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Videography and Creativity: Tips From the Lockdown

The last couple of months have been a real test for video makers: the world has stopped and a huge number of filming projects has been postponed or cancelled. And the world of videography has become quieter than ever.      

Now things are getting back on track and our videographer Lukas shares some tips on how to make the most of your more quiet times and get more creative as a filmmaker! 

#1 Try new ideas 

New video trends emerge all the time, and filming equipment is being upgraded even more often, so it is tough to keep your videos fresh and trendy. Lukas’s practice for that is quite simple.  

First of all, think of an idea — use your notes for that! Lukas’s memos consist of videography effects and filming techniques, which randomly appear in his head while surfing the internet or even just talking with fellow creators. It’s important to write down even the craziest ideas because, in the long run, you will definitely find a way how to accomplish it. And make sure you are passionate about the idea and do not try to force it; otherwise, you won't be motivated.

Stepdraw videography fliming Lukas Rode camera

Secondly, make a plan: do a little test beforehand to find out what could be needed for its implementation. A plan is a must so that you won't lose any precious time during the filming. Then, get your filming gear ready and go shot a video.

Pro tip: Lukas is always taking a spare battery, a memory card, and a light source to deal with possible challenges.  

Lastly, when the production stage is over, it is time to put your headphones on, turn up your favourite podcast or music playlist and get the editing done. Don't be afraid to take risks or mix-up a few ideas, because that can make your work into a cutting-edge project!  

#2 Become best friends with YouTube

If you strive for more videography knowledge or inspiration, YouTube is undoubtedly the best place for that. From learning about neuro-cinematics, compelling scriptwriting, to understanding how to get the most of your camera or getting to know the power of editing. Deepen your knowledge here and support creators by subscribing to their channels. They truly deserve your support.

YouTube is also great for crafting a specific skill because there are a lot of in-depth videos and step-by-step tutorials, which you can follow. For example, if Lukas gets stuck with some video effect or filming technique, he dives deep into YouTube and quickly gets back on track with new tips to try. Even his first-ever shoulder rig was made of PVC pipes by watching one of the YouTube tutorials, and it worked flawlessly!

handmade videographer shoulder rig filmmaking
Lukas's first-ever handmade PVC shoulder rig

#3 Keep your creativity levels high

Sitting in front of the computer all day can be frustrating. Sometimes it seems that the most straightforward tasks require a tremendous amount of effort, and you start becoming less productive. When your motivation and creativity levels drop, it's about time to recharge it. One way to do it is to balance computer work with outside activity, which includes movement.

So grab your camera and go to a new place for a walk without any plan! It's the best kind of meditation for Lukas: stoping at any location, taking the camera out and starting timelapsing while getting that fresh air. Exploration process boosts creativity and breaks the routine!

baltic sea filming videography shoulder rig stepdraw

The last tip form Lukas — meet up with other people and communicate, live or online. It's easier to come up with a bunch of great videography ideas together. You never know, those ideas might become real projects in the future. So if you catch yourself staring at the screen for an hour without any luck of creating something, it is time to break the spell and recharge!

Bonus

Lukas's 10 beloved YouTube channels, check them out! 

  1. Film Riot 
  2. Corridor Crew
  3. Nerdwriter1
  4. Philip Bloom
  5. wolfcrow
  6. Filmmaker IQ
  7. Media Division
  8. CookeOpticsTV
  9. This Guy Edits
  10. DSLRguide

This story is a part of Stepdraw production blog post series Production Life, which are dedicated to stories about production people lifestyle, work and creative inspirations.

3 Benefits of Having Plants in Your Workspace: The Story of My Office Jungle

Throughout the COVID-19 quarantine, we had 45 colleagues that waited patiently in our studio for things coming back to normal. And I’m talking about office plants! Did you know that keeping some greenery in your workspace is super beneficial? Here’s my story, why! 

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3 Things to Remember When Outsourcing Animation Services

Sometimes handling animation services outsourcing processes could be a demanding task. Even if it’s not the first time for your company, the challenges may vary with each new project.   

For this reason, we have distinguished 3 production tips for businesses, which should make it easier to manage animation outsourcing issues and ensure a smoother production workflow. 

#1 Provide effective feedback

In the first place, it’s crucial to assign who’s going to be responsible for overall creative project evaluation. Avoid asking opinions of the whole department. Ideally, no more than 3 representatives of the company should carry out such work. Often, people who don’t quite know the project background only bring unnecessary confusion and pull out of focus.

Of course, the evaluation of any creative processes is a very subjective thing. But keep in mind that animation production is usually carried out by professionals, who have design, marketing and business communication background, so if you chose your partners responsibly, there should be no problems.

Also, always provide feedback on time. If you don’t like something - say it right away, don’t wait for the final scenes to be animated. And ask questions, even the basic ones, because this is the only way to make sure that you are really on the same page with the production team.

#2 Make sure the script looks neat

The script should be the cornerstone of all animation production. Like a masterplan. It should stimulate the imagination and help to see final animation in your mind before any production even started. 

Note whether the script communicates the benefits of your product over the features. Also, critically evaluate how the VO text fits the storyboard and scene sequence. Does it have any logic, follows the storytelling rules, generally feels good

Remember that the script can be easily rewritten by the screenwriter. Still, if you provide the same comments in later stages, e.g. animation, the same changes will take the time of (at least of) a designer, animator, art director and sound designer, because they will all need to make their own changes.

#3 Are you truly satisfied with illustration design?

The first illustration design may expose the truth - that all along the production and client teams had quite different visions.

So, you should be very critical about the provided style frames. Sometimes, the visuals just don’t stick, for no exact reason. In this case, it’s necessary to specify your feedback - maybe the red background is too red? Perhaps the character has too small eyes, or the subtitles are too big? Then designers could easily present other design options that would be closer to your expectations.

Also, keep in mind that the beauty of images is often very subjective. So rather than judging through a like-dislike prism, evaluate whether it has the hook and always ask production partners to clarify design decisions.

To summarize:

After all, the most important thing for everyone in both - client and production sides is to be on the same page and create an amazing animated video clip, right?

So the key is to communicate the feedback effectively, make sure you have a killer script and carefully review illustration design before they are animated.

If you have any questions or need more advice on animation services outsourcing - feel free to write us!

Godfather Inspired Set Design From Scratch

Shooting in a rental studio usually provides you with both all and nothing. At first sight, it’s just an empty space, with some scarce equipment and for sure — a coffee machine silently buzzing in a distant corner. On the other hand, it’s the ultimate playground to unleash your creativity. Place your props, set up the lights, invite actors — and the studio transforms into whatever you might imagine. This time let us bring you to those vintage 1940s and share some insights into creating a Godfather inspired set design.

Godfather set design, vintage phone, cigar and other props

Why Godfather? — you may ask. Well, the concept derived from our client’s need to target a bit more classy audience and add some gangster attitude, just like in those Corleone movies. Having this clear style in mind, we started planning our set — the Godfather’s office.

More about the set design:

After carefully examining the movie, we listed a few main props to include. First of all, patterned wallpaper, heavy leather armchair, wooden desk, and a chest of drawers as the main components of the interior. Also, not forgetting the iconic blinds in the background, vintage phone on the table, fancy cigar put out in the ashtray and framed painting on the wall. Finally, with some interpretation by our set designer, the white lion sculpture is also here — cause why not? 

Godfather set design, white lion sculpture and other vintage props

All the items together formed the set we desired — giving a clear clue of the theme but with our own creative touch.

Setting up the cinematic lighting

While the set designer was on a mission to find all those props, our decisions turned to the lighting. All we wanted to create was this moody dark atmosphere. Smart combination of desk and floor lamps, natural daylight imitation through the blinds, and cinematic scene lighting helped us achieve this goal.

Makeup and styling room

Next, shaping the main actor’s look was also on the list. Three-piece suit, rose on the lapel, makeup art, and the attitude were the main ingredients of Corleone charm, for which our actor rehearsed a lot, even adding some paper towels in his cheeks to look a bit more like the original Godfather.

Godfather set design through the camera display

And that’s how the whole set was built from scratch. Previously empty studio yet had all the vibes we needed, so, bring in the clapperboard - it’s showtime!

For sure, each shooting has some curious challenges to share:

Godfather set design, automated armchair

The armchair includes an electric motor! At the beginning of the TVC, we can see the main actor turning around in the armchair. To avoid clumsy or unexpected moves, the armchair got an improvement — an electric mechanism that was supposed to smoothly turn the chair with a single click of remote control. However, to stop the movement, our assistant was silently waiting under the table.

Film director keeping an eye on the script and timing

Timing was the cause of repetition. As TVCs have a certain (and usually very short) duration, every second matters. This means – no improvisation is welcome in the Godfather’s office this time, sorry. So, all eyes on set and the script, seeking for those 10 perfectly engaging seconds.

Cat in the Godfather inspired set

The Godfather’s cat. Well, we are not going to talk too much about this one here. Sometimes cats are impossible and that’s a fact. And it’s OK.

A few more looks into the process:

Film crew preparing the set for shooting
Film crew behind the scenes
Cameraman adjusting the shooting angle
Happy video crew behind the scenes

For more videography work by our team visit our portfolio!

See more bits from our production life on
Stepdraw Instagram page.

Creative Lunch Break Mini-Series Project Summary

Pursuing your personal creative style while working at the production studio may not always be easy. Yet, with the right decisions made, diversity of skills can really blossom. So one day, during the rainy autumn of 2019, Stepdraw animation team (still with the hearts full of summerish memories) came up with the idea to bring those colors back and set themselves a creative challenge. 

While brainstorming on the first topic for such project - well, we couldn’t agree on anything more appealing yet versatile than … food. Quickly, all the participants chose their topics, techniques - and got to work.
Thus, Creative Lunch Break was born.

We shared 9 different episodes of this mini-series every other Thursday on Stepdraw's Instagram profile. While showcasing our teams’ favorite dishes and highlighting individual creative skills, we discovered a lot, learned a lot, and, most importantly, had a really great time!  

Finally, we would like to share a menu of this project and tell you more about each episode! 

#1 Poké Bowl by Ignas

The first animation for this project is a 3D Poké Bowl shot made by our animator Ignas Kairelis. Inspired by this tasty and beautiful Hawaiian dish, he decided to present it in a festive glass instead of a regular bowl.

Therefore, this little twist allowed to take on various 3D textures, and perhaps, will inspire you to experiment with your own bowl servings presentation!

#2 Spicy Ramen by Gintaras

Mini-series continues with cartoonish Spicy Ramen shot by our animator Gintaras Jacunskas. This time, the creative path was chosen because of his love for some good ramen noodles.

Gintaras also decided to add a fragrant touch of Asia. How? With some edgy details, like super hot sauce and a pot of fire. Ultimately spicy result!

#3 Salad Man by Artūras

Here comes the Salad Man! An outstanding simulated 3D animation with real textures of vegetables and super-heroic narrative created by our videographer and VFX artist Artūras Sėlenis.

Obviously, he was inspired to take this creative approach by Lithuanian festive cuisine traditions. Specifically - by Balta mišrainė (eng. Olivier salad). It’s a common dish during Christmas or Easter periods, so Artūras decided to take this inspiration from here and elevate it to the next level - create a brand new superhero!

#4 Fresh Lemon Spritz by Otilija

Sweet & sour — that’s the rich taste of Lemon Spritz, created by our designer and animator Otilija Morozaitė.

It was inspired by her adventures in Southern Italy, where everything is all about lemons. For this reason, she shows how this refreshing drink is made using a simplistic 2D approach with noise textures for depth and lighting. Definitely fresh!

#5 Farfalle Pasta by Otilija

The one that got away! The mini-adventures of Farfalle Pasta, also created by Otilija, using a variety of techniques: 3D, 2D vector graphics, and frame-by-frame animation.

Notably, every pot of simmering farfalle pasta always spills out. Otilija was intrigued by that - why does it happen? Maybe the pasta just wants to break free?!

#6 Mexican Taco by Vaida

The 6th animation for the Creative Lunch Break series is all about Mexican flavors. Created by our illustrator Vaida Stasiukaitytė with the help of animators Ignas Kairelis and Valdas Gintautas.

For one thing we are sure, Vaida loves spontaneous road trips! And they usually start or end up in Warsaw. This city is also home to Vaida’s favorite Mexican restaurant, Gringo bar, to which she keeps coming back for the amazing tacos. So they were the main inspiration for this 2D vector shot, filled with patterns, gradients, color tones, and line art to create depth and 3D-feeling.

#7 Sweet Kaleidoscope by Alikas 

Super Sweet Kaleidoscope shot created by our illustrator Aliaga Mirguseinov and animated by Ignas.

Alikas loves illustrating cute things with contrasting color palettes and patterns freehandedly. So after a bit of experimentation and creative search, he decided to combine candies and kaleidoscope elements, and here it is! This sweet illusion has it all!

#8 Pineapple Pizza by Gintaras

Mixing up the ingredients for this fantastic pizza - the second shot created by our animator Gintaras.

The idea of this animation was born all of a sudden while eating lunch pizzas with fellow Stepdraw co-workers. Then, while searching for a more engaging creative approach, Gintaras decided to use After Effects stop motion implementation with a real felt texture!

#9 Fancy Ice Cream by Ignas

The final piece for Creative Lunch Break mini-series - the second 3D shot made by animator Ignas.

Ice cream is one of Ignas' favorite desserts, so he decided to make a fancy approach to this sweet indulgence. Soft, luxurious and golden! Would you like a bite?

Special thanks:

Project coordinators: Jorigė Kuzmaitė, Dovilė Macijauskaitė
Project identity designer: Otilija Morozaitė
Sound designers: Karolis Grabys, Juozapas Liaugaudas

Let's keep in touch!

Check out this project (and follow for the new ones!) on
Stepdraw Instagram page

See more everyday creative experiments of Stepdraw animation team on
our Dribbble profile

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Awesome things happen one step
at a time:

Awesome things happen one step at a time: 

Awesome things happen one step at a time:

Awesome things happen one step at a time: 

Call us and let’s talk ideas:
+370 693 60 600

Tell us about your next project:
[email protected]

Join our creative team:
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