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Meet the Animator of our Much Ado About Nothing Video

Before watching our Much Ado About Nothing video, you may have never been able to imagine Shakespeare as a rapper. But thanks to animator Nate Schoman, you’ll never see Shakespeare the same way again. Nate has animated Flocab fan favorites like Huck Finn, Five Things, and The Odyssey.

Now, we bring you an exclusive peek behind the scenes. Read on to learn about his animation process, his favorite Flocab video, and why playing Led Zeppelin drum parts are all part of a days work.

Can you tell us about your process for animating the Much Ado video?

There’s a lot that goes into making these videos, but the process is pretty similar: from Concept, to Pre-Production, to Production, to Post-Production.

First I’ll listen to the track, and work closely with the Flocab creative team to decide what we want the video to look like – from the characters, to the setting, to the behavior and look of the text.  Next I’ll get all those different pieces ready for animating – a lot like a traditional animator might.  In Much Ado, for example, there were a lot of pieces to prep – including eleven different mouth ‘shapes’ so Peter the Janitor and MC Shakespeare could be lip-synced to the audio.

After all the pieces are ready comes the really fun part: the animating.  Working frame-by-frame – with more than 7000 frames in one of these videos – the going can be tough.  But the moment I watch that first clip at speed, and the characters I created jump to life, it’s just the coolest.  Once the animation is done, it’s a matter of finishing touches and titles, and off to the internet she goes!

You’ve animated a few Flocabulary videos. Which is your favorite, and why?

I’ve enjoyed collaborating with Flocab on every project we’ve produced together.  Each project is uniquely challenging, and Blake and Alex have given me a lot of creative control, which is great from a visual artist’s perspective.  If I had to pick one favorite …  I have to say I do have a soft spot for Huck Finn, which just came together so nicely.  But working on Much Ado was a blast also, and it turned out great too.

What inspired you to go into animation? Where did you learn how to animate?

That’s tough.  My inspirations are so many!  There’s something amazing about the medium of animation itself though – the ability to just dream something up out of the corners of your mind, and with a little practice and a lot of patience, to see that vision realized – to be able to share that vision with others, it’s really an awesome feeling.

My first experiment with animation was around age 11, when my best friend and I made a pretty epic, albeit amateur, stop-motion animation about the pirate invasion of a colonial fort.  There was cannon fire, swordplay – and ultimately, the sinking of the pirate ship.  I’ve honed my skills a lot since then, and actually now have my degree in visual effects animation – but I’ve always held on to the imagination that went into that pirate movie.

Flocabulary isn’t the only way you’re combining music and education. You’re also a music teacher for budding rockers. What’s that like?

That’s right.  In addition to my work in video, I also teach kids to rock out on the electric bass and guitar, drums and keyboards.  For all the fortune I’ve had being able to study music and the arts in my life, passing the gift forward is the least I can do.

For the most part, the programs I work with are performance based, meaning the kids get individual lessons on their instruments, but rehearse together as a group to perform shows at some legit venues.  I’ve directed several casts through long months of rehearsing, really a ton of material –  and watching these kids take the stage in the end, and take ownership of the material, is not unlike watching the characters come to life in animation – it’s a truly unique and rewarding feeling.  I’m as proud of my music students as I am of my visual art.  And as far as I’m concerned, any ‘day at the office’ that involves teaching someone to bang out a Led Zeppelin drum part or to wail on a Black Sabbath guitar riff – that’s a good day at the office!

Thanks Nate! See more of Nate Schoman’s work at www.NESchoman.com