The “Cinematic” Guide to Creating Unforgettable Whiteboard Videos

 

Movies and advertising have a lot in common. One of those common traits is, people quickly forget the majority of films and adverts they see.

Only the lucky few “stick” in people’s memory, and become a source of inspiration for countless imitations. They are remembered, quoted, and even plagiarized.

We love movies and TV (pro tip: if you are in a hurry, never ask us to quote Star Trek to you). And a lot of the strategies and techniques that make films great also apply to video marketing in general, and whiteboard animation in particular.

In today’s post, we’re going to examine 4 principles of filmmaking that you can use to improve your whiteboard animation videos. Plus, we’re going to look at 4 example videos that use these principles brilliantly.

If you need to make your message more memorable, these will give you the exact effect you’re looking for – by making a lasting impression on your customers.

Let’s dive in!

Principle #1. Composition

In a great film, every frame tells a story. The way each visual element is arranged speaks volumes about what’s going on in any scene – as much as dialogue, or acting, or on-screen action. In movies like “2001: Space Odyssey” and, more recently, “Inception”, you can see how many filmmakers obsess over correct composition. As they should!

Generic explainer videos often jump from screen to screen, racing to tell a story. A high-quality whiteboard video takes its time to paint (or rather, draw) a picture in your customer’s mind. To give you an example, check out this recent video we’ve had the privilege to work on. It’s so carefully composed that, even with no narration and no animation at all, you would still be able to figure out what it was about!

Note: Keeping the audience’s attention in a single frame is known as “the long cut” technique. Remember that amazing action sequence in “Avengers”, where superheroes and aliens clashed to save New York City? That was a long cut – impressive-looking, but incredibly difficult to film.

Thankfully, there’s no cinematography involved in whiteboard animation videos, so you can construct elaborate “scenes” as much as you please!

Principle #2. Conflict

Would you watch a movie where nothing interesting is happening… ever? No way! One of two things would transpire. You would either:

  1. A) forcibly eject yourself from the seat and leave the movie theater faster than a speeding bullet, or…
  2. B) snooze through the whole thing and remember zero about the plot, the characters, or anything about the flick you just “watched”.

Just because your whiteboard animation video is shorter that feature-length (we hope it is, anyway), it doesn’t mean that your customers will watch it all the way through and remember it.

To achieve that, you will need good storytelling. And storytelling is impossible without conflict.

Fighting for survival. Overcoming adversity. Discovering a secret. One-upping an obnoxious person. Whether epic or low-key, every narrative and brand story needs conflict at the heart of it – just like a great movie.

And even if your whiteboard animation video doesn’t have human characters, or doesn’t speak directly to the viewer, you can still add a gripping story of conflict to make it memorable. If Pixar can manage it with cars, fish, and toys, so can you!

To give you an example of how this can be done, check out this animation – it takes a complex subject of immuno-oncology and manages to make it engaging.

Note: There’s also another reason you should use conflict to add urgency to your marketing message. And that reason is, you want to position your product or service as a “must have”, not a “nice to have”.

It’s the old painkillers vs. vitamins problem – introducing conflict to your whiteboard videos goes a long way towards convincing your audience that your offer is a “painkiller” they need right now… not just a “vitamin” they might want later.

Principle #3. Color

Before all Hollywood movies became orange and blue – an unfortunate trend explained here by Priceonomics – directors knew how to use color to their advantage. Let us discuss how you can use color to enhance your whiteboard animation videos…

Like composition, color is a tool to manage the viewer’s attention and convey what’s going on in the video. For your whiteboard videos, which are often black and white, the best way to use color is to inject it into the elements you want to highlight, and bring to your customer’s attention.

Those could be:

  • Your company logo
  • Characters representing your team, or your brand
  • Images of awards or distinctions you’ve won
  • Anything that highlights the problem or the solution etc.

If you’d like an example of smart use of color in a whiteboard animation video, check this one out.

Throughout the clip, there are dashes of green, blue and red at strategic points in the video that visually guide the viewer to the information and the numbers on the screen… without drowning them in a sea of black-and-white imagery.

And in a nice touch – if we do say so ourselves – at 1:19 mark, color is used to emphasize credibility of the brand and the desirable outcome the viewer wants to achieve.

Principle #4. Creative use of language

We wanted to find one word that starts with a “C” to describe this final principle, but alas – we couldn’t swing it. Still, let’s talk about language!

Picture this: you’re watching a movie, and there’s a tense, climactic scene that you’re thoroughly enjoying… Suddenly, one of the lead characters says something so cliche, so corny, and so dumb that you can’t help thinking, “Ugh, really?”

Just like that, the tension is gone, the whole thing falls flat, and you’re looking forward to the credits – or at least to the plot moving on, so you can forget that scene ever happened.

And by contrast, when you’re watching a movie by Tarantino, or the Coen brothers, there might be zero action happening on screen… but you don’t care, because the dialogue keeps you glued to your seat, anxious to learn what happens next.

To your video, narration is just as important as dialogue is to a movie. Visual, emotional language is one of the things that make a whiteboard animation video persuasive. So if you want to truly engage your customer, you can’t afford to use generic wording – at all.

Here’s a great example – a video we did last year with Dave Asprey, the Bulletproof Executive. Just notice how many vivid images he has invoked in the first 25 seconds of the video – impressive, right? After that, he just keeps going!

And that’s exactly what we mean by “creative use of language”.

Nowadays, your customers are bombarded with more than 4,000 ads per day – so being just another blip on the radar is the last thing you want for your marketing message. Following these principles will ensure that your whiteboard animation video stands out from the crowd, and stays with your customer even after they’ve watched it and moved on.

If you’d like to create an awesome marketing video that dazzles your customers and humbles your competitors, you can apply for your free, no-strings-attached pow-wow right below – and our marketing ninjas will be in touch with you post haste!

 

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