Making Your First Animated Explainer Video: National Quality ForumShawn Forno 03.01.2017
For many project managers, there’s nothing more nerve-wracking than producing your first animated explainer video. You have to decide on a style, a message, a script, and about a thousand other things.
Should the video be live-action or animation? What kind of explainer video voice over should we use? Do we want it brief and packed with technical information or can it be more narrative with characters, branding, and a memorable story arc? Like I said, there are a lot of questions when you make your first animated explainer video. So to help you answer a few of these questions, we talked with one of our producers, SaraJane Askildsen, and one of our most recent clients, Camille Espinoza, Director of Member Education for National Quality Forum (NQF), about the production process for NQF’s first animated explainer video.
Camille and SaraJane share how NQF approached making their first video, what they liked about the process, what they didn’t, and tips to help you make your first animated explainer video a hit. Camille also shares the feedback and impact of NQF’s first video and why they chose to make another video for their members.
We love to feature client success and peel back the curtain on what it takes to make a successful animated explainer video. Enjoy!
IR: Tell us a little about the National Quality Forum (NQF)
Camille: NQF is a non-profit, membership organization located in Washington D.C. NQF’s mission is to lead national collaboration to improve health and healthcare quality through measurement. NQF brings together organizations across healthcare to endorse measures and provide recommendations to government about how to improve the healthcare system. Everyone needs high quality healthcare and a way to measure it.
IR: What is your role at NQF and how does an explainer video to help you accomplish that?
Camille: I produce education programs for healthcare professionals and member organizations representing healthcare providers, consumers, researchers, suppliers, and health plans, from start to finish. Before our explainer video, we relied on a lot of webinars, workshops, e-learning activities, storylines, infographics, and powerpoint videos.
IR: Why did you decide to make an animated explainer video?
Camille: We needed a way to explain what we do in 3 minutes or less. Our work is extremely technical—if you’re not an expert in this area, it’s difficult to explain what we do. Also, we wanted something very inviting. Something that takes the abstract and makes it into a reliable, concrete story. A gateway tool.
Our members come from many different professional backgrounds, , which is very difficult from an educator standpoint. The explainer video makes what we do relatable to everyone.
IR: How do you use the explainer video?
Camille: The video is hosted on our website, but we also use it at the start of webinars and in-person meetings, and as a general explainer. They started out as educational resources for our members, but they’re evolving into communication resources.
IR: Has the explainer video been a success?
Camille: The feedback for the video is very, very positive. Our staff likes it. The board loves it. We even use it for on-boarding new staff. It’s kind of like the commercial we play all the time.
Explainer Video Production
IR: What advice do you have for companies looking to make their first animated explainer video?
Camille: Allow a lot of extra time, particularly for script development. The hardest part is packaging your story into a few minutes of video. To get it right, I considered who to bring into the process and at what stage. Bring people in too early, and the project stalls, too late and you make mistakes.
SaraJane: Knowing who to share it with—and when—can make or break a project. Gathering consensus is always a challenge with so many stakeholders. It’s important to make sure you both manage their expectations and keep good notes.
IR: So the script development was a lot more important than you originally thought?
Camille: Absolutely. We didn’t really know what we wanted. When it actually came down to writing something on a piece of paper, that’s only 300 words long—it was tough. Through the script writing, we discovered what we really wanted to say. It took us four weeks to get it exactly right, but the script is the foundation so it was worth it.
IR: Do you have any other tips for communicating while creating the script?
SaraJane: Be incredibly specific and vocal throughout the project about what you need and want. For example, tell your internal collaborators and animators when you can and cannot delete certain words from the script, or when certain colors should be avoided to match your brand. You can have accuracy and brevity in the same video, but this usually involves long conversations about the details.
IR: What else should you pay attention to during the production process?
Camille: Basic project management stuff. Find a very easy way of gathering feedback and make sure it’s centralized and easy to use.
IR: Were there any hiccups in the production process?
Camille: The hardest part for us was trying to get the right tone. To do something like this at all [make an animated explainer video] was a risk. We had never done it before. It couldn’t look too much like a “cartoon.” So we had to find the right look and feel. But as soon as people saw it, they loved it.
SaraJane: For NQF’s first video, we wanted to do an anthropomorphic character (the tape measure character “M” you see in their second video), but it was too much for a first video. We had to develop that trust and understand their brand a little more before taking creative risks.
New Explainer Video
IR: Tell us about your second explainer video, “Story of a Measure,” which recently launched on your site.
Camille: The video describes how implementing quality measures can reduce incidents of central line associated blood infections (CLABSI) in healthcare facilities across the country. What I like about this second video is that it’s a relatable success story about reducing infection and savings lives..
IR: Any final tips?
Camille: Limitations are important in creative work, because you need something to push off of. This was our first go-around, and we were pleased with the process. Be ever patient. This final product is worth it.
Animated Explainer Video Production
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