What We Do:

We can help you become an explanation specialist.

Common Craft Membership

Start your life as an explainer with Common Craft Membership. Prices start at just $49 per year. It provides:

Cut-Outs:

Make your presentation or video remarkable with 800+ digital images in Common Craft Style, plus Know-How resources for using them.

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Ready-made Videos:

Educate others with 50+ ready-made video explanations that you can embed on your website or download for offline use.

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We Wrote the Book on Explanation

The Art of Explanation

A book by Lee LeFever

The Art of Explanation will help you become an explainer.

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Need a Video for Your Product?

The Explainer Network

Our network of custom video producers can create short, animated videos that make your product or service easier to understand.

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The Common Craft Blog

This blog is where we announce new videos & talk about the power of explanation & the change it can create. 

A Common Craft Cut-Out is Born!

Posted by: leelefever on January 27, 2014- 11:00am

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Categories: Cut-Outs, library, presentation, visuals

I never expected drawing to be a part of my career. Actually, that’s true for a lot of what Common Craft does. I never planned to be a video producer, voice actor, hand model or animator either. But I’m so thankful to have the opportunity. 
 
Perhaps my favorite part of the Common Craft process is creating visuals. We call them Common Craft Style “Cut-outs”, as many of them end up as cut-out pieces of paper on our whiteboard. The Cut-outs are becoming a big part of our future.
 
Common Craft Cut-outs

A New Kind of Problem

A couple of years ago we saw an opportunity. We talked to many people who all had the same problem. They said:
 
“I’ve got the script and I’m ready to make a video/presentation, etc. but I don’t know how to create the visuals.
 
It’s a big problem. The world is becoming more visual. From PowerPoints to infographics to videos, there is an increasing focus on the use of compelling visuals. But for most busy professionals, there aren’t great options. You can find volumes of clip-art and stock photography online, but most are unusable. Creating visuals by hand is too time consuming. 

Will Cut-outs Help? 

We've been creating visuals for years and recently started offering over 1000 Cut-outs with Common Craft membership. It has become a big part of our business and more than ever, we see opportunities in providing professionals with Common Craft Style visuals for any kind of project.  The idea is to provide enough Cut-outs for an entire project to have visual and stylistic consistency - like a Common Craft video.  In this, we're just getting started.

Here’s how a Cut-out comes to life…

This visual is for a presentation on the Art of Explanation. In it, I make a point about all the forces that we have to overcome to be better explainers. I imagine this as walking into a headwind. I needed a Cut-out of a person doing just that for the slide.
 
It starts with a basic sketch of a person. 
Cut-Out Walking
 
Once I feel good about the basic outline - the tilt of the body, positions of arms and legs, I refine the shape.
 
Cut-Out Walking Clean
 
With the shape in place, I apply clothes and color. 
 
Cut-out color
 
While I’m doing it, I go ahead and create a female version.
 
Cut-out
 
Then I combine it with other Cut-outs to create a scene.  Walking into the wind:
 
Walking into the wind
 
I'll be talking more about Cut-outs soon!  You can find our current library here.
 

The Perils of Explaining Politics

Posted by: leelefever on January 16, 2014- 9:56am

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Categories: buzzfeed, explainer, pizza, politics, video

In the US, it's painfully obvious that political debates have become more distinctly partisan in recent years. Nearly every event or message can be seen as favoring one side over the other. This represents a real challenge for journalists and there is a lot of debate about the role of balance in the news. 

It's no different for explainers. If we want to increase understanding for everyone, we must present information in a form that avoids political persuasion. This means taking partisanship out of the equation and finding ways to explain ideas that focus not on politics, but meaning. Only by doing this can an idea teach its full potential.

This was our challenge with the video on Electing a US President. We spent a lot of time making sure that our colors, words and visuals did not appear to favor one side. That's why we chose to represent the process with three parties appearing as circles, triangles and squares.  

Buzzfeed recently published a short video that uses a similar approach. It's about redistricting in US states and how different states approach the process. For visuals, they use pizza. Check it out: 

Reading in email? Watch it here.

We just released a new video that explains Digital Literacy in about 3 minutes. It was the most requested title by Common Craft members. 

 
About the video: Literacy comes in many forms. As the adoption of computers, mobile devices and the Internet has grown, digital literacy has become more important than ever. This video will help your audience understand the potential of digital literacy in our societies.  
It teaches:
  • Why literacy matters
  • The basic ideas of digital literacy
  • Why digital literacy is becoming a requirement 
  • How digital literacy impacts all parts of life
  • The potential of working towards digital literacy in societies
We’re quite fond of this video, partly because we are such big believers in the power of digital literacy. In fact, a big goal of our work is to increase digital literacy by explaining technology in an understandable way.
 
More From The Common Craft Blog
 

Lessons on Visualizing Complex Ideas

Posted by: leelefever on December 18, 2013- 12:50pm

Comments

Categories: animation, Art of Explanation, production, teded, video, visualization

A good primer by Ted-Ed on the process of turning a complex idea into visuals that can be used in an animated explainer video.  

Reading in email? Watch the video here. 

While the major points are great, I think it leaves out the creativity and complexity involved in producing the visuals themselves. It's a huge barrier for DIY video creators because it often requires expensive programs and extensive know-how. That's why we're fans (and partners) of GoAnimate, which provides tons of ready-made visuals and simple tools for animating them, including Common Craft Cut-outs.