This is the the third post in my series: Let’s Make an Explainer Video Using PowToon.
In the second post I demonstrated the process of refining the script when you move into PowToon. Recall the basic steps in creating an explainer video are:
- Pick a Topic
- Write the script
- Edit the script
- Create the video
- Edit the video
- Upload the video
Time spent so far: 7 hours.
In this post we’ll start to explore the “Create the video” step, which actually has two main sub-steps:
- Narrate the script
- Synchronize slide animations with the script.
We’ll focus on using PowToon’s native narration recording feature in this post. In the next we’ll examine another option using Audacity.
An Iterative Process
You will likely find that the two steps are executed as an iterative process: You’ll narrate the script on a slide by slide basis, adjust the animations and each slide, which in turn may mean adjustments to the script and narration, which means further animation adjustments.
Narration is an important component in making your video engaging. It’s not necessary that all explainer videos be narrated, but a snappy script and good speaking voice can go a long way towards making your video more appealing. Of course, I’ve assumed my explainer video would be narrated right from the start, and wrote the script accordingly.
Voice is key to this. Some people have great speaking voices, others do not. If your recorded voice sounds like a pair of strangled cats, consider having someone else do the narration.
Of course, doing your own voiceover does lend a certain authenticity — after all, it’s you, building your own brand, and there’s a lot of advantages to that. Just be mindful that you may not sound all that great when recorded.
Even if you have a great voice, there are other nuances to narration such as pacing and intonation. These considerations warrant a post all on their own so I only mention their importance here.
There are reasonably priced narration services available on the web, depending upon what your needs are. Google voiceover and see what comes up. In addition, PowToon gives you direct access to VoiceBunny — one of the oneline narration services — from directly within their application.
Alternatively you can also go see what is available on fiverr.com. In all cases be mindful of costs. You needn’t pay for national broadcast quality for your explainer video.
Do it Yourself Using PowToon.
As mentioned, there are a couple of options open to you should you choose to record your video yourself.
First, you can use PowToon’s native voice-recording feature. It allows you for record narration on a slide by slide basis and is quite simple to use. Second, you can move to dedicated recording software for your narration, such as Audacity.
Let’s look at PowToon.
At this point you’ve roughed out your slides in PowToon and are now ready to start the narration process.
This is very easy in PowToon:
- Go the slide you want to narrate
- Make sure you have your script ready and your microphone set up
- Record the narration
- Re-record the narration if you are not satisfied with the result.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you are happy
- Move on to the next slide
You will note that these steps do not include editing. That’s because the current version of PowToon does not allow post-recording editing of your narration. You are either happy with it the way it is, or your redo it. Very simple but also somewhat limiting.
Narration controls are located on the right hand slide of the PowToon interface under Sound. Clicking Sound provides access to a number of options in the fly-out sound panel:
- sound track
- professional voiceover (using VoiceBunny)
- voiceover track
- voiceover per slide
PowToon defaults to the last choice and shows you a RECORD button and an UPLOAD button.
Just click RECORD, wait for the countdown and record your script. Click stop recording when you’re done. You can play, pause, stop, save or cancel your recording at that point.
One thing to be aware of is that if you record narration for a slide that is longer than the slide’s duration, you will be prompted to:
- Adjust your recording to fit the fit the timeline
- Increase the tmeline length to fit the recording
- Record a new voice over
This prompt only occurs when you save the recording.
“Adjusting” the recording means cutting it off when the slide duration is reached. This only occurs when you are using PowToon in “movie” mode, which we are doing. In “slideshow” mode the full recording is played (we haven’t spoken of movie mode and slideshow mode before now — see PowToon for more information on these topics).
PowToon will save the entire recording, and re-play it in full when you use the sound panel. It is only when you play the slide itself that the narration will be “hacked off” when the end of the slide is reached.
Thus, it is important to ensure your slide duration can accommodate the length of narration. You may find yourself fiddling with the slide animations, timings and script in order to make sure the narration length is exactly right.
PowToon Narration — Pros and Cons
The great strength of PowToon’s narration feature is ease of use. It’s right there within PowToon, and very simple to use. Definitely a Pro.
Unfortunately, simplicity is also a “con”. There are no editing capabilities available. If you are not happy with the recording — even if only one little thing needs fixing — you have to re-record the entire script for the slide in question. You cannot edit out “ums” “ahs” or any other verbal ticks, nor can you get rid of background noise (for example).
This is not necessarily a bad thing as more capabilities imply complexity and less ease-of-use. It just means that if you use PowToon’s native narration feature you may be doing a lot of takes. You can minimize that need for re-recording by:
- Keeping scripts short
- Practicing before recording
I prefer to have more control over my narration recording, so I used Audacity in my explainer video. We’ll cover Audacity and uploading narration to PowToon in the next post.
At this point I haven’t actually recorded any narration, so my time spent remains at 7 hours.
Until then, thanks for reading, and I will see you again soon.