Friday Roundup: Animation Advice: The Story Isn’t About You

Shawn Forno 01.13.2017

How does animation help tell a great story? Is it with slick CGI and stunning visual effects? Do you embrace VR and immerse your viewer in a futuristic experience? Or is it with attention to detail that embraces traditional hand-drawn animation or painstaking stop motion animation? The answer is, “Sure.”

But only if you tell a good story.

Storytelling is the often neglected first step of great animation. Eye-popping visual effects fade, and the CGI advancements of today will look clunky in a few (short) years. All the new motion graphic effects in the world can’t make a dull story exciting if it doesn’t have something to say. Before the pen (or stylus) hits the page, animation needs a point of view.

Here’s a quick look at the most important aspect of great animated explainer video: Storytelling.

Idea Blog

Monday: What We’ve Learned from 10 Years Making Explainer Videos

Tuesday: Mindfulness & Business

Wednesday: Looped Animation: 2016 Yule Log Compendium

Thursday: 8 Surprising Ways to Use Whiteboard Animation

ICYMI: Billion Dollar Explainer Video

The First Step of Great Animation is Storytelling

Ask any startup CEO, marketing manager, or content creator and they’ll agree—the hardest part of branding isn’t designing a logo, launching a website, or curating a killer social media campaign—it’s telling a compelling story.

animation storytelling

What makes your company different? Why should I listen to your message? What makes you special? Ultimately, what makes you worth my time?

If you can answer these crucial questions—with an animated explainer video—you’re on your way to building a brand that people not only recognize, but one they trust.

And an explainer video is a great way to explain (see what I did there?) to your customers what you do. You can announce, “Hey! This is what we’re all about.” However, the most effective explainer videos aren’t the most beautiful or even the most informative—they’re the ones that capture their audience.

Explainer videos should tell the story of your customer, not your company,” explains CEO of Griffyn Media, Marcela De Vivo. A great explainer video isn’t about you—it never was. You’re either making it to help customers with an existing problem, explain a new feature, or tell them how you’re going to solve their problem.

Writing a good script for a 30-second video is harder than you imagine (trust me), but it’s not what you think. A great explainer script tells a story about your brand, but at the end of the day it’s not about you. Before you spend hours developing the look and feel of your next video, spend a few minutes thinking about who it’s for and how it’s going to help, inform, or entertain them. Then let the story flow. It’ll be easier than you think.

Animation News

Blooms 2 — John Edmark

If you’re an animation nerd, you’ve probably seen (or even made) a zoetrope—those spinning sequences of still frames that mimic motion if spun. Zoetropes are mesmerizing, but they’ve got nothing on blooms.

“Blooms are 3-D printed sculptures designed to animate when spun under a strobe light. Unlike a 3D zoetrope, which animates a sequence of small changes to objects, a bloom animates as a single self-contained sculpture,” explains creator John Edmark. If that sounds intense, it gets better.

“The rotational speed and strobe rate of the bloom are synchronized so that one flash occurs every time the bloom turns 137.5º (the angular version of phi).”

Yeah. Animation just got mathematical!

Rick and Morty Trailer — Adult Swim

If you’re not excited about Rick and Morty Season 3, you’re not an animation fan. Speculation is reaching a fevered pitch thanks to a later release date, script secrecy, and the worries about the curse of success.

But fear not fans, Rick and Morty have consistently struck the right tone with every promotional release, including the revamped 8-bit animated title sequence. Just debut season 3 already. It’s going to be awesome.

Animation Culture

Storytelling Animation within Animation — A Monster Calls

A VR Animation Wishlist — Kevin Geiger

The future of animation is a constantly moving target. Stay tuned for more animation news, culture, and video marketing tips every week!

Shawn Forno

Shawn Forno is a massive Studio Ghibli fan who does content marketing. In that order. Find his other writing and extensive travel blogging here.

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