You’ve decided to move forward with whiteboard animation. That’s great! But before you do, it’s worth thinking a bit about how this uniquely powerful technique can best be utilized. So today, we’re going to explore five ways that you can maximize your animated whiteboard video…
1. Think in Terms of Moments: Although the technique is called “Whiteboard Animation” (or “RSA Animate”), it’s important to remember exactly what’s being animated. Because unlike traditional 2D animation or CGI, the characters/objects/landscapes) don’t themselves move. There are a few animation studios (ourselves included) who do offer some small flourishes of animation/movement, but for the most part–and even in those cases–it’s useful to think of animated whiteboard video in terms of its unique properties.
So how, exactly, should one think about this technique? Early on, especially when crafting the message, it’s helpful to think of whiteboard animation similar to how one might think about a roll of film. Instead of constant, frame-by-frame movement, it’s more like a series of representative moments that, when taken together, add up to a full story.
That’s one of the reasons why whiteboard animation is so perfect for explaining process. By breaking down larger concepts into a sequence of illustrative moments, we are able to refine our message as storytellers and easily digest that message as viewers.
Keep in mind, importantly, that all throughout your animated whiteboard video action (and animation) will be taking place. It’s just that the action (and animation) comes in the form of a moving hand, a marker at work and the experience of live-before-your-eyes watching a story come to life. That keeps the energy going and helps retain the viewer’s curiosity. The point here is that the best way to maximize that energy and that curiosity is by delivering a series of well-chosen moments.
2. Text Can Be a Great Ally: Whenever we write the script for an explainer, there’s usually an initial temptation to pack it with loads of information. Below (in number 5) we’ll talk further about that on a conceptual level, but for now let’s just focus on ways that whiteboard animation can help streamline your video’s message.
In that respect, one major benefit of using the whiteboard technique is how it enables us to maximize the value of on-screen text. Because what we so often find during the script phase is that a lot of the list-like descriptions in the audio (i.e. Saves Time, Saves Money, Saves Lives…) can work equally as well, if not better, as text on the whiteboard. This approach can also be successful with other animation techniques as well, but the beauty of on-screen text in a whiteboard format is that it stands out mark starkly and can be intuited more easily by the audience. Like this:
In addition to lists, the same principle can also be applied to dates as well. Particularly with timelines, which can be great tools to succinctly organize information and provide the viewer with a sense of context and progress.
3. Characters Can Help Set Tone: In traditional animation, the environment can often play the biggest role in setting the tone for an explainer video. With whiteboard animation, this is rarely the case. Because of the medium’s more minimalist nature, that responsibility often lies with the characters. The way they are posed and the expressions on their faces really goes a long way towards setting the tone. Especially the first time we meet a character (and even more especially with the first character we meet), so keep that in mind when thinking about your animated whiteboard video.
4. Inject Some Color to add Flourish: In addition using characters, another great way to help set the tone is by injecting some color into your animated whiteboard video. We wrote in depth about this recently (5 Tips for Incorporating Color Into Your Whiteboard Video and 5 More Tips for Incorporating Color into Your Whiteboard Video) so we won’t go too deep here. But for the sake of simplicity, below are a few of our favorite tips from those pieces:
- Don’t be afraid to keep it simple
- Color can be a great way to bring your brand forward
- Color can also be a great way to un-cog the machine
5. Remember, This Video Doesn’t Have to Do the Whole Job: Our last tip of the day is simply a reminder to just keep in mind why you’re making an explainer video in the first place: to accomplish a specific objective. So as you go through the process, from start to finish, try to always keep that in mind. Don’t worry about packing in every color, character and piece of information. Instead, let your objective be the prism through which you make your decisions and what you’ll likely find is that the unique amenities of the whiteboard format will help you accomplish even more than that initial objective.