Explainer Video

Explainer Videos Take Gold at Sochi

Shawn 02.13.2014

The New York Times embraced the power of explainer videos in a series launched to explain the nuances of new winter events taking the stage at the Sochi Olympics.

Every one of these amazing videos breaks down the how and why of world-class technique into bite-sized morsels of the incredible acrobatics involved in each sport.

Ski Jump – Jessica Jerome

The series features five events:

  • Slopestyle – A brand new event at the Olympics this year
  • Ski Jump – The first Olympics women’s ski jump (I know!)
  • Luge – Celebrating the first “uphill” track design at the Olympics
  • Slalom – Ted Ligety redefines the slalom with his unique turn style
  • Halfpipe – Revisit the original “extreme Olympic sport” with icon Shaun White below:


Each video is broken down into sections (chapters that activate as you scroll), which help drive home specific technical aspects without sacrificing the narrative flow. It’s beautifully rendered and the education goes hand in hand with the stunning visuals and animations. Each series owes its success to impeccable execution of the 6 classic features of explainer videos. Namely:

  1. Brevity – No “chapter” exceeds 60 seconds
  2. Clarity – Each video is dedicated to explaining a single topic, be it mid-air rotation or flight paths
  3. Illustration – The videos seamlessly employ slow-motion, exposition, computer graphics, and classic animation techniques to explain with precision
  4. Authority – The subject in each video is an authority. Two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White, World-Champion Ted Ligety, etc.
  5. Novelty – Each video shows the viewer something they didn’t know before watching it. Viewers take away a new, exciting understanding of each featured Olympic sport (especially the Ski Jump) and armed with this new knowledge they are inclined to…
  6. Sharability – These videos are begging to be spread on social media channels, blogs, etc., because they accomplish what they set out to do – explain something complicated in a beautiful way.


Marc McMorris – Slopestyle

Luge – Uphill Design

The New York Times really stuck the landing with these awesome explainer videos. Gold medals go to Alexandra Garcia, Graham Roberts, Joe Ward, John Branch, Larry Buchanan, Mike Bostock, Ritvik Menon, Tom Giratikanon, and wonderful narration by Zena Barakat.

Watch them all here.


Born in Southern California, Shawn grew up surfing, eating In-N-Out, and growing his hair long. After graduating with a Liberal Arts degree from CSU Long Beach in 2005 he left the crowded freeways behind and spent the better part of a decade traveling the world living for stretches in Rome, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, and Brooklyn. He writes novels as well as copy, loves learning keyboard shortcuts, and plays his grandpa’s old lap steel guitar. You can hear his band at ponieswillbiteyou.com

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