Hiring the Right Company for You
The first thing to do is research, watch explainer videos from different companies and find out what their process is. Make sure you gather an adequate amount of information on the topic so when you go to make a decision, it’s one you feel good about. There’s no right or wrong answer across the board, but there is a right or wrong answer for you. Make sure you don’t feel bullied or pressed. If you do, that’s not a good company to work with. You are the client commissioning the product, so make sure the company you work with is happy to work with you and is one you’ll get along with.
A good place to begin is a company’s portfolio. What clients have they worked with? Do they have a lot of experience? A portfolio lays it all out on the line and gives you the best idea about what your video will look like.
Going with a company you feel good about eliminates the onset of potential headaches along the way. If you get frustrated with the company when discussing the project, it’s only going to get harder once you start making a video. You want to have fun making your explainer video! This is really important because it will come across in the finished product.
Enjoying who you work with is a key part of the video production process because how much you enjoy the process will show in the final product.
The Typical Production Process
We have a proven, 5-step process we follow here at Switch Video to consistently make effective explainer videos. The details vary at different explainer video production houses, but the process is fairly the same across the board. Here is a step-by-step overview of what our production process is like.
Step 1 : Discovery
This step sometimes gets skipped with other companies, but we make sure to always start with a proper discovery phase. Discovery is where we go over the details of the project, our process, how we do things and find out what the client is looking for. This is vital to making sure we deliver exactly what the client wants and sets a flow for the duration of the project.
Step 2 : Script
Higher end companies will have a professional writer on staff to write the script for you. In-house script writers will usually have direct contact with clients whereas outsourced writers will not. The scriptwriter will send clients multiple concepts for their review, based on what they were looking for in the discovery part of the process. They will make edits and adjustments according to what the clients’ specifications are. When all is approved the script moves into the storyboard phase.
Step 3: Storyboard
A professional begins the storyboard phase once the client has a general idea of what they want for visuals. A storyboard shows still images next to a script, providing the client with a clearer idea of what the final product will look like.
Step 4: Animation
This is where the animator puts everything into motion! At this point the storyboard has been approved by the client and now it’s time to animate the characters and images. Again, just like a scriptwriter, a good animator will work in-house and can be contacted by the client directly. During the discovery portion of the project, we conduct a call with the client and all members of the team working on that project present and in the same room. A good way to tell if your video team all works together in the same office is if they’re on calls together. Otherwise, your video may be getting outsourced.
Step 5: Delivery
Your project is complete! Your explainer video is ready to share with your potential customers in any number of ways. Your video producer will provide you with a number of different file formats, will help you with video storage, and will show you how to embed your video on your website and into emails.
Should You Write the Script?
There’s a slight debate over whether or not you should write your own script or have an agency write it for you. Neil Patel, for one, says that you should write it yourself. Here’s our take on the subject:
If you can take advantage of a full service production company, then you should. Neil is right that you know your product the best. He’s also right that you should interview your past clients and website visitors and use their comments to help you inform the scriptwriter.
The best approach is to share your knowledge with the experts you’ve hired through a guided briefing process so that your ideas are tested by the experts. If anything, you need to let the production house push back against your ideas. That’s the feedback we received a few years ago. A lot of our clients wanted us to stop listening to them so much. Why? Because they wanted a better video, not a company that says yes to whatever they asked for.
Unless you’re an experienced scriptwriter or copywriter,
You shouldn’t write ityourself
It’s hard work. At Switch it took us producing 200 videos before we got really good at what we do.
When you write your own script, you don’t get the outside perspective from someone who’s not dealing with your product day in and day out. If you’re a marketing genius, you may be able to pull it off, like Neil Patel, but if not, having someone provide another perspective is what will take your script from good to great. When we produced our own homepage video at Switch, our founder, Andrew, simply shared his goal for the video and let the team work their magic. He didn’t want to get in the way. He felt too close to the project and that he needed the team to work on it without his interjections. The end result was a much better video.
Neil is right that the script is the key to producing an awesome video and that you should use your extensive product knowledge, client knowledge, and skills to contribute to the video production process when you’re working with your production team.
If you want to get a head start on your own or if you just can’t afford a full service company, visit the appendix to find scriptwriter tips, examples, and templates.
Tools for Bootstrappers
Want to make your own video? Here are some tools that can help you along the way:
Sparkol VideoScribe allows you to create fast rendering, high-definition stop-motion capture videos. With a Pro account, you have full access to animation and music files, and you have the ability to use the videos commercially without any watermark.
Using Camtasia, you can record what’s happening on your computer screen. Afterward, use their powerful video design studio to add in the elements like animations, sounds, themes and backgrounds.
Ginger lets you create simple videos with ease through a two-step process. You record your voice work, and their system automatically matches your project up with relevant graphics. After just a bit of tweaking, your explainer video is ready to deliver.
Tools like GoAnimate! and PowToons try to simplify the process further with drag-and-drop menus you can use to create your own animations.