Vi Hart's Script for How To Make A Video About How To Make A Video
The first thing I tell Ethan when he’s starting to make a video about how I make a video, is that I always tell people the first thing I tell people when I tell people how I make a video is that I start script first, and so that’s how I’m starting this video about his video about making this video about making a video…
But you need something to write about. I mean, a lot of people ask me how I make my videos, or suggest making a video about how I make my videos, and that’s been a potential video on the list of videos that are just not conceptually there yet, for a long time.
But when I’m not looking, these rejected video ideas get together and have a party, and pair up in unexpected ways. Like, it was suggested I make a video about how I make a video. And it was suggested that I let someone else make a video about how I make a video, but that was boring to me until we looped them together into a recursive mess. And then I write a script, and then probably spend a long time doing research and figuring out how to explain stuff, and once I think my script is perfect, I go in and eliminate whole precious paragraphs and restructure sentences to make it succinct. Notice I did not say “as succinct as possible,’ because that wouldn’t be. And I read through, imagining what I might film, and if I can draw the point of a sentence, I don’t need to actually say the sentence. If I draw the same thing I’m saying, that’s like, super emphasis. It’s a way of slowing down without actually slowing down.
So now I’m going to stop filming about how I script, and start scripting about how I film. I mean, except that I haven’t actually filmed that yet, I’m just writing the script about how I’m going to stop scripting about how I script.
So here’s a question. What am I doing right now? Am I scripting, or am I narrating? Because recording the narration happens almost last, after I film and before I edit. I haven’t gotten there yet. I mean, now I have, that you’re hearing it, obviously, but, not yet, of course, because I’m still writing the script that I’ll be reading. I mean, I’m writing this in present tense, but I’m never going to be my present self ever again.
UNTIL RIGHT NOW!
Ok. Anyway. Here’s where I might want to go and do some research on the nature of time and the self, and then come back and edit or continue or rewrite my script to make it all deep and stuff, but my present self just doesn’t have the time. So. Let’s get to filming.
Or rather, scripting about filming.
Basically I look at my script and draw stuff that goes with the words. I may edit my script slightly to reflect sudden ideas that come out through my doodling or drawing, like all this stuff going on right now is why I added this phrase, but usually no major changes. Often I think of something and then have to scramble to figure out, how do I get the people or a pineapple, and this can delay filming by a couple days, except since I am super impatient I probably just make due with whatever I can find quickly which can be super amusing when, say, I’m looking for an example of a logarithmic spiral and accidentally end up with a live snail that shows up on my sidewalk. And then later I’ll record myself reading the script as fast as possible. All that’s left is to speed up my film to fit the narration.
I mean, I don’t just speed it up. You see me writing out a long sentence, but really I’m just taking the ends of each line, taking out the parts when my hand is covering stuff up. Once I show drawing something once, your brain knows how it’s done, so I can cut that repetitious footage out and keep the parts that show what you don’t know yet: where I’m going to draw the thing, until you understand that I’m drawing all over the place, and then I can cut quickly through that part too, and your brain knows how to fill in the gaps, then again for coloring, from slow to fast. I take out pauses to make it feel continuous even though it’s really not. I keep just enough of the turning-the-page footage that you know I’m turning a page. I keep in little bits that let you know I’m zooming in or viewing a different part of the notebook. And if I do these things sometimes, I don’t need to do them all the time, because it’s implicit, and your brain gets exactly enough information, and this is called “flow,” or something. I am an anti-illusionist. I trick your brain into seeing what was there all along.
But enough of the theory. Let’s take a look at what filming actually is like.
We’ll start by going back to the beginning. A lot of my stuff involves repetitive drawing or writing, and you might be curious about all the time and effort it takes to write the same thing like a zillion times. Well, zooming out, you can see how at this point, I switch out with my boring-drawing-stuff intern, who writes most of the words for me. By editing carefully, the brain creates continuity across the gap where my hand is replaced by my intern’s. I bet the first time through, you didn’t even notice.
At the end of the page, we switch back, because you can’t trust interns with things like turning the page. Again, with a little editing, the transition is smooth.
While the interns are dealing with the boring stuff, I go in to hair and makeup to make sure my precious hands are looking perfect. My makeup artist seems less than professional, in my opinion, but Khan Academy is a not-for-profit, so what can you do?
Then it’s back to another tiring round of having to do stuff. When sharp implements are involved, we again do a subtle shift to a stunt double. Not that I’m afraid to do my own stunts, but my agent thinks we should leave it to professionals and not risk getting a nick on these precious hands.
And of course when it comes to the real drawing, which I cannot trust to anyone but myself, I have interns to help with sharpie control, props, and otherwise taking care of my every need.
Sometimes I actually do need people to help me with a video, as in, for example, this one. In order to capture that footage about how I capture footage, I had to send a note out to my coworkers and be like, hey, need some extras, come on by right now. And in order to capture that footage about how I captured that footage about how I capture footage, I was back to just plain old drawing in my notebook with a camera on a tripod. Except for that footage, I had to have Ethan capture the footage of me capturing the footage about filming about footage about filming footage uh I lost count, and to film that footage I had to film Ethan filming me filming him filming me filming filming and then there was this other guy and uh, anyway. Look, I made a video. I mean, am going to have made a video by the time you see this video. Which is now. Hello!