VideoScribe Test Drive

Many of you are probably familiar with VideoScribe – a popular whiteboard animation software developed and published by Sparkol. Since I am a big fan of this type of animation, I decided to create an instructional video using VideoScribe. I created my digital story using a free license of VideoScribe offered to UBC students (special thanks to my UBC MET colleagues who showed me that there was a UBC students’ license for free.) The digital story is available at the link below:

Since my course is entitled The Essentials of Storytelling it was easy to find a story that I could use, but it difficult to create a digital story that was not simply a lecture on the topic of storytelling structure. Finding the appropriate balance between telling a story while also meeting instructional objectives required some thinking. I decided to use one of the models of storytelling structure – the Monomyth to tell the story of Epic of Gilgamesh (required reading for the course) and also analyze its structure. The first quarter of my digital story introduces the Monomyth structure (which is also required reading for the instructional unit.) The first quarter then, serves the purpose of elaborating on the reading and also demonstrating how to apply the Monomyth structure. This section of the story provides context and introduces the topic. The next two quarters are the story itself, i.e. The Epic of Gilgamesh and a brief analysis of the structure. The last quarter provides the students examples and engages them in an analysis of some familiar stories. My intention with this structure was to tie in the digital story to the required reading for the course and also introduce questions for further consideration, as well as some topics for discussion.

Overall, bookending the digital story with an introduction/context setting and wrap-up sections works well for embedding it in the course because it is now a standalone resource that references some of the other material. The examples mentioned in the digital story are intended to spur further discussion and independent work from students.

This is the first time I have worked with VideoScribe and overall it was an extremely positive experience. A few notable considerations are:

  • Since I am a member of a few microstock agencies (e.g. deposit photos) I was able to obtain licenses for images at low cost along with the VideoScribe stock images and Wikimedia commons. Otherwise, finding images would have been a more time consuming task. If you are going to do a project in VideoScribe, step one should be to evaluate the stock images in VideoScribe and make an estimate of the time and cost required for acquiring images.
  • I created one ten and a half minute scribe. The visuals were fun and easy to put together, however the audio was not. Recording one ten minute voiceover took me an entire day and I was still not entirely satisfied with the end result. In retrospect, I should have created four 2-3 minute scribes and assembled them in a video editing suite such as Final Cut Pro. This would have made the task of recording the voice over much easier. Also, VideoScribe has a collection of stock music soundtracks, but I didn’t find any of them useable.
  • Always allow time for rendering and uploading to youtube. My ten minute scribe took three hours to render, upload to youtube and publish.

Other options for creating this style of video are Powtoon, RawShorts and Moovly.


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