How'd They Do That? Innovative Animators



In honor of International Animation Day on Oct. 28, we've got four very distinct kinds of animation on the homepage. We caught up with the creatives behind two of these videos to find out the stories behind their techniques.

First up, Arthur Metcalf, who will single-handedly change the way you think about plastic packaging in "Fantasie in Bubblewrap":

"I made a very rough breakdown of scene ideas, then improvised the dialogue at my computer and pitch shifted it up by different octaves for different characters. I cut that into an animatic and my brother Sam and I then shot standard definition DV footage of me popping the bubblewrap. The faces were drawn flat in Flash, speaking and blinking, then tracked and bent onto the faces in After Effects."

Next, Nina Paley, who is responsible for the vibrant "Sita Sings the Blues":

"I designed, colored, and animated "Sita Sings the Blue" mostly using Flash, and edited in Final Cut Pro. I also used After Effects for the barely-animated paintings -- which I painted by hand -- and Synthetik Studio Artist for the colorful explosions at the beginning. The project started on a Mac laptop in 2002, then migrated to a desktop in 2005, when I committed to making it feature length. (It started as a short, "Trial by Fire," which I incorporated into the feature -- it's the part with Hanshaw singing "Mean to Me.") The whole thing took three years of work spread over five years of time, mostly between 2005 and 2008. I designed, colored, and animated everything myself, with the exception of apprentice Jake Friedman who contributed some excellent monkey-on-demon violence during summer 2005. (Jake wanted to learn Flash; I handed him monkey and demon 'puppets,' he practiced with them in Flash, I cleaned 'em up and incorporated them into the "Battle of Lanka" scene.) Of course, I found excellent collaborators for the audio: Greg Sextro was the sound designer and audio engineer, and the voice talent reads like a who's who of New York Desi actors: Sanjiv Jhaveri, Reena Shah, Debargo Sanyal, Aladdin Ullah, Nitya Vidyasagar, and many more. New music was contributed by Todd Michaelsen, Rohan, Masala Dosa, Nik Phelps, and Rudresh Mahanthappa. Just as important has been the dazzling support of the audience, who continue to fund, promote, and distribute the film. The credits at the end are woefully incomplete, since so many more have contributed since they locked."

You can read more about "Sita Sings the Blues" here, from Wired magazine.

Creators Call-Out: American Journeys Videos



The My Journey program* is coming to a close tomorrow, October 24, and we wanted to let all you American videographers know it's not too late to submit your video and potentially win a travel reporting assignment in San Francisco.

Voting will begin on the Lonely Planet channel on November 2, so even if you decide not to make this your weekend project, you can have a say in who gets the prize package.

* My Journey is presented by The T-Mobile® myTouch™ 3G.

Creators Call-Out: Halloween Costume Videos

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In one week, we're planning a homepage spotlight highlighting videos showing how to make cool and creative Halloween costumes and makeup. We'd love to be able to represent a few of you Creator's Corner denizens on our homepage, not to mention the fact it could be a great project to dig into this weekend. If you need inspiration, take a peek at the videos below, then try making your own. Upload it to YouTube by Tuesday, October 20, and tag it with "ythalloweencostume" so we can find it. (And if you're too busy to take part this time, don't worry: the Creator's Corner is the place to get advance notice of opportunities to appear on our homepage, so just add this blog to your RSS reader, follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook group to stay up on those announcements.)

"How To Make a Where the Wild Things Are Halloween Costume" from Howcast:

Corpse Bride Makeup for Halloween from MissChievous:

Skull Mask Makeup Tutorial from petrilude:

DIY Film Distribution: A Case Study

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In this video, the filmmakers behind "Four Eyed Monsters" reveal how they used YouTube, community and the web to erase their credit card debt and get their labor of love into theaters. If you don't have time to watch the whole video (it's 29 minutes long), here are some of the key takeaways:

1. Start simple. Arin Crumley and Susan Buice shot their film from a one-page outline, a crude storyboard, and with small cameras and a small crew.

2. Tell the story behind your story. When they couldn't find a distributor for their film, they decided to do daily video blogs to reinforce their creative talents and build an audience. A result was that people started to feel like they knew the filmmakers firsthand; that, in turn, fueled curiosity about them and their work, and eventually put people in theaters.

3. Involve your audience, part A. The filmmakers actively sought out feedback from their fans via platforms like YouTube and MySpace, and took the advice seriously. It impacted new episodes of the podcasts and the film itself, which they were still editing. In other words, the audience actually shaped the final product.

4. Involve your audience, part B. When determining where to distribute their film, the couple went to regions where they knew they already had fans, thanks to emails and zip codes they had collected from their podcast and other marketing activities. They also created a "heart map" so that people could see the requests for the film to play in their town grow and who was going -- a social network of sorts.

5. Network in the real world, too. Film festivals used to be about getting a film acquired by a distributor or a short into the hands of a talent agent. But Crumley and Buice went to hundreds of festivals around the world and thought strategically about whom they encountered. When they met the guys at Spout, they realized that Spout needed publicity and users. 4EM had those two things, but needed money. It turned out to be a fruitful (and fateful) match.

Webinar on Basic Shooting Techniques: Join Us!


YouTube's Creator's Corner and Videomaker magazine are excited to bring you the first in a series of Webinars that explore the basics of video production and will help you take your videos to the next level. Videomaker offers intensive weekend courses here in Northern California, and they've generously offered to share their knowledge with the global YouTube community for free, as well as take your questions.

The first seminar will focus on "Basic Shooting Techniques" and it's scheduled for October 27, 2009, at 2 p.m. PT / 5 p.m. ET. Click here to register.

Because we want these sessions to be really useful for you, we want you to help us set the agenda. Below is a list of topics the class could cover; leave a comment on this post to tell us which topic(s) you most want to know about. You can also submit and vote on specific questions here. We'll use the results of the poll and the most popular questions as a guide when structuring the Webinar. Again, here are the topics you can vote for:

  • Shopping for a camcorder: Learn what to look for before buying one
  • Button basics: Master the most important buttons on the camcorder and how each of them works
  • Light and filter it right: Creative tips on lights and filters that will improve the look of your videos
  • Microphone techniques: Get the best sound from your mic with the least amount of hassle
  • The art of composition: Simple composition rules to set your video apart from ordinary videos
  • Smooth moves: Handheld camera techniques
Finally, if you've got a strong preference for days of the week or times when you'd most likely be able to tune in to a Webinar, please let us know in the comments below, and we'll take that into consideration when planning future events.


Mia Quagliarello, Community Manager, YouTube, and Jennifer O'Rourke, Managing Editor, Videomaker

Mashable's Complete Guide to Video Blogging


Good overview in Mashable on Friday on Video Blogging. See especially "What Makes a Good Video Blog." Top tips:

1. Be passionate and cover topics you care about

2. Get to the point. You have 10 seconds to hook your viewer in; then keep the story moving

More info here.

How'd They Do That? Berlin Block Tetris


Sergej Hein is a moving image, animation and fine arts student currently studying at the University of East London. His "Berlin Block Tetris" is a fantastic addition to a growing body of homages to the classic video game: there's human Tetris, Tetris on a skateboard at night, Tetris against a building, and now what might be called Soviet-era architecture Tetris. It took Hein two weeks to make this clip -- but just a few minutes to tell us about it:

What gave you the idea to make this video?
The idea is based on a kind of parody about the former socialist building style combined with pop culture. They used to build whole cities where each house was designed identically to create cheap housing for workers. These blocks were so similar that in Soviet times, you could easily wake up at a friends place in another city and still feel like you are in your own flat (there is even a Russian film about it!). Even the furniture was the same. I grew up in such a suburb of Riga, which was part of the Soviet Union at that time. When I moved to East Berlin I was again living in such a "ghetto" as the cool kids used to call them. Walking through that part of Berlin, seeing all these square blocks one day gave me the idea that they actually look like Tetris stones. I thought, "Hmm, why don't you make an animation of that?"

How did you make it?
Basically the animation consists of two parts: the sky time-lapse and the house with the background. I took a photo of the "block" building on the opposite side of the street out of my bedroom window. Then I had to rebuild the scenery in After Effects. To do that, I used Photoshop to cut out the shapes of the Tetris Stones and rebuild it with the 3D function of After Effects. So basically only the building and the Tetrisstones are 3D; all other elements are 2D images taken out of the source photo. The sky time-lapse is made with my DSLR. I took a photo every five seconds over the duration of three hours and compressed it to 1:21 min.

Why do you think people are fascinated with Tetris?
Tetris is a synonym for pop culture like no other computer game, but it was also invented by the genius Russian engineer Alexey Pajitnov in the Soviet Union in 1984. I think it reminds all of us of the beginning of digitalization; computers became faster and started to become a part of our daily lives. I remember getting a Gameboy with Tetris in 1991 and fighting with my brother about who can play first. Seriously, I was highly addicted! Sometimes our parents had to take away the Gameboy, which always ended in tears. My family was living in East Germany at this time which had just joined West Germany. It was the time of change, everybody was excited, keen to find a place in the new system. The German Unity is now almost 20 years ago. Many things have changed but I think that Tetris will always remind people from all over the world of the early '90s.

Tell us a cool fact about this video that no one would know by looking at it.
A friend was living in a flat located in the fourth Tetris Stone. He got shaken up a bit! But luckily his line did not disappear.

Best Day and Time to Upload a Video?



Sequelmaker recently asked for advice on the best day and time to upload a video. While there's no definitive answer, here's what some people advised:

  • Weekends. It's kind of nice to upload late on a Saturday night and go in on Sunday morning and see who has seen the new upload. -- Rickbell7
  • I find that Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are slowest for me. I usually get the most views at around Saturday evening (not night) and most of the day Sunday. -- jawharp1992
  • Monday would not be the best day as people are getting back to work and catching up on stuff that happened over the weekend. -- jeremiahjw
  • From statistics, website counters, etc. it is shown that by far Monday evening is the busiest time at the you want your things to be up a few hours before that happens. -- djmambito
  • The weekend traffic to the site is worth considering...Consider also that YouTube tends to conduct site maintenance on Wednesdays [when] videos are sometimes unavailable for viewing or comment postings may be unavailable. -- AVDJ

What do you think?

Essential Knols: Videomaking Advice, Using WMM

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One of the top contributors in the YouTube Forums, rewboss, has written two helpful Knols that might be of interest to anyone reading this blog.

How to make a decent video, which is chock full of sound advice about equipment you will need to make a video, writing and filming tips, and things to keep in mind in the editing room.

Uploading Windows Movie Maker files to YouTube, which tackles what happens when you try to upload a project file instead of a video file to YouTube. Follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to render your video in WMM, and you may eliminate the frustration of getting an "invalid file format" message or the limbo of endless "processing."

Know of other YouTube users who give great advice? Let us know in the comments below. We're looking to highlight, celebrate and collaborate with all you experts out there.

Creator's Quote: Gonoammo



Recently, this advice from gonoammo turned up in the forum, in response to someone asking how to make a video that had a lot of text in it better. We liked it so much we wanted to make sure you saw it, too:

Welcome to the world of video.
The greatest thing about video is that you can show the world what you want to say.
So show, don't tell.
Telling is left to text alone, sitting on a page, with no face, no voice, no sound.
Showing is what can be done with a video...
This is YouTube, this is a place where you can stand up and be seen and heard, so use those tools wisely, and people will want to see what you have to say."

Post a link to your (un)finished video to the Creator's Corner forum and you might get such sage advice from your peers. One goal of Creator's Corner is to be a comfortable place to get constructive feedback from each other. If anyone has ever helped you make your videos better, shout them out in the comments below!