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The Nuts & Bolts of Filming Scrapbook Soup Season 4

I do a lot of filming these days.  It's awesome!  I love it.  It's also a lot of work.  Today I thought I'd share a peek at some of the nuts and bolts of filming Scrapbook Soup.

The prep is epic for any kind of how-to taping.  Here's a peek at my prep steps for a single segment:

  1. Receive assignment.  It could be a theme, such as "flowers," or a product, such as "Sakura Koi Brush Markers."
  2. Get up to speed.  This is the research phase.  If it's a product, I need to experiment and play around with it.  I read packaging and think about what makes the product special.  If it's a theme I try to brainstorm around it.  What is my unique point-of-view on the topic?
  3. Choose a primary technique or idea.  One of the issues that I have as a teacher is overpacking my classes.  I always want to share every single idea and that can be overwhelming, especially in a timed video or TV segment.  Over time I've learned that I need to simplify things to be most effective.
  4. Consider the segment length.  You can teach a more complicated technique or idea in 9 minutes than in 6.  I always the consider the length of time I have to teach when I'm putting together my project.
  5. Create a project around the primary technique or idea.  There isn't a right or a wrong way to do this.  It's more about how your brain works.  For me, it's easier to develop the project around my chosen technique or idea rather than developing the project and then pulling out the technique or idea.  You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe.
  6. Break the project down into step-outs.  Once the project is completed, it's time to figure out how to break it down for filming.  Generally speaking, any step that has drying time or is repetitive needs to be stepped-out.  It's easier to understand when discussing an actual project.  Take this scrapbook page, which I created for Season 4 of Scrapbook Soup:


I brought with me:

    • blank white watercolor paper cut to 12x12
    • a completed background (the white paper with the black painting done and dried)
    • a blank book page
    • a sheet of doodled flowers on a book page
    • some cut out doodled flowers
    • all the supplies to put the page together (photos, adhesive, pens, ruler, etc.)
  1. Bag the project.  Once I've completed a project, it goes into a bag with all the various step-outs and supplies.  If there are common shared supplies (like a black ink pad), those items go onto a list that is taped to the front of the bag.  That way when I'm prepping the segment at the studio, I can immediately see what is missing from the project.
  2. Write directions.  Written directions for all of the projects that appear on Scrapbook Soup can be found on the Scrapbook Soup website.  So, before I forget what the heck I did, I write up a supply list and basic instructions.  If there are any templates or anything like that, I also work on getting those digitized!
  3. Take photographs.  Now it's time for the beauty shots!  I take photos of the projects (for the instruction sheets and for myself).  I then edit the photos and breathe a sigh of relief.

Repeat all 9 steps for each segment.

Once I make it to the studio, there's still a little bit more prep to do.

In the photo above you can see the big metal baker's trays lined up on the tables.  Each tray is for a single segment.  When I, or any of the guests, get to the studio, we get our segments ready on a tray.

Then those trays are carried into the studio for setup on the set.


 Once in the studio, you set up the supplies and step-outs for filming.  We go over the order of events and get everyone in the studio on the same page in terms of what's happening.



And as completely glamorous as the whole experience is, there is a lot of standing around and waiting for all of the technical issues -- sound, cameras, lights, etc.


In the oh-so-very-flattering photo above you can see Kathy -- the producer -- and Kevin -- the sound guy -- adjusting my mic pack and my IFB pack.  An IFB is a little thing I wear in my ear so that I can hear Kathy when she's in the control room and I'm on set.

This is a peek at the control room:


Anyway, once we set up and go through everything, we wait for the lighting and camera angles to be adjusted.  This was one of those waiting times:


Here's the view from where I'm standing:


There are four cameras and they get moved all around depending on what we're doing.  Cameras 1 and 2 are almost always catching a side angle.  Camera 3 is an overhead camera on a long arm.  It shoots from above and it means that we have to work upside down.  This can be very confusing to first time guests and I often find myself flipping their work around during the segment.  Camera 4 is almost always the straight on camera.  You can see that it has a teleprompter attached to it.  This means that I don't have to memorize things!  Yay!

Once the floor crew gets the signal from the control room that we're ready to go, the floor director counts down and we're off!  The actual filming is always a blur of adrenaline and craft supplies!  I'm trying to listen to the guest and ask good questions, make sure that everything looks right for the camera, pay attention to the time and keep things on track, help the guest with anything she/he needs, and listen to Kathy in my ear.   And, of course, when I'm by myself filming a segment I'm listening to Kathy in my ear, trying to work upside down, paying attention to the time, talking the entire time I'm working -- silence on how-to TV is not a good thing -- and trying to remember to point out the important bits and pieces of the technique as I go.

It's a rush!  I love the craziness of it!

No matter what shoes I wear, my feet hurt by the end of the day.


The days can be long.  I'm in the makeup chair at 7:30am each and every day.  Some days we're done by 6pm.  Some days I don't leave the studio until 8pm.  

I love it.

Thanks for stopping by!