Explainer Videos

Running a Fake Business? Here’s How an Explainer Can Help!

Blake Harris 06.11.2015

Just because 99.9% of explainer videos are used by real, legitimate businesses doesn’t mean we should forget about that fraction of a percent that are utilized by fictional enterprises, does it? Of course not! Even fake businesses have a message to share!

So let’s take a look one of the more popular explainers ever made for a fake company. And in this case, that company is International Genetic Technologies; the good folks responsible for opening the world’s first ever “Jurassic Park.”

Before we can properly analyze the effectiveness of this explainer, we should first consider its purpose. So let’s take a step back and consider what this video is ultimately trying to accomplish.

From both the perspective of the film—meaning, why are the filmmakers choosing to include this video here—and the perspective of the fictional entity—meaning, why is InGen presenting this to patrons—the answer is relatively straight-forward: by this point in the film (or this point in the tour of Jurassic Park) most people are probably wondering the same thing: where the hell did these dinosaurs come from?!

In fact, serving as a proxy for the audience, Laura Dern’s skeptical paleontologist character asks this question almost exactly right before the video begins: “Where do you get a hundred million year old dinosaur blood?”

So, under the parameters of answering this central question–from both the film and business standpoint– let’s break down the pros and cons…

WHY THIS VIDEO IS DINO-RIFFIC

Likeable Character: Since the purpose of this explainer is to relay exposition in an accessible and engaging way, it was a wise move to pick a likeable animated figure as the conduit of that message. His name is “Mr. DNA,” and with that aw-shucks voice and cutesy personality, he proves an able guide through what could otherwise be boring.

Humor: The content here is dense, and the philosophical questions it raises are incredibly larger (i.e. should we be playing God), but the explainer is able to inject some flourishes of humor that don’t undercut the seriousness of this subject matter.

Clear Message: Although the science here is surface level at best, the video does an excellent job at presenting an A to B narrative of how this was possible.

  1. All humans have, in our blood, something called DNA
  2. DNA is the building block of life
  3. Dinosaurs too had DNA in their blood
  4. Up until now, we thought Dinosaur DNA was lost forever
  5. But Eureka! Some of it was safely preserved in recently discovered, eons-old amber (which contains mosquitos, who sucked on dinosaur blood)
  6. InGen uses supercomputers, genetics and virtual reality displays to recreate these buildings blocks and, voila, a dinosaur is born.

WHY THIS VIDEO IS WORTHY OF EXTINCTION

Weak Opening: Especially if you imagine that, within the context of the film, it will likely be viewed by some pretty serious-minded people (businessmen, dignitaries, representatives from PETA). So maybe it’s not a great idea to open your explainer video by featuring the mastermind of this operation looking like a befuddled eccentric.

Disorienting Transitions: The animation in this explainer (done by artist Bob Kurtz) is truly fantastic, and the live-action shots (of mosquitos, scientists, etc.) is pretty strong as well, but the segue between both styles is often somewhat jarring. Especially towards the end, when Mr. DNA’s amiable hijinks contrast the high-stakes undertone permeating through the InGen laboratory.

Too Much Inside Baseball: Although the overarching message is successfully deployed, the scientific explanation towards the end (from about 1:25 to 2:07) is not only a bit too technical but it seems to raise more questions than it answers. This is the part that explains how InGen goes about filling in the missing code. And while I’m sure this is incredibly important to the actual process, I was personally willing to take the leap from “Bingo! Dino-DNA” to “And now we can make a baby Dinosaur”

Overall Score: 8.5/10

So just remember: whether you’re making a multi-million dollar movie, or running a run-of-the-mill ponzi scheme, a real explainer can help take your fake business to the next level!

Note: That remark about the ponzi scheme was a joke.

Note 2: To reiterate: If you are running a ponzi scheme, the author of this blog post does not advise you to make an explainer video.

Note 3: A special thanks to gent who sent me this video: Nick Esposito, who as far as I know is not now, nor has he ever been, involved with ponzi schemes.  

Blake Harris

Blake Harris

Blake Harris is the author of "Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation."
Blake Harris

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