You've probably seen an explainer video. Traditionally it starts with someone talking, and then a hand appears and starts drawing what's being talked about, speedily making pictures to illustrate the subject. I've done a few of those, but they don't always need to look like that, do they?
I think it's just in the terminology, perhaps more folk have heard of the word 'explainer video' than say 'motion graphics' or 'storytelling video'. There are loads of ways of telling a story in a video, and explainer style is just one.
Where will it appear?
He's an example I did recently for NHS North West. You'll notice no sound or voiceover in this version. That's because in the initial meeting, we looked at what the team needed the video for, and where it would be seen. From there I could Then plan the best formats, so they got maximum value from the result.
Getting maximum value from the explainer video format
There were separate illustrations for print, a PowerPoint slideshow someone could talk over to an audience, and a version with text overlayered, to play out on a big screen in a conference room to engage an audience before an event began.
The end goal in mind
Having the end goal in mind helped the format. Identifying where and how the content would appear, meant I could lean into detail with the illustrations to engage the audience in my signature style. A great project to work on and cheers to the team for giving me creative freedom on it.
Question: Come on then Turbine fella, how would you describe an explainer video?
Woof, an explainer video is a short and engaging video that explains a complex or tricky-to-understand subject in a simple and accessible way. It can be created using different styles such as hand-drawn animation or clean and technical data animation.
What could I use it for?
They can be used for a variety of purposes. They are great for simplifying complex ideas, introducing a new product or service, showcasing a brand or company, educating customers or employees, and promoting a cause or idea.
How long should an explainer video be?
the ideal length of an explainer video depends on the complexity of the subject matter and the attention span of your target audience. Generally, most explainer videos range from 60 to 90 seconds. This is because attention spans are short, and you want to get your message across quickly and effectively. However, if the subject matter is more complex, the video can be longer, up to 2-3 minutes.
I recently worked with an NHS team in Leyland to create a video celebrating their progress.
They were a great team to work with, telling me their story and providing ideas to work with help articulate the story they wanted to tell. I created warm, eye-catching illustrations to capture the events that they wanted to recognize.
I started with some rough sketches suggesting how the video could look and put together an animatic, which is a rough version to show the team and make sure we were on the right Lines. I also got to work with a professional voice actor Drew whose vocals really gave the final work.
Do you have a story your looking to tell visually? Whether you have a clear idea or you're not sure where to start get in touch and I can help you create your vision. Below are some stills taken from the video.
Turbine (robot dog assistant) on the benefits of using animated videos for your marketing;
Woof! Using motion graphics for marketing offers several benefits:
Attention-Grabbing: They use animation and visual effects, making them highly engaging. They attract attention more effectively than static images or text, helping your marketing materials stand out in a crowded digital landscape.
Enhanced Branding: Motion graphics allow you to incorporate your brand's visual identity, such as logo, colours, and typography, into dynamic and animated elements. This helps reinforce your brand recognition.
Improved Information Retention: Animated visuals can be more memorable Woof! Using motion graphics, you can present complex information, data, or whatever you like in a visually appealing way.
Increased Engagement: People are more likely to engage with and share content that includes motion graphics. The dynamic nature of motion graphics can evoke emotions, spark curiosity, and encourage viewers to interact with your marketing materials, resulting in higher engagement rates.
Versatility: Motion graphics can be used across various marketing platforms and formats, including social media, websites, presentations, advertisements, and videos. They are adaptable and can be tailored to suit different purposes, making them a versatile tool for conveying your marketing message consistently across different channels.
Improved Storytelling: Motion graphic animation allow you to tell stories in a visually compelling way. By combining visuals, text, and audio, you can create narratives that resonate with your audience, evoke emotions, and convey the essence of your brand or product effectively.
Increased Conversion Rates: Engaging motion graphics can have a positive impact on conversion rates. By capturing attention and creating an emotional connection, motion graphics can drive user actions, such as signing up for newsletters, making purchases, or sharing content, leading to higher conversion rates.
Modern and Innovative Image: Incorporating motion in your marketing strategy demonstrates your brand is up-to-date with current trends and appeals to tech-savvy audiences.
Overall, motion graphics offer a powerful way to communicate your marketing message, enhance brand awareness, and drive audience engagement, leading to improved marketing outcomes.
Do you know what Phononics are? Can you draw sound?
Here's some new work I did for Professor Will J. Parnell for the International Phononics conference this year. As a creative, I love learning new things when I make animations and visuals - and this is a brilliant challenge.
"Phononic materials are engineered media that can manipulate waves propagating through them due to their synthetic and periodic architecture" Got that? My rough understanding is how soundwaves move through materials, and how soundproofing works.
Illustrating sound waves was pretty straightforward, with waveforms. Soundproofing materials was trickier. I looked at maths-based art (as that formed the exciting logo) with all its geometry, tesselation and symmetry, and the two parts came together nicely to carry the theme of the event. But where does the sound come from? These are the questions, and that's when the train the visual whoosh came in at the beginning.
The NHS Cheshire & Wirral are launching their new autism awareness strategy and were looking for someone to help promote it with some animation. Hello. What was so cool about this project, is how open to ideas they were when I suggested using characters to tell a 'day in the life' story. We are all keen to get it right and make it really engaging. So less data and more story. It became a really positive collaborative process.
The Characters Taking feedback from a group, the team tested a few types of characters, from basic shapes to talking animals and, settled on people with easy-to-read expressions. Robbie, who brought me into the project had seen my pandemic comic strip, Distance, and was keen to use that style to render the characters, giving the animation (motion graphics to be fair) a comic strip feel to tell the story, some of which was taken from his own life experience.
The script was created collaboratively. I wrote up a first draft, a jumping-off point to work from. The team then added, edited and in our online meeting gave me plenty of notes to create a more well-rounded, story while keeping a light-hearted tone. If you want funny stories about real life - crikey, the folks in the NHS have loads of them!
I did a first run, and then Robbie suggested recording people with lived experience. This made perfect sense, and as we weren't budgeting for full lip-synched animation and made the piece a lot more authentic.
In discussion with the NHS team, we looked at details like the use of colour, sound and clear facial expressions of the characters of Andy and his pal Seema. Big thanks to Maddy, Sharon, Lesley, Robbie and Mahesh for getting me in to be their art director, and creator of this video animation.
The science itself was a bit tricky to get my head around, but then learning new things is one of my passions, and creating educational content like this is one of the pillars of the design studio - to make work that has value outside of just doing the work. So what are neutral inclusions I hear you ask? Well, I'm just the messenger, here's the video.
Illustration and Motion Graphics
I recently worked with Gorse Hill Studios, creating illustration and video animation for schools on the subject of CCE (child criminal exploitation).
For the brief, I had text descriptions of scenarios that can happen in CCE . Animatics were created - roughly sketched storyboards with movement - so the client could see what the end videos would look like. Voice-over narration was recorded by the Gorse Hill team with school children describing the scenarios they may encounter. The video animation was kept really (really) simple. It's mostly image transitions, as the voice-over was added later, and the turnaround time was really tight.
I'd like to think my signature style works well here, helping to soften the tough message the studio and project leaders are addressing in the work they do in schools.
Working in the educational space is really rewarding as the work has a purpose outside of the aesthetic of the illustrations. Having simple scenarios to work from, as opposed to a script, meant that I could try and tell the story in as fewer frames as possible.
The illustrations where created in ClipStudio then broken into elements. The audio was edited in audacity. These assets were imported into DaVinci resolve for video editing and exported as 1080pHD MP4 for videos. Some colour correction was done Affinity Photo.
Illustration for Innovation.
Teaming up with animation studio The Outset to create an animated video for Innovate UK.
I was given a script to work with and provided storyboards and illustrations. They were then broken into assets and given to The Outset to animate and produce. Creating work that's purpose-driven is a real goal of mine, as is collaborating with other talented creatives. It was a pleasure to be brought onto this project for my signature style of illustration work. See the full video below.
I've teamed up again with the researchers at the University of Manchester's Department of Waves and Materials. this time to create an illustration video on the understanding of soft tissues. Take a look here:
They provided me with data and the blog article, which was re-written to flow better in audio form. From there I ran with it, creating illustration and animation of karate kids and strongmen. Working together with Dr's Naomi Curati and Tom Shearer making sure the visuals and motion graphics communicated the right message and explained the principal effectively.
This was another great project to work on, bringing an element of fun to science learning and education, an area I'm really passionate about.
Do you have news you want to shout about? Get in to touch and take it to the next level.
Illustration and animation are a great way to take your digital content to the next level and engage with a larger audience. Great digital marketing campaigns needs great content.
An illustration can encapsulate a blog or news article in its entirety, in a way that is more effective than traditional photography. Telling a story before ahead of the written word and captuing the imagination of the reader. I work with clients of all sizes creating work like this video. Want to know more? Email John@johncooperdesign.co.uk.
All of the work here was created in house by me, John Cooper.
Explainer Video - For Science!
Explainer videos are great to help engage an audience and explain a particular topic. In this case noise reduction.
The goal of an explainer video is to take a potentially quite complicated subject and make it engaging and easier to understand.
They can be hand-drawn, sometimes on a whiteboard, where you can see the hand of the artist creating visuals in time to the narration of the subject matter, but more often tech lends a hand to undo any mistakes.
This project was for The Mathematics of Waves and Materials group, a research department within the University of Manchester. They work on the "theoretical, numerical and experimental aspects of both materials and waves. " Crikey.
I was approached to create a video based on a blog about noise-reducing materials. It took a bit of time to read up and understand what the research was before throwing around ideas. Also as this was about sound, 'what to draw' visually was an open-ended question. It was also lots of fun.
My contact Naomi had already seen my work and gave me quite a bit of creative freedom. I was expecting some resistance submitting storyboards of geese, trumpets and jetpacks, but what I pitched made the cut. It was all about finding the balance between fun and relevance.
The video was created in lockdown, so I offered to do the voice over too, as a practical solution.
Motion graphic video for the school governors initiative
Back in January, I started work on a video project for The University of Manchester. The brief was to celebrate and publicise their 'school governors initiative', a programme where university staff help schools and colleges to improve, and in turn, provide an opportunity for self-development for those that volunteer.
Their initiative has won a handful of awards and I was keen to create a video that would do justice to the hard work and accolades won by Alison, Stephanie and the social responsibility team at the university.
This projects covers;
Digital and hand-drawn Illustration
Working closely with the team, we started with the script. Concept visuals were sketched out and then both were combined into a slideshow to give a rough idea of the story they wanted to tell, and how the visuals and voice-over would work together.
There was a lot of information to get across in the script including surveys and stats, so I considered it important that the illustrations carried a narrative. Two of the key scenes identified from the script were the establishing shot of the university itself and the big success of 'over 1000 governors'.
Naturally, the script went through revisions, and what started as a three-minute video eventually expanded to around eight minutes to get the entire story told. It was a tough call to leave anything out, so we decided to go ahead with the longer edit and treat it as a short film.
For the voiceover, I did the initial pass using a Snowball Blue microphone, which is perfect for voice work. Then dipped into the talent pool of my performer friends at Comedysportz, who individually have done voice work for talking books and video games and offered a handful of voices to choose from. After choosing Rob Hudson, a recording session took place, which was edited and synced up to the video.
The entire project took three months of working across many different disciplines. Here's the final result;
Illustrations were sketched both by hand and digitally then inked and coloured in ClipStudio.
Finished elements were imported into flash where other motion graphics were created.
The voiceover was recorded on a Snowball blue mic and edited in Audacity.
The video sections were edited together in Premiere.
Taking their original content from the older flash format and converting it to new standards was a challenge, but also a great opportunity to get really creative with illustration, and I wanted to push the boat out on this one to enhance what is one of the largest sections of the website.
Professor of linguistics Kersti Börjars and students at the university created a rich teaching tool covering everything from nouns and adjectives to eponyms and idioms for the platform, designed to support key stage 2 children (7-11) at school and at home.
The team at Manchester children's University have a great passion for learning. Since first working with them back in 2010 when flash was still flying high they've always been very trusting in my creative input, letting me add a little character and humour here and there, without disturbing the the practical learning exercises.
The 'adjective detective' and 'noun monster' were already part of the original content and it was great to give them both a little bit of a makeover, putting the 'noun monster' in the John Rylands Library - where I'm sure a word monster would want to live, made sense. It's been a refresher for own knowledge too, I'm sure back in school I learned that to "talk the hind leg off a donkey" was an idiom and not an eponym, but it helps to be reminded. That and also finding a way of drawing a legless donkey in a way that's not too grim!
Check out this module for yourself over at the Manchester children's university website along with many other great learning modules they have there. I'm proud to be a contributor to this great online learning resource for children.