Repurposing Live-Action, Written Material, and More: How to Convert Old Content to Whiteboard Video

At TruScribe, every part of your whiteboard video is designed to serve and amplify your message.  It’s that message—and the script that will articulate it—that often causes the most difficulty in the early stages of whiteboard video production.  

That’s why starting from a message you’ve already used in old content can provide an early advantage. 

Of course, there’s more than ‘copying and pasting’ a message into a script that goes into making a strong whiteboard video. Let’s explore some tips for revitalizing old content into whiteboard video.

How to Convert Live-Action Video to Whiteboard Video

How to Convert a Live-Action Script to Whiteboard Video

Let’s start with a medium that shares a lot with whiteboard video: live-action video.  Live-action video also requires a script that conveys your message, is a form of visual storytelling, and (hopefully) even features human forms, like the human hand that guides the eye in whiteboard videos. So what distinguishes live-action from whiteboard video, and how can you bridge the gap?

As always, the script comes first.

In live-action, your script can involve dialogue, voiceover—and, notably, stage directions and visual cues/descriptions. 

In whiteboard video, voiceover (and voiceover alone) is far more effective, as the message will be voiced directly.  

Writing dialogue in a whiteboard video script is rarely effective, partly due to the potentially distracting interplay between multiple voices. 

The other, more relevant reason is that whiteboard video functions through the synchronization of your voiced script and hand-drawn images.  

This means that your video will either need to include images for everything voiced by the character. Or your images won’t sync up with the dialogue. Either situation is problematic, as a lack of sync creates distraction and loss of message. Full synchronization with heavy dialogue can create frames packed with images that have to be drawn at unnervingly high speeds. That can be equally distracting.

The solution? Write a single voiceover. 

Synchronization with the imagery will be much more effective, as will the audience’s focus on the single narrator’s voice.

How to Choose Images for a Whiteboard Video Based on a Live-Action Video

Let’s continue to use live-action video as a case study and move on to the images in your whiteboard video. In a live-action video, your script will need to inform the readers (the director, production designer, casting director, and others) what they need to put onscreen.

This information (and there will frequently be a lot of it) will not be present in a whiteboard video script. Whiteboard artists are highly skilled at creating just the right images to reinforce the message in your voiced script. They do not need specific instructions as to what each frame should contain. The review process, in which clients approve of the drawings that will make up their video, ensures that these images are appropriate. This cuts out the need for visual descriptions entirely.

Visuals in a whiteboard video also will not need written lead-ins and explanations the way that live-action video often requires. For example, in a live-action video, an image of a man walking down the street might be introduced with “This is Carl. Carl is a construction worker who recently suffered an on-the-job injury. Today, he is going to the doctor’s office.”

In a whiteboard video, the script might simply read: “Carl has to go to the doctor’s office”. The visuals, then, could show what the words don’t need to: Carl, with a leg in a cast, walking toward a clearly-marked hospital.  

By trusting the whiteboard artists to communicate most of the details of Carl’s story visually, you save words in your script for where they are most needed.  Comparing the two written sentences, you’ve saved fourteen words, which you can then use to add clarity and specificity to your message.

How to Adapt Written Material for Whiteboard Video

Let’s shift our focus to a different form of old content you might convert to a whiteboard video: written material. Let’s say your training manual has accurate and important content, but looks dated and has low engagement and retention rates. Turning it into a visual story with a whiteboard video can be the answer you’re looking for.

Motion, a design principle constantly at play in whiteboard video, drives engagement by attracting focus. As the artist’s hand draws the images in the frame, the brain turns the eyes (and even the head) to follow it. The images, reinforcing the message, heighten retention, and the process continues with the onscreen creation of each new drawing.

This will greatly increase your content’s ability to engage your audience, as will the principle of surprise. While text is surprising in a basic way—the reader doesn’t know exactly which words will follow the current sentence—it cannot compare to the engagement-driving surprises that are consistent in whiteboard video.

Each new drawing is signaled by motion and unfolds as a surprise: what will this be? What image will be used to represent this idea? Surprise is tied to dopamine release in the brain, making it become and remain curious.  This means that like the moving human hand, engagement will be maintained from frame to frame, and from a whiteboard video’s beginning to end.

Finally, a word on that moving human hand.  Beyond being simply the driver of engagement-driving motion, the artist’s hand functions as a stand-in for the human form—a form that the brain prizes highly.  

Our minds focus on people and things that look like people almost immediately, and this neurological fact underpins the human hand’s ability to drive engagement.  Even if your textual materials mention characters or personnel, they likely don’t contain human forms in the way that whiteboard video does—constantly, and in motion.

Many of these concepts—the inclusion of motion, surprise, the human hand, the utility of the image in saving language for message instead of exposition—apply to other content forms as well as live-action video and written materials.

How to Convert a Blog Post to a Whiteboard Video

Blog posts can undergo much the same repurposing as written materials.  What’s more, their public availability can allow you to use feedback to gain insight as to how well your message came across in the first place.  This can be hard to do when asking, say, employees what they thought of your training material; they may feel they need to speak more highly of the material than they feel, unlike unaffiliated commenters.

Whiteboard video also provides you the opportunity to reinvigorate materials that are crucial but needing a boost in retention, like your short but vital mission statement.  Vision, mission, and values are central to company culture, but are often written in short form and easily forgotten over time by employees.  A whiteboard video, through its retention-boosting design principles, can reverse this trend.

Do you have old content that you’re looking to repurpose?  What kind of content do you think sounds best suited for whiteboard video conversion?  Can you think of other types of content than the ones listed for whiteboard video?