Producing Infographic Videos

By now, you’ve probably seen an infographic video or two. This one about wealth inequality in America has over 16 million views on YouTube. We’ve done a number of them for the American Red Cross and other clients. Infographics are popular for visualizing data and making complicated or dense topics easier to understand, but they’re also popular for another reason. They can be very cost effective to produce.

Step 1: Pre Production

Our designer likes to break down the infographic design process in a way that closely mirrors the process one follows for traditional video production. Pre production is the phase of a video project in which creative is developed, the script is written and the shoot logistics are planned. When producing an infographic, pre production is spent scripting and determining a “look” for the video. Infographics can be relatively inexpensive to create, particularly if you’re starting with print materials that can be repurposed as elements for the animation process. During pre-production, the designer will ask for any materials that can aid the animation process, including high resolution files of any relevant print materials and/or style guides. He or she will also talk through the use of colors and fonts and will discuss the possibility of purchasing elements through low-cost stock imagery vendors. If he or she can find elements available for purchase inexpensively, that can save time and money versus having the designer create those elements from scratch. Taking existing elements, style guides and possibly purchased elements into account, the designer will create style frames that will give the client a few “looks” to consider. Once a “look” is approved, it’s time to move on to production.

Step 2: Production

If you were producing a traditional video, this is the phase in which you’d hire a crew, round up the people you want to film, and shoot your raw footage. For infographic projects, this is the phase in which the designer produces the raw materials he or she will need in order to animate. Let’s say a client wants to produce an infographic video in which a man and a woman appear next to a house with a dog and a cat and out of the blue, a storm cloud appears and a bolt of lightning hits the house. That would require the following images: a human male figure, a human female figure, a dog, a cat, a house and a storm cloud with lightning. The client may have provided the human male and female figures for previous print projects, in which case the designer would spend time either creating the other images in a style that matches the existing elements or searching for inexpensive elements to purchase that can compliment them. The designer then uses these static images to create storyboards that roughly sketch out the how the piece will play out when animated. Storyboards usually go through some revisions before being approved, but once they are, they become the roadmap for the animation process.

Step 3: Post Production

For a video project, post production would involve editing, narration recording, music selection, sound design, mix and possibly color correction. For an infographic, this is the stage in which the designer will animate the piece. He or she will take the elements created in step 2 and will build the transitions and movements necessary to create an animated video. If the finished piece will require voice over, that will be recorded first so that the designer can time the animation to it. Music is usually chosen early in the animation process for the same reason. The designer will send compressions to the client as the animation takes shape in order to receive feedback and make changes as needed. Once the animation is “locked,” final sound design and mix will take place and a final compression will be made.

Why Is This Cost Effective?

Obviously you could plan a very long, complex animation and spend as much money creating an infographic as you might creating a traditional video, but infographics allow you to leverage pre-existing materials. They also allow for tight scripting which can be particularly helpful on projects that require multiple layers of approvals. Since you don’t traditionally start animating until the script is locked, most of the time you can keep major downstream revisions to a minimum. Lastly, a well-executed infographic video can pave the way for other animated videos for the same organization or promotion (see examples 1, 2 & 3). To create another video with a similar look and feel is easy since a lot of the pre-production and some of the production work is already done. In short, there can be great economies of scale to infographic videos.

Sue O’Hora is Henninger Media Services’ staff Producer. When not busy working on production projects, she can be found reading about television, writing about it or discussing it with friends. You can learn more about Sue at www.videobysue.com or follow her on Twitter @SueOHora.