There seems to be some confusion with regards to the terminology being used when it comes to ‘whiteboard style explainer videos’ or what can sometimes be called ‘scribe videos’. The later seems to be more oriented around the US market, whilst both scribe videos and whiteboard videos are one in the same thing. And certainly this is not to be confused with interactive whiteboards, which is a whole different product entirely, something a school or college would use, certainly not us.
I suppose first of all we should define what a whiteboard or scribe video actually is. In basic terms this is a video that uses a plain white background and the ‘animation’ solely relies on watching a hand holding a marker pen draw in a picture in time with a voice over. The picture typically is a reinforcement of the dialogue so tends to be very literal, and once a scene has been drawn, it pauses for a brief moment to let the viewer digest and then moves on to draw a new scene.
Within an average 1 minute whiteboard explainer video you would typically expect to see around 5 to 7 main drawings or scenes being drawn in. This can vary as it depends on the level of detail and points that the dialogue is making, but is usually a good starting point. So in it’s truest form and how it was originally intended, a traditional whiteboard video is quite simply a hand drawing black outlines to create scenes, in-time with a voice over.
Whilst the end results may well look like a camera has been used to film someone actually drawing a scene ‘live’ this in reality is far from the truth. Like 90% of the whiteboard videos produced commercially, software is used to give the ‘illusion’ of a real hand drawing. The process is actually slightly more complex than the end results suggest, but by working digitally it allows for greater accuracy, continuity and a faster production process.
The hand that you see moving around the screen is actually two photographs in slightly different positions holding a pen. The pen itself is un-branded and we edit in company logos onto the pen to provide that extra element of personalisation. The lines that you then see being drawn in are created using Vector graphic software, namely Adobe Illustrator. This allows us to rough out each scene first and then carefully trace with clean accurate vector lines. These digital files are then imported into the whiteboard animation software, which then cleverly tracks the vector lines and gives the illusion that the hand is drawing the lines in.
Working this way allows us to make quick changes to the drawings if required, and makes it easier to time drawings to the dialogue and ultimately create better quality, more engaging videos.
In the next article, i’ll explore the many subtle differences that start to take a standard whiteboard video into a very different direction, whilst having a ‘whiteboard’ look, is is anything but.