March 18, 2020

From 0 to 10M subscribers: Growing a Youtube Channel with Educational Videos

illustration showing a man observing a rock through a magnifying glass

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." This quote by Albert Einstein summarizes the reason behind each animation of Iluli's Youtube Channel. Curiously, it was also one of the things that sparked the project's idea for Mike Lamb, a guy passionate about futurism, technology, online security, self-development, and education.

Back in 2018, Mike contacted us to talk about his idea of making videos that could turn complex subjects into simple and easy to consume contents. We loved the idea because we knew how powerful animation could be for the kind of storytelling he was looking for. The only thing that got us on our feet was this briefing requirement: Publish five-minute animations every month. It sounded hard but definitely the kind of challenge we like. Also, having worked with Mike before on a shorter project, we knew there was a mutual trust already established that would allow things to move fast.

Dealing with the production challenges

As expected, the project was a great challenge for us in terms of production because we initially considered that a longer animation like that was basically several smaller ones combined, but that math only works on paper. In practice, it means that you may watch the individual videos and like them, but when you combine everything, you'll feel that the rhythm of the story doesn't keep you engaged or curious enough for you to continue watching it. The big-picture view in a project like this is essential to guarantee an engaging rhythm to the story.

To deliver everything on time, we had to come up with several production tricks that enabled us to move faster both in the production and the revision. Some of them were:

  • Developing multiple(usually three) animations at the same time, in different stages.
  • Developing a system in our project management software that allowed a clear vision of all the steps and requirements to keep the adjustments and revisions to the minimum.
  • Focusing on narrative-oriented reviews and alignments of both storyboard and animation while still in draft. It guaranteed a faster analysis of the overall feeling of the animation before the final and more detailed review happened.
  • Building teams of different sizes depending on the complexity and the speed required to develop each project.

Fast-forwarding to March 2020, Iluli's Youtube Channel is turning one-year-old and we couldn't be happier about it! 

In one year, Iluli's Channel has grown from 0 to 24.700 subscribers, has 17 animations published that total up to almost 1 hour and 21 minutes (nearly the length of a feature film), totaling up 10,062,027 views so far.

Keeping this growth while guaranteeing a high-quality output required so far twenty-five people across the entire project to make it work. One of the vital ingredients for this success was our focus on getting both the script and concept right for each topic. They play a big part in it because one of Mike's initial desires was that the script had a conversational tone, almost like you could feel you're sipping an excellent cider while he's explaining all of this to you. Because of that, most of the animations explain a topic by making connections to situations that are ordinary to most people, simplifying messages and concepts in a way that makes everything easily understood.

Launching Iluli's rocket to mars

We know that one of the worst moments of a rocket launch is the initial combustion that allows the engine to run and the rocket to fly – which is quite similar in social media. Knowing that, the videos were promoted as targeted ads on youtube, and the overall response was impressive. Viewers weren't expecting to face such engaging and high-quality content without forcing them to buy anything. 


Quickly, people started to get glued to the screen, waiting for the next month's video.

It's essential to highlight that the channel's investment in ADs only paid itself because of the quality of the animation. If people skipped it, Iluli wouldn't have had such a steep growth in the fanbase, which means that keeping people engaged for 5 minutes straight was the real challenge of the marketing campaign – and we succeeded. 

Another thing that helped the video's view to skyrocket was how time-sensitive most of those topics are. We were able to share most online security videos as responses to actual news headlines that talked about the themes – from Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran losing nearly $400,000 in a phishing scam to Twitter's CEO suffering a SIM Swapping attack.

All of this allowed the animations to spread online, reaching unimaginable places like conferences, events, security training courses, and companies of all sizes. Even more surprising than that is when the inventor of a business method recognizes the content you created as the best introductory resource available online about the topic – and the community itself highlights it by adding a massive video on their website.

Being able to touch and teach so many people with our work is one of the things that move us. Doing relevant work was an objective we set way back when starting MOWE, and projects like these make everything worth.

Great ideas developed by amazing people, with a unique outcome and expansive reach. Those are the projects we love.

March 5, 2020

The resize monster: Adapting video content to reach more people

Illustration for a blog post showing a man branding a sword in front of a monster made of screens

Content creation can be pretty challenging, especially for agencies and marketing teams who have to put brands and products in front of the right consumers every day. There are many ways to do that and repurposing content is definitely the most effective one. You can turn videos into podcasts, articles, and social media posts…  Still, offering the right type of content that relates to the platforms customers consume your content is what conquers their hearts.

Dealing with videos of different sizes and proportions is like fighting a monster with many faces. The ability to adapt makes powerful each point of contact with the brand you’re working with. Adaptation in video format doesn’t mean cutting it down to fit different durations. It isn’t something to think about later in the process. It must be defined in the early stages of the strategy and development of the story. It’s the “preparation for the battle.”

Before jumping in on that, let’s understand better how video changed in the last years.

Creating video content in the past

During the transition from SD to HD resolutions, we would produce a video or animation at the 16:9 aspect ratio(widescreen) paying attention to keep the vital information inside the 4:3 ratio. This attention to  the Safe Areas, allowed early adopters of widescreens and digital signal TVs to consume better and crispy content without harming those who were still with their old TVs.

By that time, the orientation we recorded video was always the same as the output. Besides the safe area in mind, everything else was pretty straight forward and ready to go.

Well, nowadays, we don’t have that “luxury,” but we are living in an era that brings video content closer to customers than ever before.

The different types of media we have nowadays

Nowadays, if we want to explore its full potential and have people, in fact, watching it, the same content needs to work, at least, in the following proportions: horizontal(16:9), vertical(9:16), square (1:1) and in the “social media standard”(4:5). But not only the “shape” of our videos requires adaptation, their length also changes according to where the videos are being shared. It can sound quite scary, but there’s more coming.

Talking about duration, traditional TV ads would run for 15 or 30 seconds most of the time. When explainer videos started to gain some traction online, the 1:30min to 2:00min mark become a standard for internet videos. However, with the increase of video consumption in social media, additional videos of 5 to 10min (YouTube content), 60 sec(Instagram Feed posts), 10–15 sec(Snapchat and Instagram/Facebook Stories), and also 6 sec( non-skippable YouTube ads) are becoming the new norms.

Below, I made a list to make it easier to visualize the challenges and different types of content required to win the game in today’s content battle:

Ratios:

  • 16:9 ratio — TV, Embed website videos, YouTube, IGTV
  • 9:16 ratio — Stories (Instagram and Facebook), TikTok, Snapchat, IGTV
  • 4:5 ratio — Social Feeds(Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn feeds)
  • 1:1 ratio — Alternative Social Feeds(most of the social media feeds work better in the 4:5 aspect ratio, but 1:1 has been seeing as an alternative in some cases)

Durations:

  • 5 min to 10 min — Youtube Videos (that scores higher inside their “algorithm”)
  • 1:30 min to 2:00 min — Website Videos in general (most of the Explainer Videos)
  • 60 sec — Social Media feeds (It’s Instagram’s maximum duration at the moment)
  • 15–30 sec — Ads for TV or Internet
  • 10–15 sec — Most of the vertical Snapchat and Stories(IG and FB) content type
  • 6 sec — Bumper, non-skippable YouTube ads created to extend the reach of a campaign

What does this adaptation teach us

Our mission is to put great content in front of people. Knowing how each platform and type of content is better received by your audience is just the first step.

The key here is to plan for this adaptability as early as possible, seeing it as a necessity, instead of doing everything and then making some "cuts".. It can be a positive constraint and opportunity if you have enough time to come up with smart solutions to solve those aspect ratio requirements.

In the last years, we saw a banalization of the term storytelling, but the 2020’s decade is here to challenge us to prove we are real storytellers. 

Adapting a story to fit and thrive in the different formats is not an easy task, but having time to train and prepare your arsenal accordingly can make any battle a lot more feasible.

Another thing to consider is that the kind of video plays a huge part in how difficult this adaptation might be. Live-action stories have a lot of restrictions in comparison to animation and any change further down the road to make something fit into a specific size or duration can require an absurd amount of work, time and money.  That's why choosing the best way to create an accessible and adaptable content is gold! The perfect video must carry the core of the message and the heart of the brand with the same visual impact across all aspect ratios and durations.

I’ll talk more about adapting stories in my future articles, but for now, what I want you to take out of this is that video content needs to live naturally on the platform it’s aimed to be shown. The sooner you define where your video will play, the more time you’ll have to plan your story right.

Don’t be afraid of the challenge. Embrace it so you can deliver something people will love to watch in the place they love to consume content.

January 29, 2020

The 2020s – the Decade of Animated Content

Header for an article about animated content showing a calendar showing the year of 2020

2020 started and as at any beginning of a decade, we all ask ourselves "How will the future be?". Well, the future of content marketing has motion graphics as its main characteristic. My objective with this article is to touch on some relevant topics that will help you see how your content is expected to be animated or to have some kind of movement from now on.

Something that inspired me to write this was listening to one of the latest episodes from School of Motion's podcast released in 2019. It's a 4-hour long show so we won't be talking a lot about it here, especially because most of it was focused on the motion design community itself. If you're interested in all things related to motion design though, it has a lot of great tips on conferences, courses and favorite projects and studios of the year – we were featured with our project for Anymotion 🙂

My objective here is to discuss how online and conventional media has changed and how animation is becoming an integral part of that, with possibilities that might impact multiple verticals in this new decade.

Are explainer videos dead?

The traditional Explainer Video structure that we have all seen over and over is more than dead, and that's also a unanimous opinion among School of Motion's roundtable. 

The “recipe” of a script that presents a character, shows its pain, brings the solution, and ends with a call to action, is nowadays as silly as infomercials back in the ’90s. If you're starting your script with "Meet John" and ending it with a poor Call-to-Action like "Subscribe Today!"... you're doing it wrong.

It was a tremendous success in the early Tech Startup boom, but nowadays, our brains easily turn off when approached with something like this. With that being said, a good and fresher story is more necessary than ever to make brands stand out. The message of an AD needs to connect on a deeper level, instigating the viewer in a way that an obvious call-to-action shouldn't even be necessary. Storytelling may sound like a cliché word now but whenever you immerse yourself due to a well-told story, you understand how vital it is.

Supply and demand

The demand for animation not only increased in the last years but is expected to become even more significant. With every new year, the number of screens we interact with grows more and more and all of this demand requires quality animated content that can entertain, engage and communicate. 

We can easily see this demand happening inside many tech companies that started most recently to build their own motion design departments. It goes even beyond tech, Marketing Agencies and even more traditional businesses are building teams of editors and motion designers to help them produce content more constant.

This new decade brings changes and challenges on how to supply the big demand for this upcoming market. Internal teams will be used a lot more to fulfill constant and low-complexity demands while studios with either bigger or more focused expertise will be responsible for larger and more complex ADs related to product launches, positioning statements and other branding-related content.

A new and improved industry

Animators from the industry are starting to get more and more specialized rather being just someone that "makes things move". We saw this happening to ourselves a while ago when we started to combine strategies from both creative and marketing fields as a way to differentiate ourselves. Agencies gain a lot when working with professionals that can bring relevant inputs to support and improve the ideas their teams have.

The battle of video specifications

With every new Social Media – and sometimes, update – we see users consuming content in different ways. For example, five years ago, when talking about animation for the internet, the recipe (besides the "dead" Explainer Video structure I mentioned above) was to have 60 to 90 seconds, horizontal 16:9 animation. Who would have ever imagined that a few years later we would be producing 60 to 90sec animations in horizontal, vertical, and square formats, including 30sec, 15sec, and even 6sec versions of the original video.

Nowadays, it is not an option to have one or another format with one or another duration. Basically, every piece of content is tending to have at least 3 different output formats to allow the animation to better engage with viewers across all marketing channels. 

With the crescent growth of screens, the content will be consumed in formats and durations we can’t even imagine now. The ability to adapt, as technology and human behavior evolves, is essential for any brand, studio or agency to survive.

What’s next?

The future is always up to discussion, but it's clear that there’s more necessary than ever for industries to absorb animation inside the core of their businesses. At MOWE, we like to inquire about the future because the best way to "predict the future" is creating it and there's no way of doing so if you don't reflect on the current state of technology, human behavior and media consumption.

If you also find this subject interesting and would like to discuss it further with us, feel free to leave a comment or contact me at felippe@mowe.studio.

December 16, 2019

Reanimate: Breathing New Life Into Brands

Illustration for the header of an article talking about reanimating brands.

Effective communication is the main challenge of every brand. How to connect with their audience, how to send a message, how to make people buy… all those challenges brands and marketing departments face every day in order to stay alive and profitable. However, great communication is a lot more than just staying in front of people. It’s about connection, adaptability to the new media and most important: it’s about emotion.

Standing out in the middle of the noise

In today’s world, it’s not that hard to face a lot of ads during the day — it’s actually a lot harder not to. And what happens to all those ads that look the same? They become noise. We, as humans, learned how to avoid noise. We skip commercials to focus on the things we enjoy; we get immersed in our headphones to avoid the street’s or office’s noise; we also scroll even faster when an ad pops in our Facebook feed…

Everything looks and feels the same, and since they are put in front of us constantly, we instinctively block them in our heads. But, when something in the middle of that looks “weird”, or just different, we tend to pay closer attention.

Usually, the “weird thing” can be a piece full of colors, a fun character, or something full of movement. That’s the power animation has in the middle of all the noise. When everything looks the same, when you can’t differentiate one brand from another anymore, animation is the smartest solution for brands to be noticed and heard.

Animation brings life into the noise, and bring attention back to brands.

Develop stories that connect

How do we do that? First, I have to warn you that it’s not easy. If it was, everybody would do it. For a story to connect, a ton of work must be done, including the research of the topic, the audience, and the media’s possibilities.

Animation is an incredible media because of its multidisciplinary nature. It mixes visual, sound and movement, creating experiences in a way that no other media can. That’s the real power of it.

By living in a world full of possibilities, animation has the power to create memorable pieces as no other content can. Hard themes can be treated more ludic, “cold” tech products can breathe life, and we can always make someone smile or feel that little warm in their hearts.

We all grow up surrounded by animations. They were first presented to us as the morning cartoons. Those were the reasons for us to wake up so early on Saturdays. The joy, the happiness, and excitement we felt with each one of them have an important place in our minds and hearts.

As adults now, what if we could bring the same feelings back again to our audiences and the brands we represent?


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