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How to use revisions to create an Animated Video

Your project is really moving along and you are finally seeing your custom illustrations and animations for the first time! While it’s exciting to see these high quality visuals, they might not look exactly how you imagined they would. No problem, that is exactly what revisions are for!

This blog post is designed to help you get the most out of your revisions and make the process easier for everyone involved. Thinking holistically and critically about your revision notes from the start will result in faster turnaround times, clearer expectations, a smoother process for you and your team, and an overall better final video!

Communication is Key

Explainly offers two rounds of revisions for each step of our process, but these revisions are not a to-do list for you to complete. Think of revisions as a fail safe that helps keep deliverables for each step of our process consistent with your team’s vision and brand voice. The best case scenario is that with thoughtful planning, referencing, and communication about what you are envisioning beforehand, revisions will be minimal if necessary at all for your project.

But, let’s say that illustration and animation are not your strong suits. It can be frustrating when you can’t find the words to express exactly what you want or how best to achieve it. It’s one thing to come up with a specific vision for an animated video in your head and another to be able to describe that vision clearly and effectively, and we get that. You aren’t a professional animator, that’s why you hired us!

We have plenty of tips and advice that will help you throughout the revision process. By the time you’re done reading this, you will be a revisions expert which will save you time, money, and energy down the road, so read on!

Be Specific

If you take anything away from this post, let it be this! Being as specific as possible will help set clear expectations and will leave much less up to someone else’s interpretation. There are plenty of tools and resources that can help empower you to be more specific with your revision notes including…

1. Hex Color Codes:

It may surprise you to know that there are over 10,000,000 colors to choose from when determining the palette of your video; so saying that something needs to be, “more blue” is not as helpful as you might think.

This is where Hex codes can help. Hex codes are six digit alphanumeric codes that follow a hashtag (#) which help specify exactly what certain colors should look like. You will most likely see these codes in your company’s brand book next to your brand colors.

Providing Hex codes can save you from tedious conversations like this…

Without Hex Codes

With Hex Codes

Utilizing hex codes to translate their vision, the client on the right was able to get the exact look that they wanted and cut 2 days out of their revision process.Beyond finding these hex codes in your brand book, you can also google, “Color Picker” for a plethora of free online tools to help you generate hex codes for any color you like!

If you are having trouble deciding on specific colors that you want to use for your project, another free tool is the Canva Color Palette Generator. Simply type a theme or keyword into the generator and Canva suggests a pallet of four designer colors and their associated hex codes for you to use. We love this tool and it’s a great starting point for adding color to any project!

2. Stock Photo Databases:

References, references, references! A picture is worth a thousand words and pointing to a real life image can save lots of time trying to describe things like clothing, objects, buildings and much more!

Shutterstock or GettyImages are both great resources to find any type of stock image, just be sure to be specific about what exactly you’re referencing in the image itself.  Different images can be used to reference different things. For example: you might use one image to show what kind of hat you want a character to be wearing and another image to show what kind of jacket they should be wearing. Let us know this sort of thing when you upload a reference image so we don’t misinterpret the purpose of it!

Using stock photo references will help speed up the revision process and will leave even less up to our own interpretation, avoiding conversations like this…

Without Reference Images

With Reference Images

By taking the time to find reference images for us to follow as a guide, the client on the right was able to change the look of objects and clothing in their project with much clearer expectations in half the time.

3. Explainly Provided References:

Always remember that when working with Explainly you’re never alone! We are here to help and part of that help comes from the visual references that we send to you during the discovery process. The mood boards and animation references included in your proposal were custom made to help define the visuals in your video. You can always use these references to help you communicate how you want something to look…

Client: My team has been looking over the new characters in our storyboard and they look similar to the characters in frames 4 and 6 of this mood board. We don’t know how to describe the difference, but we would prefer it if they looked more like the characters in frames 7 and 8.”

Explainly: “No problem, thanks for using our mood board to help us understand the changes you want. We will get started on making new customized characters for your storyboard with the characters from frames 7 and 8 as a reference guide!”

*You can also reference other illustrations or animation that you find online but keep in mind that those references may represent styles that do not align with the level of animation presented to you in your customised proposal. In other words, if you send us a screenshot from Avatar, that doesn’t mean your video is going to win an academy award.

Revision Do’s and Don’ts

Now that you are armed with tools and resources to help you reference the specifics of what you are after, let’s talk about how to make even bigger changes to your deliverables. Here are a few examples of how you can communicate clearly with specific notes alongside ambiguous and less helpful notes when revising a scene…

Ambiguous Revisions Clear Revisions
“This character should be more friendly looking” “Give this character a big smile and have her waving at the group of people that are walking by.”
“This just doesn’t fit our brand’s look very closely right now.” “There are a lot of colors here so our brand colors don’t stand out as much as we would like. Please use only our primary brand colors for this scene (#3ff2d4 & #4fg3d6) and get rid of the other colors.


I have also attached a screenshot from our website. We like how the background looks on this part of our website as it really showcases our brand’s look, can we have this scene’s background look more like this?”

“This scene should feel more dangerous. I don’t like how dull it is.” “When the walls start closing in, have the character put his hands up and change his expressions so that he looks more afraid of what is going on.


The walls should also have deadly spikes on them like in the reference image that I attached.”

Consolidate Your Feedback

We’ve seen it happen before, the animated bar graph that we spent days revising with you is finally perfected and you’re ready to move on, but when your boss sees it for the first time they think that it’s all wrong! You’ve already used two rounds of revisions to get it to this point but it’s time to start drafting up a new animated graph from scratch. This puts your project a week behind schedule and comes at an additional cost to you…

Consolidating your team’s feedback is an easy way to keep your video delivery on schedule while avoiding needless additional costs. We understand that there can be lots of opinions in an office which can make it hard to compromise on exactly how something should look, especially when multiple decision makers are involved. Our advice is that you take your time and be comprehensive when consolidating your feedback. Make sure that all the decision makers have given their input and are on the same page about how best to move forward BEFORE sending us your revision notes or references, even if this means taking an extra day to work around your team’s busy schedules in order to touch base with them.

While it may be counterintuitive to delay feedback in order to achieve a faster turnaround, unconsolidated feedback is almost always worse than no feedback at all. Animation is complex and takes a lot of time to produce, so backtracking and re-evaluating feedback takes much longer than you might expect. Avoid finalising feedback before it is ready so that everyone has much clearer expectations for what the next deliverable will look like before it arrives!

Help With Style Frames

Sometimes, you will need to give feedback notes that are less straightforward than a color swap or an outfit change. Often, these revisions come into play during the “style frames” step of our process where we determine the overall look and feel of your video’s illustration style.

Something about the overall look isn’t lining up with what you had in mind but it’s difficult to express exactly what that is or how you want things to change. While visual references are always the best place to start in this scenario, an equal understanding of basic illustration styles and vocabulary can go a long way in helping you express your ideas with confidence and clarity…

Textured Illustration

What do we mean by textured illustration? Simply put, these images have enough detail in them that you might think they would feel a certain way if you could touch them. There are elements of traditional pencil and charcoal illustrations on display here, but they are being simulated by a computer program and a talented digital artist.

In these example images, the colors and shapes are not only highly detailed, but there are lots of different colors throughout the image. Gradient tones transition from light to dark, but also include multiple colors beyond shades of the object’s base color. The patterns of these gradients and colors also vary from one object to the next. Some objects are more saturated and have flat colors throughout, whereas the saturation of other objects deteriorate into almost no color at all, like ink fading on old paper.

All of this detail can make objects look “textured” and tactile. This look requires more time spent on creating these details and typically comes at a higher price point but will increase the production value and “wow” factor of your video. This textured style can be worth investing in if you want a video that will really stand out or emulate a warm, hand drawn look. Videos that are made with scripts that rely on emotional language can also benefit from this timeless and striking digital illustration style.

Vector Graphics

When someone describes a digital illustration as “slick” or “clean”, they are usually referring to vector graphics. Vector illustrations are not pixel based which means they do not lose any visual quality when scaling up to larger sizes so things like saturation and line definition remain constant regardless of how much the image moves or scales.

As you can see, vector graphics utilize vibrant but flat colors which don’t have gradients or other fine details you might see in more textured illustrations. This straightforward illustration style creates images with bold contrast so that edges and objects are clearly defined and easy to recognize, even at a glance.

While vector graphics can’t produce the same warm feel of textured illustrations, less time spent on these granular details saves time and money. Vector graphics can be a great choice for a minimalist digital look that utilizes a more deliberate color palette and crystal clear iconography.

Infographics and Icon Based

You may have heard this term during our discovery process, but what does Icon Based or infographics style animation really mean? In short, it’s a simple style that does a great job of conveying complicated information clearly and effectively without needless illustrative details or distraction.

These videos utilize vector graphics to clearly define its flat shapes and borders as well as very simple backgrounds that do not include any distracting visual element. While this type of video lacks some of the bells and whistles of projects that showcase more depth or textured details in their illustrations, it can still be the right choice for the right kind of company.

With less going on all at once, it’s easy to direct your viewers attention and express exactly what you mean. Icon based videos do a great job of expressing complicated data in a way that is accessible to the average viewer. It also helps that the minimalist approach to these types of videos can keep the production costs down for your business.

Cartoony vs. Corporate

This is something we hear a lot, “We don’t want our video to look too cartoony”.

This can be a tricky note to address, especially with characters. Every character on screen in your explainer video will technically be an animated cartoon. But cartoons have evolved past the simple distinction of medium and since developed a certain style of their own.

The biggest difference between a cartoony character and a corporate character is the amount of details and variety of expressions in the face. Cartoons are very expressive and a lot of care goes into the facial details to sell those expressions. Corporate characters on the other hand are more neutral in their expressions, less detailed in the face, and do not showcase emotions to the degree that cartoony characters do. Corporate characters are a tool to help express ideas rather than a character to express personality and emotion.

Some effective corporate characters don’t even have faces at all, which would look pretty alarming in a children’s cartoon show.

There is no hard line between corporate animated characters and cartoons, but you know it when you see it. Big eyes, expressive faces and playful designs are all indications of a cartoony style, which can work well for some companies. Understanding their differences can help you navigate your way to the style that will work best for you and your brand!

Isometric Perspective

You have probably seen isometric drawings before, but it helps to know exactly what they are and what to call them if you want to see this perspective in your style frames.

In short, isometric drawings use depth cues and fixed perspectives to render shapes and objects as three dimensional within a 2D medium. There are more mathematical rules to follow when creating successful isometric illustrations, but these efforts often result in a design that is unmistakably professional.

Keep in mind that rendering objects in this perspective takes more time and effort than the flat, minimalist illustrations in icon based videos for example. Isometric perspectives are often associated with our mid to high tier projects, but the unique appeal of this advanced illustration technique is undeniable.

Depth of Field

Speaking of depth, there are other ways beyond the use of isometric perspectives to create the illusion of depth. Many of these techniques come from emulating the way cameras or even our own eyes interpret the world around us.

A camera is able to be selective about what it focuses on. If an object is too far away from the focus point, it becomes blurry and hard to see. Because of this, we can assume that the out of focus objects in photos are either further behind or in front of the objects that are in focus.

This is called a shallow depth of field and can be emulated in illustrations to create the illusion of depth as well. Notice how the sunflowers in the back background of the photo are blurry because they are far behind the flower in the foreground. This shallow depth of field effect creates a similar feeling of depth when used within an illustration.


Now you are prepared for the revision process! There’s a reason why your company is trusting you to work on this awesome creative project and just by reading this post you are well on your way to an even better animated video than you were before!

Remember, you’re never alone when you’re working with Explainly. If you find yourself struggling with any part of the revision process, just give us a call and we will figure it out together!

Common Camera Angles and What They Mean

All forms of TV, animation, and film are compilations of different camera angles edited together to form a cohesive viewing experience. But did you know that filmmakers use very particular angles in certain scenes to convey specific emotions to the audience?  Dutch Angle A Dutch angle is a shot where the camera is tilted slightly to make the entire scene seem lopsided. Typically, it is used in moments of suspense to show the audience that something is not quite right with the subject. Moreover, this angle is commonly used in horror movies or thrillers to convey a character’s uneasiness or an environment's eeriness. Dutch Angle - Jaws (1975) Extreme Close-ups Extreme close-ups are camera angles where the person or subject fills the entire frame. Generally, they are used by filmmakers to add emphasis to the subject. These shots force the audience to focus on key details. However, some filmmakers might even use this technique to distract the audience from something eerie happening in the background. Additionally, directors may cut between two extreme close-up shots to convey tension building between two subjects, with each shot getting closer and closer every time. Extreme Close Up - Get Out (2017) High Angle High angles are camera shots where the camera looks down on the character or subject from an elevated place. Cinematographers execute these angles by placing the camera higher than the subject and then pointing it down onto them. High angles can make the subject look smaller and vulnerable. A common example of a high angle in films is when a vulnerable character is approached by the taller, bigger, antagonist looking down on them. High Angle - The Incredibles (2004) Low Angle A low angle shot is the opposite of a high angle. The camera is positioned below eye-level and points upwards towards the subject or character. Low angles make the subject look larger and therefore makes the subject look more powerful and sometimes even threatening. For example, in Citizen Kane, the production team actually tore apart the floor to get the lowest angle possible to make the character look powerful. Low Angle - Moonrise Kingdom (2012) Over-the-Shoulder Over-the-shoulder shots are camera angles where the back of a character is used to frame part of the subject. This angle is usually used in scenes to show the confrontation of one character with another. This camera technique helps to bring the audience into the scene almost like they are there. Over-the-Shoulder - No Country for Old Men (2007) It’s important to note that all the meanings of the angles can be arbitrary and are used based on the individual filmmakers' preferences. The beauty of filmmaking is that there aren’t hard and fast rules that you have to follow when it comes to using camera angles. You can mix and match different camera angles to create new meanings and evoke other types of emotion with your audience.  Want to learn more about video? Visit explainly.com.

Technical Terminology in Video Production

Animators, editors, and film experts of all kinds use a vast vocabulary of terms during video production. Whether you’re brand new to the video world or a seasoned expert in need of a refresher, the following terminology is a must-know! Frame Rate The frame rate refers to the number of frames per second (fps) that a camera captures or that a video displays. While 24 fps is typical, 25, 29.97, 30, and 60 fps are all also common for different purposes. Higher frame rates result in larger file sizes and are not always necessary. However, depending on your video's purpose, it can provide more crisp, appealing movement. Color Correction vs. Color Grade Color correction is the vital process of adjusting the colors and tones of a video in order to remove off-color casts, brighten light objects, and to darken dark objects. After color correction, color grading is the adjustment of a video’s colors in order to achieve a specific aesthetic effect. Audio Mix / Audio Production During the final stages of production, the team mixes a video's individual audio tracks to balance dialogue, music, sound effects, room tone, and more. Rudimentary audio mixing can be done within some basic softwares, but fine tuning can be achieved in post-production softwares such as Adobe Audition & Adobe Premiere, or Logic Pro. Resolution Professionals use resolution as a term to describe the length and width of pixels. High resolution looks better but results in larger files. Compression lowers resolution slightly, but it’s usually negligible between 4k and 1080p. Even 720p is good enough for most phone screens! Compression Beautiful high res video often means large files! To avoid taking up storage space, and to post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more, use compression. Compressing videos can minimize file sizes while preserving key qualities by removing unnecessary, redundant, or non-functional data from your video file. While it does take a bit of time to reduce the amount of data in a video file, compression is usually recommended for online uploads because of the time and storage it’ll save you later. Bitrate (Mbps / Kbps) The amount of data used per second in a video defines the bitrate or data rate. Bitrate affects the way fast-moving objects look, and can also contribute to overly large file sizes. We stick to 10 to 16 Megabits-per-second VBR/CBR as a high-quality bitrate for most HD videos. Rendering & Exporting Exporting a video means combining all clips, images, sounds, and effects into one final file. This final file can be in formats like .mov or .mp4. Although, professionals also sometimes refer to exporting as rendering; a render typically describes the real-time view within the editing software. This gives you an idea of what your export will look like. Most computers cannot view high-quality renders in real-time. This is why high processing power is essential for a video production studio. Codec & Container All video files are made up of two parts: the codec and the container. Codecs are different specific algorithms that compress and decompress all data contained in a video file. This is necessary because most videos contain elements that are too large to result in a playable final video. Different codecs used in softwares like Adobe Premiere, Adobe Media Encoder, Adobe After Effects, iMovie, or QuickTime will determine which media players can play back a video. Here are a few common codecs and which file formats they work with: X264 compresses H.264 standard HD videos FFmpeg works with formats including MPEG-2 DVD and MPEG-4 files DivX works will certain MPEG-4 files Different codecs result in different video qualities and different containers, such as MP4, MOV, and AVI file types. ProRes 422 can be great for high-res archival purposes. Although, you can’t go wrong with H.264 for most types of online videos! File Types Video file types and formats - made up of the codec and the container - define the type of computer file that a video is stored as. Different file formats have different purposes, so it’s important to choose the correct type for different projects. MP4 (MPEG-4 Part 14) is the most common video format, preferred by Apple, YouTube, and many social networks and devices. However, it has a slightly lower definition than other file formats. MOV (QuickTime Movie) files generally have higher quality output, which unfortunately comes with larger file sizes. MOV files are ideal for high quality viewing in QuickTime, on TV, or on YouTube. AVI (Audio Video Interleave) is one of the oldest video file formats used today. Fun Fact: it was created in 1992 for Windows operating systems! While AVI files are large, they provide some of the highest-quality playbacks. Plus, they work with nearly every Mac, Windows, and Linux web browser. Other formats like WMV, AVCHD, FLV, F4V, SWF, MKV, WEBM, HTML5, and MPEG-2, all have purposes for different devices and viewing platforms, such as DVDs, website embeds, and streaming services. Ready to learn even more? Reach out to the Explainly team with questions anytime at www.explainly.com/contact-explainly!

Customer Service in Video Production

Customer service is extremely important when clients are vetting which agency they want to partner with. At Explainly, we provide all of our clients with ‘white glove’ customer service. Meaning that we work in tandem with them to become an extension of their team, whether it be marketing or internal communications. All our project managers are equipped with the tools to provide seamless project management service to every client, even down to tailoring our communication styles to meet our clients’ preferences.

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