Our adventure with creating a daily video in 2017 began because we got the opening hours of a breakfast café wrong one day in the last week of December 2016. The café opened at 9 on the weekend, and 8:30 on weekdays. We reached early and with 20 minutes to kill before they let us in, E and I went for a walk. We were in the middle of the End Of The Year Look Back/Look Forward cycle and we needed something to look forward to in 2017. I said, idly, “Why don’t we make a video a day in 2017?”
I am a sound designer/musician and E is a filmmaker. We had been feeling creatively stuck for years–client work does not allow for extensive experimentation–but we also didn’t know how to pull ourselves out of the rut. After years of breaking promises to work on personal projects in our down-time, I guess we figured we should do something or we’d be here next year, once again, without having made an effort to change things.
By the time we returned to the café (for a life-changing breakfast featuring The Eton Mess Waffle) we had agreed to make a new video every single day in 2017. That was the key. No re-purposing old material, just creating a brand new video of no fixed duration, every single day.
We chose Instagram as the platform because that’s where we spent the most time, it is convenient to upload to and the share features were promising.
The other key rule for the challenge was that we would exercise the freedom to try out all ideas, no matter how silly they seemed. No judgment. Our motto was, “If it doesn’t work, on to the next one.”
We made notes of things we learned as the project went on but haven’t published anything until now because we weren’t actually sure we would be able to complete the challenge. I think if we had thought about it a little more during that walk, we’d have talked ourselves out of it. It was hard but we did indeed make 365 videos in 365 days so here we are, tired but grateful for the lessons. We’d like to share them with you.
I’ll divide our learnings into three categories, feel free to jump to the section that most interests you:
PRACTICAL FILMMAKING LESSONS
Film every take. Even the rehearsal take.
You’re doing the work anyway, might as well have the camera rolling. This video is a great example of how the test take worked way better than the actual takes. Also:
Don’t clean things on set!!!
I was making sure the bottle we used in this video was dry and as I turned it upside down–on the yellow backdrop–guess what, there was water at the bottom of the bottle that fell on to the paper right into our shooting area. We had to spend a lot of time drying the patch before shooting could even begin.
Stopmotion Tip: Always shoot the blank plate first
Also, things move a lot – use double sided tape.
Always roll sound during a take
Even if you think you won’t use it, always record the sound that accompanies the action on camera. You never know what you might get but will give yourself material that can be incorporated creatively into the video for extra impact. The Marathon video is a great example. I think the ambient sound of the bystanders adds to the atmosphere better than any music could.
The bill of a baseball cap dragged across a mattress sounds like a whoosh
We made most of our sound effects in-house and stayed away from libraries. Re-imagining and re-creating sounds was one of the most fun aspects of this exercise.
Example 2: You can make rain sounds at home. Shake an empty, thick plastic bag + run water from a shower head onto a plastic bag, and then on to a metal plate. Combine for your very own rain sounds.
Themes are useful to help generate ideas during a long project
By the time October rolled around we were running on fumes. Coming up with a brand new idea was really difficult. We decided to pick a theme for the month – horror, because of Halloween – and suddenly the ideas flowed. Having a broad theme didn’t limit us in any way. In fact it became exactly what we needed to enable our minds to run free.
Things melt very quickly
Have everything ready to go and start shooting before you turn on the flame, or else you will miss the moment when the melting begins.
Nail polish makes a mess
It looks pretty on camera but it takes hours to clean up afterwards. Also, the fumes are intense. Don’t work in a closed room with large amounts of nail polish, be sure to protect your surfaces, and wear gloves.
Human speech patterns vary in pitch and speed
We had one voice actor and needed to create the illusion of multiple eyewitnesses for this video. It wasn’t enough to just speak in a high-pitched voice or a low pitched voice with a variation in accent. Variations in speed of speech were essential to making it sound like different people.
Dry wet wipes make great textured paper
As a matter of fact, wet wipes are a good idea in general for your camera/sound bag.
Sound most definitely makes a visual seem more real
For this one, we obviously broke the glass off-camera and brought the pieces on to the set to film. During the edit, we realized that adding the sound of the glass breaking to the visual made it appear that the glass was breaking on camera. Nuts! Again, a good reason to always roll sound even if you don’t think you will need it for post-production.
You can have a ‘clever’ idea but people won’t always respond to it
No reason to stop trying, but realize that you might have to work harder to make it more relatable.
Conversely, you can have a simple idea that people will really get excited about
I would never have expected these to be as well received as they were.
365 Days of Video: 307 Please turn the sound UP for the full effect. #dailyvideo #video365 #votd #videooftheday #vidstagram #mumbaifilmmaker #dailyvideo #365video #videoaday #november #newmonth #aftereffectsCC #sunny☀️ #sunnyday #sunnydays #goodbooks #poolsidechillin #poolside #lazyholiday #readingbythepool #relax☀️ #blissful #bliss
365 Days of Video: 255 It is Film Festival season around the world and most of the movies shown there rely on review extracts to boost their chances at the box office. These are some mischievous ones we came up with based on certain types of movies that play at major film festivals around the world. Turn that volume UP for the full effect. #dailyvideo #video365 #festivalfilms #adobe #filmfestivals #moviereviews #rottentomatoes
Colorful backdrops are everything
Vacation Video Tip
Take photos/video of monuments and famous sights, but keep an eye out for what the locals do. In Amsterdam, on our walk back to the hotel one evening, we ran into (ha ha ha) freerunner Luciano practicing on the street. We watched for a bit, then asked if we could film him, and made this video.
One idea, many iterations is a good exercise
We did the weekend thing so many times.
One idea, many iterations Part 2
A regular commitment to being creative makes you see possibilities where you never would have before
Making a video (or just being creative) everyday primes your brain to always be thinking of/looking for ideas. I’ve lost count of how many videos came about because E made a silly joke. That actually became somewhat of a running them – E would say something off-hand and I’d say “That’s a video!” It didn’t always work, but when it did, it was great. Wordplay can be very visual and if your brain is primed to look for ideas you will find them in unlikely places.
365 Days of Video: 180 Turn that volume UP for maximum effect! ? During a random conversation I remembered how I used to draw artworks and portraits of the musicians I liked when I was a kid. So while listening to a podcast last night I drew a picture of a rapper whose work I enjoy. JAY-Z has an album coming out tomorrow and I hope those of us not on Tidal will also get to listen to it soon NOTE: That beat is one @sonaluna created–it is NOT off Jay's new album. #dailyvideo #365video #video365 #instagood #videooftheday #adobeaftereffects #adobe #animation #illustration #portraits #jayz
Film everywhere, you never know what can turn into a video
This came from an old sign I shot on a street when I went to pick up my headphones from a repair shop.
This is a close-up of a pair of shorts I filmed in a store’s dressing room with my phone.
Sometimes the execution turns out exactly like you wanted
By this point we were deep into this project and super-primed to make videos no matter how tired we were. This one worked out well I thought, as a nod to a famous image and also for what we were trying to say.
Sometimes you get lucky
We were on a flight to a week-long job. We didn’t have a video for the day, or an idea for a video. Then, on the plane, the meal arrived with these plastic stirrers. We had our video. How meta, right?
Pay a little extra for a hotel room with a view
This is such a perfect video to indicate the first day of our vacation and our first time in Amsterdam.
Don’t under-estimate your creativity, your stamina or your ability to follow through
Even though I proposed the idea I really had my doubts about whether we would be able make a video a day, much less a good one. We came close to breaking our streak several times – because of work demands, multiple bouts of the flu, creative block, administrative responsibilities and just sheer exhaustion. Every single time though, we pushed past the urge to stop and came through on the other side with something. Just enough to keep going. I can’t believe some of the ideas we came up with – it’s like watching someone else’s work, I didn’t know we had it in us.
Annoyances are less annoying when you re-purpose them
So this cool cheese knife we brought back from Amsterdam broke a day after we returned home. It was so beautiful and then utterly useless. So we turned it into a funny video and now I don’t feel so bad anymore.
You begin to look at things more mindfully
Everything is somehow sharper.
It encourages introspection
We asked ourselves a mildly depressing question – Are we making all the right moves in all the wrong places? Will all our effort go unnoticed because we’re not where the action is? I don’t know. We’ll have to find a fix for that in 2018.
Stains are like clouds
Stare at them for long enough and shapes present themselves that you can incorporate into your ideas.
Recolour a white background slightly
So it doesn’t look blank in the thumbnail on Instagram like it does in this video.
Wilting flowers are beautiful
Some of that motion comes from the ceiling fan being on during this shoot, and the rest was from a series of camera moves.
365 Days of Video: 237 Turn that volume UP for maximum effect! We love movie titles and the presence of these flowers gave us an opportunity to experiment with shoot and designing titles for a movie that doesn't exist. ? #dailyvideo #365video #video365 #instagood #adobeaftereffects #movietitles #punsgalore #punintented #funwithvideo
Here’s to pushing ourselves creatively and making something in 2018!
Leave us a comment if this was useful to you or if you have any questions.
See the full 365 project here:
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