Last week we highlighted a few examples of companies employing a “non-sales” video marketing strategy – videos that seek to entertain or inform, but not necessarily push a specific product or service that the company has to offer.
One of the examples we showed was a whiteboard video from SEOMoz, an SEO SaaS firm:
Whiteboard videos are an informal and strangely captivating way of explaining concepts or systems. Simply put, a whiteboard video consists of nothing more than a person standing in front of a whiteboard and sketching a visualization of what he or she is trying to explain, without the help of expensive animation or CGI. You’ve probably seen several variations online or on TV:
We’ve had several readers ask how to achieve the look of a whiteboard video on camera, so in this post we’re going to cover the technical aspects of creating your own whiteboard video.
Lighting is easily the most difficult aspect of a good whiteboard video. There are several challenges that you will have to overcome. If you light too much from the front, your speaker will cast a shadow on the board. You also run the risk of throwing a glare onto the whiteboard, since whiteboards typically have a glossy coat. Since a whiteboard is already white, less is more. Starting with a darkened room:
- Light the speaker first. Use a large, front-facing light with a soft box or diffuser on it.
- Light the board next. With just the speaker lit from the front, he or she is probably casting a shadow on the board. To remove this and illuminate the board, place a light on the top-left and top-right corners of the board, right up against the wall. Have them point down towards the board, illuminating the space between the speaker and the board. This should eliminate any shadows.
If you’re limited on lighting solutions, be sure to use a well lit room. Avoid any open windows as sunlight can cast a glare on the board or alter the color temperature of the shot. If you have any floor lamps (especially with adjustable arms), arrange them in the corners of the room between your speaker and the whiteboard. Vellum paper over the fixture makes a great diffuser in a pinch.
There are two stylistic elements that you’ll see in almost every whiteboard video on the internet. The first is a locked-down camera. You can see in the above examples that the camera is mounted on a tripod and never moves. The second element is the framing of the whiteboard relative to the speaker. It’s important that the boarders or edges of the whiteboard are not visible. This gives the visual illusion that the speaker is infront of a seemingly endless whiteboard. You can also see in the above examples that the speaker is generally seen from the waist up, and has a lot of horizontal space to move around. Be sure that you have a large enough whiteboard, and enough space between your mounted camera and the whiteboard to achieve optimal framing. A GorillaPod placed on a tabletop a few feet away from your whiteboard should do the trick, in lieu of a tripod.
Since the on-camera speaker is going to be switching back and forth between looking at the camera and the board, getting consistent audio off a microphone that is attached to the camera will be difficult. To avoid any muddle audio, make sure your speaker only speaks when facing the camera, and doesn’t speak when facing to the side or towards the board. For optimal audio, have your speaker wear a microphone on their lapel, like a wireless lavalier mic. If your camera doesn’t have a microphone input, you could use a second audio recording device and match the recording with the video later in editing.
Producing a whiteboard video can require some pro equipment to get the best possible quality. 12 Stars Media’s full-service video production can deliver, but if you follow some of the tips outline above you should come out with a pretty good video. What examples of whiteboard videos have you seen?