How you can have it all, substance and entertainment.
In the world of digital content, explainer videos have become an essential tool for conveying information. However, just because your content is in movie format does not mean it’s compelling and engaging. Take the wrong approach, and it might just have the charm of a prosaic PowerPoint presentation. – So let explainer movies be movies too!
At Spin Animation, we’re passionate about filmmaking. Let us show you how we make sure to use all the assets of this fascinating medium.
All of the following also applies to other kinds of movies, such as commercials for example. Let’s examine the possibilities of film. Here are five ways to make your movie truly involving and fun to watch.
1. Story – Add some pathos already!
We show a problem or challenge that the protagonist faces and then illustrate how your product or idea provides a solution. But how?
Many explainer videos fall into the trap of introducing a character (“This is Steve…”), expecting the audience to automatically connect with them. But a name doesn’t mean anything; it’s an arbitrary and superficial bit of information.
In order for the viewers to have the least bit of interest in the story, we need to create empathy. Empathy arises from witnessing a struggle. Actually, it comes from experiencing the struggle in a way. That means we need to involve the viewers. To this end, we have many tools at our disposal. The storyboard, for example.
In this example, we make use of the storyboard. Instead of commenting with a voice-over, we express the same statement visually by showing the character up close, making it easy to read their emotions. We can also use sound design or colour design to emphasize the drama.
2. Counterpoints – Think beyond
Adding depth to your storytelling through a counterpoint is not a flashy feature. It’s an element that honours the viewers and their ability to think. In doing so, it’s engaging the audience beautifully.
In essence, it’s about not simply describing what’s on screen or showing exactly what’s being talked about.
One example is the use of metaphorical visuals to symbolize abstract concepts. For example, a tree sprouting from a seed on the subject of the growth of a company. – A smart and effective tool for explainer movies.
Or, we can also create a surprising, thought-provoking contrast by dislodging image and sound.
Whether it’s a commentary, a sound effect or music, the soundtrack can create a whole new meaning for the visuals. – And the other way around, of course.
3. Pacing – Don’t forget to breathe
Pacing is a critical aspect of any explainer movie. Heck, it’s one of the reasons why editing is an integral aspect of filmmaking itself! Good pacing allows viewers to absorb information, process it, and form their own thoughts and expectations.
The trend of ever shorter attention spans has been wearing the runtime of movies. And shorter videos simply can’t hold all that much information. Having said that, excellent pacing will raise audience attention and absolutely maximize the per-second value.
We do have to focus on the key points and allow time for each concept to sink in. But that doesn’t mean an even, slow pace throughout the movie, or else we’ll surely rock the viewer to sleep!
How about a fun, quick sequence or transition. Then a slower, explanatory sequence, followed by a meaningful pause to enhance comprehension and retention. – Dynamic pacing, if you will. The soundtrack is inevitably an essential part of this rhythm and dance, so we’ll make use of it as well.
The art of pacing is one of the reasons why editing is an integral aspect of filmmaking in general. For explainer movies and commercials alike, excellent pacing will raise audience attention and absolutely maximize the per-second value.
4. The Visual Language – Speak clearly
We often see explainer movies that look great, but then notice that the message has passed us by. – Why is that?
Simply put, the movies in question are working against themselves. They distract from the message with pretty visuals that may have little to do with what’s being said. In this case, we’re not talking about counterpoints. The visuals were likely cheap to produce and worked as far as they appeased the client.
During the storyboard development, it’s important to remember that each frame needs to help convey the intended message. This should be really obvious, but it gets done wrong so often.
Another key component is the purposeful use of animation. These two 5-second sequences are built from the exact same elements. What’s different is the amount of animation, the storyboard and the colour design:
We’re overwhelmed with excessive non-stop flowing animation. The action is poorly staged with multiple things happening at once and no obvious focus points. To make things even worse, the characters blend into their background.
Here we’re given clear visual guidance. Each action happens on its own beat and the compositions are chosen with purpose. The colour palette helps us focus on the story.
You see: Instead of excessive counterproductive animation, we want to use motion for a convincing narrative with acting characters. This takes us to the last point…
5. Characters – Can you relate?
Whether it’s humour, empathy, or excitement, a movie with a strong emotional connection will get viewers engaged. Characters are perfect for this purpose.
Making the characters relatable will sell that story we talked about under Point 1. There we focused on a convincing storyboard. But we can also pull character design and acting from our bag of tools.
It’s a well-known paradox that we gravitate to something unique instead of something generic. In terms of design, this means that distinct characters are memorable and likeable!
Facial expressions are key for the viewers to connect with the characters and follow their journey. And again, unique expressions, subtle and bold ones alike, get the best responses. For that matter, symmetry is best avoided. Consider that in nature, even a resting face is not perfectly symmetrical.
Use asymmetry and odd proportions to create memorable and likeable characters, and let them express themselves in unique ways.
Finally, voice Acting. If your video includes on-screen dialogue, invest in a talented voice actor who can really add some pizzazz!
In conclusion, creating a standout explainer movie involves a combination of all elements of this multi-faceted medium that is film. – And why would you settle for less? The goal is not just to convey information but to engage, inspire and entertain your viewers. Captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression!