So, you’ve decided to write a whiteboard video. Great call! You’re well on your way to sending your message in a more engaging and retainable way. But before you dive in, take a few moments to think about what makes whiteboard different from other types of videos.
This won’t be like writing a YouTube sketch, and it won’t be a feature-length film—it’s something rather unique. Let’s take a look at some of the frequently asked questions of a first-time whiteboard scriptwriter, and how they can be addressed.
No, you don’t. When you’ve completed and delivered your script, whiteboard artists will take it and concept art to be hand-drawn in sync with your voiced script. Happily, conjuring imagery for all manner of topics is their forte—you won’t have to detail visuals in your script in order to see great art onscreen in your video.
One caveat: you don’t have to write in all the drawings, but the artists draw based on what you write. This cuts two ways: much like the immortal line from Field of Dreams, if you write it, they will draw—and if it’s not in the script, it won’t be in the video.
In other words, since our artists take their cues directly from your script, they won’t ignore any of its language; don’t include anything that you don’t want to see drawn onscreen. And if you don’t write a word or idea into the script, they’ll have no way to know it belongs in the video, and you will not see it reflected in the drawings.
You don’t have to write in all the drawings, but keep anything you don’t want to see out of the script and make sure to include everything you need to see as a drawing in your video.
Pretty much all of them! Whiteboard artists have worked with a diverse and sizable amount of topics, and there’s virtually no topic they wouldn’t be able to address. Even if it’s complex, boring, or lengthy, whiteboard video is the medium for you. In fact, at TruScribe, we’ve often said that our services are fantastic for an exciting topic—but if your topic is dry, they’re truly necessary.
Whiteboard video can turn a difficult topic into one that your audience not only pays attention to—it’ll help them retain it, too, so that it can be utilized later. No matter your topic, there’s a whiteboard script and video waiting to be written.
First of all, your script needs a narrative, it just might not be the exact kind you’re thinking of. Secondly, a lot of your video’s narrative will come from outside of the script.
To the first point: best practices aren’t just to use visuals, but to use visual storytelling. In that story, you’ll need a protagonist and a conflict. The protagonist, or hero, doesn’t need to be Hercules; depending on your message, it might be your customer, or your company, or something else entirely.
In terms of conflict, this is your pain point or the issue that you hope to resolve with your video’s message. Again, it could be many things depending on your topic: pollution, heart disease, debt, etc.
To the second point, visual storytelling means that a good deal of your narrative will be drawn, not written in. In other words, when in doubt, write your message, and the artists will create drawings that tell a reinforcing visual narrative.
Write characters with your whiteboard artists in mind. This means you don’t need to waste words on introductions or other information that can be shown instead of told. It also means to remember that a lot of characters will appear naturally in the drawings, unless you specify the opposite.
Think of the following script passage: “When you’re exhausted, your brain isn’t working at maximum efficiency.” You don’t need to create a character here. Most whiteboard artists will create one for you given the information you’ve already supplied. Probably a person looking exhausted. Or maybe an anthropomorphized brain that’s looking a little run down.
The first answer to that question is a question: how long is your video? Duration will be your biggest constraint. Shorter duration means less time devoted to each point, which should drive your point selection.
In a three-minute video, you’ll likely be able to cover two points very effectively.
Five points in a one-minute video, however, won’t have time for depth.
The short video benefits from fewer points, but when considering the audience’s ability to retain information, you might want to aim for fewer points, regardless.
At TruScribe, some of the strongest videos we’ve delivered to clients have had basically one point that explained their message. Audiences are usually quite capable of engaging with one point and retaining it after the video. With ten points, even in a fifteen-minute video, you’ll be straining their ability to retain and recall what they’ve seen.
In a word: sparingly.
The TruScribe recommendation is almost always to use only one voiceover narrator—and narrators don’t read dialogue.
Characters read dialogue, so writing it in will force you to either a) have your voice actor read narration and alter their voice to read character dialogue, or b) hire multiple voice actors.
Either way, you’re potentially creating distractions from your message. With one actor, the transition from narrator-voice to character-voice is noticeable and unnatural. With two, many distractions can arise. From the desire to see the actors onscreen (since they’re already ‘here’), to other ways of drawing attention away from your message.
Where possible, write without dialogue, so that your script can be read in its entirety by one actor. Dialogue won’t necessarily destroy your message, but writing around it will almost always be safer and easier.
Communicate as clearly as possible.
Your whiteboard video exists to make your message more engaging and more easily retained by your audience. Your script has a double purpose. First, explain your message. Second, give the whiteboard artists the best possible material to concept drawings from. The ideal script makes as much sense to the artists during production it does to the audience in the final video.
Think of whiteboard scriptwriting as visual storytelling before the visuals are present. You want to leave room for them. Make sure you’re not overly defining them. And remember that a lot of your typical tasks as a scriptwriter will be addressed by them.
Writing a script for whiteboard video is a process of both defining and planning. You’re defining your message and the way it needs to be presented. And you are planning for your artist to provide that message with the visuals that will carry it to success.