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History and Future of the Explainer video - Tenzer Animation
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History and Future of the Explainer video

The history of the explainer video is  short, but they have already had a significant impact on how we digest content.  They are everywhere! Companies use them to pitch products, educate customers and  show us how things work. This style of video was born out of necessity because businesses realized people’s attention spans had decreased and they were no longer willing to read through pages of information to understand something. But how did it all begin? Where is the explainer trend headed?

UPS Whiteboard video (2007)

No one really knows exactly who created the first whiteboard explainer video, but UPS was definitely one of the early adopters and helped inspire an industry. The simplicity of explaining something using simple sketches quickly caught on and by 2008-2009 whiteboard videos were popping up everywhere.

Evolving from video to animation

Many of the first whiteboard videos were painstakingly hand drawn and animated using a stop motion technique, but soon production companies started to jump in and create these  videos using animation software. In this 2011 whiteboard video  Jonathan Mildenhall, at the time the VP of Global Advertising strategy and content excellence for Coca Cola uses whiteboard to explain how Coke will use dynamic story telling to double the size of their business in the new media landscape.

The “Explainer Video”

Around 2012 companies started doing something new. Instead of scribing the action through whiteboard animation they started using cartoons mixed with motion graphics and text. This enables videos to be shorter and get to the point faster because the viewer doesn’t have to constantly wait for the image to be drawn.

Explainer Video evolved

This 2017 animated video created by Bank of America demonstrates how the explainer video has evolved, from simple graphics mixed with cartoon characters to full blown cartoon animation. The trend is going in the direction of  shorter but more detailed animation because companies are recognizing the fact that our attention spans are shrinking and need to use the time they do have to make an impact.

Where is it all headed?

As videos are becoming shorter and shorter, companies are finding creative ways of explaining who they are in a shorter period of time. Whiteboard videos of the  2010 era were sometimes as long as 6-7 minutes, the first explainer videos clocked in at 2-3 minutes, but now the trend is a minute or less with some as short as 20-30 seconds. Animated gifs are making a comeback in the form of sophisticated info-graphics and seamless looped animations, which can explain a product or concept in seconds. The traditional whiteboard and explainer videos are everywhere and in order to differentiate themselves companies are now turning towards alternative styles of animation.