Whiteboard explainer videos use illustrations, animation, and voiceover narration to convey complex and abstract ideas in an entertaining and engaging way. In this day of smartphones and social media, attention is the new “currency”, and explainer videos are a great way to stand out and hold a viewers attention long enough to unpack the details of your product or service.
For me they are a lot of fun to create because they combine a number of disciplines that I enjoy, including script writing, storyboarding, drawing, and video production. All of my explainer videos use hand-drawn illustrations and not “library” or pre-drawn images. I feel that custom, bespoke illustrations are more effective because you can create visuals that best compliment the narration and craft a cohesive look rather than searching for ones that are merely “close enough”.
When you say “whiteboard explainer video”, it can leave a lot to the imagination because styles can vary so much. So, I decided to create a whiteboard explainer video ABOUT my whiteboard explainer videos. This will give you a feel for how I approach creating my whiteboard explainer videos AND show you my style and what a finished video can look like.
Here is a series of whiteboard explainer videos I completed about annuities for an investment company. The agency I worked with provided the scripts and “visual cues/suggestions” to start with for each video. From there we collaborated on changes and improvements and settled on final scripts and storyboards. They arranged the background music and the voice artists. I combined all of this with custom illustrations to create each of the final explainer videos.
I’m a big believer in working through a process when creating explainer videos. Like with many projects, the further along you get, the harder (and more expensive) it is to incorporate changes. At the same time, I realized that there’s a certain amount of “art” to this and we’re not stamping these out on an assembly line. There needs to be some flexibility. So a process provides a framework to ensure that things move along as efficiently as possible for everyone, while at the same time allowing for adjustments and modifications along the way as is often the case with creative work. With that said, here is the process I normally follow when creating an explainer video (and the same process I followed for my own explainer video above):
With an explainer video, it all starts with a script. It is common to want to jump to the actual video and graphics, but if it’s not based on an effective script the final video will be no better. (“Garbage in, garbage out” sort of thing.) Often times I am collaborating with the client on the script.
At this stage (and going into the “Ideation” stage next), I like to keep the idea of storytelling in the back of my mind. The script and the resulting video should not merely deliver information, but rather deliver the information wrapped in a story. Humans are naturally drawn to stories and they are an incredibly effective way to package a message. (If you boil your favorite movie, book, song, etc down it is really saying SOMETHING. That SOMETHING is the message, but it resonates with you because of the surrounding STORY.) Entertaining narrative and visual elements added to the script and video are a good way to help build this story, and it’s something I try to add when I have the opportunity.
At this point I start to come up with ways to visually convey what is in the script. I’m looking for the important concepts and ideas that would benefit from complimentary illustrations or motion graphics of some kind.
To drill down on this a bit, I feel that explainer videos “work” because they leverage our collective visual shorthand to facilitate the understanding of more challenging topics.
Take financial concepts, for example. People in that industry will be accustomed to text-heavy information, charts and graphs, and specific jargon. People not in the industry may find this confusing or dry, and you will lose them. However, complementing the narration with some basic visuals can help:
- You can use money stacks to REPRESENT money.
- You can use the SIZE of money stacks to represent RELATIVE AMOUNTS of money, without necessarily needing to get into the exact quantities.
- You can use GROWING money stacks to show CHANGES in the amount of money.
- You can use MOVING money stacks to show TRANSFER of money.
- And you can use different DEPICTIONS of people to show WHO has that money.
This is just scratching the surface, but even these relatively simple visual techniques can help convey the essential information to wider audiences in ways that other methods don’t.
I then document all of this ideation into a storyboard document. This will show key visual moments in the video, along with the portion of the script they correspond with and any “stage direction” that I’m planning, like if things will move into frame or be animated at a certain time. I will share this final storyboard document with the client for approval.
These storyboard images also server as the basis for the illustrations in the final explainer video.
Explainer Video Production
With the storyboard document approved, I then move on to creating the actual explainer video. Lots of drawing!
Note: The explainer videos I create are typically black and white, but I have included color to varying degrees in videos in the past. I show a quick example of this in my explainer video above.
Narration and Background Music
Arranging the voiceover artist and getting background music can often happen a the same time that the previous steps are happening. For the voice work, I have used online voice talent services and have also had the client provide this. If there will be background music in the video, I normally use royalty-free music that can be purchased online, but like with voice talent I have had the client provide this as well.
Explainer Video Finalization
After I assemble a cut of the video I will share it with the client to get feedback. From there we will work on changes that are needed till we settle on a final version.
When the explainer video is complete, I export a high-quality file and send to the client. I can also send along a few still images from the video for use as video thumbnails for YouTube or other social media sites.
If you’re interested in a whiteboard explainer video for your product or service, contact me and we can discuss further.