Many of us may still have nightmares about the blackboard back in school, but whiteboard videos have enjoyed popular success in recent years.
Whiteboard videos, also called scribing videos, are a type of explainer video showing a drawing that comes to life as the video progresses, illustrating what’s being explained in the voice-over.
Whiteboard videos provide an excellent way of explaining a complicated process by breaking it down into a series of illustrations. They can also help to visualise an evolution, or simply visualise different aspects or a concept as the speaker progresses in their explanation, helping the audience understand and memorise what’s being said.
The use of a ‘board’ means that their educational character is immediately recognisable, making them highly click-worthy and shareable.
A unique feature of scribing is the immediacy of this technique: While a great video format, scribing can also be done live. Illustrators can create whiteboard illustrations in the form of a life-sized fresco, or create them live on screen during a presentation for example, adding their personal take – not unlike an interpreter. This type of animation can in turn become input for a post-event video.
These materials created live can later be re-used for distribution in video format, to capitalise on the momentum generated during an event or training to further engage with your audience for example.
The visual style of a whiteboard video is driven by its primary function, which is to help understanding.
Most whiteboard videos therefore use a simple, cartoon-like drawing style in black and white. They can, but do not always, show the hand creating the drawing.
It’s important that the drawings are neat enough to be easily understood.
Here’s some advice for exploring the full potential of the scribing technique for your videos:
- Whiteboard videos are fast-paced: make sure the audience can follow. Drawings unfold quickly as they follow the voice-over. Remember that they will only bring real added value if the viewer can follow their logic – and ‘decrypt’ them as fast as the camera moves!
- Only go for whiteboard if the topic lends itself to this type of illustration. It can be tempting to associate ‘explainer’ with ‘whiteboard’, but not every type of explanation can be translated into a cartoon- or fresco-style image. If you need to illustrate statistics or geography for instance, infographics may be more appropriate.
- Make sure the images are connected. The drawing coming to life on screen is a narrative, and it needs to unfold as such – from a both logical and visual point of view. This will help understanding, and also create a more enjoyable experience for the viewer.
- Add a joke here and there. The ‘scribe’ doesn’t always have to stick to the (spoken) script – in fact, it’s better when they don’t. It will make your audience react – and enjoy the video more – if the drawings occasionally contain some funny twist or a visual reference that makes them smile.