the video.
When you are commenting on the storyboard you must make sure that there are no overlaps of information, that a concept that is clearly stated in the visuals is not doubly explained in the dialogue.
You must also see about the placement of certain pieces of information to make sure that everything is clearly described.
Our animators will take the designer's drawings and will work on the movement and timing of the short explainer video. They will work with the voiceover and music and will give you a video that has been timed correctly and is on the way to the final video. The colors may not be the same as the final version, certain elements of timing will not be precise, there may be placeholders and perhaps the music will be in an early stage.
The first draft can be changed in any way you wish, however your main goal when watching the first draft is to decide upon the timing and placement of certain elements, you want to help us to explain your idea clearly so if anything is too distracting you must let us know. You can change the voiceover if you are unhappy with a certain line of dialogue, or if the speaker is not a good fit. You must also decide if the music is a good fit, if certain instruments are distracting and if the tempo is right for your video.
When you hear the voiceover consider these things.
Is the voice the right age? If your product is for children, perhaps an older voice is the wrong fit to explain your service or product.
Does the accent distract from the message? Different cultures respond better to different accents, so pay attention to the nationalities of your audience to make sure that they will respond positively to the accent. You can ask for different versions of the voiceover in different accents so you can test them to see which works best for your viewers.
Is the mood right for the video? Different speakers bring different emotions to their vocal work, if your product is lighthearted, then perhaps a serious voice is not right for you. Tempo and rhythm play a role as well especially if there is a rhyme in the script or if the voiceover sounds too monotonous.
Is the gender right for the video? This is a very wide topic, but the general rule is that males respond better to male voices and females to females. However, this depends on the topic, sometimes an attractive male voice is very effective when talking to females. Often it is very clear which gender would work best, however the surest way to know for sure is to test both versions.
When you are commenting on the music for your explainer video, keep these things in mind.
Is the mood right for the video? Perhaps a jolly salsa is not a good fit for your presentation of medical equipment, and perhaps the deep drum beat makes your product sound sinister, keep this in mind when you are commenting on the music.
Are there any distracting instruments? Sometimes one voice can break a choir, it is the same with the instruments in the music track. We will work hard with the composer to make sure the track is just right, but there may be some elements that could flow better with a different sound mix.
Is the tempo right for your explainer video? If the music is too fast it can distract from the message of the film, it heightens the expectations of the viewer causing them to overlook certain parts of the message of the film, or simply tune out of the video. This is the same if the music is so slow that it makes the viewer relax too much, there are no rules regarding the correct tempo of the video, it depends on each individual case.
After we have made our changes to the film we will present you with the second draft, it will be closer to the final product, but may still need some more work before it is satisfactory.
Your goal when watching the second draft is to decide upon whether the changes you have requested are actually moving in the right direction, if there are any things you have overlooked the first time, if the replacements of placeholders have been handled well and so forth. When you make corrections on the second draft it is with the idea that these will be the last changes you will make to the video, even if we make more drafts afterwards.
The video is now finished and we will send you the final version via email. If you have requested more than one version of the film for split testing reasons we will send them all to you. We will even convert the files into a smaller format to make it easier for you to upload the video to your website, for mobile use, or even for large scale projection.
Bear with us, this is where it gets quite technical, we may have to get in touch with your web designer or technician to make sure we are sending you the correct file types.
There it is, your video is done.