About two years ago I bought a tool that I thought I was going to start using right away, but that I never actually used until today.
I’d like to sketch out that tool as I share the story of why I’m choosing to start using it in this moment.
The Overhead Camera Setup
What I do here is teach sketchnoting skills: how to incorporate more drawings, simple sketches, diagrams, and the use of color into your note-taking process.
The style of videos that I make is often just a single-camera overhead shot so that you can see what I’m sketching out.
A couple of years ago I started using the setup that I’ve drawn below (and described in detail in this video: DIY Overhead Shooting Rig).
To create that setup, I bought some aluminum pipes at Home Depot and rigged up an upside down “U” that I drilled into my desk so that I could have a camera permanently set up. The goal was to create as little resistance as possible in between me having an idea for something that I wanted to sketch out and actually hitting the record button.
And it’s been pretty great for the past couple of years to have that setup and to be able to transition into that creative mode (and specifically, that recording mode) so quickly.
Even though I’ve enjoyed the simplicity of that setup, I’ve become a bit bored with it and decided to give something else a try.
Time To Shake Things Up
I feel like that’s a common thing to happen with the creative process.
Even when you stumble upon a particular process that you really enjoy, you might use it for a while, but eventually it becomes boring and you want to start trying new things, mixing it up just to see what happens.
That can be true of your sketchnoting skills, after you get really comfortable with a particular combination of notebook and pen and process.
Yes, it’s nice to have those go-to’s, but it’s also nice to experiment. If you’ve been working small, go large. If you’ve been sitting down, try standing up and working on a wall.
Those occasional experiments often unlock something new in your creativity, and it’s for that reason that I decided to pull a particular tool out of my closet, where it’s been sitting for the past year, and actually set it up.
The New Gear
I want to try something a little bit different with the videos that I make here.
I’ll still be focusing on developing sketchnoting skills and using those as a learning, problem-solving, and storytelling tool, but I’d like to try documenting my work in a little bit different way.
And that’s where the swivel arm (which is actually called a friction arm) comes in, as I’ve sketched out below:
I feel like I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about ideas and lessons and tips that I want to pass on, but not enough time actually making things and sharing those ideas. There has been way too big of a gap in between me having that initial idea and actually sharing it with you in some way.
So in the same way that the aluminum pipes that I drilled into my desk reduced a lot of the friction around me shooting those overhead videos, the new friction arm that I’ve begun using with an old vlogging camera will make it a little bit easier to document on a day-to-day basis the things that I am making and the projects I’m working on, sharing tips about sketchnoting along the way.
I want to do more sketchnoting of podcasts and books and take you along for the ride while I’m doing that.
I still might make some videos that are just top-down, in which you only see me sketching and writing things out, but as much as possible I’m going to try to bring in a few more cameras and document what I’m up to in a little bit more natural way, both because I think I’m gonna have more fun with that process and I think you might find it to be more interesting as well.
So bear with me if it feels a little clunky at first. I’m just going to be figuring things out as I go. And I hope that you enjoy the new things that come from this experimentation.
The New Guides
Speaking of new things, I also wanted to mention that I just released a new set of free sketchnoting guides.
So if you’re new to the world of visual note-taking and still feeling things out, my hope is that these guides that I’ve created will orient you to what’s going on:
Each of those guides is a short email course. Once a day for five days you’ll get an email from me in which I introduce you to the topic of that guide, share some of my favorite past videos that I’ve created, and provide some follow-up activities to help you get up and running.
So if that sounds interesting, then do check them out.
Good luck working on your own sketchnoting projects, and maybe even experimenting with something new to see if you can unlock a new layer of your own creativity.