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Creating engaging animated explainer videos: Part 2

So what exactly makes a video engaging and successful? The best way to answer that question is with some examples. I spent some time searching around the web finding excellent examples of animated explainer videos. The three I chose are found on many of the lists of “top ten” explainer videos (animated or not). But I didn’t choose them because they are the top three. I picked them because I think they best illustrate the concepts that go into making great videos.

Solving world hunger

The World Food Programme is a United Nations effort to help feed people in impoverished and war-torn areas of the world. In this video from 2009, they use just 60 seconds to make their point in a very clear and emotional way. Watch first and see if you agree.

The steady ticking of the clock combined with statistics of our online world followed by the frightening statistics of children suffering from hunger pull at your sense of curiosity and emotions. It drives the point home that if you are watching the video, then you can make a huge difference with just a small donation. And that if everyone with Internet access donated just a small amount, then they could get food to all the hungry children in the world.

The graphics are simple, the animation is simple, the overall length is short but the message is clear. This video proves you don’t need a fancy graphic design to keep people’s attention. If you’re interested, on the WFP home page, there is another video that runs just under two minutes that does a great job explaining their entire mission. Scroll down to the bottom right and click the video right under “WFP and Zero Hunger”.

Finding a flat

On a completely different note, this video from Padmapper uses subtle humour and examples to demonstrate what the company does.

If you watched the whole video, you should now have a clear idea of what Padmapper is and even how to use it. Their informal approach to the topic of making the search for new apartments easier (or “suck less”) keeps the video engaging. The graphic examples of how to use the site keep you focused on what the site will do for you while also showing you how easy it is without having to use the actual website which might be distracting. I know I’ll be checking on padmapper the next time I need to move to a new apartment.

Your financial life

While searching the web for the best animated videos, I found several from Mint.com listed in various places. Apparently they do a really good job at creating videos. After you watch this video, you’ll probably agree they can do a really good job helping you manage your money too.

While fairly fast paced, this video takes you on a journey from your current, possibly disorganised way of keeping track of your finances to envisioning how it could all be better after you sign up with Mint.com. The graphics are interesting and always moving forward. It also uses actual screen shots of the website without looking too complicated.

Do it yourself, or hire it out

All three of these videos were created for the companies by marketing or design agencies specialising in animated explainer videos. If you do a Google search for the topic you’ll find plenty of companies to create one for you. Beware though, it usually isn’t cheap. Of course there is always a range of options.

But if you’re so inclined, there are quite a few online video creation services that you can do yourself. They generally don’t require any graphics or programming experience, though they usually require some patience as you learn. Come back to read part 3 of this series to find out about a few of these services and what you need to know before you decide to outsource or do it yourself.

Oliver Burt

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