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A video can hold people’s attention for longer than text or images alone. The combination of audio and visuals works well to explain confusing concepts or topics. An explainer video is simply a video created to explain a product, service or concept in an easy way. They are great marketing tools for businesses and are gaining popularity.
An explainer video can be made with live action footage, character animation, motion graphics, stills or any of the multiple other types of animation.
1. Establish a purpose and goal for the video
This step applies to any video, not just explainer videos. You need to think about what you would like to achieve from the video.
2. Find a production company to create your video
Contact a few production companies with attractive portfolios and request a proposal and quote. You should inform them of any deadlines from the beginning so they can give a realistic timeline and price. Just note that the level of animation you request will dramatically affect the price and timeline of the project.
3. Write an engaging script
This is the most important part of the video. High-quality visuals complement a script but do not make up for a weak script. It is advisable for the company requesting the video to write the script rather than the production company, as they are more knowledgeable of the topic. However, the production company can provide advice on how to tell your story more effectively. The script must be very clear and understandable for the target audience. Do not use jargon if the video is aimed at the general public.
4. Create a storyboard and custom designed graphics
After the script has been finalised the production company should start to visualise the text.
Keep in mind the level of animation required when storyboarding. The storyboard may start as stick figures and text explaining the actions. In some cases, the production company will have a specialised storyboard artist to draw out the shots but this is not always necessary for smaller budget videos.
Once the imagery and actions have been confirmed the graphics can be designed. It is essential that you use vector graphics so that the quality does not drop if the graphics are enlarged. The animator and the graphic designer must be in close contact to ensure the graphics are designed appropriately for animation. Any components of a graphic which will be animated need to be on separate layers, for example, an arm or a leg.
All graphics must be designed professionally in a uniform style. It is advisable for the production company to show the client a few designs before completing all graphics so the client can give feedback on colours, style, etc.
Once the graphic style has been confirmed and the graphics designed, make stills of each shot using said graphics. Use text to explain how each graphic will be animated and how one shot transitions to the next. Try not to complicate the message with over the top animation. The visuals should enhance the audio and not distract from it.
If the client is pleased with the finalised storyboard, graphics, and plan for the animation, then it is time to move onto the next step!
5. Record narration
Who will be the voice over artist? A professional or someone working in the company? The latter is the cheaper option. Fiverr is a website where you can search for voice over artists if you are based in the USA.
Believe it or not, the animation is the last step! If you start animation before the script or graphics are finalised you will create more work for yourself. You should, of course, decide on the level of animation at the beginning of the project but there is no need to actually start animating until everything else is finalised. As animation is very time-consuming and expensive, you’ll want to avoid re-doing too many shots. It can be helpful to animate one or two shots when finalising the graphics and storyboard so the client knows exactly what to expect from the finished piece.
We created the following explainer video for Codema which features a mix of live action and animated sections.
The animation parts have a cartoon style with motion graphics. This style works well as you get the best of both worlds. The cartoon characters should be custom designed and must relate. This humanises your brand and gives it emotion and personality. Full character animation is very expensive and time consuming and can sometimes give a childish tone to a video. Motion graphics are often more serious than cartoon style character animation and are less expensive as there is less full animation. The combination of the two can give your video a friendly aspect from the cartoon style with the power of engaging animation from the motion graphics technique.
Our animator used After Effects to animate Codema’s explainer video. This is a popular powerful piece of software ideal for motion graphics and animation. If you’re thinking about 3D animation, then you might want to consider Cinema 4D.