Essential Explainer Video production tips

Explainer video recording

Every web startup today seems to have an explainer video, almost every kick-starter campaign has one, and the phenomenal growth of YouTube leaves no doubt that video is an increasingly popular medium. There are lots of articles that talk about why you should use video, so let’s skip that part & assume that you’re sold on the idea. You’ve got to make a professional video (not a home video or in-house production), what next? I’m going to help you answer a few important questions.

  • How long should a web video be?
  • How long does it take to make?
  • What do you need to have before you start?
  • What’s going to affect the price?

Most of the video companies I contacted, provided pretty poor responses to be honest. I got several one line responses, many companies didn’t respond to queries on their social media accounts, or website email addresses for weeks. I discounted all of those companies instantly – which only left a handful. Outside of response time, do remember to check their portfolio, a critical factor will always be whether or not you like their style of production. If it’s not to your taste, move on.

How long should a web video be?

The recommend length seems to be between one to two minutes. The idea being that you can communicate your value without boring your audience. Consider where your CTA is going to be located (if you have one in the video), for most video’s it’s at the end – so your viewer needs to get there for it to work! If you don’t have a CTA don’t worry, but do keep the purpose of your video in mind.

How long does it take to produce a web video?

There seems to be a huge variance in responses on how long a video takes to produce. I suspect this is probably because of the varying sizes of companies & their resource constraints, keep an eye out for things that seem too good to be true. A few companies actually wrote back saying they’d create videos in two to three days, whereas most companies seemed to be in the following range:

Regular Videos – 2 to 3 weeks
Animated Videos – 3 to 5 weeks

Importantly, some companies create videos using stock templates, these only take a few hours and only cost a few bucks. Be careful that you’re not being sold one of these! Unless of course you want one, in which case check out fiverr for a big list of people that’ll do this cheap –they’re not the subject of discussion here.

What should you have ready when engaging a studio?

One of the most common responses was, an understanding of your objective. Like any good piece of marketing collateral, it’s important to understand what you’re expecting it to achieve (product overview or lead generation), whom it’s targeting (students or HNI’s), and where you’re going to be using it (sub-urban India via mobile Internet or downtown New York).
The guys at Wyzowl provided the best overall response here, so I’m just going to paste it verbatim:
“There are a few things that we find really helpful if the client has in advance:

  1. An idea of roughly what kind of style they like. Generally it helps if they have a few examples of videos they really like. This is a really good starting point to work from.
  2. This possibly goes without saying, but it’s crucial that the client has an intimate understanding of their own brand, product and key selling points.
  3. An open mind! As we’ve already mentioned, it’s really important to keep your video short and concise. Because most people are so passionate about their business, they sometimes want to include every single feature, but the end result of doing this is a less effective, less engaging video. Sometimes we’ll advise you to strip back your message and I think the best videos belong to the clients who heed this advice and keep their video concise and punchy.“

What key factors are going to affect the price?

Unsurprisingly there was an incredibly varied response, but there is one (obvious) commonality, duration. The longer the video the more expensive it gets. From the rest of the vendors, the (other) factors seem to be:

  1. Voice overs
  2. Music / Background score
  3. Number of characters
  4. Resolution

Given the variation in response, I’d ask this question a few times so you don’t get stuck with some hidden/unexpected costs. Remember to cross-examine the music/audio score, there are plenty of web videos that all have exactly the same “stock music theme”. Using that sort of music can create a very cookie-cutter feel to you video.

So how much will it actually cost?

I’d suggest calling a few studio’s and asking. I was going to publish a 1-minute video price guide, but based on the responses I’ve seen, I don’t think it’d be worth anything. You’re asking for a highly customised product and you’re going to mostly get customised pricing (except for a few fixed price vendors). Instead I’ll shortly publish a list of companies that can make explainer videos.