Pitfalls of Whiteboard Video

We’re commonly conditioned to think that the best approach is the full-court press.  We think bigger and louder content and imagery will bring us the most engagement and the best response.  If we look at cinema, it’s understandable that we’ve developed this mindset; see Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame or Christopher Nolan’s Tenet for evidence of the “use everything you’ve got” approach.

Of course, in the world of whiteboard video, we’re not making blockbuster summer films, and we approach gaining and maintaining engagement differently to transmit your message.  Here are three content creation practices in whiteboard video that we consciously avoid, and our reasoning behind those choices.

It’s All Just Too Much

Let’s start with excessive imagery.  When our artists receive a script, they concept just the right amount of imagery to support the ideas and overall message of that script.  “Just the right amount” means that while our artists do not draw in an overly minimalist fashion, they purposefully keep a limit on the imagery they include.

They make these decisions based on the neuroscientific truths that make up our Principles of Scribology—our guidelines to crafting frames that maximize engagement and retention levels for our clients’ viewers.  In determining the correct amount of imagery, the principle of Image Density plays a major role.  It reminds us that while frames need a certain amount of imagery to be engaging, too much will crowd the scene, and make focusing on the most important (and message-critical) visuals difficult.

Missing Your Message for the Scenes

With excessive imagery, the viewer’s eye will bounce around the frame, as each drawing will pull their attention, and this can distract from the key imagery relating to the voiced script segment of the video. Worse, it can detract from the viewer’s attention to the narration in general.  The brain is hardwired to prioritize visual information over auditory information, so a highly crowded frame is like watching an explosion while listening to music.  A viewer is simply going to remember the visual over the song—almost without exception—and this is why our artists do not crowd frames with excessive imagery.

Finally, in order to draw a high amount of imagery in a short scene, the human hand will need to be sped up in editing to the point where it is moving at a frenetic pace.  This motion will be highly distracting to the viewer, and become yet another element that distracts from your spoken message.

Where’s All This Coming From?

Let’s shift to a different kind of problematic imagery and consider unsupported imagery.  By ‘unsupported,’ I mean that it does not relate to your script.  This is not a purely literal idea (if your script is discussing profits increasing, say, our artists may very well use a metaphor like a rocket ship emblazoned with a dollar sign taking off), but one that more directly addresses imagery that truly does not need to be there.

A good example here would be during a discussion of a company picnic.  If the message is clearly about learning more about employees and their personal lives, and balancing out the desired on-the-ball focus of the rest of the work year, our artists would not advise including much superfluous ‘picnic’ imagery, like ants approaching a basket of food.

Realism: Not All it’s Cracked Up to Be

While ants might exist at a picnic, and might be cute when drawn in our house style, they’re not mentioned in the script.  Much more importantly, they don’t serve to advance the message of the scene.  Ants are not a part of the client’s organization getting to know their employees better, and so their presence is distracting. 

While the viewer watches the hand draw this unsupported imagery, they are unconsciously missing the spoken message—and communicating that message in a retainable manner is the reason the video exists.  So, our artists only concept imagery that adheres to the message of the script, and the specific script segment being voiced.

An Accent of One

Finally, our artists utilize a single accent color in their work.  A single accent color is a powerful focal tool, highlighting the most important and relevant parts of the frame, and taking on thematic significance—whenever an item is drawn in that color, it takes on a specific meaning.

A multicolored video cannot maintain this focal and thematic import.  When there are, for example, five accent colors, they no longer bear any specific meaning, as the frame becomes visually dazzling at the expense of the script’s message.  In addition to the loss of meaning, multiple colors cannot signal the most important elements of the frame, as they are everywhere.  You can’t have a dozen ‘most important’ images in a frame with twelve images. 

Lost in the Rainbow

While it might be tempting to employ some of these techniques, remember that what matters more than dazzling your audience with a rainbow of colors, surprising them with out-of-the-blue imagery that doesn’t appear in your narration, or crowding your frames with attractive imagery is accomplishing the goals you had in mind when you began working on your video.

Your video is a communication tool, and research has shown us that the best way to communicate your message is through reliance on proven design principles.  The three risky ideas discussed above might sound worthwhile in other contexts, but unless the purpose of your video is purely aesthetic, there are good reasons why our experienced artists counsel against their inclusion in your video.

Help us transmit your message, in the most engaging and retainable manner possible, and avoid the pitfalls of excessive or unsupported imagery and multiple accent colors.  Your viewers will thank you, and you’ll be much happier with your final video.