I’ve been working on some video tests with the iPhone and I needed to mount it on tripod for some steadier shots. Some folks in the office had good things to say about the Glif from Studio Neat, but the only one we had lying around didn’t fit my phone and sat kinda goofy on our tripod plate. So, I did something I wouldn’t have imagined possible a few years ago. I printed a new one.Continued…
Adrian came by the 37signals office a few weeks ago to give a talk about his latest project, Soundslice.
Check it out over here and if you dig it, show Adrian some love and leave him a tip.
We’ve been working on putting together some feature introductions and I thought I’d share what goes into making one.
I like to start off without a script and just start recording some screen capture with voiceover. This is edited together into a rough version of what the story will eventually be.
Feedback: The design on the blackboard can be more clear. It also takes too long to get into why someone would use this.
Here is the third rough cut. I’ve re-shot the blackboard with a cleaner design and swapped the live-action example with the explanation of the feature.
Feedback: This still feels too rushed. I think we are trying to solve two very different problems in such a short time. This can be a simple introduction to the feature without having to show exactly how it works. We can also cut a lot out of the live action scene. We don’t need to show people how to send an email.
In the fourth rough cut I’ve re-recorded the voiceover into a shorter explanation of the feature, chopped off the end of the live-action bit and added a title card.
Feedback: The transition between the example and explanation is too abrupt. Some of the mouse clicks are unclear, maybe there is a way to highlight those.
Rough cut number 5 has a second title card in the middle of the piece to help the transition and both cards have been re-worked by one of our designers. I’ve added some simple camera moves to highlight the important bits and make the video more interesting. I also added one of our bumpers at the end to wrap it all up. Again, I recorded a new voiceover track for this version though I think I sound a bit grumpy.
Feedback: This is getting very close. Can we fix the fish-eye effect on the blackboard scene? Also, I don’t much care for banjo.
Now that we’re in a pretty solid place for this video it was time to really polish it up. I re-did the camera moves in After Effects, re-worded one of the titles, recorded a much friendlier voiceover and re-shot the live-action scene with a better camera and some fancy focus pulling by Jason Fried. I also, of course, took out the banjo music.
It’s easy to dismiss the value of multiple iterations in a project like this. It took 8 cuts to get this simple screencast to a place we liked. A lot less went into the production of this than some of my other videos, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have as much to accomplish. A great man once said “Size matters not.” Don’t think about projects in terms of size and scope. As long as the the goal is reached it doesn’t much matter how you get there.
We have customers around the world doing extraordinary things with our software, but Ben Saunders is taking it to a whole new level.
Ben and his team are using Basecamp to organize an expedition to the South Pole and back, unsupported and on foot. This is the same journey Captain Robert Scott died trying to achieve 100 years ago, and no one has attempted it since.
Ben has been a professional polar explorer for more than 10 years and is one of only three people to complete a solo journey to the North Pole. He will be joined by Alastair Humphreys, who has cycled 46,000 miles around the world, and renowned nature photographer Martin Hartley.
Special thanks to Temujin Doran for letting us use his amazing arctic footage.
In February I got a chance to chat with Paul Budnitz, founder of Budnitz Bicycles.
“I design and create beautiful things and then create businesses to sell them,” Paul says. He’s been a professional photographer, shot films, owned a company modifying vintage clothing, turned making handmade microphones out of a garage into a multi-million dollar business — the list goes on.
“I started out in eighth grade selling fireworks to all my friends in school and we actually programmed all our orders on the mainframe computers at the University of California, which at that time they were teletype computers. And we didn’t really know that those computers were controlled by the Department of Defense. So I eventually got arrested and suspended. That was my first business.”
In 2002 Paul founded Kidrobot, which makes limited-edition art toys. “I like to make immaculate products,” Paul says, “and if I run the business myself I get to do it my way.” Kidrobot uses Basecamp to communicate with suppliers and distributers over four continents with hundreds of active projects.
Budnitz Bicycles, Paul’s latest endeavor, uses the new Basecamp to work with manufacturers and suppliers around the globe. The bikes are gorgeous! Paul let me take one for a spin and it was honestly the most comfortable ride I’ve ever had.
Also, if you missed the profile we did on Happy Cog you can find it over here.
I suppose this is my first SvN post, so by way of an introduction I thought I’d share a bit about creating the animated 37signals logo.
When I first came on as “the video guy,” I wanted to think about how to brand 37signals’ wide variety of content with an interesting and unifying bumper. We hadn’t had to deal much with incorporating our logo into video, so it was time we gave it a bit of motion.
37signals is all about building things—from building a business to building software. I wanted the logo to “build” itself to reveal the design.
I actually landed on the basic animation that would become the final product early on, but kept trying more and more complicated versions. I spent a week teaching myself new 3D software and countless hours tweaking every frame to get it just right, but as these things often go, we ended up back with a simple, clean design. The way the logo “builds” itself feels natural; it’s hard to imagine it moving any other way.
Not that it wasn’t worth it to challenge myself—I certainly enjoy learning new software and techniques, but it’s a good lesson to learn. More often than not, the simplest solution is often the best.
The chimes were a lucky coincidence. I needed some audio to give the animation a little more life. Using GarageBand and hitting four random keys on my keyboard, I came up with the chimes as a placeholder until someone with musical talent could get their ears on it. Like many things around here, it just worked—so we left it in the final version.
Here are a few of the different iterations we tossed around.