Scenes from a Common Craft Video Shoot

People often wonder what it looks like to make a Common Craft video. So, every once in a while, we take photos as we're making a video. This video shoot is for a forthcoming title that's under wraps, but will come out within a month or two.

To acheive the light we want, we work with four really bright halogen lights. They're so bright that I wear sunglasses when recording - it feels like I get a bit of a tan each shoot. This is Sachi getting things set up.

Prior to shooting, we go through a phase we call "cut and color".  Basically we get all the visuals together, color them and then cut them out.  Most videos have over 100 of pieces of paper.  We try to stay organized by segregating the small pieces from everything else.

Learning to shoot the videos has been a constant experiment over the years. These days we can keep the materials in chronological order if we're careful during the cut and color process.  If it works, we can lay out the paper in little stacks for each scene and then shoot them in order. We're all about finding little efficiencies. And - I never would have guessed that I'd be so proficient with scissors.

A while back, we realized that attaching a monitor to the camera is important for seeing the layout of each scene. This is Sachi's station.

Recently we discovered something that has come be known at "the innovation."  Basically, we learned that we can write on the monitor screen with dry erase markers. This was a revelation. It meant that we could mark the exact position of images to create consistency in the stop-motion process.  When we needed to animate something across the screen, we could draw a line on the screen and follow it. It made our production lives easier.

Lastly I'd say we've changed our shooting schedule. We used to put our heads down and push through a 4-5 hour shoot. These days, we break up the work into 2-3 session over 1-2 days. As a plus, the shorter sessions create a smoother, more consistent tan. Seriously though, it's so much more manageable and made us ask why would we do it the other way?  At the end of the day, that's what doing something new is all about - always solving new problems.