"When's the next video coming out? How long does it take to make a video? How do you make these videos? What equipment do you use?"
We've been doing this for around a decade and those questions, more than anything else, are the ones people ask the most. In this article, I hope to answer all of those questions as detailed as I possibly can. Things might change over time, but as of this date this is how we do things.
Disclaimer: Some of the following links might be affiliate.
Now if you don’t want to read all of this, I did put together a video a little while ago that shows in a succinct manner how we make our videos. Some of this method is outdated though, so watch with caution.
One of the very first things I do is go into my Evernote account and open my notebook titled “Video Ideas.” In this notebook, are a list of ideas I’ve jotted down overtime and ideas from fans. This is simply to draw inspiration if I don’t already have an idea in mind. This is a great way to prompt my writing.
After selecting an idea I title the video. This might seem backwards because I haven’t even written anything yet, but sometimes working this manner helps my writing. It’s weird to explain.
I enter my Trello account, type in the title of the video on a new card; drag it into my board section titled “doing.”
On that new card I add a checklist of things I need to complete for said video and as you can see it’s quite a bit!
I follow this procedure for every single video in the order that the list shows:
Convert Videos in Sony
Edit Visual and Audio Effects
Check for Errors
Upload to Members
Upload to Public
I’ll break down this list throughout the article.
Back in Evernote under my notebook “VIDEOS” I open my note “Video in Progress” and I start an outline for the new video. For my outlines, I like to make a checklist of things I know for sure I want to see happen in the video. The list is in no particular order and it’s messy, but it doesn’t matter; if something pops in my head I always try to write it down immediately before it escapes me. It’s a plus that Evernote (and Trello) have mobile apps.
After I make my checklist, I begin on the outline. I write outlines in scene breakdowns and I usually write in the order it’ll appear in the actual script. So I write the location and under that I have what I want to happen in the scene, including what I want said in the scene. I go back up to my checklist and make sure to include each item in one scene at a time. This can take me anywhere from a couple of hours to a working day.
After I finish my outline, it’s time to turn it into a script. I write all of my scripts in Final Draft. People ask me a lot, “How do you write so-and-so?” and honestly, I have no answer. I’ve been writing little skits my whole life and it’s always just been something that comes naturally to me.
Even if something I write never sees the light of day (and there are plenty), I just like doing it. It’s something that’s effortless to me. If I’m writing and it’s not flowing or I hit a block, I scrap that idea and write something that moves me.
Once I finish the script, I check that item off on my Trello checklist.
After I write the script it’s time to read through it with my sister and my brother. We read in character and see how everything sounds live with the correct timing. Sometimes, these can be rough. Jokes don’t always land or something is unclear in the wiring or I have tons of spelling and grammar errors that completely ruin the reading experience.
Table reads are something that no one should skip. It’s extremely valuable to read aloud your writing and/or read it with someone. I can’t stress that enough. If you have no one to share your writing with, there are many resources of forums; blogs, etc. where there are spaces to comfortably share what you’ve written. If you wish not to do that, still read your writing aloud. See if dialogue rolls off your tongue comfortably.
After taking notes for changes (if any) and getting the green light, I check this item off on my Trello checklist.
The thumbnail is probably the most important aspect of a video. Thumbnails are what generate the most clicks, so I always try to take my time crafting a good thumbnail which can take from half a working day to a full day.
I open up the game, pose whichever sim is important to the video on a white background in-game. I take extra-large photos of my sim, bit by bit (like a scanner) using FRAPS. Then I take a picture of whatever the scenery/background will be for the thumbnail in the same manner, bit by bit.
In Photoshop I merge the picture of the character together using automate—merge option. I clear out the white background. Then, I sharpen and edit the character to look as good as possible.
Next, I merge the background, brighten it, and possibly change up some colors and Gaussian blur the picture so the character(s) will stand out. After that I place the character on the background to complete the picture.
The result is a large picture but that’s good because that means I can resize the picture for IGTV, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
Once I’m happy with the thumbnail and show it to my siblings for their opinions or notes, I check this item off on my Trello checklist.
Save for improv videos and the podcast; we record all vocals separately. I’ll bring my brother or sister in to record their lines (we usually record 2-3 takes until it sounds “right” to me) and it’s just me reading the line before his or hers and them responding. You can hear some of this on our Patreon in the bloopers section.
Depending on how long the script is and how much dialogue there is, this can take anywhere from fifteen minutes to forty-five minutes to get done with each person. I record my vocals alone and don’t take as long because I wrote it. Doesn’t mean I don’t flub up lines.
The best thing about recording vocals prior to filming is that it leaves the voice actors some wiggle room to improve and ad-lib a few lines which I end up keeping in the final video 80% of the time.
Thanks to our Patrons I was able to buy our voice actors Blue Snowball mics and that’s what the majority of them use to record—it’s also what we use for podcast episodes. My brother, sister, and I record using an Audio Technica microphone. We voice record using the latest version of Mixcraft.
After we get the vocals all recorded and sent in, I check this item off on my Trello checklist.
After all vocals are done and sent in I piece together all of the recordings to line up with the script including getting the timing for beats (pauses) and jokes accurate. This takes a good two hours to complete.
After all lines are in order, I mix (export) out each track individually and pull them into Audacity where I will pitch up or down vocals, according to the character speaking, and remove any background noise so it sounds as clear as possible.
I then bring these audio files (.wav format) back into Mixcraft and ensure the timing is still accurate before mixing everything out scene by scene.
Once the audio sounds great, I check this item off on my Trello checklist.
Ah filming, my least favorite, and longest part of the whole process. I’ve gone over in videos before how filming breaks down so I’ll try to be brief. I don’t film in order, I usually film based on location and the length (longest) of the scene. If a scene requires a lot of extras or Sims, I usually get those out of the way first.
I film using the in-game camera, but it’s a modified camera to shoot in HD. In order to see how to do that you can follow the instructions here. A big monitor that allows you to film 1920 x 1080 helps, which I didn’t always have. I started on a cheap HP laptop that took 2 hours for the Sims to load…no joke.
Filming takes 4-7 days to complete. It’s slow, it requires patience, and things can and will go wrong whilst filming. A sim can look the wrong way, look at the camera, perform the wrong action, the game can crash, and a whole lot of other things can go wrong that push back production. At most, I manage to film 3 scenes a day, but that’s rare. It’s usually 2 scenes (taking around 6-7 hours to complete) and then done for the day.
As I complete a scene I check each one off on my Trello checklist. With happiness and relief!
This step that is relative, but because The Sims record in .avi format, I have to convert them into a format that Adobe Premiere will accept. I take the clips into Sony Vegas and render them out to .mp4s, because a regular converter leaves this pixelated green mess over the .avi files, it’s weird.
This doesn’t take too long thankfully; it’s about a half hour to get all of the clips converted. I then label each clip according to scene and then check this item off my Trello checklist.
I edit all of our videos in the latest version of Adobe Premiere. This has been the best video editing software I think I’ve ever used. It’s fast, it’s responsive, and I get to make shortcuts that make it so I don’t have to lift my hands too much.
Editing, along with writing, is my favorite part of the whole process because this is where I finally get to see everything come together. I edit the video to match the audio. Mouth movements and facial expressions (shot separately) line up to fit however the voice actor delivered the line. Unlike with filming, I edit in sequential order scene by scene. I usually don’t add visual effects and sound effects until the very end before I render everything and check for errors.
When checking for errors, we’re looking for screw ups with the visual effects, checking the audio levels to make sure they don’t cross into the red, and sometimes we’ll cut out a scene or line of dialogue. Sometimes I’ll even re-arrange the dialogue or extend a beat for comedic purposes or because the scene calls for it.
My brother is in charge of quality control (aka he’s my second set of fresh eyes) which means if he thinks a scene is missing something he will take note and tell me to fix this or that. He also keeps an eye out for visual glitches or mistakes, but even he can’t catch every little mess up and sometimes those errors make it into the final cut.
Once I finish editing, I check that item off on my Trello checklist.
Export + Public Release:
Next I export the finished video and upload to YouTube unlisted. The video is unlisted from 10-24 hours because I allow our paying members on Facebook, YouTube, and Patreon to watch the video using their Early Access perk. They get to like and leave comments long before the public does. They’re also a part of the process while I’m making the video.
Before post day, I do a few things. I have a checklist in my Evernote notebook titled “What to Do Before and After Video Goes Public” that I follow each time:
Buy captions for FB and YT.
Buffer IG STORY out of Thumbnail Video.
Buffer TWITTER gif thumbnail for post day.
Patreon schedule a public 'video' post.
Buffer IG STORY Quiz.
Schedule FB pillar content.
Upload IGTV of pillar content on desktop post day, save draft.
Buffer is another handy tool I use to easily distribute posts across social media pages. Pillar content is just another name for the finished, main video.
Once I finish everything, and I check off my checklists, I post the video publicly and I get a momentary break. That’s everything. This is what I do every video and this isn’t even including the special videos we make for our Instagram and Facebook or the podcast or the merchandise or clearing out my DMs or responding to fans comments/emails and the other projects I control.
In all, one video takes 7-14 days to complete.
It's a lot of work, but I love every minute.