One of the coolest tools for creating visual online content in recent years is the “whiteboard” video. You know the type—a hand, a pen, a whiteboard, and some fun drawings that help bolster your online brand and generate a lot of social shares. Have you ever wanted to make a whiteboard video for your company? I set out to see how it could be done, and found out that it’s actually really easy!
Draw Your Own Whiteboard Video
In my opinion, this is the best way to go. Hiring a professional to create a whiteboard video for you can be extremely expensive—I’ve heard of quotes in the $500 range per hour, and it could take several hours for them to create your video. Instead, you can take the creative process into your own hands. It also has a number of advantages over animation software, which I’ll discuss a bit later.
Of course, this requires you to put your drawing skills on display. As you can see in the video below, however, you can create a simple whiteboard video with almost zero drawing skills (trust me; I can’t draw to save my life).
The high-speed, jerky style means that you can draw as slow as you want and no one will know the difference when you’re done with it. The video that I created is displayed at 8x real speed.
Okay, let’s get down to practical matters here: how did I make the video above? All I used was a DSLR camera mounted on a tripod, a whiteboard and marker, and iMovie. Here’s what you need to do:
1. Plan your drawing. Whether it’s going to a 15-minute-long masterpiece or just a quick text-based one, it’s good to know what you’re going to be doing. Take a moment to sketch it out to see what it looks like, and commit it to memory.
2. Get everything set up, as in the picture below. You might want to use a couple different lamps to minimize the shadows on the whiteboard, and securing the whiteboard to the table will reduce shake and accidental movement.
3. Turn on the camera and start drawing! Don’t worry about going fast—I took my time drawing the graph in the above video, and it helped me draw straight-ish lines and keep the shading within the bars.
4. After you’re finished drawing, turn off the camera and import the video into your software of preference. I used iMovie, but I’m sure you could use just about any simple video software.
5. Use your video editing software of choice to vertically flip the video (if you’ve used the above setup), crop out the edges of the whiteboard, and increase the speed of the video. In the video above, I used a speed of 8x to get the jerky motion without being too fast to see what’s going on. (If you need to get some video editing software, check our lists of free video editors for Mac, Windows, Linux, and online.)
There are a number of advantages to creating your own whiteboard video: it’s significantly cheaper than hiring a professional, it doesn’t require complicated or expensive equipment, and it creates a very natural-looking video.
These advantages are balanced by a number of disadvantages, though. The most impressive whiteboard videos require very talented artists, which you may not have easily at your disposal. It’s also really difficult to do any panning or zooming, limiting you to one section of the whiteboard (though you may be able to get around this using crop, zoom, and pan functions in your video software).
Note that while I used a DSLR to create my video, you could probably create a whiteboard video using your phone by mounting it on a DIY smartphone tripod. I haven’t tried it yet, but if you give it a shot, let us know how it goes in the comments!
Using Animation Software to Create a Whiteboard Video
The popularity of whiteboard videos has resulted in a number of companies bringing pieces of software to market that let you create a whiteboard video without doing any filming. They rely on pre-selected images that are “drawn” by virtual hands on the screen. Creating a whiteboard video with this type of software is very easy, and can be done quickly.
Here’s one I made with VideoScribe:
As you can see, there’s a different feeling about software-created whiteboard videos. The hands don’t look natural, and the handwriting is obviously computer-generated. The lines are just a little too straight, and colors appear out of nowhere at times. That being said, using a program like VideoScribe is really, really easy.
All you need to do is select from the images that are included with the app (there are hundreds), add some text, make a couple adjustments, and export the video. I created the one above in about 20 minutes, and that includes experimenting with a few different things.
There are a number of pieces of software that will let you create videos like the one above. VideoScribe, VideoMakerFX, Easy Sketch Pro, and GoAnimate! all provide the necessary tools to create a whiteboard video.
After taking a look at all of these apps, I settled on VideoScribe as the best as it has the most natural-looking hand motion. While it’s still noticeably unnatural, it’s leagues ahead of the videos that are produced by the other pieces of software.
To see what I mean, compare the video above with this video, from the VideoMakerFX website:
The ease of creating your own whiteboard video and the availability of different tools that can help you out means that anyone can make a whiteboard video for their website. Whether you’re doing it to add visual content to your business website in the hopes of driving traffic, in an effort to promote your freelancing business, or you just want to do something different and goofy for your blog, if you follow the steps above, you’ll have a cool whiteboard video in no time.
Have you made a whiteboard video yourself, or used any of the tools mentioned above? How did you find them? Share your thoughts (and links to any videos you create!) in the comments below!
Image credit: Paul Downey via Flickr.