Sparkol‘s tools help users create captivating whiteboard videos quickly and easily, no matter their technical ability, design skills or budget. Their main software, VideoScribe, is used by businesses, marketers, illustrators, bloggers, salespeople, video professionals and teachers in over 190 countries, enabling them to tell better stories, train others, explain complex subjects or make a splash on social media. In this interview, Sparkol CEO Zoe Taylor explains why Whiteboard videos are so powerful, and invites readers to try VideoScribe’s 7-day free trial.
Please describe the story behind the company: What sparked the idea, and how has it evolved so far?
Sparkol was founded back in 2012 when we realized that there was a real lack of tools for people to communicate their message well to bigger audiences. It’s easy to create a dull PowerPoint or slideshow and lose the audience immediately. You can see very quickly how they zone out. And so we figured there’s got to be a better way of sharing information that makes people pay attention to what we have to say.
We created VideoScribe based on the whiteboard animation style. It allows users, irrespective of technical or artistic talent, to bring their stories and messages to life. You don’t need to know how to draw; all you need is to select an image from the library, add text, a voice-over and soundtrack, and the video is created for you.
Sparkol is ideal for short explainer videos for complicated topics, or even content that’s a little dry. You may have a very technical presentation which is hard to get people excited about. VideoSribe brings it to life.
VideoScribe is an amazing tool that can be used irrespective of region, language, and technical ability. We have a fantastic community of different types of users in 191 countries. It might be a marketer who needs to persuade and convert; it might be to give some corporate background on a company; or it might be for social purposes, for instance, there was a VideoScribe video explaining UK protest rights that featured on the BBC website today. It allows people to just go a little bit further to explain their message and bring it to life.
What makes whiteboard videos so powerful is the lack of background noise. It really focuses people’s attention. The fact that they see the text, hear the voice, and watch an image being drawn, allows their brain to compute it and retain it for longer. There is scientific evidence that using this style of video actually retains the message for much longer and achieves a much deeper understanding of the topic.
What would you say is the most important thing to include in a whiteboard video?
The most important thing is to understand your message. It’s very easy for us to come up with lots and lots of words, but actually let’s work out what is the one thing that we need to communicate and ensure that we use as few words as possible to do that. It’s about distilling your message and ensuring that you have that clarity of message that you’re trying to convey to the audience.
How long does it take to create a two minutes video with your platform?
It depends on how well defined your message is to start with. A lot of it is about storyboarding and understanding what you actually want to communicate. A great video can be anything from 15-90 seconds. In this style probably not much more than two minutes. You could create it in three hours, but it could also take you three days depending on what level of refinement you want to go to and whether you have your script finalized. We have tools to help do it yourself, or if you need assistance, we have a team here who can support you with whatever it is you need. We can either create the entire video for you, create your storyboard, or help you create your own dedicated images that clearly take a lot longer than if you use library images. Once you have your storyboard and script, it can be a really quick and simple process.
The thing that’s most important for me is that anyone anywhere can bring their stories to life in a magical and meaningful way using the products. You don’t need artistic talent in order to start with Sparkol. It’s a great leveler, so it doesn’t matter if you have a huge budget and you come from a big multinational company, or you’re just a small organization with minimal funds, you can create that same quality content. That is what I love, and I think that is the most powerful thing to be able to communicate your message in that way. And I love that, I love that about what we do.
Here’s a quick introduction to VideoScribe:
Which trends do you find to be particularly interesting these days around your line of work?
I think it’s the speed of uptake on video and the expectation that all content will be in video format. I think even in the current situation with the pandemic and lockdowns, people expect more news, more quickly, in video format, across every channel. There’s a huge requirement to come up with quick and easy news or messaging in video form.
We just launched a new tool called Scribely, which is specifically for social media. It allows you to very quickly create an eye-catching video that’s optimized for each channel and then post it onto social media. I think that’s the direction things are going in.
How do you convey a complex message in 30 seconds of video? Doesn’t that over-simplify things?
I think there’s a time and place for each type of content. We should never try to move away from a written word, but simply to have short teasers or updates in video format so that we get a high-level understanding of different perspectives, with the ability to deep dive into different areas and topics, and to gain a better understanding. That may or may not be the same format, but actually, I think people need information in different styles and levels to fully absorb and digest it.
How do you envision the future of your industry?
The demand for video is only increasing and with it, video creators need to rise to meet the demand by creating high-quality videos faster. What we need to do is to support and help our users by creating editable templates, sharing best practices, and pointing them in the right direction to follow trends so that they can adopt the technology as quickly as possible and get their content out.
Have you seen any changes in the way your customers are working since COVID-19?
Yes, it’s been really interesting. What we’ve seen is that people have had a little bit more time to invest in creating videos. So they’ve gone a little bit deeper, they’ve used more advanced features. We also saw an increase in the number of people using our training resources, upskilling in order to produce better content. Obviously, we are lucky in the sense that many of the live production videos couldn’t carry on working through the lockdowns, so as a result, we’ve seen an increasing trend towards using the software to create really good quality content, in the absence of the live production.