This is the the second post in my series: Let’s Make an Explainer Video Using PowToon.
In the first post I identified the steps necessary to create an explainer video:
- Pick a Topic
- Write the script
- Edit the script
- Create the video
- Edit the video
- Upload the video
and then spent the rest of the post on the first two steps: pick a topic, and write the script.
I used my Two Things to Make You Think Twice About Video as the first draft of the script, and went through two additional drafts to cut down the content.
Time spent so far: 5 hours.
In this post I’ll move the project into PowToon, and refine the script still further. We are at the “Edit the script” step.
PowToon is a web-based animated presentation creation tool. It’s relatively easy to use and allows you to set up a free account. The free account does come with some restrictions and inserts PowToon branding into the finished video.
I have a paid subscription, but the steps to create the explainer video are the same as if you were using a free account.
The posts in this serious are not meant as a PowToon tutorial. There are plenty of great tutorials out there already, particularly on YouTube.
Here are a few to get you started:
- How to create a Powtoon presentation
- Powtoon Tutorial – Creating Your First Powtoon
- How to Make an Animated Video in Under 10 minutes
- PowToon Tutorial 2015
Note that a couple of these videos will show a slightly different PowToon interface than what is being used currently. PowToon is always being updated and expanded.
In addition, PowToon has three videos on how to create presentation, and they are pretty good. They’re oriented towards creating marketing videos, but much applies to an explainer video as well. Find those on your PowToon dashboard.
Just below you’ll find a number of other useful resources.
The tutorials available on the PowToon dashboard are presented in a three step process for creating a video. As good as that process is, mine varies a bit as you’ll see shortly.
Create the “PowToon”
To begin the process of creating the explainer video, you click the Create button on the dashboard and select one of several pre-configured templates.
There are a number from which to choose, but some are restricted to paid subscribers. Most have a whimsical feel to them, but a few are more business oriented.
If you like you can choose a “blank” template in order to build your video entirely from scratch. All templates can be previewed before you select them.
I chose to go to with a template in the “Picto” style, which mainly refers to the style of animated characters used in the video.
The PowToon Environment
When you’ve selected a template you will be presented with the animation creation environment. This very roughly resembles a PowerPoint interface, with slide thumbnails down the left had side of the screen and the center devoted to the selected “slide” — the one on which you are working.
Remember that with PowToon you create individual slides which are later “stitched together” to make the final video.
Adding Slides and Refining the Script
At this point I’ve gone through two drafts of my script, with second being divided into slide “chunks” within a Word document.
I started the third draft with both the Word document and the PowToon environment open.
The process for creating the third script draft is pretty straight forward:
- Add a slide and select the animation content from a list of preconfigured options
- Refine the script in the Word document for the slide based on how long the slide will take to play
- Repeat for each slide “chunk” of narration
Slide duration can be found by examining the timeline bar. Blank slides default to 10 seconds duration. When a slide template is select, the slide duration will be adjust automatically.
For example, the first slide in the explainer video will likely be a title slide, so I selected a simple title template that animates the title text. When I did so, the slide duration (not shown) immediately changed from 10 seconds to 3 seconds.
My script called for more than three seconds of narration for the title slide (I had several sentences) I was faced with a choice:
- Shorten the narration for the first slide
- Move some of the narration for the first slide on to the (soon to be added) second slide
- Add an additional slide between slides one and two and place some of the narration there
- Manually adjust the slide duration of the first slide
I elected to drastically shorten the narration for the title slide. I updated the script in the Word document accordingly.
I repeated this process for each of my slide chunks of narration in the script.
Several times I found it necessary to adjust the script or add a slide. My original script called for 10 slides. I wound up with 14.
Total Time Spent: 2 hours; 7 hours in total.
It’s important to note that this step is meant primarily to craft the script. While it is true you are adding slides in PowToon and selecting animation templates, this is only so that you can better refine and pace the script.
Adjusting, editing, adding, or deleting animation effects will come later.
Powtoon’s three step method for creating a video (as demonstrated in their three tutorial videos on the dashboard) treats scripting writing, narration, and creating slide animations as discrete steps. The method I’m outlining sees the script writing as an iterative process that requires you to “rough out” the slides you’ll use in the video as you refine the script. Both methods work; choose the one you’re most comfortable with.
That’s it for this post. Next time we’ll get into creating the video, which will have several sub steps.
Thanks for reading, and I will see you next time.