In 2008, we took on the challenge of explaining the Electoral College in a way that was apolitical and easy to understand.
To be effective, it had to be timeless and use visuals to make the process clear. Today, twelve years later, the video remains one of our favorites and continues to earn attention. The only change we've made is to update the years we show at the beginning of the video.
This time of year, politics is everywhere, and so is confusion. Electing the US president is a complex subject with lots of moving parts.
That’s why we chose to explain it with a simple, non-biased video that uses visuals to make it understandable. It’s one of my favorite videos in our library and I hope it will be helpful to you and people you know. Please feel free to share it.
We orginally published this video on July 30th, but it all comes together in real life tomororw on Election Day. If you have any questions on exactly how Americans elect a new president, this video will help.
As an interesting side note, Election Day will be the day that this video surpasses "RSS in Plain English" as The Common Craft Show's most viewed video on You Tube. The Google Docs video doesn't count as it's owned by Google and not a part of the Show.
People often ask for a look at how we make the videos. When we were putting together the the "Electing a US President" video, I made a special point to take photos of the process. Here's how it works:
Every video starts with a script. If there is "secret sauce" it happens in writing the script because the script drives the video. We use Google Docs to collaborate until we feel like the script is close to finished. Then, we start looking at a thumbnail storyboard.
I draw the scenes for the thumbnail storyboard. It's our first attempt to represent the visuals.
After a couple of rounds of thumbnails and lots of talking between us, we make a list of all the elements that need to be drawn for the video. At this point, I start drawing and digitizing the images. Of course, with the maps in this video, I resorted to tracing.
Once the images are drawn and digitized, we set up a new storyboard using purely digital images. This way, we can manipulate sizes easily and see how everything fits together. Once we feel confident, we print out the materials and start cutting and coloring.
Sometimes, we leave things laying around and our dog decides to put them in his mouth.
Before shooting the video, we assemble all the materials and take them to the studio. We iterate at every point in the process. The script and visuals change every day.
Once production begins, we follow the storyboard and slowly lay out each scene. Often, scenes are revised on the fly. You can never really see how it will work until you see it on the screen.
Each video is different. Sometimes we go down a road, only to find a dead end. We are both prepared to throw away our work and start over if it doesn't feel right. It's painful, but necessary.
Sachi takes over control once we get to the studio. She runs each scene, the camera, lights, etc. She manages the voice-over and all the post production work. Editing is a huge part of what makes the videos work and those decisions are Sachi's. While she's doing that, I start this process over for the next video.
I'm not sure how this happened, but there is an error in the original version of the "Electing a US President" video. The original version says that there are 3 congressional districts in Kansas. As we discovered today, via a nice email from Gerry Deman of Kansas, there are actually 4 districts.
Here's what we're doing about it:
We have created a new, corrected version of the video. It's embedded below and we have replaced the video on the original blog entry (and embed code) with this new version. We've also replaced the downloadable versions in the Store and other places where it is shared.
Unfortunately, this means that two versions will exist on YouTube, because it's impossible to replace a video. By deleting the original version, we break the connections to the You Tube players on blogs that embedded it. If you embedded the original version, please do replace the video with this new version.
It's a good thing that folks like you keep us in check so we can limit the potential confusion. We'll count better next time, I promise.