This is part of a series of documentary videos I filmed for the University of Texas’ Department of English. This video tackled annotating in a book (the why, the how, etc). I had a great time working on this because it largely was a physical production and I was excited to incorporate these animations into a real world setting instead of doing everything purely in After Effects. I had a small but great team to help with the shoot, and brought on Erick Bolyard to assist with a couple of the VFX shots.
I brought in Ricky Holm to be my director of photography and operate the camera. I normally prefer lighting and camera operating myself, but we had a short day to accomplish a whole lot of setups. So, having Ricky and a couple of other hands on set really helped me focus on directing instead of worrying about gear and getting critical focus and the physical tolls that it all takes. Being able to just watch the composition & performances on a monitor and give notes makes the entire documentary more efficient, and cuts down on wasted takes and surprises in the editing room.
Let’s talk briefly about the animations! Working through the documentary script with the professors we arrived on the idea that it made a lot of sense to mix in animations with real footage as it symbolizes in video form what we’re instructing students to do on their own. That is to say we wanted to mark up the video since the students would be marking up their books. This added a great dynamic quality to the documentary, because sometimes an educational documentary can be rather dull, so anything that not only assists clarifying a point but creates visual interest for the video’s viewer is double-plus good.