Whiteboard Animation? Whiteboard Animation Videos are short videos that effectively tell your potential customers, in 90 seconds or less, about your product or service. Englishman Benedict Hickson who specializes in it moved to Oslo, Norway to extend his business.
Benedict Hickson’s animation company, CZA Studios, has included work for film companies and the BBC series Hustle, The Body Farm and Inspector Lewis, before the company specialized in whiteboard animation.
His very first client in whiteboard animation who found Benedict’s company, CZA Studios, was the American Chicago partner of the huge global consulting company, PWC. He along with 4 partners of the countries: United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan, needed to put together an internal talk on innovation. They’d thought of the different options and felt that it would capture people’s interest more with whiteboard animation in which the sketching during the voiceover keeps the audience’s interest in the curiosity to find out what will be sketched. The message was complicated, but Benedict created a whiteboard animation video within a month, including the script, storyboard, recorded voiceover and the animation.
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The ball was rolling
The client was so happy that he got a call from another global consulting company in London to make a presentation for them. It is one of the top three global consultancy companies whose name (due to their protocol) we can’t mention, but can only refer to them as a top-tiered global consultancy company. Their client was the NHS CCG in England for the Executives of the company for their employees and it was a great success.
Benedict’s next client showed how flexible the use of Whiteboard Animation is. It can be used for training videos for example. He was taken on by the German senior lecturer in tourism, Dr Dorothea Meyer, who had done a big project on Zanzibar in trying to help the women there. According to their culture, even though there were hotels there they were not accepted by their people to work in them. The main option was to be working in arts and craft. So Dorothea had done projects with them training them and helping them to create their own businesses. Benedict did a whiteboard animation describing what she had been doing in Zanzibar which was presented at International University Meetings to great success as it gave a clear idea of her work to other countries.
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Whiteboard Animation Made in Norway
After more work of this kind he decided to extend his business and partly by instinct he moved to Oslo, Norway.
“Oslo is the capital but still small enough so I can travel around on my bicycle and communicate with potential clients,” he says. “It suits my creative side of life. A lot of businesses including both of the main global consultancy companies that I’d worked for are situated here in Oslo.”
He arrived in Oslo in the lovely summer of 2018, but the timing to do business wasn’t ideal. Business was slow and most of his potential customers were on holiday. He also needed an ID number as well as a place to work and sleep, so much of his first weeks consisted of staying in Airbnb apartments or hotels whilst getting his act together. Once the branch of his company was set up he succeeded in finding an apartment to rent. His only assets were his working tools, a database he’d put together of 850 customers and his creative talent.
First Norwegian clients
He quickly built up contacts. One of his contacts was Flyvefisken in Oslo. Thanks to the owner he got an accountant and business adviser who offered his accountant services. Both of them were some of Benedict’s first whiteboard animation clients to sell their products.
See how Flyvefisken, Oslo uses whiteboard animation in its promotion.
Although Benedict’s specialization is whiteboard animation he has been working on other forms of video and animation here in Norway such as the videos for Røde Kors for Papyaya Design & Marketing and 2D animation for Staalstrøm, the Norwegian company in Florida.
Another Whiteboard Animation client was for the company, Stingray Marine Solutions. Realizing that some of the prospective fish farmers were more visually skilled in learning, the entrepreneur, co-founder and managing director, John Breivik, was keen to have the story told with whiteboard animation, unfolding as they watched to make sure that it kept their interest.
Why animation videos?
“The reason this kind of video is essential has to do with people’s short attention spans. The average attention span of a visitor on your landing page till distracted is just 8 seconds,” says Benedict. “People love to be entertained, and a good Animation Video grabs their attention and allows you to explain exactly what you do deliver and how your product works, without being pushy or salesy,” he adds.
When I interviewed Benedict in his apartment I was impressed by how he can produce his animations with quick sketches, just a few computer programs and lots of talent.
“The clue is very much personal cooperation between myself and the client,” Benedict says. “I pick my client’s brain to understand the client’s dream and message. From this I understand what the client wants and I put it into a visual story.”
It is a process of setting up the narration, and working out reference images. Then Benedict takes it away and creates a simple pencil and paper storyboard with the images at appropriate places of the narration. Benedict states that it is important that they are simple sketches and not too arty but simple and clear to make sure that they match what the client wants. After some changes as required and the client is happy, Benedict is ready to start on the animation, bespoke to the requirements of the client. Although most whiteboard animation is simple sketches, Benedict likes to take it further with the art and quality of the finished images in the whiteboard animation.
Since Benedict is also an actor and composer, he can do the narration (with his British accent) and add music to his productions – huge savings, both in time and money, for his customers.
“People are interested in what you are sketching and it keeps their attention during the sketching process. This leads to animation videos having many benefits, like increasing sales, driving online search visibility, building trust and creating a social buzz,” says Benedict.
On the technical side, Benedict explains that he does both 2-D and 3-D animation. “Animation Videos generate a strong bond with the viewer, and this connection impacts directly on your marketing campaign rates. They not only engage the audience and explain your product in an enlightening and entertaining way, but they also directly affect your potential customers’ purchase decisions,” says Benedict Hickson, sole owner of CZA Studio AS.
For companies in need of explaining a complicated product or wanting to educate their customers, animated videos are ideal, explains Benedict.
First impression important
According to Mr Hickson first impressions are so important, especially in today’s day and age when everything is happening so fast and the average person’s attention span is growing shorter and shorter. To make a good first and lasting impression, your best tool is an Animation Video.
“Presentations with Power Point even with an inspiring presenter can be boring,” says Benedict. “Animated videos are proven to be the best means of introduction because they quickly capture the attention of your audience, while delivering your message in a fun, engaging and informative way,” he adds.
If you want an in depth report on Animated Videos, Benedict has written a White Paper on Whiteboard Animation which he gives away for free. Just email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask for your free copy.
Photos: Tor Kjolberg
Whiteboard Animation Made in Norway, written by Tor Kjolberg