What is an Explainer Video and Tips for Producing One
Did you know dinosaurs could be recreated from mosquitoes found in amber? Well, we did. As kids, we knew that John Hammond had “spared no expense” in creating Jurassic Park. We also had nightmares from the velociraptor scene for months, but the real point is that we could explain exactly how the terrifying prehistoric beasts were resurrected because of this gem:
The science behind the fictional island was complex, but this explainer video broke it down so it was easy enough for kids to grasp and also wild enough that adults were equally entertained. That is the power of an explainer video. As evidenced by this 90’s cinematic treasure, explainer videos are not new, but they have come a long way since Jurassic Park.
What is an Explainer Video Today?
In essence an explainer video is a marketing tool used to highlight a product, service, or an idea in an engaging way that gets viewers to understand and to care. Explainer videos distill complex ideas into a viewer-friendly format that conveys the big WHY.
Explainer videos combine auditory and visual mediums, making it easier for the audience to understand the message because it’s hitting them on two fronts. Viewers hear and see the story so it permeates their minds in a way that is easy to remember. As humans, our brains are hardwired for stories. A good story is understandable, memorable, and relatable. When created effectively, explainer videos tap into logic and emotion, allowing viewers' heads and hearts to move in a direction that motivates them to take action.
Building an Explainer Video
Explainer videos are composed of four main sections: the script, the voiceover, visuals, and sound design (i.e. music and sound effects). Just like buildings include a foundation, framing, facades, and other finishing touches to create a custom look for your home, explainer videos can be assembled differently based on your unique needs.
Strong Foundation Starts with the Script
A well-written script is the foundation of any successful video. Just like a quality home can’t be built on a shaky foundation, a compelling video can’t stand on a weak script. Every script will be different, here are some tips to design a solid explainer video script:
Begin with a catchy hook that explains why the audience should care (and continue watching).
Frame a relatable story with a clear beginning, middle, and end that shows how the product, service, or idea works and how it solves the audience’s problem or otherwise makes the world better.
Root logic in emotion so that the audience is compelled to take an action after watching the video.
Wrap up the story with the big WHY of how your product or service will make the audience’s lives better.
Finally, end with a call to action so they know what to do next. You don’t need to infomercial your audience into making a purchase, but they should understand what action to take by the end. (For more information about an effective call to action go here.)
Say It How You Mean It
Voiceover adds the structural framing upon which you can build the visuals. A sluggish or unclear voice will leave your audience with no space to enjoy the video. Factors to consider when selecting a voice:
Accent - Do you need a specific accent, such as American, British, southern, midwestern, etc.?
Age - Are you trying to appeal to a younger or older audience?
Gender - Does your product skew more towards males or females?
Pacing/Tone - Is the video meant to be more fun or serious? Do you need to build trust or be more authoritative?
The voice of the video represents the audience. And you want to make sure they feel seen. Using professional voice talent can help your company identify with a specific gender, age, or geographic location to strengthen the audience likelihood of connecting with your message.
Like the facade and design of your home, visuals have a huge impact on the overall feel of the video. Just like shiplap and open concepts affect your home’s aesthetic, visuals add your unique brand to the explainer video. At this step in the process, you want animation that fits your brand, message, and audience. In addition to making sure the video looks good, visuals should be clear and complement what you’re trying to say.
Here are a few visual factors to consider when designing an animated explainer video:
Characters vs motion graphics - Is this a character driven video or something that relies more on motion graphics utilizing objects and/or charts?
Design - Do you want something that looks hand drawn, perhaps even a whiteboard video, or visuals that are crisp and symmetrical?
Colors - Do you want a simple color palette or a look that’s more realistic and colorful?
2D or 3D - Will 2D or 3D animation tell a more clear visual story?
Cost is typically a function of complexity, for example, 3D animated videos will cost more than 2D. They usually take more time to create too, so keep that in mind when visually designing the video. Remember, the ultimate goal is telling an impactful story the audience understands, so if the visuals don’t achieve that goal, no matter how beautiful they look, make adjustments until the message hits its target.
Like good lighting in your home, don’t overlook the importance of sound design for your explainer video. Sound effects help bring the video to life and make it feel real, while music creates the emotional underpinning for your video. Music helps your audience feel your content as well as see it. Depending on your budget, you can select stock music or custom score the soundtrack for your video. A complete sound design gives your audience an immersive experience that draws them into your video and allows it to have a bigger emotional impact.
If a generation of 90s kids can recite, from memory, how fictional dinosaurs returned to terrorize scientists on an island, an effectively structured explainer video can help your audience understand why they need what you’re offering.
If you have questions about the best way to use an explainer video to share your product, service or idea, Wienot Films is here for you. We eat, sleep, and breathe explainer videos and are passionate about helping others tell their stories. Send us a message with your explainer video questions.