A tool we seriously considered using to produce our explanation video was Xtranormal. This free tool allows you to generate a two minute video in a few minutes by selecting a backdrop and choosing from a list of 3 dimensional, rendered characters to read your script. A speech-synthesised voice is used to read your words and gestures can be added to emphasise or punctuate your characters’ conversation.
The basic, free service offers a selection of around twenty example sets with a choice of characters to play your roles. Premium services are provided which offer more choice and control over the look and behaviour of your actors.

Although, I think it is an excellent idea in principle, the videos produced using Xtranormal have a tendency to have the same distinctive look which makes it difficult to differentiate your service with your own style. And whilst being technically impressive, the speech-synthesised voice of the actors is very robotic and lacks emotion. Forget about incorporating jokes into your dialogue – the character’s sense of comedic timing is non-existent!

It is worth considering this tool if you have a low budget and a simple message to communicate but for complex concepts, that are better conveyed using diagrams or illustrations a whiteboard scribing style may be a better option. If you do choose to use Xtranormal I’d suggest using humans to voice your script, rather than the built-in voices. This will give you a a unique, living dialogue that is interesting and engaging to listen to.

Here’s a lighthearted example of a video created with Xtranormal:

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