What is Explanatory Video ?

Courtesy Graphic from http://www.lostmarblemedia.com/

After attending Explanatory Videos: A Mini Film Festival , I realized the video content in between Journalism and Advertising has changed : visual storytelling is no longer a trend, it became a must-have for producers. I’m amazed by Estelle Caswell’s Why cartoon characters wear gloves and Kirby Ferguson’s Wikitrubune from the event, so I dig into this type of video’s development, style, usage, and value. For now, let’s forget about the traditional video and talk more about “explainer.”
You’ve probably watched different kind of home page or landing page videos about “who they are” or “what they do.” From the 1940s through the 1980s, there was a series of the educational video called A Cornet Film disturbed in public schools among America such as Act Your Age, Are You Popular, How To Keep A Job, Attitudes, and Health, etc. The purpose of these films was aimed to provide citizens a social guidance about dating, family life, courtesy, sciences, behaviors during post-World War II. This is the earlier stage of “explainer,” a simple video on a targeted medium to help launch a concept to the public. A Cornet Film might not be where the term originated, but the gist is that explainer video is a short and concise medium of exactly what you want to ‘explain’ on certain matters within a short amount of time.

We’re expert brand storytellers with an eye to your bottom line. Because an explainer video is great — but real impact is better.

According to a non-profit organization Charity: Water which uses an animated video to spread the news of their revolutionary technology, it has successfully raised support to fund 20,062 projects providing clean drinking water to 6,300,000 people in 24 countries. Through different case studies, it has proved that explainer video helped the company or news agencies to increase its awareness and conversions. A visual explanation can help explain a concept or a subject more entertainingly accessible in a less complicated way.
We’ve all used whiteboard to explain how we solved x+2= y in our maths class. We are definitely not surprised about the term “whiteboard video” explains how to get from Point A to Point B. Here is a typical whiteboard style explainer video I found on Google, How Google Apps Work. In this two-minute video, Vivian Leung explained how the Google cloud works and why it is the easiest way to be productive wherever you go. 
Soon, visual artists upgrade our whiteboard to hand-crafted animated video, such as 100 Years in Marketing, NPR, Android and You , Contaminated marijuana sold at Oregon dispensaries, etc. With the rapid development of science and technology, digital artists soon created motion graphics explainer video, such as How to Complain from The School of Life, What is an. Earthquake from Dr.Binocs Show, Oreo “Replay” from Oreo, Trevon Duval — College Announcement from The Players’ Tribune, etc. Not only journalists use “explainer,” advertising agencies, Intergovernmental organization, and non-profit organizations also use this type of video to reach their audiences as well.
To connect explanatory videos with visual journalism deeper, I found this article from The Economist :

The concept of the explainer as a journalistic form is not new. In a 2008 blog post, for instance, Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University, argued that “there are some stories where until I grasp the whole I am unable to make sense of any part.” Explainers should create “a scaffold of understanding that future reports can attach to,” he argued.

If you watched Teresa Mahoney’s How salmonella spreads from farm to table, it is not hard to find that her informative video is well-designed with a nutgrah which provides an outline and context for the entire story. Explained in 2 mins on Vox or Tasty on Buzzfeed is another example to prove “explainers are a counterpart to the endless streams of headlines, posts and tweets that are how most digital natives find their news today.”
Visual journalists do not only explain an idea. They bring focus and attention to making an idea easy to understand and why the audience should care. This informative/explanatory style video is intentional and goal oriented along with clear and concise language and compelling visuals. Therefore, there are incredible opportunities for explainers.