Animated Explainers and how to create one

A short guide to the video production process for both entrepreneurs and designers

Tomasz Dyrks
Pragma  —  Design Studio


Have you ever tried to convey an idea, explain something to your audience, or just build awareness around your product or service? In marketing, there are several ways to do that, but today I would like to focus on videos or more precisely — animated explainers.

The consumption of video content systematically rises. Cisco states that, by 2022, 82% of all consumer web traffic will be video. According to the Twitter report, posts with video attracted 10x more engagements than Tweets without video. The numbers speak for themselves, and these are just two examples.

Videos can help you and your business:

  • build brand awareness,
  • educate your audience,
  • increase engagement, especially with mobile users,
  • increase click-through rate in emails
  • increase Google search ranking and a lot more.

Let’s imagine you want to create an animated explainer. What steps are in the process?

1. Research and strategy

During this stage, it’s essential to get to know your audience better. What do they know about your offering? On what stage are you with your product or service, and what do you want to communicate? Are you building a new innovative solution and want to know public reaction? Or maybe you redesign your current product or just add a new feature? Several factors need to be taken into consideration. The company you choose will ask you a lot of questions to understand your goals better.

2. Pre-production

This stage is all about creating a script accompanied by a storyboard. It is a crucial step in the process because the output will provide the basis of the entire work. Good writing tells the story with clear goals and maintains interest throughout the duration of the video. Bad storytelling can’t be fixed even by the state of art illustrations or motion.

Sometimes if the product or service you are trying to communicate is too complex even for the design team you are working with, a good way would be to visualize your thoughts. Some of the visualizations can be used to build narration or even copy-paste into a storyboard. The rule of thumb is to aim for a 1–1:30 min of the narrative.

The storyboard’s primary function is conveying narrative in the form of images and acting as a guide for a motion picture. These are selected frames, particularly significant in the whole story.

A storyboard created by our team

It is recommended not to rush in the process because it is all about the iteration. Some scenes can even alter the script slightly.

The pre-production stage is also a time to establish some visual assumptions. If you are on the path of shaping your product or just want to refresh your brand’s image, a useful tool to communicate the idea with designers can be a bipolar chart. It helps to align the expectations because, with the use of some references, everybody in the room has a similar perception of what will be built. So as a person responsible for the company’s impression, make sure you know how the brand should be perceived.

Example of bipolar chart

To achieve the desired look and feel, you can use different techniques. Among most notables are 3D or 2D animation, stop motion, and even the classic hand-drawn method.

3d animation by Guillaume Kurkdjian
2D animation by Seth Eckert
Stop motion animation by Ueno

3. Production

Now all is up to your design team. With the final script, storyboard, and visual direction, the work on the video can start. You should expect some samples of work in progress from your agency. Each studio has its internal process of creating “things,” but it is always good to know the project direction.

Character evolution during the process by Clim Studio

4. Post-production

At this stage, the explainer needs some editing and polishing. Usually, voice-over and additional sounds are added in the pre-production stage. People gain a better understanding of a product or service once they see and hear someone explain it. That’s why it is recommended to invest some time in finding a good voice actor. There are a lot of companies recording voices for various purposes with a large number of available tone of voices — your team should take care of it and propose you some samples, but you can do it yourself too. The tone of voice and its character should mirror the output from previous steps to build a coherent experience.

If an explainer needs to be very dynamic, make sure to include the lector and sound editor earlier in the process, at least in the production stage. It will help to synchronize motion with sound and can make explainer more attractive.

And here we are. At this stage, we should have a great-looking explainer that achieves our business goals. All that‘s left is to share it with the world.

To sum up

Video production is more complicated than you might think. What matters is the process that requires a good understanding of what you are building and why. The team you choose to work with will take care of most of the steps, so you don’t have to bother with details.

Here’s the result of our recent work built in the process I described in this article. We hope you love it as much as we do!

If you are interested more in this particular case, visit our website and read more.