On Animation
December 16, 2016

7 videos to check out if you’re considering explainer animation

Trying to find useful content on a topic you’re new to can be like finding a needle in a haystack. And when that topic is something as over-saturated as online video, suddenly the haystack becomes an overgrown hedge maze and the needle is a contact lens you lost three years ago which may or may not be entirely a figment of your imagination.

If you’ve ever considered getting an explainer video made for your brand you might find the amount of information available overwhelming. Luckily we’ve done the hard work already and compiled a handy list of seven video resources in three categories to get you started on your explainer video journey. You’re welcome!

1) what is an explainer video?

If you’re here, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with the idea of explainer videos. Maybe you’re looking for more info, want to know what benefits it can bring to your brand or need a quick way to show the concept to your marketing manager. The next couple of videos offer a quick overview of what explainer videos are through the style of—that’s right—being explainer videos themselves. Feel the meta.

what is an explainer video? – plainly simple studios

This is a basic explainer video about explainer videos, offering some good points about the advantages of using explainers to convey complex information, improve SEO and increase sharability of your brand’s content. The animation is relatively basic and they have a not-so-subtle plug for their company toward the end, but it does contain a nice, simple breakdown of the explainer video process in the second half. Worth checking out if you’re considering getting an explainer video made and want to know what you’re in for.

explainer video on explainer videos – column five

This is a more scientifically-focussed video with some particularly appealing character design and fluid visuals. It gives some interesting psychological stats about explainers, and clocking in at 1 minute 45 seconds, it’s a nice, quick overview of the ideas behind why explainers work. Fair warning: I found the narration is a little lifeless and difficult to follow during the information sections, but the information itself (and the appealing visual style) is certainly worth a look regardless.

2) what are the different styles of explainer video?

Before going to a restaurant it’s generally a good idea to know what kind of food the restaurant serves. Likewise, if you’re thinking of getting an explainer video made for your brand, it’s wise to know what different styles are on offer and what’s going to work best for your message.

what is the best explainer video style for your business? – yum yum videos

Here we get an overview of some popular explainer styles: screencast, cartoon-style, whiteboard, and motion graphics. Each one comes with a recommendation for the type of audience that will best respond to the given style. The descriptions of each style are broad, a little debatable, and should be taken with a grain of salt, but give a good breakdown for people brand new to the explainer video concept.

the 5 types of animation – bloop animation

A homemade informational video outlining some popular animation techniques: traditional, 2D animation, computer animation, motion graphics and stop motion. While this video is aimed more toward aspiring animators, the descriptions give a great overview of the animation process and reasoning behind the process, for those who like to know where their money is going.

It’s worth pointing out that the categories are broadly titled: for example, the ‘2D animation’ talked about in the video more specifically refers to digital 2D, while ‘Traditional’ refers specifically to analogue, regardless of whether the technique is traditional frame-by-frame or digitally tweened. But if you’re an animation noob who wants to cover their bases, it’s worth checking out as it also contains a nice compare and contrast between the sections, as opposed to just a flat description of each.

3) what are some great examples of explainer videos?

something that reflects a brand’s voice: give-get – explanimate!

Getting across the tone, style and general ‘voice’ of the brand/message is perhaps the most important factor of creating a good explainer video. It’s the hook—the reason viewers don’t click away, and it can be the difference between a converting customer and a pointless website visit.

This is why it’s important the explainer production company knows the brand inside and out. For the above video, Explanimate outlines the idea behind the Give-Get video: “This company offers personalised children’s storybooks partnered, in particular, with Disney. They wanted their video to capture the same sense of childlike wonder and awe that their storybooks do.”

The childlike motif comes across visually in a number of ways: soft glows and bright colours with a purple-focussed scheme, commonly associated with the Disney princess brand; ‘fairy dust’ visual effects accompanied with twinkly chime sound effects strengthen the Disney link; finally, the simple cel-shaded character design rings of childhood storybook illustrations, tightening the visual link with the product itself.

something that explains a complicated product easily: crazy egg – demo duck

It’s an easy trap to fall into. You’ve got a product that’s hard to explain, requires technical knowledge to understand, or uses complex technology that’s tricky to convey to the everyday layman. You know at its core it’s a very useful product, so instead of focussing on the problem you slog through the explanation to consumers, trying to explain how ingenious the infrastructure pipeline is in making your product work.

In actuality, the problem is what we want to focus on first. Crazy Egg is a heatmap tool software, and it’s not an easy product to explain to the technology ill-inclined. But by focussing on the visitor’s problem first (“Why aren’t your website visitors converting?”) and the gap in the market (“Google analytics won’t show you why they’re not converting, but we can”), the usefulness of the product becomes apparent before even needing to explain how it works. Moving on to briefly describe the features and their relevance to the visitor’s problem solidifies the legitimacy of the product, resulting in an increased likelihood of brand trust.

something that uses real, actual whiteboard animation: wiro overview – explanimate!

I hear what you’re saying: why on earth is ‘Real, actual whiteboard animation’ listed as a great example? For those unfamiliar with the medium, there’s two types of whiteboard animation. One is created digitally, with reveal effects making digital line art appear as a video of a live action hand ‘draws’ the image. The other is a time lapse video of an artist’s hand drawing the image live, using improvised skill and a huge amount of artistic talent. The first is much more common, and the second is dishearteningly rare.

Real whiteboard animation (aside from the existing benefits of a standard explainer video) introduces a extra layer of engaging human presence. Think of it like a live performance: you don’t turn away in the middle of a magic act for fear of missing out on seeing ‘how it’s done’. Likewise, real whiteboard animation engages the viewer on a curious, aesthetic level—it’s harder for a viewer to click away when they’re in the middle of seeing a drawing come together right before their eyes.

Written by
Maree Railton

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