A boon of the digital age is the ability to disseminate information in creative ways. Animation costs have dropped and become more accessible; the opportunity for guides and explanations to be shared has increased dramatically – a perfect recipe.
The animated explainer video format is a popular one; learning new, often complicated, information can be difficult. Pairing a friendly and un-intrusive animation video with an explanation or guide is an excellent way to create a fun and engaging video element that will improve the learning experience and set a friendly, accommodating tone.
Although, the visual side is only half of the package. The voice speaking the explanation is vital to the success of the animated explainer content. Matching the animation, subject, and tone with the speaker are key elements in how voice-over can enhance animation.
Why do animation and voice-over work together?
The most obvious reasoning is that animation is inherently devoid of sound. Its still images generated and moved to produce the illusion of life. There is no camera to pick up audio while the scene is performed like in a movie (even though most dialogue is re-recorded as VO in Hollywood films). So, all audio, including sound effects and voice-over, must be recorded for an animated video – so voice-over is usually a necessity.
Of course, this is only scratching the surface. Picking the right voice is essential in the messaging of any format. Different vocal characteristics can be tailored to specialize in certain contexts; matching the audience, subject, and message of an animated explainer video with the right sound is essential.
Types of Animation Explainer and Voice-Over
There are specific subjects that match certain voice-over traits; so, we are going to explore a few of the most popular ones in this segment.
Medical information can be some of the most challenging content to put together eloquently. It can be inherently intimidating for some audiences to hear medical content; it can be frightening! Nervous audiences need reassurance to build trust with the information provider. Carefully and considerately writing your script to mirror the comfort required is a good start, but a voice-over with the right traits to immediately gain trust is a great way to augment this effect.
This animation is designed to explain how childhood trauma may impact a person as they grow up and how their brain may work in different social circumstances. The voice-over in this video is an English speaker with a regional accent. Accents matter a great deal; people unconsciously judge people based on their accent and draw conclusions within milliseconds of hearing someone; using a voice-over with a specific accent can be significant.
The UK Trauma Council’s explainer video breaks down trauma for an audience that either carries trauma or is learning about it; regardless, the audience is not knowledgeable of the subject, so the video must reflect that. The video is approachable and reassuring with gentle colors and rounded shapes, which is also attributable to the voice.
Our narrator is down-to-earth and relatable through a regional, local accent. The voice-over talks in tandem with the animation to help illustrate the message, but it also lets the viewer know that this can happen to anyone, just through their accent. The voice-over talent sounds like an average person, which is appropriate as trauma could impact an average person.
For those new to this term, the “edutainment” term is a portmanteau of education and entertainment. It may seem new, but it has been around since the days of Walt Disney. These words were thrust together to explain the sub-genre of content aimed at teaching that also featured entertainment value. While incidental, the fact that these videos are enjoyable is a major draw as it keeps viewers engaged and open to retaining the information.
A voice-over for this kind of content is tricky to define – while it must be informative and authoritative, it also has to be the absolute opposite of boring. The content is diametrically opposed to the “teacher” stereotype, so adding some energy to the performance is important without going overboard.
These videos are popular online, with a multitude of YouTube channels being dedicated to edutainment explainer content. Well-researched, educational content paired with an engaging script is at the heart of this genre’s success. An example is YouTuber CGP Grey.
While the subject matter can be seemingly random, they do offer extensive explorations of topics historical, contemporary, and conceptual. CGP Grey uses his own voice for the voice-over of his channel, which is excellent as he is a born natural!
A lower-pitched voice is regarded as more authoritative, so using a male voice-over for edutainment content is likely a clever port of call; people are more likely to see the content as expert with the right speaker. It helps to be choosey with this.
A corporate explainer video uses voice-over in a closer manner to a medical explainer than edutainment one. The ideal tone of a corporate video should be confident, friendly, and persuasive; the format is focused on helping the viewer understand why they should work with your company. A video of this description has a trickier tone to match than you may anticipate, balancing openness with professionalism.
This wonderful animated corporate explainer is so simple – which is why its perfect. The simplicity that is showcased in this video is designed as a reflection of its service, which is to make internal communications simpler. The animation is nothing more than the company logo’s four colors being sorted and categorized in different ways. While the colors and shapes are initially a cluttered mess, as the video progresses, they are organized in an eloquent and creative animation.
The voice-over is what completes the video, without the speaker, the video would just be organizing shapes. Adding a voice-over performance provides much needed context to the visual elements. It becomes obvious that the sorting system is an abstract visual demonstration of what Slack offers – the organization of communication.
As an explainer, its not targeting absolute beginners, terms like “cc” and “bcc” do not need to be explained, if you could use Slack, you already know what they are. This means the video can be shorter. A corporate video is likely to target a comparatively knowledgeable audience, so involved terminology doesn’t need to be avoided completely, as the viewer probably knows how emails work.
Dubbing and multilingual voice-over
The animated explainer format is popular, there is no doubt about that. However, what is less discussed is the potential for localising this content for new, foreign-speaking audiences. The beauty of the format is that there is rarely an explainer on-screen – therefore altering the language is less tricky than a typical dub, where mouth movements must be matched.
Professional multilingual voice-over services are perfectly positioned to expertly revise your animated video to be adapted to any world language – and extrapolate its potential. The graphics and animations can also be replaced to reflect the new language in the visual element too.
Animated explainer video YouTuber Kurzgesagt has followed this logic. Their edutainment channel has expanded to include a Spanish version, so every video is perfectly altered to match the multitude of Spanish speakers, globally.
Localising content to relevant, interested viewership in various countries can be instrumental in improving the mileage of your video and maximising the return on investment that you receive for a video production.
An animated explainer video is a versatile video format. There are all kinds of ways that this content can be made to suit countless markets when it is tackled correctly. Animation is a beloved medium; I mean who doesn’t love animation? It has the potential to tackle topics relevant to worldwide markets.
Although, it can’t do this alone. The right voice-over selection is essential in completing your video; tone, accent, language and more can tailor your content to any audience. Figuring out which traits will enhance your voice-over needs is all about the type of animation explainer being made – hopefully this guide has helped you out in deciding this.