A New Species: Video Infographics

Let’s be honest, we can easily get bored reading too much text.  And it can be difficult to follow lots of numbers and statistics. To overcome this, we can use illustrations, flowcharts and graphs to make information visually appealing and easier to understand. This is the original appeal of infographics despite their frequent abuse.


Infographics are graphical representations of data and information.  No matter what data they represent, at their core, they are still stories.  Sadly, the stereotypical infographic often consists of long lists of incomprehensible text (!), numerous graphs and over-elaborate flowcharts - all of which could easily be transformed into a moving tale that captures the imagination.  With the right ingredients in place and a design “wizard” in charge, infographics can be reinvigorated as video - turning a now tired and ineffective medium into an effective communication tool, capable of conveying a concrete message.



VISA is a great example of using video to tell a story to a specific audience and they were certainly smart to jump on the London 2012 bandwagon. Taking their former infographic, they produced the video above for the VISA London Economic Outlook from VISA Europe showing a summary of the Olympics impact report.

Your immediate response may be to reject the idea of speaking with video rather than visual. Why would you need to turn your infographics into videos? Why do you need to spend more time and more money to turn something that's already working into something else? But, are you sure your infographics in their current state are working as well as they could? By turning your infographics into videos you could:

  1. Transform a non-working media piece to an effective one.
  2. Repurpose information to generate more links and social activity
  3. Tell a clearer, more direct story.

They say an image is worth of a thousand words; a moving image has 25 pictures per second, you do the maths!

It’s not a question of better; it’s a question of different - and who wouldn’t want to be able to build two products from the same ingredients?!

Of course, there are times where it’s simply not possible to turn all the information that a static infographic holds into video. Sometimes what works well on paper or on a static frame does not translate equally well onto a moving screen. The whole idea of video infographics is not to replace the static infographic medium, but to be used as an additional tool to reach places the static one cannot go.  If it looks like a lot of extra work to turn your entire infographic into motion, you could consider just animating only one section of it. Try to choose the one which is the most difficult to comprehend, the one you think (due to its complicated context) is more likely to turn viewers off. Or, why not try to use video as a compliment to your infographic. Make them work together!



Here is an infographic animation created by Rufus Blacklock of his info-graphic Evolution of the F1 Car.

Designers are often animators, and animators once started as designers; they come from the same family. They've probably studied in the same colleges, more than likely have the same interests, and most definitely speak the same language. Most of them, if not all, use the same software; or software that can speak and work with each other. Adobe’s Creative Suite with its vast collection of applications, covers pretty much all the content creation bases.



The Marketer’s Guide to Pintrest info-graphic video from MDG Advertising illustrates this hot new trend with this video that builds on their static info-graphic Pin It To Win It!



 A cool info-graphic from Earth-Touch.com, Rhinos By The Numbers tells a good story about the plight of rhinos and their struggle against poachers in Africa.

On a practical note:

Adobe AfterEffects is probably one of the easiest software packages to use to create a video infographic. As the majority of illustrators and designers are using the Adobe Suite, you will have no problem getting their assets into the software.

There are lots of editing and compositing software that can turn your static assets into video.  I'm choosing After Effects because:

  1. It works equally well on both Mac and PC,
  2. It’s part of the Adobe Creative Suite, which is used by the majority of creatives
  3. It’s a platform of both simple and sophisticated tools.

AfterEffects let you deliver visual effects and motion graphics at an incredible speed. It works with layers either in two dimensions (x, y) or three dimensions (x, y, z), the same way that Photoshop and Illustrator do. Open your design files and save each individual layer separately, labelling them with sequential numbers that later can be used as a guide when recreating them in After Effects.

The standard dimensions for video are either 1920 x 1080 or 1280 x 720. As the Internet can now hold full HD videos I would recommend you to work on the 1920 x 1080 platform. Design files often vary in sizes.  You can import your files directly into After Effects and re-adjust them inside the software.  However, if you work with many layers that each need to be a different size to create depth illusions, it’s a better idea to open a Photoshop or Illustrator file, place all your elements in their exact position and size and then save them again as individual layers.

While in AfterEffects, it’s a good idea to place your layers in order of appearance, that way you keep everything tidy and easy to navigate. After you've decided how things will appear on screen, you're ready to start animating. You can use the transformation tools, to adjust scale, position, rotate and adjust the transparency of your elements. There is also a library that includes a variety of stock affects you can use to enhance your animation. AfterEffects give you the ability to dismantle all stock effects and create something totally different. Rhythm and pace is always crucial to animation.  Try to find a track with a nice tempo and cut your video to the music. Dynamic cuts always bring energy and sparkle to your video. 

There are hundreds of tutorials online that can introduce you to the basic concepts of working with AfterEffects and hundreds more to show you the complexities and sophistication available within the software. For a great solid start, you can begin with the Adobe guide that goes through everything you need to know before you start working with AfterEffects.

We're are also about to launch the downloadable Distilled Guide to Online Video Marketing. Sign up now to get access to this resource as soon as it launches on the Distilled Training page and start successfully integrating video into your marketing plan. 



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