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What is an Explainer Video?

A Commercial Format

An ‘Explainer video’ is a popular commercial motion picture format that utilizes animation and motion graphics to pitch a product or detail a service. They are commonly character driven and aim to educate the audience. When done properly, they are concise and sum up a company’s value proposition in a creative way. The challenge for most small businesses is the price point. High grade commercial explainer videos can cost 10’s of thousands of dollars per final minute of run time. We’d like to unpack exactly what goes into making one of these videos to give you some insight on the cost.

Behind the Scenes

The first step is understanding the massive amount of expertise, time, and effort that goes into a successful short form narrative such as an explainer video. This will hopefully help you cope with the price tag. Gaining insight into the technical and creative processes can help improve your communication and collaboration with the production studio during the process. Below are the major milestone of production that our studio takes when creating an explainer video for clients.

Phase One

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1Exploration – This is the discovery process where we dig into the essence and personality of your brand. We research the target market and develop a customer persona. The product and/or service is broken down to understand the ‘why’ behind what you do.
2Script – We then translate what we gained through discovery into a heart felt, emotionally packed, and engaging story and write that into a script. This is the backbone of the following creative processes.
3Pre-Visualization – Style sheets are created with mockups and reference material to start shaping the creative expression and visual tone of the piece. This is were color palette, typography and design style is locked in.
4Storyboards – Shot by shot thumbnails are sketched in detail as the story starts to come to life.

Phase Two

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5Voice Over Recording – The first concrete step in sound design where voice talent is hired to read the voice over segments of the script. This helps pace the piece for music, animation and editing.
6Music Score – We prefer to have each piece scored with custom music to ensure seamless cohesion with the script. In other instances, music is selected, licenses, and editing to support the video.
7Character Illustration – Assuming the story is character driven, this is where the customer persona is brought to life in the form of the main character(s). The high fidelity illustrations are then broken apart and rigged for animation.
8Element Design – All other design elements such as typography, landscapes, environments and any other motion graphic content is illustrated from scratch to match the visual aesthetic of the video style.

Phase Three

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9Basic Logo Animation – Logo bumpers can range in complexity, but we include a basic animation of the logo to ensure that it fits the piece in a powerful and seamless fashion.
10Motion Graphics / Animation – All design elements and character are keyframed into motion as we build out the video, shot by shot.
11Compositing – When including live action shots often times elements will need tracking, camera stabilization, rig removal and other visual effects to help improve the quality and achieve the objective of each shot.
12Sound Effects Design – Individual sound effects are selected and edited to create a soundscape to represent the environment and mood of each shot.
13Picture Editing – The animated shots are cut to perfect timing, pacing and length. This is where the full vision of the piece starts to be realized.
14Color Timing – The final edit is color corrected, shot per shot to help tone the piece to fit a mood. and bring out the target contrast and saturation.
15Formatting / Export – Important setting such aspect ratio, frame rate, dimensions, and compression are perfected to ensure that the video looks it’s greatest in whatever application you’ll be leveraging.


The Talent Pool

As you can imagine, each one of these production milestones is an important part of the creative and technical process. Reaching an audience in a relevant and impactful way is no easy task. To tackle such a challenge requires a highly skilled team of professionals in each particular discipline. If one step in the process isn’t done well the entire video can run flat and not hit it’s mark. So here’s a nod to those talented film makers out there…worth their weight in gold.

Need an Explainer Video?

We love creating commercial video content like explainer videos. You can see some of our work here. If you’re interested in hiring us for your next big project then we’d LOVE to hear from you!