Creative Labs’ Alexa Tamondong takes us through the process of creating a whiteboard video.
Whiteboard videos have gained traction of late, especially as a tool to explain complex concepts. For non-profits and civil society, it is a way to get across messages to large audiences in an easy-to-understand format.
What is a whiteboard video and what is it best for?
Whiteboard videos are patterned after traditional chalk-and-board lectures, and can be used for educational, marketing, and storytelling purposes. They’re animated, and usually accompanied by voiceover narration.
What does it take to develop a whiteboard video? Our team at ASSIST-Creative Lab worked on a whiteboard video project with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Philippines, to explain the conflict-induced internal displacement (CID) situation in the Caraga region in Mindanao. To be distributed through online channels, its target audience includes bank institutions, GIZ partners, and local government actors.
The project helped us understand how whiteboard videos work and the production process in detail.
- Setting objectives and parameters
Before any endeavour, it’s critical to understand what exactly you want to do. Specifying your objectives allows you to take a step back and assess whether a whiteboard video will be effective in helping you achieve your goals.
Now would also be a good time to set parameters for the subject matter of the video. If you’re planning a 2-minute video, you must acknowledge that there’s only so much the video can do, so your content objectives should be focused enough that they can be satisfied within the time allotted.
ACL Experience: CID is a complex, socio-politically charged topic that involves various stakeholders. GIZ, as an organization that founds itself on the principle of multipartiality and takes on a conflict-sensitive “do-no-harm” approach in its work, maintains neutral language and avoids visuals that blatantly depict violence and portray human-caused consequences. Conveying the concept clearly while maintaining neutral language was a challenge we overcame by close collaboration with the client.
- Information scoping and download
Ensure you’ve compiled and organized all reference and educational materials in a single location. Are they all relevant to the content? Now that you’ve set objectives, you’ll be in a good position to sort through the reference materials, and determine which information can be used for content development. It’s also good practice to schedule an information download session with a subject matter expert or a panel of experts.
ACL Experience: Information on the CID situation in Caraga was scarce, especially since the overarching program the whiteboard video project fell under had just commenced. We made use of all resources available to us at the time, including documents provided by the client, did further research, and built on the feedback and input supplied by the client.
Before you can translate the information into a workable script, you need a concept that underpins your key messages, visuals, and call to action. The conceptualization stage kicks off the creative process, and ensures all elements are held together by a cohesive, overarching Big Idea.
ACL Experience: A Creative Brief captures all agreements made, in terms of the output objectives, key concepts and messaging, and look and feel. It serves as a guiding document in the creative process, and is signed off on by all project stakeholders to ensure everyone is aligned on the requirements for the output.
- Script development
In script development, while it’s easy to get carried away and over-explain, remember the parameters and objectives you’ve set, and ask yourself these basic questions: who are you talking to, and what are you trying to say? Your video should be able to reach its target audience and clearly convey its key messages.
ACL Experience: Script development is definitely one of the most challenging parts in video development. We went back-and-forth several times with the client on factual accuracy, narrative logic, and even on the consistency of some terminologies, but this constant exchange on the script is important because the script is the most crucial part of an explainer video, which is what a whiteboard video essentially is.
- Storyboard development and voiceover recording
A storyboard is a frame-by-frame visual blueprint of your video. Here, you can “cut up” the script and plot it out on a storyboard, and create rough sketches of the illustrations for each frame.
The voiceover recording can be done in parallel. Make sure that the tone, emotional expression, pace and pitch, and overall delivery of the voiceover are in line with the language and look and feel of the visuals of the final output.
ACL Experience: Everything in this stage – the storyboard and the voiceover – is dictated by the script, which is why there must be no takebacks. Especially since voiceover recording incurs costs.
- Selecting the app + Animation
Today, there are many whiteboard animation software programs that can be purchased and downloaded online: Vyond, Sparkol VideoScribe, Animaker, Wideo, and Moovly, for instance. Make sure the software program you choose allows you to apply the technical requirements brought about by your concept, script, and storyboard.
Animation is the final stage of the process; here, all final elements will be pulled together for the full video development. The final and “cleaned up” illustrations, the voiceover, and background music are integrated in the video, and special animation effects can then be applied.
ACL Experience: Whiteboard apps work a bit like other video development programs, so you can use other programs to perform advanced manipulation of the audio and export it to the whiteboard app, which was what we did for the project.
The development process might involve a lot of steps, but they are all needed in order to produce an effective and good-quality output. Whiteboard videos can have a strong impact when planned and executed properly, and are actually a great way to convey information while still exercising creativity.