Behind the Scenes: Creating the 'School Hackers' Video

At BIF, we believe in the power of storytelling to change the world, which guides us during our annual BIF Summits and projects in our experience labs. Have you ever wondered how we make it happen? Find out here as we share the story behind the video for School Hackers, a crowd-sourced — or “educator-sourced” — online space where educators can share their classroom and school hacks that prepare students for college, careers, and everyday life.

It all started when Sam Seidel, our Student Experience Lab (SXL) director, came up with the idea to create a video introducing School Hackers, an SXL project funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Ideally, Sam wanted the video to show at an upcoming Hewlett Foundation conference. To meet this deadline meant we would have to produce the video in one week. Challenge accepted! Joining us on this challenge were my fellow Experience Designer Daisy Hook, and Sam Kowalcyzk, our Digital Media Generalist. In our first meeting, we came up with the concept of creating scenes from low-cost materials to help define education "hacks" — or, ideas where educators creatively repurpose and realign existing resources and capabilities. We also decided to use stop-motion animation, where pictures are taken of a physical object in different positions, then sped up to create a scene that moves. 

So, here we go.....!

Monday morning: Over the weekend, Sam S. and I wrote a script so Daisy could start storyboarding, or showing how the images will match up with the text. Daisy and Sam K. also figured out how to shoot the scenes over one of our work tables with our office Nikon camera. Here, we are setting up the first scene of the video: 

Monday afternoon and Tuesday: We pull together art supplies, crafting materials, and any other useful product (including produce) we can get our hands on. We film Daisy creating a classroom out of a cardboard box. It takes two hours, which is sped up to 20 seconds in the video. Daisy and I also create scenes using our gathered materials. An orange brought in for lunch becomes a basketball. Bubble wrap is transformed into a frog pond. Unused asparagus turns into a corn field. Here, Daisy works on one of the neighborhood scenes (notice the coffee cup...one of many consumed this week):

Here is a close-up of the finished city scene before its moment underneath the camera: 

Wednesday and Thursday: Once a scene was finished, we put it under the camera to take a series of photos for the video. Daisy would move parts of the scene: 

And Sam K. would take a picture:

It will take 250 shots, about 25 per scene, to make the video. 

Friday: We film the last scene. Sam K. is then busy at work editing the video, as well as incorporating the music and the voiceover (featuring the voice of BIF's chief of operations and "jack of all trades," Tori Drew. Sam K. makes sure the scenes time perfectly with the points in the script. Here, Sam and Daisy are putting the final touches on the video: 

The School Hackers video

By the weeks' end, we had a creative, fun, and energetic video that tells the School Hackers story. It helped that the process itself was also creative, fun, and energetic. Most importantly, we worked as a team to reach our goal.

And now, we are pleased to unveil the School Hackers video: 

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