How to Make an Animated Explainer Video (Step-By-Step Guide)

One of the most important steps in selling a product is making sure consumers are knowledgeable about what it offers. For many businesses and marketers, this means creating an animated explainer video.

According to Wyzowl’s State of Video Marketing report for 2019, more than 80 percent of marketers say video helps them increase the number of time users spend on their website, generate more leads, and, most importantly, and help users better understand their product.

Marketers aren’t the only ones saying video makes a difference. Consumers agree – 68 percent say they prefer to learn about a product or service by watching a video. Additionally, 79 percent say a video convinced them to purchase software or an app.

How to make an animated explainer video in 5 easy steps

Creating this type of instructional video can seem like a daunting task. Many people think they have to hire a video production company to get it done. While that is always an option, it’s not a requirement. In a lot of cases, with just a little know-how, determination, and, of course, a video editor like TechSmith Camtasia, anyone can create a great animated explainer video.

I’ll show you how.

Step 1: Choose a video style

Many explainer videos are made using animated graphics, but that’s not the only style. Consider the options below and select a style that you feel matches your product or service and audience best.

Today we’re making an animated explainer video, but other options include:

  • Live action/Talking head
  • Screencast video
  • Whiteboard drawing

While you can change this choice later, it is helpful to know what kind of video you’re aiming for so you can keep the visual style in mind as you write your script.

Step 2: Write a script

The script is the most important part of an explainer video. A voice-over drives the story and explains to viewers what they’re seeing. The visuals, which we’ll get to later, play a key role, but their purpose is to illustrate and support what is being said.

  • Your script should answer the following questions:
  • What is your product or service?
  • Who is it for?
  • What problem does the product or service solve?
  • How does it solve the problem?
  • What should a user do to get started?

Most animated explainer videos are 1-2 minutes in length. Practice reading your script out loud so you have an idea how long your finished video will be. Write concisely, and get to the point as fast as possible.

Step 3: Record and edit the audio narration

editing audio for animated explainer video

For this step, you first need to choose who will be the ‘voice’ of your company. The truth is almost any voice can work. The key is how they say the script. You want the person reading to reflect the right attitude for your company, product, or service.

Once you have voice talent chosen, use a recording studio or very quiet space, a high-quality microphone and recording software to record the script. One option for recording audio is Adobe Audition. If you prefer a free alternative, Audacity is another great choice and easily enough gets the job done.

When recording, don’t worry if the person reading stumbles over a line. Just pause, take a moment, and then re-start the sentence.

Then, edit your audio to remove bad takes, mistakes, and anything you won’t use. You should also remove background noise, breaths between lines, and, as much as possible, the little clicks and pops that many refer to as “mouth noises.” This will leave you with just the narration, as close to perfect as possible.

Step 4: Collect graphics, video, and other assets

downloading media from TechSmith Assets for animated explainer video

How you complete this step depends on what type of video you decided to create.

For animated videos, this is when you collect or create graphics, icons, and other media. If you’re doing a talking head, screencast, or whiteboard video, you will set up and complete these recordings.

This part can be intimidating, and it’s most likely the point where you’ll feel like you need to hire outside design or video talent. The reality is, in a lot of instances, that isn’t necessary.

There’s no need to use overly-complex visuals–simple, clear visuals that illustrate the message in a straightforward way to help the viewer keep their focus on the overall message and avoid getting distracted. One place I often get visuals and other media is from TechSmith Assets, which has tons of resources that work great with Camtasia.

Step 5: Edit and arrange media

editing media for an animated explainer video in Camtasia

You’ve gathered the raw materials, now it’s time to forge a masterpiece. Start a project in the video editor of your choosing. Camtasia is a great choice because it’s easy to learn and has features like Animations and Behaviors that make animating your graphics a snap.

Use these tutorials to learn how you can use Animations, Behaviors, and other key features in your project, no matter what style of video you decided to make:

It’s usually a good idea to create the first draft of your project and share it with colleagues or stakeholders for review. I always use TechSmith Video Review because it allows reviewers to add comments and annotations to specific places in the video.

Step 6: Add music

add music to an animated explainer video

Animated explainer videos almost always have music. It’s a critical tone-setting element in a video. Music conveys emotion and gives energy that narration alone lacks. It’s also easy to add and edit a music track in Camtasia. Here is a tutorial demonstrating how it’s done.

There are lots of resources, paid and free, for acquiring music. I mentioned TechSmith Assets earlier, and this is another time when it is a great resource as it has lots of music tracks to choose from. Here are a few other places you can try:

Whatever you choose, make sure you give proper attribution, if required.

Step 7: Publish, share, and track performance

produce an animated explainer video from Camtasia

When the video is complete and has all the necessary approval, it’s time to produce and share it. That means deciding where to host the video. Two key aspects of hosting, in my opinion, are the flexibility of where you will be able to place the video and performance statistics. This post goes into detail about video hosting, but I will provide a few suggestions here.

A fast and easy way to get a video online is to use TechSmith Sceencast. You can send a video straight to it from Camtasia and then share the link or embed the video where you want it. A free account is available to get you started and, if you need more space, you can always upgrade to a Pro account.

YouTube is an extremely popular place to host videos. They have all the tools you need to get the video online, allow you to embed it in your website or another location, and track the number of engagement metrics, which are critical to understanding the success of your video. YouTube has the additional benefit of making your video discoverable, which means it is displayed to users on via search results and suggested videos when it matches a user’s interests.

Wistia is another hosting place we use at TechSmith, as the engagement metrics, player controls, and appearance are second to none. Wistia is ideal for hosting the video and displaying in a website or blog, but, it is good to note, it lacks the discoverability of a video on YouTube.

That’s everything you need to know to create an animated explainer video. If you want to learn more about creating great videos, check out the TechSmith Academy or our Camtasia Tutorials.

The post How to Make an Animated Explainer Video (Step-By-Step Guide) appeared first on TechSmith Blog.

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Color Correction and How ColorFast 2 Can Help

It’s not a new concept that color has significant influence
over our mental and emotional state. Just look at your surroundings. Think
about how certain places make you feel. In most cases, color is playing a part.

Now I’m sure if you’ve been in the business for a bit, you are familiar with color correction and grading, and apply them to most of your projects. However, if you’re new to video editing and looking to improve your craft, here is a quick overview of the basic principles.

It’s widely known that marketers use color psychology in their advertising efforts to evoke emotions, influence buyer behavior, and increase sales. But why does this matter for video editing? Well…sort of for the same reasons. Essentially, your goal as a video editor is to set the mood for your production, to evoke your audience’s emotions, and to make the experience of watching your movie memorable. So how do you do this? One of the best ways is – you guessed it – color, and that’s when color correction and grading come in handy.

There are 3 steps in color correction and grading. The first step is color correction, also known as primary color correction. Color correction is usually done first because raw footage can tend to be flat or under-saturated, or shot in less than ideal conditions, and things like color and contrast may need enhancing. The basic goal of color correction is to make sure the footage looks natural to the human eye, and to give the multiple clips in your sequence a uniform look. Often times, a shoot will be done over several days in multiple locations and the differences in lighting will need to be fixed. This all can be corrected so that the final product has consistent color and lighting.

The second step is color grading. Color grading is the process of creating the actual aesthetic of your video. For example, you can take a gloomy day at the beach and make it look like it was shot in Hawaii under a bright summer sky. You can catapult your audience to a different era by manipulating the color saturation and contrast. Or, you can mimic a post-apocalyptic world using dreary and depressing tones, and so on.

The last step in the coloring process is to make sure that everything in your footage blends together nicely and your color ranges are correct or ‘broadcast-legal’.

Now to get more technical, what exactly is color correction and grading, and how do they work? At the most granular level, color correction and grading involve changing the color of a pixel to another pixel. 4K video at 24 frames per second is about 200 million pixels per second so it’s absolutely impossible to do this process on a pixel-by-pixel basis. That’s where color fixing plugins come into play.

Some editors use the color correction and grading tools that are built into their NLEs, while others utilize 3rd party plug-ins, such as those offered by NewBlue. Now while almost all NLE’s contain some basic color correction tools, the choices can be somewhat limited and your project might require a more specialized set of tools. In such a case, we recommend that you consider our ColorFast 2 – a comprehensive color correction plugin that’s compatible with most NLEs and provides a powerful, intuitive set of features all the color correction steps outlined above. In addition, it contains a wide range of other advanced features, such as more than 60 preset looks to choose from.

Watch a short walkthrough of ColorFast 2

Let’s look at an example. The human eye is quite sensitive to human skin tones, preferring natural-looking shades of skin color. ColorFast 2 helps solve this problem by providing a Skin Mask option that allows you to preserve the corrected skin tones from a shot, based on skin detection, while allowing the rest of the image to be graded with more extreme color change.

Another example is the included scopes in ColorFast 2. FActors such as your monitor and the lighting around you during editing can make it hard to accurately gauge what color specs are actually in your video. The included scopes help you set your adjustments within ‘broadcast-legal’ limits and the Region Scope feature helps you easily visualize and stay within your desired color range. It lets you measure the whole picture or select a specific region for precise scope readings with an on-screen indicator.

Scopes Include:

Vector – Classic
is a traditional display which shows saturation levels in your picture.

Vector – Color
displays saturation information with the addition of color being shown within
the scope display.

RGB Parade shows
the luminance levels of your picture, separated out into Red, Green and Blue
channels.

Waveform shows the luminance levels of your picture from black and shadow levels at the bottom, to white and highlight levels at the top.

Histogram shows
the spread and quantity of pixels from black and shadow levels toward the left
side as well as white and highlight levels toward the right side. This scope
also separates out three channels of Red, Green, and Blue, including the
combination of all three as combined luminance represented by White.

ColorFast 2 also includes 65+ professionally curated preset looks ranging from modern cinematic to old vintage classics. Furthermore, it includes balancing options and final composition correction, for finishing touches after the initial steps of color grading and correction are complete.

Color correction and grading is a vital part of video editing. By mastering these concepts and making sure your favorite video editing software is equipped with the right tools, you can be confident your work will shine.

The post Color Correction and How ColorFast 2 Can Help appeared first on NewBlueFX.

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Red Giant Cheap Tricks: how to create VFX similar to Alladin or Captain Marvel

Red Giant Cheap Tricks: creating VFX similar to Alladin or Captain Marvel

If you want to know how to create buzzworthy blockbuster effects, Daniel Hashimoto, creator of Action Movie Kid, shares with you some of the best tricks to create fantastic VFX with Red Giant software.

Announced as “the most awesome episode of Cheap Tricks yet”, the March edition of the series created by Red Giant to share the power of its tools introduces users to the special effects present in Captain Marvel. At the helm for this one hour video tutorial, Daniel Hashimoto (creator of Action Movie Kid). who walks viewers through a lesson that includes keying, compositing, VFX and color correction. The project files and templates used by Daniel Hashimoto are available to download from the page dedicated to the tutorial.

The Cheap Tricks episode dedicated to Captain Marvel is another example of Red Giant’s commitment to “make make tools, films and training to enrich the community of filmmakers and motion designers”. The company says that “for our own award-winning short films, we create new software to fill our needs. Then we make those products available to everyone, helping artists create the perfect look that matches their story.”

Red Giant Cheap Tricks: creating VFX similar to Alladin or Captain Marvel

The VFX in Alladin

The Cheap Tricks series serves to take the whole concept of sharing knowledge a step further, with episodes dedicated to reveal how Red Giant’s tools can be used to create the same kind of VFX you see in blockbuster films.  Captain Marvel is the tutorial video for this month, while February was dedicated to the new Alladin trailer.  In it Daniel Hashimoto shows how to recreate Will Smith’s Genie. The video, 15 minutes long, takes you on a magical journey into the uncanny valley, a journey made with the help of some special guests that will teach viewers about working with and animating 3D character models and bringing it all together in Adobe After Effects.

The latest episodes of Cheap Tricks from Red Giant, demonstrate that everybody can do VFX, with the right tools. These tutorials walk viewers through the necessary techniques to create buzzworthy blockbuster effects.  The series has more episodes, and besides the two mentioned here you may want to check the one dedicated to DC’s Aquaman, published in January 2019. In it Daniel Hashimoto, or Hashi as he is known, shows viewers how to recreate an underwater effect as seen in DC’s Aquaman.

Red Giant Cheap Tricks: creating VFX similar to Alladin or Captain Marvel

Action Movie Kid: kids like you’ve never seen them

If you’re really interested, there are more episodes in this new Cheap Tricks tutorial series from Red Giant and Daniel Hashimoto. Each month Hashi will show you how to quickly and inexpensively create Hollywood Blockbuster-level VFX and mograph by breaking down shots from popular films and trailers. Like those you’ll find in the Action Movie Kid, a series from the author that started in 2014 on youTube.

Daniel  Hashimoto, who is Action Movie Dad, writes this to present the space: “ Action Movie Kid is the family-friendly channel where imaginations REALLY come to life – sometimes quite destructively. James and Sophia are amazing children with who end up in extraordinary situations with their parents along for the ride. We love Star Wars, Super Heroes, and just good old fashioned cardboard boxes. This channel is for anyone young or old with an imagination. Subscribe and catch up on all our previous adventures here. Before you ask: I do these videos completely in Adobe After Effects plus a few third party plugins. Yes, I will be posting tutorials as my schedule allows.”

Red Giant Cheap Tricks: creating VFX similar to Alladin or Captain Marvel

Five years on YouTube

The kids, James and Sophia, have their parents shooting more video of them than any other parent around, I believe, but these are not the regular videos of children  you’ll see most of the time. Daniel  Hashimoto decided to introduce his VFX work to the memories of his children growing, and the result is a collection of videos that will make many other children look with envy to the “super powers” of James and Sophia and the exciting “adventures” lived by them.

The demand for great creative content is higher than ever, and growing! To make content stand out, creatives need the right tools AND techniques to deliver work that stands up next to the likes of Hollywood blockbusters. And they also need to practice, so that’s what Daniel Hashimoto does, creating family videos that are not your ordinary video. The Action Movie Kid series, whose mantra is “imagination is better than real life”, has just celebrated five years on YouTube, and there is a The Best of Action Movie Kid video for you to watch, while the team is “cooking up our next batch of episodes”.

The videos from Action Movie Kid may just make you smile, but there is a whole lot of work behind the actions that draw the smile on your face. And nothing stops you from using some of the ideas there to create memories of your children’s young years in a different way from what you’ve done until now. Daniel  Hashimoto even shares the process behind some of the scenes, so there is no excuse to not try this.

A suggestion: this is a great series of videos to see with the family. There’s only one problem: if you’ve kids, they will ask you to make them experience the same adventures lived by James and Sophia in the Action Movie Kid series.

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