Let’s Make an Explainer Video Using PowToon — Part 5

Hello Everyone:

We’re up to part 5 in this series: Let’s Make an Explainer Video Using PowToon.


In the third post we started the process of creating the video, leading off by discussing narration. 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: 10 hours.

I broke down “Create the video” step into two main sub-steps:

  • Narrate the script
  • Synchronize slide animations with the script.

Last post I focused on using Audacity for narrating the script.  In this post I’ll take a look at synchronizing slide animations with narration.

There are four steps to the process

  1. Create the slides
  2. Import or record the narration
  3. Add text and graphic objects to slide
  4. Use the timeline controls to synchronize the narration

Create the Slides

As mentioned in the second post, you’ll have broken your narration into slide “chunks” and will create a slide for each “chunk”.  You have two choices when it comes to creating a slide:

  • Build the slide yourself
  • Use one of PowToon’s pre-built layouts

I’m using PowToon’s pre-built layouts to keep things simple and I strongly recommend this course of action when you create your first explainer video.  You will save yourself a lot of time.  You can modify the pre-built layouts you’ve selected for a slide if you like.

When you use one of the layouts the slide will be created with text and image placeholders that you can then edit.

Import/Record Narration

My last two posts were devoted to this topic so I won’t spend much time on it here, except to say that you can tell at a glance the slide has sound (either narration or background music) by the “wavy” line running down the middle of the timeline bar under the slide.

Add Text and Graphics

With the slide created and the narration applied, you’re ready to replace the text and graphics object holders with real text and graphics.

Double click on a text holder and add your new text.  You can control font, attributes (e.g. bold) and alignment.  

Double click on an object holder to replace it with an image or graphic.  You can import your own images and/or select from PowToon’s libraries.

Here’s one of mine with all of the text and images added.

PowToon Slide with Text and Graphics Objects

PowToon slide with text and graphics objects edited

Synchronize the Narration

The idea behind synchronizing the narration is the graphics or text appear (and possibly disappear) from the slide at certain points in the narration.  This creates more engaging content than merely having all all of the slide elements “on the stage” at the start of the slide narration. 

It’s also more work.

To make it a bit easier I suggest having slide elements stay on the slide once they appear.  In other words you need only coordinate their entrance onto the slide.

Click the object (text or graphics) once to select it.  On the time line you will see the object represented by a blue bar.

PowToon Slide with Object Selected

PowToon slide with text object selected; timeline elements identified

To control when the object appears, drag the left vertical blue bar indicating the start time to where you want it on the time line.  Do the same with the right blue vertical bar indicating the exit time.

Set the start time to “0” to have the object on the slide from the beginning.  Set the end time to the slide duration to ensure the object remains on the slide once it appears.  In my example the slide duration is 20 seconds, so I have dragged the right indicator bar all the way to the 20 second mark.

For each object, select it, then drag its end time indicator all the way to the right. 

Next, adjust the right start indicator for each object so that objects appear on the slide in the correct sequence.  Do this by selecting each object and dragging its start indicator to approximately where you want it to appear. 

Don’t worry about exact timing, you’ll adjust that later.

You can also add an appearance effect (fade, fly in, etc) by clicking the entrance effects indicator on the left end of the objects timeline. The indicator is a white square with a black graphic within it.  Select the effect from the pop up menu.

PowToon Object Entrance Effect Pop Up

The entrance effect pop up for an object.

If you do not select an entrance effect the object will merely appear on the slide at its designated entrance time.

Now comes the tedious part — synchronizing the object appearances with the narration.

Start with the earliest appearing object:

  1. Play the slide, watching the play head; determine when you want the object to appear
  2. Select the object
  3. Adjust the left hand entrance indicator to the desire time
  4. Play the slide again
  5. Adjust the entrance indicator if necessary
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 as many times as necessary for the object

Then repeat the steps for the next slide, and then the next, and so on.

This can be a very time consuming process, depending upon the number of sides and the number of objects on each.

I have sixteen slides in my explainer video and I spent an average of 10 minutes on each slide.

Time spent: ~ 3 hours; total time spent so far: 13 hours

That’s it for this post.  Next time we’ll look at putting everything together, editing tips, and the finished explainer video.

Until then, thanks for reading, and I will see you again soon!




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