New Grumo Student Explainer Video: TeachMania

Rina Nir did not have thousands of dollars to get a video professionally produced to promote her new startup Teachmania.
Then she found our animation course and a month later she had finished her own cute explainer video which already has attracted the attention of a few investors. Here is her video:

Rina explains in great detail her experience producing her demo video:

Why did you need a demo video and how did you find our animation course?

Teachmania is a pre-seed startup. This means that we are trying to squeeze maximum value from each euro we have, but we still need to achieve some traction and to look attractive to investors.
We faced two facts:
– We wanted a one minute animation because it can do more to promoting us than any other type of explanation of what we do.
– We cannot spend thousands of Euros producing one.
So… in our search for ways to solve this issue I tumbled upon the Grumo course and bought access to it. And yes, having this animation now proves that it was money well spent, especially as we receive these great feedback on our animation – including high interest from investors!

Having said that, creating this video entailed much more labor than just watching Miguel.
There was almost a painful learning process because I started with absolutely no experience with any of the required tools – so lots of frustrating hours and days trying to bridge the gap between what I had in mind and what came out on the video.
The important thing, though, was that with Miguel’s “virtual guidance” I felt I am heading to the right direction and will end up with good results.

How long did it take to produce your demo video?

Overall the video took me almost one full month worth of work. Happily- I had the Xmas period which was a slow time in terms of other activities and allowed me to focus on this for the last ten days of the production.

What was the most difficult part?

The most difficult part for me was to work with Adobe Illustrator. Initially I tried to work without a tablet- this was a complete waste of time. Don’t even try to draw a single line before purchasing a tablet. I purchased the Wacom Intuos Small for about 200 Euros and this totally transformed the quality of my drawings as well as suddenly making all the illustrator interface more sensible.

How did you create your illustrations?

I adopted a slightly different way of working with graphical assets that Grumo recommends. I realize it is not a good way for advanced professionals, but there is a “quick and dirty” solution for beginners: in the case of complex scenes, where several graphical elements need to interact and be positioned together on the screen, the advanced way is to draw each one of them separately and then combine them in the animation SW (After Effects).

However- as I am a beginner it was easier for me to put the complete scene together in illustrator, and make sure it is split into layers in a way that I could animate it. For example, this is captured directly from illustrator where I laid everything as it looks in the last stage on the animation of the scene. In After effect, I just had to do the “reverse animation” of animating each layer from its initial position to the final one that was already predefined.

Illustrations for Teach Mania's demo video

Drawback of this method is that some assets are duplicated across illustrations (such as the boy) and if I ever made a change, such as when I added colors to the boy clothes, I had to go over each of the illustrations and copy the change.
BTW: In this scene, the small kids that are drawn where not drawn by me but where acquired on istockphoto.com . So this is also a good way to add some illustrations to your animation without actually drawing it. Those illustrations may be quite expensive, though, so I did not purchase many. However- all the “mini kids” in the video where together in one single vector illustration that I bought so it was quite a good deal.

Another thing which I recommend is subscribing to Adobe’s creative cloud. For a bit less than 60 Euros/month you get access to all the tools they have. For this production I used three (illustrator, after effects and premiere) and I also now started to use photoshop for other things we do.
This is a very good deal by Adobe and also saves you the trouble of learning different concepts of interfaces and allows you to enjoy the good integration Adobe have between their tools.

How did you create the soundtrack?

For the soundtrack I used mainly Audacity. It is free, simple, and very effective. I got the soundtrack as well as the sound effects on Soundsnap. They are very cost effective: you can download 5 “sounds” for 9$- and this includes the soundtrack. (Note that the soundtracks are a bit hidden in a category that is called “music loops” you need to be a semi-expert to understand that these are actually compositions which could be used as background.)

The tricky bit for me, in the soundtrack, was to strike the right balance between the different tracks (sounds) so that the VO will not be shadowed. I did not find anything smarter to do then trial and error.

How did you record the Voice Over?

For the VO I eventually used two close people- my son (12 years old) for the French version and a native English speaking friend for the English. The interesting thing I found is that native speakers speak significantly quicker than myself (I am not native speaker of any of those languages). So, although I tuned every sentence’s rhythm in after effects based on the recordings of my own voice, when I moved to Premiere and used the final VO I had to speed the scenes. This was good and shortened around 20secs from the video!
BTW: speeding up in Premiere is really easy (just changing the speed of each clip), and when some more subtle tweaking was needed I could do it in After Effects and it would directly integrate to Premiere.

As for the final export, I found this link very useful to find the ideal export method for youtube: http://longzijun.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/exporting-hd-video-for-youtube/

All along the project I used numerous tutorials I found on the internet. This is another advantage of the adobe tools- the community is huge and you can find a (rather) quick answer to everything you need.

How did you write the script?

For the script I totally relied on Miguel’s explanations. He is very structured about how to build the script and I really adopted all his recommendations, including evaluating in excel sheets etc. This was a real fun part for me because I did not have to struggle with any of the tools… just to think “out of my box”.

Thanks Miguel for creating this course. I can frankly say that this video would not have been even close to what it is without it!

Thank you Rina for taking our demo video course and for taking the time to share with other students how your creation process was.

Much success with TeachMania!

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