There are a million ways to make a video, so what makes whiteboard animation stick out in a sea of media madness?
The defining characteristic of this medium is drawing, one of the oldest forms of visual communication. Cave paintings, some dating back more than 30,000 years, show that people used drawing to communicate ideas long before such things as paper, farming, or pottery were even invented. In fact, drawing predates the idea of civilization itself by several thousand years.
But every drawing that was ever made is just an illusion, one that requires the imagination of the viewer to bring it to life. With whiteboard animation the viewer witnesses the creation of the illusion. As they watch, new lines cut through the possibilities, defining the image until it is something recognizable. The viewer knows that the artist is just making marks on a whiteboard, but as the drawing continues these marks transform, and at some point something “switches” in the viewer’s mind, so that the marks become something recognizable – a face, a person, an object. Seeing something appear from a few simple lines is magical. It also keeps the viewer wondering what will be conjured up next.
The drawings ultimately serve to tell a story. Storytelling is a wonderful way to communicate an idea, and can be as fanciful and elaborate as a fairy tale or as direct and instructional as a training video. Whiteboard Animation uses verbal storytelling simultaneous to visual storytelling. Studies have shown that the simultaneous delivery of related verbal and visual material is more effective, in terms of learning and retention, than using just one mode by itself, or in succession to another mode (Mayer, 2001). Overall, the dual modality of whiteboard animation provides a synergistic effect that enhances learning.
There are several ways to make a drawing, especially with the power of computers to crunch out details and make things look clean and sharp. There is no denying that computers are a staple of media production today, and even the videos we make rely heavily on computer aid at several steps in our process. But in a world that is so heavily dominated by computer-based media (to the point where it is often cheaper and easier to produce videos with CGI actors and props), it is increasingly rare to see something being made by hand, by a human.
It’s exactly the human element of whiteboard animation that brings a level of authenticity to an idea, whether the viewer is overtly aware of it or not. It pulls an idea down to earth, to a level of human proportions, so that it is more relatable and easier to digest. In the end, it makes the content seem less intimidating and more approachable.
The high contrast and overall simplicity of black and white lines is a welcome reprieve from the overwhelming amount of stimulation coming from the web and other media channels. As more people are connected to the internet at all times, whether through a smartphone, computer, or some other device, there is no shortage of things to click on, sites to visit, songs to download, and people to contact. Information overload is something we all face on a daily basis.
However, the mind works by distilling sensory input down to the essentials, discarding much of the extra “fluff”. Our minds do it all the time and it’s the only way we are able to function in a world with so much going on. In short, the mind seeks out simplicity. Whiteboard animation satisfies this desire, using simple, high-contrast images to tell a story. Unnecessary elements are not included and as a result the mind can dedicate more resources to the idea, and fewer to filtering distractions.
Of course the videos are also entertaining! This ties back to the magic of watching someone draw, but also has to do with the creative way in which the images relate to the spoken word. In addition to a live artist, we also use animations, adding another level of magic and intrigue altogether. Something that is both engaging and interesting will help further lubricate the gears of the mind.
Being a digital video, it can be distributed infinite times among any number of platforms. It can be hosted on a website, shown in a presentation, linked to in an email, placed in an electronic textbook, copied, downloaded, shared, uploaded, whatever. Once made, you can use it as much as you want and hand it out to anyone you like. Your video can travel the world and work for you at all hours of the day, even while you are sleeping. In the end, reaching your audience couldn’t be easier.