Explainer Video Production Archives - Clarity Animations

Category Archives for "Explainer Video Production"

How much should you spend on an explainer video?

So, you’ve decided you’ve just got to have an explainer video on your site. That’s great stuff – congratulations on taking that first step towards a better performing site.

The question remains, however, of how you’re going to have your video built. There are a number of options on the table, all of which have their ups and downs. Your budget, skill set, quality standards, and tolerance for frustration will all help you decide which option might be best for you.

Whichever price bracket you aim for, there will be a number of options that you’ll want to consider within that will determine your final price point. Building assets of any sort is a very personal thing, so think carefully about what resources you have available, how much time you can dedicate, and where your own strengths lie.

 

Under $300

For a total of $0 you can get your hands on the software used (https://opentoonz.github.io/e/) by master animators Studio Ghibli. Once you’ve downloaded it, all you need to do is learn to draw, write, animate, compose, and compile sound effects like a master filmmaker. Then you’ll be on your way to a cost-free development phase. (P.S. The manual is in Japanese).

You see, if you have the time, patience, and discipline to produce quality work yourself then the platforms are out there for very little cost. The question is, do you have the resources available to master the varied disciplines required to produce something of decent quality? Only you can answer that one but, in the meantime, let’s look at some more options.

Under $1500

Assuming you need a basic level of outside expertise, freelancers are going to be your go-to option.

Let’s say you’re able to write, storyboard, record the soundtrack, and find stock music all yourself, but you still need an animator to put the whole thing together. In this case, a freelancer is a cost-effective option for you. You can find all sorts of animators and artists over at Upwork.com.

However, great freelancers are notoriously hard to find. Beware of bad communication, slow delivery times, and lacklustre quality. You also face the problem of accountability – if a freelancer gives you rubbish or rips you off, there’s nobody you can complain to. Building a strong team of freelancers that will deliver everything to a high standard can take up to a year and cost even more than an agency. If you have a low tolerance for frustration, this one definitely isn’t for you.

$1000+

For most marketers, this is the goldilocks option. A dedicated agency can deliver a decent quality animation for as low as $1000 dollars. That’s everything built from the ground up. You can even lower the price on this by doing certain aspects yourself, like writing the script or creating a soundtrack.

Between here and the $10,000 dollar mark is where you’ll find the bulk of variation in quality. A $1000 animation will likely use a lot of recycled sprites and sound effects whilst videos up over $5000 will use mostly custom built characters, quality sound effects, and top-level script writers.

A dedicated, full-service animation agency is definitely the best option if you want everything done for you at a reasonable price. If your USP is to compete on price, a cheaper video may even be more in line with your brand.

 

$10,000+

Finally, you could always take a look at the creme-de-la-creme. Studios that charge these sort of prices are used to working on big budget productions, including movies, games, and ad spots for multi-national brands. Everything you get in an animation, from the sprites to the music, should be custom built for you at this level.

This can be a good thing and a bad thing for you. Whilst the quality of animation at this level is going to be top-notch, a higher-level studio is likely to be used to highly-creative work. If you just want to convert customers as quickly as possible, they may not have the marketing know-how to do it. However, a top-level marketing studio will be able to create testable variations for you to find the best fit.

Now that you know the options, the choice is yours. To find out how much we would charge for your next project, get in touch here.

Create a compelling animation with these powerful conversion triggers

Despite the fact that converting customers is the most crucial job of any marketer, rarely can they explain to you how it’s actually done. Most will tell you everything there is to know about metrics, PPC banners, and split testing, but when it comes to the psychology of persuasion they come up short.

To help you avoid this common trap, we’ve put together a definitive list of elements that you can include in your scripts to help move a customer through the sales process. When we write your video script, we sprinkle in as many of these as we can to make your animation as powerful as it can be.

Let’s dive into some classic sales switches you can use in any of your content, from landing pages to video scripts.

The A – B magnet

Unless you’re selling love, self-esteem, eternal life, or the respect of one’s peers, nobody is actually interested in your product. They are interested, however, in where your product can take them. If A represents your customer’s current state, and B represents their goal state, your product needs to be the magnet that gets them from one to the other.

 

Be new

New is exciting. New is popular. New is better than what’s come before. Be new.

Trust and desire

Without these two critical emotional triggers, your product simply cannot sell. Customers must see a desirable outcome from your product offering, and they must trust that it can do what you claim it can.

Hard facts

Using data from a third-party source appeals to the logical part of your customer’s mind. Data lends credibility that great copy and flashy graphics simply can’t, especially if it was created by somebody without a vested interest in the sale.

The objection game

No matter how great your product seems, your customer is going to have some objections to it. Is this for real? Is it worth the cost? Will it really work? Try to predict these objections in advance and shoot them down before they start to get in the way.

Social proof

We’re social creatures by nature; if something looks good to other people then it will probably look good to us too. Testimonials – especially ones that address specific objections – are extremely powerful persuasion triggers. Why recommend something yourself when you can get your customer to do it for you?

 

The big idea

In life, we usually have to work hard for what we want. Sadly, customers simply don’t want to hear this; they want the magic solution that will get the problem solved now and are unlikely to settle for anything else. They’re looking for the next big idea, so make sure you give it to them.

Reasons why

The words ‘why’ and ‘because’ are extremely compelling in sales situations. Why? Because they put your proposition into context and help you avoid ‘face-value’ reasoning. When you get the bottom of your customer’s ‘why’, you’ll know how to truly communicate with them.

Reciprocity

When we’re given something, social convention demands that we give something in return. This idea is so deeply ingrained in us that it might as well be a part of our DNA. The more you give to your customers for free, the more they’ll want to give in return.

Likeability

This one is closely linked to trust. When we like somebody, it’s often because we feel they are similar to us or operating on the same ‘wavelength’. Thus, we’re that much more likely to believe that they empathise with our situation and are looking out for our best interests. Enthusiasm, empathy, and positivity are all strong likability switches.

Authority

Humans are trained to respond to authority figures from birth because, generally speaking, we’ve learnt that they usually have our best interests at heart. Though we’ve realised this is by no means true by the time we reach adulthood, we still respond well to authoritative names, brands, and ideas. For example, compare a person who’s written a blog post to one who’s written a book. Even though the post could be longer and better, the book still sounds more authoritative.

Scarcity

One of the most powerful triggers; if we believe a resource is scarce then we’re likely to buy as soon as possible to avoid missing out. Countdown timers, periodic sales, and limited editions are all great examples of scarcity marketing.

We hope that’s given you a great overview of conversion triggers you can use in your sales copy and scripts. If you’d rather leave the script-writing to the experts, get in touch and we’ll bring your company message to life!

Choosing the perfect soundtrack for your video

Have you ever watched Lord of the Rings with the sound on mute? There’s something strangely funny about watching Frodo walking up and down hills and staring off into the distance in total silence. Switch the sound back on, however, and the full, sweeping grandeur of the New Zealand landscape crashes back onto the screen. The difference? Music.

Music sets the tone for motion pictures and provides the emotional context for how the mise-en-scene is received. In many respects, music creates a more direct emotional connection than even images. It’s an immediate, visceral stimulus that’s incredibly difficult to ignore. Don’t believe me? Check this out. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mndDbN60Eiw).

So the question remains, how can you be sure that you’re picking the right music for your animation video? You don’t want to end up with something that sets the wrong tone, clashes with your branding, or confuses the message of your video.

There are no hard and fast rules for picking music, and there will always be a degree of subjectivity involved. However, there’s still a couple of things you can focus on to make choosing music more manageable. Let’s take a look.

 

Tone

Tone is a difficult thing to define. It refers to the emotional impact that your music has on the listener and should be the first thing you seek to clarify before starting your soundtrack search.

Are you looking for something upbeat? Joyful? Familiar? Inspiring? Try to pin down the feelings that you’d like to create in a word cloud before starting your search. This will give you a tighter target to aim for and help you to know when you’ve found the right track.

Speed

Music that races past at 200 beats per minute will leave your viewers feeling perturbed, whilst music that plods along will put them to sleep. Make sure that the speed of your track is energetic and upbeat, whilst not scaring the daylights out of your audience.

Mode

The tone of a piece of music is dictated in part by the group of notes that the composer chooses to work with. Without getting too technical, musical notes can be gathered into groups called ‘modes’ which create a certain feel.

The Major and Minor keys are examples of modes and create a happy and sad feeling respectively. The Phrygian mode has an Egyptian quality to it, whilst the Mixolydian mode sounds jazzy. You don’t need to learn the names of each mode, but understanding the difference between certain feels can be key to finding the right sound for your video.

 

Style

Here’s a useful thought experiment for you. If your office had a backing band, who would it be? AC/DC? Beyonce? The Wurzels? If someone comes to mind immediately, that’s probably a good indication of what style of music best fits your brand.

Musical genres are clearly defined and easy for the average listener to recognise. They also come with their own set of connotations and imagery. Think carefully about what styles of music best fit your brand and make a note.

That’s it! You’re all ready to get out there and start looking for the perfect soundtrack. Don’t forget, the music you choose will affect the way people react to your brand on a deep, emotional level. Make sure you dedicate a decent amount of time to sourcing the right sound.

If you’re considering a video with us, then we’ll source a royalty-free soundtrack for you that will fit your brand perfectly.

How to spot poor quality animation (and why premium is always better)

Business owners that don’t have a background in marketing often have a hard time understanding the value of quality design.

When your central concern is just to get your message out there, it often feels like the extra time, money, and energy required in creating quality just can’t be justified. The assumption is that all those small details that add up to make a premium piece of animation just won’t be noticed by the average viewer.

Oh, how wrong you are.

As an example, master animator Hayao Miyazaki used to spend hours forcing his team to redraft animations of food. The crackle of the eggs, the bend in a sponge cake – everything had to be just right. Most animators would skip over these small details, thinking that they wouldn’t be noticed by viewers. Decades later, there are entire Buzzfeed articles (https://www.buzzfeed.com/christinalan/heres-how-to-eat-everything-youve-ever-wanted-fr?utm_term=.evLQmBDKe#.kbONPeYdw) dedicated to nothing but food in Miyazaki’s movies.

These tiny details all conspire to create a truly immersive, tactile experience for viewers, and it’s one they remember. If you want viewers to remember your animation, you need to provide a premium experience.

Let’s take a look at some ways you can tell the difference between quality and budget productions.

 

Watch for static frames

When it comes to quality, there’s a golden rule that you’d do well to remember:

More frames = more time

Think of animation like a flick book – in order to get objects to move, you need to add frames that change the figure piece by piece. Rather than go through the effort of drawing up additional frames, many animators just use static figures in active poses, giving the impression of movement. Combine this with fast cuts, voiceover, and some sound effects, and you can more or less make it look like a static image is fully animated.

Train your eye to notice the difference between scenes with fully animated movement and scenes that just give the impression of movement. This is a sure-fire indicator of quality, as more frames mean more time spent on the animation process.

 

Fluidity is key

Did you ever try making a flick book as a kid? They were never as good as the ones that you’d buy in a shop. They’d usually come out jumpy, broken, and rough. This is because we couldn’t be bothered to go through the painstaking task of drawing out hundreds of pages of images.

This is the same for animation – if you don’t add enough frames, movement loses the impression of fluidity and appears jarring and unnatural. A high-quality animation studio takes the time to add minute changes to each frame so that movements feel silky smooth.

Understand object bounce

When we look at animations from other studios, we often remark on how lifeless and dull they appear. One of the reasons for this is that lazy animators don’t go to the effort of making their objects appear dynamic. Look closely at a high-quality animation and you’ll see that moving objects often have a small bounce effect before becoming stationary. This tiny detail makes animation feel organic and full – watch out for it.

 

Look for signs of life

Characters are crucial in animation. The eyes of your viewers will always be drawn to faces and living creatures first, so it’s important to make them lifelike and engaging. This is a real skill, and one that is underestimated by second-rate animators.

A great animator will look for the minutiae in movements, gestures and facial expressions to bring characters to life. For example, when we walk, our heads bob slightly up and down when we move. A great animator will notice and capture tiny details like this in your video.

 

Bad writing

Quality script writing is often the first thing to go when you drop down into the realms of budget animation. Quality copywriters can be expensive, and poor animation companies will eagerly bet that you won’t notice the difference. You will.

Here at the studio, we do everything we can to make sure that you get a beautiful, highly-effective animation. That means taking the time to add all those extra frames, quality scripts, free subtitle tracks, and spot-on aftercare. We’ll even walk you through a strategy session that helps you utilise your video for maximum impact. We act as a long-term partner, integrating with your larger marketing strategy and helping you reach your goals.

The 6 big benefits of working with a full-scale production team

Freelancers are handy to have around. When you need a small job done, a specific skill implemented, or a low-budget, quick-fix option, they’re often the perfect solution.

However, when you’re dealing with a large-scale project, freelancers become more effort than they’re worth. With different time zones, different attitudes, and different visions for the project, managers (that’s you!) often find themselves to be the bottleneck for all communications and workflows. With an ever-expanding spiderweb of collaborations, deadlines, and submissions, even the best project managers struggle to keep up.

Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why working with a full production team will save you a big old sack full of headaches.

Play the system

We’ve been making videos for a while now. Like a crack team of navy seals, everybody in our team knows their roles, what they need to be doing, and when they need to do it.

We also know where problems can occur and have already put systems in place to avoid difficulties further down the line. For example, our storyboarding and illustrations process weeds out any tricky amendments before we get to the production stage, saving time and money during the final animation stage. It’s little nuances like this that make all the difference in stopping your costs getting out of control.  

Jack of few trades, master of one

When you’re dealing with freelancers, it can be costly to source new talent for each job you need doing. For this reason, project managers often like to double down on the talent they have at their disposal. Questions like “can you also write the script?” start cropping up. Suddenly, your animator is also designing characters, your scriptwriter is doing the voice work, and your director is serving everybody coffee.

Whilst this seems like a solid time-saving strategy, it’s likely that you’ll end up with lacklustre quality in many of the key areas of your video. The truth is, an animator is not a creative designer, a scriptwriter probably isn’t great at accents, and your director doesn’t know an espresso from their own elbow.

When working with us, you get professional quality script writing, professional graphic design, professional animation – all because our staff are specialists in their chosen fields.

 

A better experience

When you have a full team at your disposal, you start to see the project from a different point of view. Rather than spending your time focusing on deadlines, output, and problem-solving, you can turn your attention to top-level issues about the video’s creative direction.

Does the script capture your brand voice? Are your value propositions persuasive enough? These are the kind of questions that you now have time to consider. And, with our carefully considered amendments system, you’ll have space to request changes and focus on the things that matter.

Guaranteed output

If you’ve ever had a freelancer go unresponsive half way through a project, you’ll understand what a nightmare this can be. Not only have you wasted time and money on getting the project this far, you’ll have to spend more time briefing a new freelancer to rebuild their half-finished work from scratch. It can be enough to put your project in the ground for good.

With our production team, this sort of eventuality simply can’t happen. Once you sign on with us, you’re guaranteed to get your project at the end of it. We always deliver.

Service with a smile

There’s one final advantage a production team has to offer; great customer service! With one team, one vision, and one brand behind your build, we have the time and patience to listen to your needs. For us, it’s a delight to be working with you.

Ready to work with a full-scale production team to produce your explainer video? Get in touch today by emailing info@clarityanimations.com

The inside scoop on storyboarding and illustrations

If you’ve never used a professional video studio before, the process can be a little mysterious.

Things move fast when you work with us, and our clients sometimes aren’t sure of the reasoning behind some of our processes. This is often a concern when it comes time to storyboard your video; clients sometimes aren’t sure what exactly a storyboard is, what it’s for, or why we build them.

You see, great pieces of work, whether they’re blog posts or animations, don’t jump straight out of our brains and onto the screen. Instead, everything we produce starts life as a simple idea scribbled on a bit of paper. Over time, our production process adds more detail to this idea until it evolves into a brilliant product ready for delivery.

We turn up the ‘fidelity’ – or quality – of our output slowly so you have a tonne of chances to offer your own suggestions and critiques. By making changes at low-fidelity stages, we waste less time on amendments at the time-intensive stages and get the product to you faster.

Let’s explore how this process works:

 

Storyboarding phase

Your storyboard is essentially a hand-drawn breakdown of your finished video. We use it to map each shot in your animation and create a wireframe of everything we will need to animate. You won’t see colour or any significant design work here, but you will get a complete picture of your animation story, the voiceover, and how all the pieces will fit together. If there’s anything you don’t like at this point we can change it quickly, meaning our production process is much faster.

Here’s an example of a storyboard we produced for AXIS Computing:

Illustrations phase

Once we have your storyboard, we increase the fidelity with a digital illustration. This will showcase all your brand colours, character models, and high-quality graphics. Think of your illustrations panel as a still version of your final video. This phase is the perfect time to make any colour or graphic amendments. Want to change the colour on your protagonist’s jacket? Not sure about the font we’ve chosen? Now is the time to tell us. This is also the ideal time to check whether your video is on brand.

Now here’s AXIS again, but with complete illustrations:

Animation phase

Once we’ve finalised the illustration panels with you, we bring everything to life in the animation phase. This is the most time intensive part of the process, so it’s important we get everything right in the previous phases. Changing the colour on a hat is much quicker when it’s a simple illustration and not a digital animation. As long as everything is present and correct in your illustration phase, however, our animation process will be nice and fast.

The final Axis video is in production, so we’ll update this blog once it’s ready (it’s looking great though)!

 

Delivery

And there you have it! One beautifully animated story that you can use in any number of marketing situations. We can deliver it to you in a range of digital formats – just let us know what you prefer.

 

If you’d like to hear more about our production process, simply drop us a quick email today.

 

Conversion triggers: how to build a quality video script

Explainer videos improve your conversion rate by up to 80% – we all love this statistic here at the studio. However, it’s important to be honest; this is only a half-truth.

At the end of the day, video is a medium for communication. Just as a website won’t make your business flourish by virtue of being a website, a video won’t make you rich just because you have one. The key, of course, is in the content. That’s why your video script is an all-important ingredient to a highly effective animated video.

Let’s talk about some of the key strategies and frameworks that we employ to make high-converting, top-quality animated explainer videos.

 

Identify their problem

One issue that companies have when explaining products is that they focus on the product itself. Instead, it’s much better to start with the problem, then work backwards to your solution. By identifying a problem first, and then explaining your product in light of it, you ground explanations with context and legitimise your solution.

This is effective for two reasons. One, it creates next-level clarity on your product offering, and two, it creates a bridge between your brand and your consumer – you’ve both recognised the same challenge.

 

Explain why it matters

Here’s another important point that’s often missed by writers. Problems are only important to the extent that they stop us from reaching broader, more emotionally-charged objectives. By giving additional context to your problem, you can tap into this emotional degree of communication and persuade your audience on a deeper level.

 

Present an incredible solution

This is where your product makes its entrance. Like a hero jumping in at the last second, it’s here to save the day.

Remember to explain your product in a succinct way and not to get bogged down with the details. The goal is not to give your audience a walking tour of your product and every cool feature; it’s to establish that your product is here to patch a problem and help your audience progress. If you have certain features, however, that distinguish you from your competitors, it’s a good idea to include them here.

Remember, the focus here is on moving your customer from their current state of being to their next goal. Make sure your script bridges this gap.

 

Explain why it works

Successful persuasion acts on both emotional and logical levels. By giving a detailed explanation of why your product works, we’re appealing to that logical side and creating a cohesive, problem-focussed story that appeals to your audience’s narrative faculties.

 

Show that others believe that it works

Marketing, at its essence, is the study and engineering of social proof. Stories of successful implementation are some of the most powerful ways of demonstrating social proof, and are often the key to compelling customers to buy.

 

Direct the viewer on what to do next

The final step, and one that’s crucial to getting your audience to take action. Always finish with clear direction on what the user can do right now to help them achieve their goals.

 

Breaking down barriers

Something we haven’t touched on here is barriers to entry for your product. I like to call these “Yes, but…” statements.

“That sounds great, but it’s a lot of money.”

“Yes, but how can I be sure it won’t break?”

“Looks like a strong solution, but how do I know my team will use it correctly?”

These are the questions that turn your potential customers into your competitor’s best friends. Try writing a list of the objections that your customers could come up with for your product and use your video to settle them in advance. Think creatively about how you can make a purchase decision a no-brainer for customers.

 

That’s our one-stop guide to video script writing! Fill out our contact form if you’d like to learn more about quality animation scripts.

Are your videos accessible? Why you should always use subtitles in your explainer video

If you watch a lot of foreign-language movies, you probably wouldn’t even notice if a video has captions attached. For everyone else, however, subtitles can be kind of an annoyance when watching a video. They can reduce immersion and take attention away from the action on screen.

However, if you’re making an explainer video for your business, subtitles are absolutely, 100% necessary. Here at the studio, we add subtitles to every animation we produce for free. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.

 

They’re more flexible for the viewer

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but mobile really is the dominant format for the consumption of media today. This is extremely important for video as we consider the great variety of times, locations, and social settings that users might be in when watching your content.

Eighty-five percent of all videos are watched without sound. This is because sound, or even earphones, aren’t always an option for your audience, so you’ll need to be able to put your message across without it. Moving images alone aren’t enough for this purpose, and subtitles offer a perfect solution to sound-free messaging on any device. This is especially critical if you’re a B2B company; there’s a good chance your target audience will need to watch from the office where noisy videos aren’t such a great idea.

 

Google loves them

One problem with video is that the files served on your domain won’t actually be readable by a search engine. Google will know that the file is there, but it won’t be able to look inside and know exactly what is said in the video content. This is where subtitle files become useful for SEO.

If you’re using a separate caption text file, search engines can actually scan these and add the keywords to your domain’s SERP value. If you’re using a long video, this adds a tonne of searchable content and makes your website easier for customers to find.

 

They make autoplay viable

Autoplay video is one of those fad marketing tools that very quickly fell out of vogue with consumers. Initially, it was extremely effective at grabbing attention and building engagement on a page. However, as more and more companies started to see the benefits, audiences got tired of being hounded by noisy videos that they didn’t opt in to watching.

The problem wasn’t with video – moving images are easy to ignore – but with the sudden, loud voiceovers and music that scared the daylights out of visitors. Nowadays, autoplay is a fast and effective way of getting your customers to bounce immediately.   

That is, unless you use subtitles. By adding captions to your video, you can turn off the noise and still benefit from the communicative power of video. Check out this great guide to find out how to embed a Youtube video with muted autoplay.

 

Visual storytelling is where its at

At the studio, we use elegant, premium animation that tells your story through moving images. Audio is useful for building a human connection and driving home the message, but it’s not the main event. Visual media is rich, visceral, and highly compelling. By adding subtitles to your video you can underpin this visual storytelling style with a written message.

Remember, Facebook’s automated caption option works sometimes, but you’re very likely to end up with some dodgy sentences in there. Here at the studio, we add subtitles to your video by default. Why? Because that’s what it takes to create an impactful, high-converting animated video. Most other animation companies would charge you extra for this service but, for us, it’s just one more part of our handover package. We’ll do everything we can to make sure your animation is a success.

We hope that’s convinced you that you desperately need subtitles for your next animation project! Get in touch if you’d like to know more about the process.