There’s a lot that goes on when making an animated explanation video. I’ve shared overviews of the video process and detailed step-by-step guides in creating videos in the past, but I thought it might be informative for businesses to ride along during the video creation process.

While working on the Heart Disease video I published last week, I came across several good articles on the benefits of walking and had the idea to create another short 30 second public service message video to promote the benefits of walking. In taking notes, I came up with the following very short, very simple script (to give credit where it’s due, I believe that the gist of this script came from the Everybody Walk website, but I’m not finding the exact page or text).

– Walk for Better Health –
30 minutes of walking 5x per week
Improves health and longevity
Reduces the risk of coronary disease
Helps lower blood pressure
Increases bone density
and reduces cholesterol
Take time to walk!

At only 35 words, that should be good for my target of a 30 second video. The normal rule of thumb that I tell people is to plan that 75 words of script will equate to about 30 seconds of video. But that’s for video with narration and since this video won’t have narration, I want a little extra time for people to read the text to account for a wide range of viewer reading levels.

 Visuals Ideation

With a script in hand, the first thing I do is print it out and go outside with the script and a sketchbook and just doodle to come up with visual ideas for the video. These sketches and doodles are very rough and I generally don’t share them with clients. They’re just a visual brainstorm. Not worrying about the quality of sketch allows me to just capture the basic idea without judging how something doesn’t really resemble what it’s supposed. Have a look at these sketches below to see just how rough they are.


The visual ideation stage is just meant for visually capturing ideas on paper. Not all the ideas will get used. Sometimes visual ideas will ultimately get combined or morph into something else. But once I have a set of visuals that support the script, I’ll capture the visual ideas in a rough, hand-drawn storyboard that also includes some notes on animations and transitions. Below is a quick and simple storyboard for my Walking PSA video.


Click image to enlarge

As you can see, like the visual ideation sketches, this is very simple. This particular storyboard is a bit simpler than I would use to coordinate with a client. For a client animated video I would want to add more detail and refinement in order to communicate the intended action. But, when you’re working on your own video project, this level unsophisticated storyboard should be just fine. In fact, I purposely made this storyboard so simple to prove a point – that you don’t have to have great artistic abilities to create a storyboard. These are just very simple stick figures, but they convey what’s going to happen in this short video.

The next stage in the development process is to create the visual elements digitally and then stage them. I’ll share that in the next installment.


Read Part 2 Behind the Scenes: Creating Illustrations and Graphics

Read Part 3 Behind the Scenes: Animation