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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Barcamp: Fight the Complexity

Lee LeFever and The Common Craft Show.

Common Craft is the specialist in non-geek explanations of geekdom.

Check out Social Bookmarking in Plain English.

Behind the scenes:

* What’s the problem we’re trying to solve?
* They script it out. This is the most important thing. They get that right.
* They’ll do storyboards and then divide it into scenes.
* They film it.

Lee says the first couple of videos were harder to film. They are now refining their style.

* No video over 5 min.
* No external sound effects. Lee hums.
* Try to stay copyright-free.
* Educational
* Constraints are good: hands, humming, paper, whiteboard
* Low tech to explain high tech

Common Craft is focusing their business on being good storytellers. It’s not about being good high-end video producers.

So who’s watching these?

Everyone. Lee also says librarians seem to get and like these videos.

Things that are good to get right: sound quality and visual quality.

Here’s how they started making this a business:
“Problems get solved when they need to get solved.”

Lee showed photos of their great, home set-up. Very MacGyver.
They use strings to move things across the screen.

Technical stuff:

* Edit video in FinalCut Express.

* Edit audio first to get it down. Then place video.

* Use Blip.tv to host videos. Lee likes Blip because the player isn’t branded. Better quality.

* Dotsub.com Uploaded video to dotsub so that you can upload video and add subtitles. Then anyone can translate it.

* Vimeo is how they share video with client. It’s never exposed. Client can download video. Secure.

Good books that influenced Common Craft:
Made to Stick

The Paradox of Choice

Other ideas:
Lee has an idea about explaining other things, like solar energy.