In this guest post from Yum Yum Videos, an explainer video production company, learn the secrets of how they produce compelling animated videos.
How can you produce a high-quality animated video? Is it magic? Is it luck?
Of course not. There are many factors that need to be addressed to end up with an appealing and effective animated video. Also, many professionals are involved in every stage of the process.
From the pre-production and crafting of the creating brief, all the way to the storyboard, voiceovers and animation, this guide will show you the ins and outs of the entire process.
Here are the nine essential steps you need to take to make a high-quality animated video that communicates your brand’s message in an engaging way. Let’s take a look!
1. Pre-Production & Creative Brief
A high-quality 90-second-long explainer video takes about seven weeks to complete, and there are several key steps involved in making it.
Here’s a video overview of the process:
The first step is to create the creative brief, which is a document that sums up every important detail about your brand. This enables the video production company you’re working with to fully understand what you need and how to deliver it correctly.
This document should state how you want to position your brand in the market, who your competition is, and what your marketing goals are. To craft your own, answer the following questions:
- Why do you want to make an animated video? What are you trying to achieve?
- Which actions do you want your audience to take after they’ve seen your video?
- What message do you want them to remember long after they’ve watched it?
Other important details include stating the usual tone of your brand’s communications, your slogan, and the type of visuals that characterize your brand.
All of this will help the video production team fully understand your brand. Then, they’ll be able to create an animated video that truly speaks to your audience, and that works perfectly for your marketing goals.
After you’ve wrapped up pre-production, it’s time to create the script for your video. The script is the heart and spine of a high-quality animated video. It’s really important to get it right.
It goes like this.
- Beginning (What?): In the beginning, your script has to explain what your audience’s problem is. In this point, your story’s focus should be on your target audience. It’s not time to talk about your brand just yet.
- Middle (How?): Now you can start to talk about your company! Explain how with your products or services, your company is here to save the day.
- End (Why?): Now that your audience knows what the problem is and how they can solve it, it’s time to end by telling them why they should choose your company over others. Explain why your product is better than the competition’s, or truly unique.
Your script should be focused on your target audience and their needs, and include a call-to-action. For more pointers on writing a great script, read this article on the eleven secrets of storytelling.
The storyboard describes every action and every visual aspect of the video. It indicates the camera shots and angles, transitions, and actions of the video. This is another key piece of the puzzle, because the storyboard will determine how your video will be visualized before it is animated.
To create a storyboard, you need three main elements:
- Frames: The frames are still images that show what is going to be seen in a specific moment of the video. With these frames, you’ll be arranging the visual composition of the animated video.
- Descriptions: Under every frame, it’s necessary to add a description of what’s happening in that particular moment of the video. With this information, animators and illustrators will understand exactly what’s happening in every scene.
- Voiceover: Under these elements, there is a space reserved for voiceover speech, laying out the words said by the voice actor in every scene. This also serves to set the timing for these scenes.
Arrange all these elements in your storyboard, and you will have a complete map of your video. Here’s an example:
For additional guidance, here’s a detailed walk-through of creating a storyboard.
The creation of styleframes for your video allows you to visualize the true quality and style of the animation in your video.
The styleframes are high resolution still frames from your storyboard that will include end-quality characters and graphics, just like they will come out of the screen later. This will help you understand the real look and feel of your animated video.
It also works as a way to evaluate the process in advance. Because the illustration and animation processes are very extensive, it’s important to have this moment of evaluation of the video, in case there’s need for any changes or feedback.
All the necessary improvements or changes have to be made during this stage, because when the production process moves forward, it becomes harder, more expensive, and time-consuming to make any changes. So, the styleframe works as a way to avoid delays during the animation phase.
A voice has the power to determine the tone of a whole video. Will you choose a friendly voice? Or it will be better for your brand to use a charming tone instead?
It will also determine another very important thing: the final length of the recording will set the length of your animated video, as well as the rhythm of it.
So, because of its importance, you should keep in mind how crucial it is to select the correct video voiceover. Voiceovers expose the quality of your video. It’s not the same to have a voice note recorded on an iPhone, than to have a professional voice actor recorded in a studio with the right microphones.
And your viewers will tell — a high-quality voiceover is a big step in having a high-quality animated video.
So, your voiceover should be:
- A professional human being. Forget everything about artificial software voiceovers, unless you’re targeting your video to robots (and even if you are, only a good voice actor will give your video the right feeling and personality; so sorry, robots).
- A native speaker (from the country you’re targeting), which will help your audience feel more comfortable and receptive to your message.
For example, this is an animated video made specifically for a UK audience:
And this one is made for a US audience:
If you don’t quite have the budget for a professional voice actor, never fear. Use these cost-effective ways to produce a high quality voiceover instead.
In this stage of the animated video production process, it’s time for the illustrators to shine. They will create every graphic element that will be in the final video, including characters, backgrounds, charts and typography.
Animating these illustrations comes at a later stage. For now, your professional illustrators are creating every graphic element, depending on the style of animation that you’re after (Whiteboard Video, Motion Graphics Video, Cartoon Animated Video, etc).
To get an idea of the different styles available, here is a brief video overview:
To achieve high-quality illustrations, my advice is the same as with the voiceover (and also every other stage of the process). Work with experienced, professional illustrators.
We’ve arrived! Welcome to the animation stage of the production process.
To say that animation is important would be an understatement. Of course it is important, because it’s in this stage when every graphic element and character will come to life.
Animation is actually the most work-intensive part of the process. It’s really demanding for the simple reason that it brings the characters to life. In this stage, your team of professional animators will take all the elements (illustration, voiceover, storyboard…) and import it to specialized animation programs.
Like with illustrators, there are many types of animators that specialize in different styles and aspects of the job. It’s important that you find the right professional team specialized in what you need.
8. Music and Sound-FX
After the animation process is done, and the voiceover is integrated, it’s time to add another layer of sound: music and sound effects. This is the final part of the process, and it’s what will make the difference between a dull video, and one that pops up and attracts people’s attention.
Background music adds an emotional effect to the story, and will reinforce the power of the message that you’re communicating.
9. The Wrap Up
Now that your animated marketing video is done, you’re ready to export the final cut, and share it. There are a lot of video formats, but MP4 is by far the most popular because it allows for small file sizes and high quality. In fact, SproutVideo recommends using this video format.
After you’ve exported your video in the desired format, you’re ready to share! Think back to your goals for this campaign. Where does it make sense to publish your video according to those goals?
- If you want to convert prospective buyers, your website is likely a great home for your video.
- If you want to gain more reach and brand exposure, social media might be your top choice.
- For informing existing customers, emails, blog posts, or presentations might be your best options.
Wherever you decide to share your video, it’s important to track its performance. That way, you will be able to improve your content over time because you’ll know what works best.
So, that’s how high-quality animated videos are produced! Remember: in order to meet all your marketing goals and fully address the needs of your audience, your video must be completely customized to your brand.
This is something to keep in mind for every step of the process. From the start, your creative brief should state your brand’s goals and your target audience. It should also list all the things that you’re trying to achieve with your animated marketing video. By focusing on these details at the beginning of the process, your video will be aligned with the rest of your brand’s communications.
By crafting your video specifically for your target audience, it will speak to your viewers on a personal level. As we have seen elsewhere, a personal connection is key to winning sales and repeat customers.
There you have it! Now you’re ready to produce the best animated videos for your brand! Questions? Please ask in the comments below.