Behind the Scenes of Our Holiday Video

This year, the Marketing Design group at Chronicle decided to do something different for our holiday card: a stop-motion video! We all love the style of stop-motion, and thought it would be the perfect medium to deliver our holiday message—See things differently this year!—since we could make things magically appear, disappear, and transform into other objects. We also wanted to represent the kinds of things we love at Chronicle, including crafts, cooking, music, and children’s books. None of us had ever made a stop-motion video, however, and when we did a few trial runs we realized how incredibly challenging it would be. For instance, we would need to take over 700 photos to make a 1-minute video, all with consistent lighting and perfect timing (the final number was 726)! Luckily for us, our colleague, Christina Loff, introduced us to the fabulous Thayer Gowdy, who agreed to shoot it for us. Thayer was amazing…a real pro. She helped us pull it all together into a cohesive story and taught us so much. It was a fantastic creative collaboration and we were all sad when it was over!

By the time we were shooting the video, people at Chronicle were buzzing about it and asking “Why wasn’t I asked to be in it???” and pushing each other aside to peek into the room where we were shooting. The last step was adding the music, which was composed by one of our Sr. Production Coordinators, Ben Kasman. We were so excited to finally show it to everyone that we had a public “viewing” before we e-mailed it out.

One of the most challenging aspects of making the video was making the props. We were on a limited budget and needed to use inexpensive, readily accessible materials. That meant building a poster board drum set that could double as a cake, slicing a yoga ball into segments so it could “grow,” and wrapping giant circles in disposable tablecloths (for the final scene). The most time-consuming task was knitting a 25-foot-long scarf, which took 4 of us several weeks!

We wanted to have a wide range of people in the video (men and women from different departments, both senior and junior) and were so pleased that everyone we asked enthusiastically agreed to participate (especially since they needed to be on call for 4 hours, and quickly learn their parts when they arrived on set). Here they are, in order of appearance:

Laura Bagnato, Marketing Designer
Alex Sheehan, Special Sales Manager
Nion McEvoy, Chairman & CEO
Ben Laramie, Industrial Designer
Dean Burell, Managing Editorial Director
Anna Carollo, Marketing Design Coordinator
Jack Jensen, President
Emily Craig, Marketing Designer
Kelly Abeln, Marketing Design Fellow

Zoomed out: The secrets of filmmaking revealed.

Kelly smoothes the white paper that lines our 18-foot-wide set.

Ben sits pretty mid-spin, while Emily and Kelly work to make the cake look like it’s decorating itself.

Magic is made with black paper and invisible string.

Left: A mountain of props sits just off camera, including ball segments used to create the illusion of growth. Right: 25 feet of scarf carefully rolled up, strapped on, and positioned out of sight.

Laura checks out the position of the lurking scarf as it makes its next move.

Shooting the last scene was a huge team effort!

Laura Bagnato & Liz Rico



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