Whiteboard animation was first popularized by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), a British non-profit dedicated to promoting enlightened thinking. Starting in late 2009, they started producing a series of videos that carried the soundtrack of a thinker expounding on a theory or concept. What attracted attention, however, was the way these talks were supported visually: a stop-motion camera captured an artist illustrating the speaker’s words. These clips proved to enormously popular on YouTube, with one video in particular, a talk by Dan Pink, receiving more than seven million views.
Since its conception, many businesses have been attracted to this technique, also known as RSA-style, video scribing, fast draw, or sketchboard animation. The reason isn’t hard to figure: watching an illustration materialize as it is created is a hypnotizing experience and a hard-to-beat way of (literally) drawing out a concept.
A common way of producing these whiteboard videos is with the artist drawing them first, then shooting the hand erasing the line — rather than drawing it — with a marker. The footage is then run backwards to give the appearance of the art being drawn perfectly the first time through. At IdeaRocket, we don’t actually use a stop-motion camera for this purpose. Instead, we create the sketch digitally, which allows the client to order refinements at any time in the process. We have developed a proprietary technique that allows us to capture the creation of the drawing. Finally, we place a green-screened hand over the art in order to make it appear like the hand is making the drawing. This process is not only more convenient, but also allows us to add animation to spice up the final effect.
When the TV show Weeds was looking for an animation studio to provide a show-open in the Whiteboard or RSA-style for their eighth and last season, they considered their options and chose IdeaRocket to create the title sequence. This piece was nominated for Best Title Design at the SXSW Film Festival. You can check it out, along with other examples, in our whiteboard video portfolio below. To see samples in other techniques, check out our general portfolio here.