How Kissflow went Animate (the GoAnimate video blog!)
There are way too many people out there who advocate having an explanatory video for your product. And I agree! It’s a fantastic medium to get the message across, provided it is – wait for it…
But there’s also the question of whether you really need a video for your product. There are quite a few things you need to factor in to make an informed decision here. Since we went through the process of making that decision, we’ll share some information with you, in the hope that you’ll find it helpful.
You need an explanatory video for your product if:
- Your message is really clear, but you need visual impact to get it across effectively. Sometimes, words just don’t do as much justice as watching a sad man facing the problem that you’re trying to solve.
- The users you’re trying to target don’t have the time/attention span to read lots of text content, but can spare a minute or two to watch an explanatory video. This means you will have a wider reach, business users, kids, teens, moms, geeks… hold on… almost everyone, except the professor-type people. Now they like to read a lot!
- You want to add some entertainment value to your product website. You really need to be careful here and play with the line where the video switches from entertainment into annoyance. If small excerpts of text do the job, that’s what will be most effective. Don’t put the video there just because other people are doing it.
After taking the decision of whether to make a video or not, we can move on to how to get this done. Of course, if the above points still don’t help you make a decision, you might as well just give it a shot and see how things go. The only problem is, making an explanatory video involves a whole lot of work.
- Come up with a great script that conveys the problem statement and why your product would take away the pain that the customer is facing.
- Brainstorm and decide on the look and feel of the video. It could be animated, it could be real life, comical or serious, dialogues or narration, musical or mime. There are just so many different ways to convey your message. Pick what fits your audience the best. Or pick something entirely in contrast to your audience’s mind set if you’re bold enough to take the risk. This could work extremely well or backfire. For example, if you are marketing to business users, you could show the business users in your video as beach models – just to say how much easier their lives would be if they use your product. But hey, I’m just the one giving out the ideas – don’t hold me to it ;-).
- The biggest challenge is to keep your video short. Nobody has the time to watch a 5 minute video, let alone a 40 minute one. The ideal time for an explanatory video is 1.5 minutes. You could push it to 2 mins. Three minutes is a stretch – but if you have great content, go for it!
- The actual trouble would be production and post-production of the video. So doing all of the pre-processing work only gets you so far. You still need to implement this. How on earth are you going to hire the resources – animators, cartoonists, cinematographers, editors, musicians, voiceover specialists! Not to mention the budget to pay for all this. Engineering doesn’t understand why you need a stupid video. They’re going to veto any budget allocation straightaway.
We faced all these problems too. If you find an animator, he/she won’t do the voice-over. If you find a voiceover specialist, they won’t do the music. And even if you get all these things done, there’s a million different corrections and so many restrictions! Distributed resource management is a bane.
Good news is, there’s a way out. Here’s where these guys come in.
And how cool are they!
GoAnimate (also known, and stylized as Go!Animate) is a cloud-based platform for creating and distributing animated videos. GoAnimate’s platform allows individuals to develop both narrative videos, in which characters speak with lip-sync and move around, and video presentations, in which a voiceover narrator speaks over images and props, which may also move around. All video styles can be supported with background music and effects.
And hell yeah, they know what they’re talking about! It took me about half an hour to learn how to use their studio and get to work. They offer a freemium plan which lets you try out how the creation of the video happens. They even allow you to export the free video – the only condition being that their logo appears on the video (and I think that’s totally fair – once you try them out, you wouldn’t mind giving them credit at all!). Of course you can upgrade to an extremely reasonable plan ($39) and they give you a whole lot of other stuff (characters, scenes) that you simply fall in love with.
What’s great about GoAnimate is that, you have everything you need right there. There are characters for every scenario – business, kids, space ninjas, even little monsters! And oh man, each character is so well animated. They can do everything you could possibly want your characters to do in your explanatory video. You can animate the characters to type, cry, laugh, surf, scream, go shopping, fall in love – like I said, anything you can think of!
Their props gallery is extensive too. And if you don’t find something in there, it’s extremely easy to use the import option to import it into your gallery and start using it. The backgrounds and scenes are also fantastic. There’s offices, restaurants, pubs, shopping malls, grocery stores, bedrooms, meadows, and heaven too! I really want to make a video with angels and God just to use that background.
What I discovered really late during the process but was such a fantastic find was the ‘Starters’ tab in the backgrounds sections. These starter animations are tiny bits of pre-animated scenes (1-2 scenes) that is something most people would want to just plug in to their video. For example, the final call to action screen in your video – with the company logo and social networking icons, a promotion scene, a contract signing scene, etc. It’s awesome.
Another great feature that really helps in the process of video creation and iteration is the text to speech option that GoAnimate provides. All you need to do is, type out the character’s dialogue in a speech box or the narrative text in the scene’s narration box, pick an accent and hit Add Voice. It’s a little robotic, but it’s amazing how it just brings your video to life. It’s good enough to keep if you don’t have the budget to get a voiceover done. But most importantly, it gives you the effect of an almost-done video and is great for iterations before you finalize and move to voiceover. If the feature wasn’t present, you’d probably have to imagine the voice while reading the text or spend money re-doing the voiceover if anything changes. Best part is, the animated characters lip sync to the speech!
Finally, the voiceover. Initially we thought this was going to be an expensive affair. Until one of my colleagues, Kausikram, stumbled onto Fiverr.com. This is a really cool marketplace that lets people post their services for $5. And guess who’s on it? Really awesome voiceover artists! That’s where we found Nathan: this guy with a fantastic voice, who became the voice of the Kissflow video. He was extremely co-operative, affordable and fast! I sent him the script on Monday and he had the voiceover file in my inbox by Wednesday. For an extra $5, he even timed the voice to the video. Kudos to you Nathan. Lots of love from all of us at Kissflow!
Well, GoAnimate and Fiverr allowed us to create an amazing explanatory video in less than two weeks, in under $50. And that, to us, is FANTASTIC value for money. The only thing we needed to do was put our heads together to come up with a script.
We ask you, has your workflow been Kissed lately?