How I Improvised A Video Greeting Card In A Weekend
Sharing my secret process, my secret apps, and my secret secrets.
I created this video in December 2021 as a holiday card.
I improvised it but not exactly. Let me explain.
This video took a lot of preparation and prior experiences: I’m an artist so I have a ton of artist materials like paintbrushes and sketchbooks. And because I spend most of my time on my art, I tend to procrastinate on other things, like errands and greeting cards. So I used what I had at hand: my art materials and past experiences. And I didn’t keep track of how long I’ve been preparing and planning it out because I planned most of it in my head, without writing it or sketching it out. Writing out or sketching out every detail exactly can be good, but for me, that’s where I personally start to overthink it, becoming a perfectionist.
Then once I was ready, I shot the video within about 7 hours and edited it within about 8 hours. I did this all within 24 hours, so I also had time to sleep for 9 hours. The complete video ended up coming together almost identical to what I had pictured in my head. What a miracle!
There are parts of preparation that I have no idea how long they took me. I’ve been thinking about creating something like this for a while, and definitely thinking all morning on a Saturday before shooting and editing before the weekend ended. So that’s why I say I completed this within a weekend instead of saying I completed this in only 24 hours.
First - throughout Saturday, I wrote some lines and scenes of what I wanted this video to be. I had millions of ideas flowing in my head of what direction it could go but I only wrote down what I had decided on based on the rules I’ve set (more on that below). This was about half a page long. Some say I’m an overthinker, I say I’m a strategic overpreparer.
Before creating something, I spend a lot of time thinking about the rules I’m setting for my creations.
Creativity blooms within limitations.
Here’s an article about this: The Psychology of Limitations: How and Why Constraints Can Make You More Creative and How to Harness the Power of Constraints.
Instead of writing out or sketching every detail of what I expected in the end result, I wrote down my limitations and my rules. Some of my rules for creating this video were:
The theme is 90s Christmas movies and 90s movies, in general (notice any references?)
I’m not allowed to break the fourth wall.
I have to complete the video within the weekend.
Use what I already have (art materials, stuff in my apartment, totally based on my excellent skills in procrastination, you proud?)
Then I found the music that had the vibe I was trying to express, a 90’s Christmas movie – it’s called “Christmas Village” by Aaron Kenny in the YouTube music library. Although the vibe is a 90’s Christmas movie (check out my sweet choker necklace), what I was really making is a ’90s holiday movie.
All the preparation paid off because I noticed the point where I had nothing else to prepare and had to like, wow, actually do the “just do it” part.
Time to throw and shoot stuff
Satuday, 12.18.2021 @ 5 PM:
The props (lights, easel, painting on my easel, syringe, art materials, sketchbooks that pile up in the shape of a Christmas tree, skull) are just part of my usual year-round decor and my work in my art studio. I paint a lot of skeletons and lights, what did you expect from me? After I collected together the props, I practiced camera angles and how I would fit each shot to the beat of the music. That music was in my head the entire time because I listened to it over and over about a hundred times before shooting the video before Saturday morning and during Saturday morning. This helped me steer the video in the direction that I wanted and, generally, I just love listening to movie scores. Trust me, my Spotify Wrapped top artist for 2021 was Hans Zimmer.
I shot everything on my iPhone, keeping each shot short so it’s quicker to edit later. Editing feels like chaos to me but recording short videos helps me make better sense of it.
Sunday 12.19.2021 @ 12 AM (ok, this is just barely Sunday):
Everything I shot is on my phone. Everything I threw is all over the place. It looks like my Christmas-shaped sketchbook pile exploded. But I’m too tired to clean up and just go to bed. By the way, I only threw that skull once. It’s kind of heavy, made out of some type of plaster, and I was afraid I’d break it so I made sure to make that one throw count. Remember, strategic overpreparer.
Measure thrice, cut once.
Time to edit the chaos
Sunday 12.19.2021 between 10 AM – 5 PM:
I had recorded a lot of footage because I wanted to make sure I have too much than not enough. Still, I was sad to have to cut out some parts but I wanted to keep the video short and to the beat of the music. I wasn’t about to find a whole different song that was longer, that was THE song! I constructed and edited it all in iMovie on my Macbook. That was another one of my rules: Edit everything in iMovie.
There are better video editing programs but my goal is to keep the focus on the story and the videos I record as is, and not get caught up with too many possibilities, like visual effects. Focus is important. I’m an artist but I’m also an actor, not a video editor. And iMovie is an excellent, minimal program I like to use to make simple video/audio layering and edits. It does have several other features to try that I haven’t ventured into, like green screen. iMovie is good for beginners. For a Windows user, an alternative to iMovie is Windows Movie Maker - I loved using that for years before getting a MacBook.
Equipment and apps I used to create this video:
MacBook Pro 2017
I hope this post helps you come up with ideas for your own work. Bookmark this post or share it with someone who might need this. Wishing you joy, good health, and miracles in 2023.