Tips on Commissioning a Whiteboard Animation Video

At Happy Apple we get a lot of enquiries about Whiteboard Animation videos – (and a few old school Blackboard Animation videos too!). You can find an example of our Whiteboard Animation work for Unilever on our main page. Often the commissioner has never briefed this type of work so we thought we would offer a bit of information and outline the process to help inform those interested.

What is a Whiteboard Animation video?
This type of animation normally consists of a voiceover while a hand is visable in front of the camera illustrating concepts discussed and writing out key words on a whiteboard. This type of animation was initially made very popular a couple of years ago by the online RSA Animate videos -created by Cognitive. They used this fun form of visualisation to help explain ideas from the RSA’s public events programme. Since then it has been used widely for TV and internet advertising, including the UPS Whiteboard commercials.

The advantage of a whiteboard animation is that it is a relatively simple and effective way of animating ideas and engaging with the audience. It is far more interesting and creative than a straightforward lecture, and the visuals and info graphics can vastly improve communication of ideas. However it is still a lot less work and a cheaper option than a traditional computer animation. We have been asked to create this type of animation for online marketing, staff training videos, recruitment videos and company communications.

There is a range of techniques that can be employed to achieve this whiteboard effect. From straight filming of someone drawing at a whiteboard and sped up to sync with a voiceover, to the use of animation software –which can have varying degrees of quality and can lack the naturalness and flair of someone actually drawing. Here at Happy Apple we have created our own technique that allows us flexibility for alterations (unlike a straightforward filming session) but also keeps a natural drawn approach. Using a green screen we film the process of the hand drawing, and then super-impose this layer onto our text and illustrations. This allows us the added dimension of animating the text and images where appropriate for extra effect, so we can make text and illustrated elements appear or disappear, grow, ‘pop’, smile and wave etc. It also allows us some flexibility for amendments if needed at a later stage.

Here at Happy Apple our first starting point is the script. This determines the length of the animation and is usually provided by the client but we do have copy-writers available to help if our clients need this. Ideally the script is as concise as possible and in Plain English to get the point across -it can even be written in bullet points. If the client does not have the facility to record a voice over we can record this in a sound proofed room to ensure quality. We have a range of voice over artists of different ages and accents who we can contact to match the tone of your video.

We then discuss the visual content of the video with the client. Are there any key words that they want highlighted, any particular things they want included? The project is then brainstormed and considered and we submit a rough storyboard of what we propose, explaining how it fits with the voice over and any drawn elements that may be animated. Once the rough visuals have been approved we carry on to create the final artwork that will be viewed on the ‘whiteboard’.

The next step is filming the hand drawing in a greenroom. Finally (the really exciting part!), everything is put together in post production, adding any animation to the images, sound effects of the pen squeaking etc. and timing it all to the voice over.

If this sounds like a service you need please get in touch with our London studio! We normally need a few weeks lead-time so contact us soon and we can see how we can help.