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What is an explainer video?

An explainer video is a short movie that explains an idea, or product, often visually. There are two main types of explainer videos:

  • Live action - records actual movement in real-time using film or video cameras
  • Animation - uses illustration, stop-motion, 2D or 3D graphics techniques.

Why do you need an explainer video?

You may need an explainer video to help explain your complex piece of tech, simplify your message, change perceptions of your service, convince investors or promote a charitable cause or theory.

People are usually in one of two stages in the 'buying journey' when they commission a video:

  1. Have a documented summary of their key message and who they are appealing to
  2. Unclear what their message is, why they are unique or who it is aimed at
    (We can help clarify your message - see our consultancy section for more on this)

Which stage are you at? It's important to know because it has an impact on how long it takes to develop an explainer video and how successful it will be. 

2D animated explainer video

2D animated cartoon explainer
3D animated explainer video

What are the different types and styles of explainer video?

When you have identified your target audience and exactly what you need to tell them you are ready to think about the style. For example, a technical business buyers might prefer an informative 3D animation charity donors might resonate with an emotive cartoon. Here are some different types and styles to consider...

Type Style
2D animation  Illustration, Cartoons, Motion graphics, Whiteboard 
3D animation  Computer-generated models (characters, objects and places)
Stop-motion  Physical objects, sculpted models, characters and places (paper, plasticine etc.)
Live-action  Physical objects, real people and places

Note: Screen recordings are typically used in tutorial videos used to demonstrate how to use software

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What are the elements of an explainer video?

There are various types and styles of explainer videos, but they may share common components like...

  • Script - a written document describing the narrative
  • Storyboard - a sequence of images showing what is seen in the video
  • Dialogue spoken words that are heard in the form of interviews or narration (voice-over)
  • Music - sets the tone and pace of the video
  • Sound effects - accentuates key action and makes videos more immersive 
  • Illustration - static images are foundational for 2D animation
  • Location/studio - the place where live-action video or sound is recorded  
  • People - the participants in a production (presenter/actor/VO artist) 
  • Design - images, graphics, characters and scenes need to be researched and aligned to a unified style

Tip: Explainer videos may look simple but good ones include a lot of moving parts that take skilled specialists time to produce

If you don't have time to learn these skills - or manage amateurs - consider using an experienced producer. Sound-Motive is an Oxford-based production company producing marketing videos for technology businesses in Oxfordshire and beyond. We have many years of experience which began with working for the BBC and ITV. You can see different examples of our videos on our work page. To discuss how we can help you explain your product or service  contact us.

"a wealth of experience and creativity. A great service, at a great price; we are more than happy with the end result."


TO FIND OUT MORE OR DISCUSS YOUR PROJECT CALL 01865 582 121 OR EMAIL This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.