Effective explainer videos rely on well-crafted visual concepts. A good visual concept aids the viewer in digesting the information presented in the video.
In this post, I'd like to discuss a particular type of visual concept, which I call a ‘stage’.
A stage is a setting that is used repeatedly in an explainer video. For some videos, the stage is the only setting in the video.
Setting familiarity is one benefit of a stage. Once established in a video, a well constructed stage provides a setting that the viewer becomes familiar with. Once the viewer is familiar with the stage, he can more easily grasp concepts because he has already processed most of the visuals he is looking at.
Use of a stage can have benefits that go well beyond setting familiarity. A well-constructed stage will be capable of easily and effectively demonstrating the technical particulars of a company’s offering. Below, I’ll make use of two videos I produced, to show you exactly what I mean by a video stage, as well as how each stage was constructed to meet the specific requirements of a video.


Example 1: Visibility Workflow

Visibility Workflow offers a hybrid service-product for auto dealerships. Visibility provides software to manage the process of resale auto reconditioning and they also provide managers to run the software and the entire reconditioning process. In addition, Visibility can provide their auto dealership clients with access to local labour pools.
In developing Visibility’s visual concept, we were looking to create something that met the following criteria:
  • The action needed to take place in a setting that looked like an auto garage.
  • We needed to depict the idea of software controlling the workflow involved in reconditioning cars.
  • We wanted to demonstrate the process of adding additional workers to the workflow.
  • We wanted to represent Visibility Workflow research and development, as well as Visibility Workflow’s provision of workflow managers, to the dealership.
Our solution was the modular, dealership auto garage stage shown here:
In Visibility’s stage, the garage modules sit on a large surface that resembles a circuit board or computer motherboard. We used light blue lines that resembled embedded wires to represent the idea that all processes are connected and controlled by Visibility software. 
As depicted here, we represented Visibility’s office using a module that also sits on the motherboard.
Visibility’s stage represents a hybrid concrete-abstract stage. I refer to it as a concrete-abstract hybrid because it uses real life components: cars, workers, and parts of a dealership; however, the dealership parts are depicted on a motherboard in a manner that does not resemble real life.
Visibility’s concrete-abstract hybrid stage allowed us to delve into just enough technical detail to demonstrate Visibility’s capabilities, and it allowed us to do this in a context that resembled the real world of dealership auto reconditioning.
Example 2: Wikirate.org
Wikirate.org is an organization that provides an open platform that allows people to collaborate in the production of information about corporate impacts.
In developing Wikirate’s visual concept, we were looking to create something that met the following criteria:
We needed:
  • to represent the idea of a corporation.
  • to show collaborators doing research on corporate activity.
  • to assign scores on various topics (e.g., healthy workplace) to each corporation.
  • to show collaborators posing questions about corporations and finding answers to these questions.
  • to show collaborators entering data about corporations into a device connected to wikirate.org
  • to show corporations being responsive to low scores.
Our solution was the corporation matrix stage shown below:
Like Visibility Workflow’s stage, Wikirate’s stage is also a hybrid concrete-abstract stage- corporations are represented by small stores; collaborators look into a corporation’s operations by peering into the window of the stores and corporate impact ratings are represented by abacus-style counters.
The above image is taken from the end of the video, and gives us a bird’s eye view of the stage, but, the video begins by showing only three corporation “stores”.
A collaborator peering into a corporation window:
A corporate impact rating:
A collaborator entering info about a corporation using a tablet computer connected to wikirate.org:
A corporation cleaning up hazardous waste, to make its working environment safer for employees:

Use of Video Stages to Explain Complex Offerings

01 August 2021