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For breaking down and explaining complex ideas, there’s no better medium than animation. With greater versatility than live video, animation enables you to easily explain complicated concepts through visuals in a short span of time.

That power is critical. Viewers today need active, dynamic content to stay engaged and ignore distractions. Emails, texts, and notifications flit onto viewers’ screens, making it tough for instructors to keep attentions focused. Educational and marketing content alike have to deliver value immediately to captivate audiences.

Animation engages people quickly and powerfully. To help you improve your own video outcomes, we’ve outlined the advantages of animation and we’ll show you how to get started using animation styles, like whiteboard animation. Watch the video examples below to become familiar with how to explain complex ideas with animation, and how different visual styles can be used to communicate a message. All three videos below have the same script, but their animated visuals are different.

Why Animation Works for Explaining Concepts

Both live video and animation are engaging mediums. But when it comes to explaining difficult concepts, animated videos stand out in a few key ways:

Your imagination is the limit. Animation lets you use video to illustrate any concept or analogy without requiring the ability to capture it on film. You have the ability to bring any concept, no matter how complex or out-of-this-world, to life with ease.

In the GIF below we start with a close-up and zoom out to show a crowd of people before blasting into space for perspective. This is difficult to create in real-life, but with animation, it’s easy.

You can break down ideas visually. One of the biggest benefits of animated video is the ease with which you can visually capture abstract ideas. Imagine trying to explain concepts like global logistics, the inner-workings of a microprocessor, or Bitcoin with a video camera. That’s where animation has its advantages – you can illustrate all of these concepts without restraint. 

They’re easy to update. If info in your live video needs to be updated, you have to go through the extensive process of reshooting. With animation, you can use tools like Vyond to make changes and updates in minutes.

As a flexible medium, animation software gives you a variety of ways to visualize concepts quickly and powerfully. Understand the different ways you can utilize animation and you can take your video content to a new level.

How Whiteboard Animation Amplifies Learning

Of all the different animation styles, Whiteboard Animation is one of the most useful for learning content and explaining complex concepts.

Whiteboard has a minimalist style that’s ideal for focusing on complex concepts. The style illustrates concepts at a straightforward level with minimal extra details that could distract viewers.

The drawing motion of Whiteboard keeps viewers engaged. Whiteboard Animation typically features a drawing hand or pen that captures viewers’ attention. Viewers remain engaged, anticipating how the story will unfold.

Rand Fishkin of Moz.com brings this concept to life in his “Whiteboard Fridays” video series. Each week he breaks down complex marketing topics, like search engine optimization, by writing and drawing on a real-life whiteboard. 

Learning and development expert, Keith Anderson, uses this same engaging movement to his advantage in animated video. 

The black and white drawing and handwritten style get viewers in the mood for learning. While alternative colorful styles feel more cinematic, the Whiteboard style looks exactly like what it’s called—a whiteboard! Recalling this educational tool, the Whiteboard style feels more oriented towards learning than other styles, Keith describes.

Designed for simplifying concepts, the Whiteboard Animation style is ideal for creating all types of explanatory content. Let’s take a look at some ways you can use animation in your video content.

4 Ways to Explain Complex Ideas with Animation

As a versatile medium, animation can be used in a variety of ways to express ideas. Like a Saturday morning cartoon, concepts can be visualized through characters and scenarios. At the same time, animation can also incorporate icons or even photos to break down and explain ideas.

The key is deciding which visualizations suit your idea best throughout your animation. We’ll cover four ways to explain complex concepts with animation to help you choose between them and create your own engaging content.

Character Actions

As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

Actions are easily recognizable and carry meaning. Animate them with minimal details and your audience can quickly process the concepts you’re trying to convey.

Animating actions is particularly great for explaining step-by-step processes. Rather than writing out each step, you can show the character doing what you’re trying to teach.

Animating actions is also useful for explaining emotions in a concrete, understandable way. An HR manager, for example, might have to teach new employees about company culture. They could show the value of trust with an animated handshake and the value of teamwork with the action of cheering.

visualizing teamwork

Animate characters with specific actions to quickly illustrate specific ideas in a concrete, understandable way.

How to animate actions in Vyond: To make a character perform an action, start by selecting the character. Then, click on the action icon in the top right of your toolbar to search and select the action you want to use. Watch more about character actions and animations in Vyond.

Icons

Like character actions, icons are internationally recognizable and easy to digest. Because an icon is static, it is typically used to represent a single idea.

For example, say you’re explaining how health benefits work at your company. To visualize the difference between visiting a primary care doctor versus a specialist, you could use the icon of a dollar bill to represent the value of money.

value of money example

Or, you can use multiple icons together to illustrate the different components of an entire process. For example, you could use icons to teach people about the stages of keeping plants alive.

illustrating Steps with Animation

The drawing hand of the Whiteboard Animation style keeps viewers engaged as they anticipate each step being revealed.

By using single icons or a combination of icons, you can convey ideas to viewers quickly.

How to animate with icons in Vyond: The props collection in Vyond hosts hundreds of icons for representing various concepts. To access the props, follow these instructions from our Help Center. You can also find and download icons through nounproject.com, and then import the icons into your Vyond account.

Scenarios

Some concepts and principles are difficult to teach without providing context. Imagine trying to explain harassment in the workplace to employees without giving a few example situations.

To make ideas understandable, animate scenarios that are relatable and illustrate your concept well. By seeing the idea played out in a story-like format, viewers learn how to apply the concept in life. Animating a scenario lets viewers see the concept in action, which makes it much easier to understand.

How to animate scenarios in Vyond: You can quickly animate scenarios with Vyond’s templates, which are pre-made scenes designed for different industries and situations. To access these templates, click the plus-sign in your timeline.

From there, you can browse through templates by category and preview each one by hovering over it. For more details on choosing templates, check out this instructional video from our Help Center.

Real Images

When you want to make your material more relatable, consider adding photos to an animation. By using photos you add credibility to the ideas you want to teach through animation.

For example, say you created an animated onboarding video to teach new employees about your company culture. The value of work-life balance sounds unremarkable if you just describe it since most companies claim to offer it. But if you describe it while showing pictures of employees with their families, the value will seem a bit more authentic to viewers.

Illustrating with real images

By complementing your animation with photos, you can help viewers connect more deeply with the idea you’re trying to teach.

How to animate with real images on Vyond: Add a photo to your video by clicking the Upload icon in the Asset Library. Then, click the Plus icon to select the photo from your computer files.

Selecting a photo will import it into your Asset Library. From there, you can add it to your video. For more detailed instructions on importing photos, visit this guide in our Help Center.

Improve Engagement and Retention with Animation

Audiences today have come to expect more than tired PowerPoint slides and text descriptions. Animated videos, especially those using the whiteboard style, help your audience understand and connect to concepts more quickly and deeply.

The visual elements in this guide will give you plenty of ways to convey different types of complex ideas through animation. With varied visualizations, your animated learning content will make ideas exciting and more comprehensible for your audience. Get started today to make your video content more engaging and understandable.

About Vyond

Vyond allows people of all skill levels in all industries and job roles to create dynamic and powerful media. With features that go beyond moving text and images, you can build character-driven stories or compelling data visualizations that engage audiences and deliver results.

With Vyond, it’s easy to create video for your social media marketing. Start a free 14-day trial and sign up for our weekly webinar.