Make Animated YouTube Videos | Evan (PolyMatter) | Skillshare

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Make Animated YouTube Videos

teacher avatar Evan (PolyMatter)

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Picking a Topic


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Crafting a Story


    • 5.

      Writing a Script


    • 6.

      Designing Graphics


    • 7.

      Using Color


    • 8.

      Creating Shapes


    • 9.



    • 10.

      Putting it All Together


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About This Class

Hi there! I'm Evan, creator of the YouTube channel PolyMatter.

The most frequent question I get is "How do you make your videos?", which is a great question and deserving of a short course. The good news is that no part of the process is incredibly difficult, and I'm here to help you learn the basics, from picking a topic, to research, to animation.

This is intended as an introduction, and by the end of this course, you could have your first video uploaded to YouTube!

  • Please feel free to ask questions, experiment, and let me know if there are topics you'd like covered in more detail. I want this class to be the best it can be, so don't be afraid to offer suggestions.
  • You don't need any paid software to get started. I use apps like Affinity Designer, Bear, and Ulysses, all of which are free, have free trials, or have good free alternatives.
  • The video lessons also have notes I've added with links and comments - you can see them by clicking on them in the video player.

I can't wait to see what you make!

Meet Your Teacher

PolyMatter is a YouTube channel focused on thoughtful content, on anything from business to design. It's written, animated, and made entirely by me, Evan.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome!: Hello there. My name is Evan, and I make animated videos on a YouTube channel called Polly Matter. First off, I don't have any formal education or experience in design or video production, which I actually think is useful in creating this course. I really had no skills when I got started. If you go back and look at my first videos, you can see that really clearly. So I kind of consider myself proof that you can improve quite a bit just by practicing over time. And because I'm going through that process myself. I think I can pretty well understand the challenges from your perspective. The goal of this course is to kind of jump start that process so you can learn in just a few days what took me months and months. I'll walk you through the process of creating an animated YouTube video from start to finish. Of course, we don't have time to cover every single little detail, but if you follow along, you could finish your first video by the time we're done here. Or, if you prefer your welcome to jump around to the specific topics you find most interesting . First will begin with picking a topic, how to find inspiration and what makes a good idea for a video. Next. Research. How I recommended collecting information and taking notes in a way that saves you time. Then we'll explore a too often ignored aspect of the process. Crafting a story, in other words, how to translate your notes into an interesting video that's actually entertaining toe watch, not just a cobbling together of fax after that script, writing in the many ways you can quickly improve your writing once your script is written, will turn to the graphics, including software, creating a color palette and being able to create new complex shapes. Finally, how to animate those graphics in a video editor, where you can add your voice over music sound effects and then upload to YouTube or wherever else in the very last video, I'll walk you through the whole process from start to finish so you can see what it looks like in action. I'll mention specific software along the way because the right APS can save you a lot of time. But I also try to focus on techniques and tips that are useful regardless of what specific tools you decide to use and one final note before we begin. Your first video is especially hard because you know what you want it to look like but don't quite yet have the skills to make it. So if you can just accept that if you expect perfection, you'll never finish the video, never get feedback and therefore never get better. I recommend setting a deadline right now, maybe three weeks or a month from now, and do your best upload whatever you have done, get feedback and then make another video. Pretty soon you'll look back and be amazed at how much better you've gotten just by improving video by video. And with that, let's get started. 2. Picking a Topic: the first step in making a video is deciding what it will be about. You might think coming up with ideas is easy. Executing them is the hard part, but there's a lot more to it than you might think. You just can't force creativity. It's hard to come up with an idea on the spot, and when you do have an idea, you often be so excited in the moment you won't be able to see it objectively. And will you still be interested in the topic for the two or three or four weeks it takes to make the video? It's hard to tell in the moment my best ideas come in the shower or on a walk, but not necessarily at my desk. So my recommendation is to create an ideas list, a notebook or an app where you collect ideas as soon as you have them. I use my phone because I always have it with me. The key is to add any idea that might be worth pursuing. Even if you have your doubts. You can always remove an idea you realize is bad tomorrow, but you can't go back and add something you forget my list is hundreds of items long, some as short as Amazon business model. Others are a couple sentences or more. When you're ready to start work on a video, you can just take a look at this list. If you aren't sure, pick one to research for an hour or so. If it's interesting, great. If not, try another. If you need some inspiration for ideas, I recommend medium sized subreddit like R slash depth of our slash food for thought even r slash. Today I learned blog's like Wait, But why? How Stuff Works and konkey dot org's are also useful. And, of course, podcasts and books. Think of these as starting points. You find something interesting research. It's amore and see where it takes you. But what actually makes a topic good. First of all, it should be somewhere between so obvious it doesn't deserve a video and so complicated it deserves a book. This can be hard because you probably want to make videos about what you already know about , which means you don't really have realistic expectations of how much the average person knows. So ask your friends what they know and use that as a reference point. You also want to make sure you understand what the video is truly about. My debate coach in high school would say, If you can't summarize your argument in 140 character tweets, you don't really understand it yet. Being able to explain something in very simple terms without losing its meaning is a good sign you know enough to actually make a video about it. But just because an idea is good doesn't make it good for video. It needs to be represented visually. If your topic is more abstract trying to find a visual analogy, like a pyramid to show hierarchy or characters to represent ideas. And finally, can the topic be presented in a way that many people would find interesting A while back, I wanted to talk about how companies battled to control the underlying technology of a device, but that sounds pretty boring. So I packaged it into a video about the search engine being and then shifted into the broader point. So be creative about finding a balance between what you're interested in and what other people are again. It takes practice, but this should give you a good start 3. Researching: after you pick a topic, it's time to start researching, even if you already know about the subject. This should be a multi day, possibly multi week process of reading articles. Reddit posts, books, whatever. And you might find 2050 100 different sources along the way, so there's just no way you can remember everything in your head. You need a way to organize what you find. I recommend creating a single document for each video in Google Docks. Word bear whatever text editor you prefer, where you'll organize all of your research and all of your brain storming any time you find an article or book or source of any kind. For this topic, paste. It's euro or title into the document and at least one bullet point below it. Just a quick shorthand note of what was useful. Maybe a quote in general. Take more notes than you think you'll need. You can always ignore the less relevant ones later, and while you're doing this, consider things like when it was written, whether it's supported by a second source and if there are any contradictions among them. When the video is eventually done, you can paste the Urals from this one central document into the video description. So people know where you got your information. No need to go back and try to find sources weeks down the road. And if you really want to be efficient and I recommend it, set up a template document and fill it with sections like these. Brainstorm for your initial thoughts on the topic and what the video might look like. Titles ideas along the way of how you might name the video notes where you collect the research that your l's the titles and the bullet points that we just talked about and an upload check list a list of things to do every time you publish a video, things like Remember to credit the music in the description. Add end cards in YouTube studio, turn on monetization and so on. Whenever you start a new video, you can duplicate this template document, rename it to the name of the video and fill it in. It won't take long before this becomes routine, and it saves you time and energy each time you start working on a video. Plus it keeps you organized 4. Crafting a Story: There are two general types of educational or informative videos that I see on YouTube collections of fax and narratives. The first is quite easy and quick to make, but often not very interesting. It's just a cobbling together of ideas with very little actually connecting them. For example, top 10 vacation spots. If it's just a list, it may not be that interesting, even if the subject matter is a narrative. Video, on the other hand, takes you on a journey. There's a theme there twists and turns and a structure a beginning, middle and end. The same research and fax can be presented either way, but stories are much more interesting. Nobody wants to stop watching a story because they always want to find out what happens next. That's why my videos always have so many words like and but and so every sentence is connected to the next. But in a collection of fax, every moment is a convenient time to click away. You don't feel like you're in the middle of something ongoing and to clarify by story. I don't necessarily mean characters and conflict like a book or a movie. I mean a script with a structure where everything is connected rather than top 10 reasons. Amazon is successful. I told the story of the company and how their strategy has shaped their past, present and future. A good test is to check of a sentence or section of your script can be moved. If so, it might not be a story because of the sentence was really connected to the others around it. It couldn't be moved without becoming confusing. So how do you do this? How do you actually turn your research into a story? Firstly, look over your notes and group them by themes. For example, when I was researching for my video about being, I had a group about its finances, another about its growth and another about why it's an important product, a Microsoft. If a note seems out of place or doesn't fit into a theme, that could be a clue. It doesn't really belong in the video, and as you group them, you'll usually start to see a larger thesis or an angle for the script. For my being video, I realized by looking at the themes that it wouldn't really be about being, it would use this site as a way to talk about the control tech companies have over their users. If you don't see an obvious direction, come up with a few possible angles. Being is important because of the data it collects or being is proof Microsoft no longer understands its customers, then research each one to see what holds up. After that, you have all the notes or points you want to hit in your video, and you have the larger theme. The next step is to create some sort of outline so you know what to include and in what order. If you think visually, you might consider using mind maps. You can definitely use pen and paper, but I use an app called right mapper because it's easy to move things around and color code sections. I start by writing down the themes or sections of the video, then many branches for each point within them, for example, hierarchy of control as a theme for being with some points, like being a successful because it's the default on windows, the power of default programs and so on. Keep doing this until all of your notes are represented as a branch on the diagram, and you already have a handy outline of your whole video. This is the skeleton of the script and makes it so much easier to write because you already know what you're going to talk about and roughly in what order. 5. Writing a Script: because we've already created an outline of the video, whether as a mind map, a text document or something else, we already know what to say in the script and in what order. This next part of the process is about deciding how to say it, the number of sentences per point, the grammar sentence structure, tone or choice, and so on. And this isn't easy. It's a time consuming and sometimes surprisingly frustrating process. I can easily spend 30 minutes or an hour just perfecting one or two sentences, but taking it slow pays off, and you want to make the reading process as comfortable as possible so you won't get bored or frustrated. Find a writing app that really makes sense to you. Google docks, word scrivener or my favorite Ulysses. They all do essentially the same thing, but it's important to find one that's really easy to use that makes you want to write, so you don't just cruise through this step too fast trying to get through it. I like Ulysses for a few reasons. First, its on iPhone, iPad and Mac, so I can write pretty much anywhere any time. It's also much simpler and prettier than an app like ward, so I can focus on the writing itself. And best of all, it gives you estimates of how long a document will take to read out loud. So you know roughly how long the video will ultimately be even pretty early in the process . After you find a suitable app, open up your outline maybe on one side of the screen or on a second monitor and carefully slowly decide how to best translate each bullet point or branch into a sentence or two. The key here is that it's mostly about revision. Your first draft will probably suck, but that's OK, right? A little bit. Take a little break for a few hours or a day and then revise what you have and add some more until the script is finished. The brakes are super important because they give you some distance from your work. You have some time to think about it, and when you come back, you'll probably see them from a different angle. It's not uncommon for my final video toe have no sentences in common with my first draft. That's just how it is. In the beginning, you just need to get something down so you can improve it later on. Here are some things to keep in mind as you're writing. Start by deciding on an overall tone, casual, humorous, serious or something else. Whatever you think fits best and then keep that consistent. You generally want to start your scripts with a hook, a story or question or statistic, or even quote that gets people interested before you really get into the meat of the video . As you're writing and revising, read everything out loud. At least a few times. You'll notice new things, and it will help you improve. If award seems out of place or overused, use a thesaurus. I always have one open as I write and as a rule, try to convey as much information in his few words as possible. It's easy to go on and on about a topic you love, but remember that not everybody wants every detail. Here are three ways of saying roughly the same thing. Each and every year being brings in a massive $5 billion in revenue being it makes $5 billion a year where YouTube and Snapchat barely make a profit. Here's being actually making $5 billion a year. The first has unnecessary words. The second is short and boring. But the third conveys the point, is more entertaining and gives us context about why this fact is significant. Also notice how it's structured less like an essay and more like a conversation. That's not a rule. But I find it usually turns out better when you feel pretty good about the script. Paste it into a site like Graham Early, which checks for any spelling and grammar issues and alert to you of exactly where they are and sometimes how to fix them. If you're like me, you'll never be 100% satisfied with your scripts, but at some point they'll be good enough to start animating. 6. Designing Graphics: before you can animate your graphics, you need to make them. The good news is that you can pretty much get away with using any program which lets you add and edit shapes. There are more advanced programs, like Adobe Illustrator and Affinity, designer free programs like Gimp and Escape. Or believe it or not, you can even make do with a program like Power Point. You'd be surprised by how many big YouTubers started out with something as simple as PowerPoint or keynote. You can create some amazing things with the simplest tools. The app that I use and will be using here in this course is affinity designer. It's similar to illustrator, but as a one time purchase instead of a subscription, and it has some extra features. There's also a free trial available on their website so you can follow along here before deciding to buy. It's a very powerful program, but it only takes a few minutes to understand the very basics. Okay, so after downloading it, I recommend creating a folder on your computer For each video you make inside that two more folders, one for affinity designer documents or you do the actual graphic design for each scene and in the other, the individual image files you'll export from these documents so we can animate them individually. Probably PNG J. Peg or something else. You can very easily have hundreds or even thousands of these files, so you need some system to separate them. And now let's finally open up. Affinity designer. We can choose file new and create a new document, and here we have its options. All we need to do is changed its dimensions to 1920 by 10 80 for YouTube and click OK. On the left are all the tools we have available on the right colors, and layers will go over the buttons on the top later on. For now, let's choose the rectangle tool, click and drag and let go to create a background. If we want to change its color weaken, just double click this circle here at the top, right? The circle in the background lets us choose the stroke color, in other words, the edge. But we don't need that here. For our background, we can see our background rectangle shows as a layer on the right, which we could rearrange when we have more layers and we can rename. But since this is a background, let's click the walk so we don't accidentally move or change it while we're working on the rest of the image. Now we're ready to start designing the rest of the image. We can use these tools to create more rectangles, circles, text and whatever else as you do so consider the following consistency. Decide on an art style and try to stick with it. Maybe you're going for realism or simplicity or just want to animate your script as text on the screen. Anything works, but try to figure something out. Balance. Most of your scenes will only be on screen for a few seconds, so don't overwhelm the viewer with too much information at once. Keep it pretty, simple and well spaced out. Focus. Guide your viewers eyes to the most important parts of the screen by centering it, adding contrast or using arrows. A great way to get started is by searching the Internet for reference photos and trying to recreate them here, an affinity designer. To that end, I've included some downloadable reference documents with this course that you're free to experiment and practice with. Just make sure you use your own when you decide to publish next. Let's talk about color 7. Using Color: one of the most important aspects of graphic design is color. If you aren't careful, poor color choices can ruin an otherwise the design. But if you are careful, it can dramatically improve things. Without much extra effort. I recommend creating a color palette for all of your videos, a small handful of colors that look good together and people will associate with your work . A good place to start is with two or three distinct attention getting colors and a handful of secondary ones, a dark light and some others. What you want to avoid are highly saturated colors like these ones and instead up for lighter colors like these. Unless you already know exactly what you want. Look for inspiration online from a site like Coolers dot Co. Or Color Hunt dot Co. Which have pre made color palettes to choose from. Alternatively, a site like paladin dot com lets you choose one color you like and then have it show you complementary colors. It creates a whole pallet around this one color that you like. Once you find some that you like. Look for the six digit tag with a pound sign that's called the Hex code and it's how the computer understands what specific color you want so you can copy and paste those into your graphic design application. In affinity. Designer, we can create a new palette here on the right and at each color we want to use using that hex code. This way it remembers them, and we can easily apply them in new documents down the road. Be wary of using too many colors at once. It's better to keep it simple with just a few colors at a time. It also looks good to separate distinct colors with a white or black in between them, like you see here. Beyond that, it's mostly just trial and error. Practice some combinations and see how they look. 8. Creating Shapes: one of the most useful skills for making animated videos is being able to add, edit and manipulate shapes. This helicopter, for example, I made just with a combination of circles, rectangles and custom shapes. Once you understand how to do this, you'll be able to make just about anything. So let's open affinity designer. The simplest and easiest way to create shapes is to use the ones that affinity gives us circles and rectangles and what not on the left, where the tools are, we can choose the shape we want and then click and drag to create it. You can add as many shapes as you want, but the real magic happens when you start to combine and manipulate them. Let's say we want to create this simple banner. There's obviously no banner shape, so we need to make it ourselves. But you might notice this banner looks like a rectangle with two triangles cut out of it. Now we can actually create those three shapes and subtract the triangles from the rectangle . Luckily, weaken do just that. We can select multiple shapes and then add combined, subtract or intersect them to create a new one will start by creating the rectangle and then two triangles rotate them like this, and then we'll select each one plus the rectangle and subtract. We've just told the program to take the top objects in this case, the triangle, and remove their shape from the rectangles below. And that's how we get a new custom shape. But sometimes there's no clear combination of shapes, toe, add or subtract to create the new one we want, like the body of this helicopter so we can do it another way. We'll start by adding any shape we want to the canvas, clicking on it and then choosing convert to curves. This lets the program no. We want to edit the points edges and curves ourselves. Now let's switch to the second tool, the white cursor so we can do just that. Now we can see each point. The shape is made, of which we can click and drag to a new location for our helicopter. We actually need more than four points so we can click anywhere on the edge to create a new point, and as we add and move them, we can see the shape start to form after clicking a point. We can also choose one of these options, which lets us add a curve. Weaken dragged the end of their handles to change them however we want. You can also create new shapes by drawing. Just choose the brush tool, set the color and start drawing, and that's basically all there is to it. I recommend pasting in some reference images from the Internet and trying to recreate them with your own shapes for practice. Anything you can imagine from this banner to this helicopter can be created this same way. Just ask yourself what shapes you can add and subtract to make it. It takes some time to master, but it's incredibly useful. 9. Animating: the last step in this whole process is putting everything together into an actual video. This is the part I call animation. You already have the graphics and the audio recorded, and now it's time to put everything together into a video editor. The bad news is this could be a bit tedious. It requires a lot of repetitive tasks, and it isn't particularly quick. I usually listen to an audiobook or podcast while doing it. The good news is that it can be a simple or complex, as you want it to be. You don't need to go overboard with animations to make it look good, just transitioning between scenes and doing basic movements around the screen. It goes a long way. In fact, if you wanted to, you could even use the built in animation features of keynote or PowerPoint and just record your screen as you go through the slide show. But if you feel up for it and I recommend it, use a program like I movie, final cut, pro Adobe premiere or after effects. If you're intimidated by this stage of the process, keep it simple. Use something like I movie, but if you are up for it, go straight for after effects. It's truly the most powerful program for this purpose. There are lots of great aftereffects tutorials out there, but for this course we're going to keep it simple. I'll use the little app called screen Flow. It isn't really made for this purpose, but its simplicity will make it really easy to demonstrate the general techniques. Believe it or not, this is the program I use a lot again. After effects is a better choice, but it isn't necessary. As I'll show here. Animation is more about how you do it than with what software. So for each scene will open up the affinity designer document and select each object we want animated together. For example, we want to make this helicopter fly independent from the clouds, so we'll select each one, the helicopter and then separately, the clouds and then file export. We'll give each a name and put them in the images folder we created earlier. After we've exported every object in this scene, we can switch to our video editor in screen flow or whatever editor you choose will create a new document of size 1920 by 10 80 then we'll go into the media tab up here. Here, we can import all the images we just exported. This box shows a preview of our video, and the sidebar here is for importing files and editing their properties like size, rotation and transparency. The bottom is the timeline. We drag our images and sounds onto it to tell the program when they should be on the screen and for how long. There are multiple levels to add things here on the timeline, because we need more than one image on screen at a time. So we stack them on top of each other on the timeline, according to which ones go on top visually. And of course, you want to use this feature in the bottom left to zoom in and out of the timeline. As you can see, this scene is all set up now. We just need to make everything move. To do that, we use what's called a key frame. This red line is the play head showing where we currently are in the video. You can move it to where you want the animation to be, and then add the key frame in screen flow. You can do this by neither clicking action at video action or use the keyboard shortcut. Command K. A key frame is basically just a transition between two points and time so you can set the properties like size, location or rotation at the beginning. Change them at the end, and the editor will create a smooth animation between them. That's essentially all there is to it, creating a before and an after each with their own settings. The editor will take care of the transitioning between the two states, and that's what makes the smooth looking animation. We want this helicopter to fly in from the side, so we'll move our play head to before the key frame and drag our helicopter off the screen , since that's where it should start before the animation happens. Now we can switch from the media tab to the Properties tab so we can change its rotation to Then we'll move to the end of the key frame and move the helicopter again where we want it to end up. Now we can watch it fly and change how smooth the animation is by right clicking on the key frame. Maybe We want a transition after this scene. So let's add our background to the timeline and add a key frame to it. If we wanted to just grow until it covers the whole screen, we can go to the beginning of the key frame and set its initial size to 0%. Finally, we can add our voice over music and sound effects to the timeline the same way as we would images. Repeat this for each scene and you have a video when you're done, you can export the whole video as whatever file you wish and uploaded straight to YouTube in the next, and final video will wrap everything up with a complete walk through from start to finish and a summary of what we've learned. 10. Putting it All Together: We've covered a lot of different topics in this course, so I think it be useful toe walk through the process again as we conclude. We don't have time to create an entire video, of course, but will create a small section of a video as an example. So we start by picking a topic, which is hard to do on demand. So I recommended collecting ideas as you have them in a notebook or an app that you can draw from later for this demonstration will choose my grand theory of Amazon video. Next up is research spending a few days or weeks searching for everything we confined on the topic. As you find useful sources, add their your l's or titles to the central document, along with a few brief notes about it. And now that we have notes, we can turn them into a real narrative. I grouped are notes into three themes of Amazon's philosophy. Its scale, focus on customers and long term thinking, each with many notes and sources. We can turn this into a physical or digital mind, map or outline plan each point. We want to convey an ad, things like a hook at the beginning and transitions between themes. This makes the script writing much, much easier. We now just need to decide how we want to write what's already on our outline, considering things like rhythm and tone with each draft, well on a bit more and revise what we already have until the script is complete, and especially towards the end, we want to be condensing our script to convey as much information in his few words as possible. After that, designing graphics, let's do it for the sentence Amazon is. Even investing in pharmaceuticals and education will create a new document in our graphic design app and decide how we want to visually represent this part of the script. Let's divider seen into two sides, one to represent pharmaceuticals and the other for education will create two equal sized rectangles for the background, set their color and lock them in place on the left side. Let's create a pill bottle with the hope of a reference photo, for the bottle itself will just use a bunch of rounded rectangles for the po shapes will create a fully rounded rectangle and then cover half with another rectangle. This way we can create a new shape composed of the overlap between them will copy this new shape and then undo that action so we can get our pill back to review that we created a new shape based on the overlap between the two shapes that would created. That's gonna be the left side of the pill, and we have that in our clipboard. So now we can delete that rectangle and paste in that shape from our clipboard, which is the other side of the pill now for education. Let's create a circle and then converted to curves so we can customize it. Now let's edit the points to make it look more like an apple. And now we've got our first scene. Let's select an export each object we want to animate, including the backgrounds which will import into our video editor. I'll also import my voiceover recording and some music, and lastly will drag each image and sound onto the timeline where we want it and add key frames for the backgrounds will have them fade in by changing the opacity at the beginning , for the objects will change their starting size to zero, so they sort of zoom into the screen and there you go, move our play head to the beginning, hit play and we can see what we've made. That's pretty cool, right? Nothing is individually that complicated. It's just kind of about practicing each step. And as we wrap up this course, here are a few things to keep in mind. First, this is all a process. Know that it takes some time to really get good. Second feedback is incredibly important. It's easy to make the same mistakes over and over again and wonder why you aren't getting views. So if you aren't sure how to improve, ask people who will give you honest feedback. You could even post your video here on this course, or just ask your friends. And third, there are many ways to do everything I've discussed in this course. I've presented the general way. I do things, but you can and should experiment. In fact, it's important that you develop your own style. This is all meant to be a starting place. Finally, thank you for taking this course, and I sincerely hope it was valuable. If you use any of these techniques, you'll be light years ahead of where I started. Good luck to you, and I can't wait to see what you make