Time is of the essence, I need something and I need it now.
So one option is to cheat and use a template. There are more and more resources available to use as the basis for your explainer video. Since a good explainer follows a particular model and is made up of a number of components it's safe to assume you could bottle that process, apply a theme and just change the content.
Yes and no.
It's always going to be a compromise. So much of what makes a great explainer is about the personality and the narrative, it's not always possible to take some pre-existing template and have it instil the same message you would get from a custom made fully owned video.
But, you can get something done quick and inexpensively and that's in and of itself, part of the challenge. So here's what I did.
I really like the Envato marketplaces and a particular favourite is the VideoHive site. Predominantly, these are Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4d templates with some stock footage and motion graphics resources.
There seems to have been a surge in explainer type templates, so worth checking out what's available., but also great for logo stings, openers, video slideshows and lots of others things.
I found a template which fit my style - bright, colourful, clear text placeholders, optional use of screencasts and I also liked the default music which I had to buy separately via AudioJungle.
Here's the video I chose http://videohive.net/item/explainer-promo/2512991 and here's the result.
The key to these templates is that they need to be put together properly and this one was, so it's easy to dig in and change the easy things like colours, logos, text.
I wanted to customise mine bit further, so I tweaked the timing to kind of fit the voiceover, added additional compositions and effects. This is where hacking away at a pre-existing template starts to get messy - because it flies in the face of best practise.
1. You're trying to fit the voiceover to the video until that sounds too false, so then reverse engineering the video to fit the butchered audio... and so on...
2. Depending on how the originator structured the compositions, applied effects and used the original assets, it's difficult to manage since you didn't create it, so your knowledge of where everything is maybe counter intuitive.
So, if you're going to use a template, my advice is spend time finding one that's as close as dammit to what you want and avoid over customising. Any customising you do, make sure it's key to what you're trying to get across or because you're having fun practising playing with someone elses project.
Take that understanding and move on to perfecting your own process and make the video of your dreams from scratch, which is what I'm now doing but safe in the knowledge I have a half decent fall back in the meantime which cost me £20 and half a day of buggering about with it (and a lot longer rendering it).