Chronicle Books cuts a page-turning video

[Alyson Kuhn] ’Tis the season for the clever, creative, paper-loving folks at Chronicle Books to send out this year’s holiday video. Everything in the video is made of paper: the type, the snowflakes, the mug of cocoa with marshmallows, even the record player that is about to play the original soundtrack composed just for this video, just for you. Are you ready?

This undertaking is not for the faint of hand. The marketing communications team started thinking about this year’s video back in August. When I asked designer Laura Bagnato, who led the project, whether the holiday video might be her favorite project of the year, she did not disagree. I asked her a handful more questions.

Is there some subliminal content beyond holiday delight? Or maybe it’s not subliminal, but I’m too busy marveling at the paper engineering to get it.
Well, there is an underlying structure. Something we try to do often with our brand marketing is to represent all of the categories that we publish – and that was an easy way to add structure to the video. It seemed natural to be able to build objects that represented our five major publishing groups.

Wow. So can you talk us through the page tableaux?
Of course. First is entertainment, music, pop culture. Second is lifestyle and arts & crafts—that’s the page with scissors and spools and thread. Then food & drink, then art and design, and we ended with kids.

Who’s who on the crew?
Well, from left to right in the photo, that’s Steve Kim (production), Kelsey Premo Jones (design), Jackie Jakob (digital), Tina Hardison (design), Ali Presley (online marketing), and the left arrm of Lydia Ortiz (design). Not pictured, but still important, were Ben Laramie (industrial design), Liz Rico (design), Guinevere de la Mare (community manager). Oh, and me, Laura Bagnato (design).

And the video is actually produced in-house at Chronicle Books?
Yes! After working with marketing to decide on the best direction, we spent eight to ten hours a week, hanging out and paper crafting. Kelsey and Lydia, who are both designers, took charge of organizing that portion. They made a chart of what we needed to do and when. At the end, you throw the schedule out and just work feverishly at the last to get it all done. We couldn’t have done such intricate cutting without Ben Laramie, who’s an industrial designer at Chronicle Books. We recently acquired a small robotic cutter—it’s about 18 x 24 in. with a blade on a revolving axis. You feed it a vector file and it does the rest. For all the various snowflakes, it was invaluable. Normally, Ben uses the cutter for mock-ups for format pieces—paper pop-out jewelry, for example. Tina Hardison helped to figure out the camera equipment and filmed the card. It’s awesome to be able to tape the creativity of people here. We have a camera for filming—and we have Ben Kasman to make music to match!

And who receives this video enchantment from Chronicle Books?
Chronicle employees actually use the video as a tool, a way to thank people—independent booksellers, authors, and others in our industry. The audience is wide, but everyone receives it as a private holiday card. It’s gratifying when people we work with all year long, are excited to receive it. Not everyone is on-line a lot. They may not read design blogs! We of course post about it on Facebook, to share the process with friends.

For an encore, enjoy the wonderfully different 2010 holiday video here and the 2011 edition here.

All photos courtesy of Chronicle Books.



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Comments (1)

  1. Posted by Mick Hodgson on 01.2.13 at 11:47 am

    As a recipient it is a great video and welcome, but it does raise the issue of the decline of mailed Holiday cards. I basically stopped looking at emailed or facebooked “Cards”. There’s a large gap between something that arrives in your email in box and is then gone and something that arrives in you email box and is on the mantlepice for a few weeks, and if it’s something fab then sometimes kept forever. IMHO

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