Worldbuilding 101 – Web Series

Is This the Real Life?
Is This Just Fantasy?

Harper Collins

When Jenn Shaw, writer-director extraordinaire and good friend to us at Houses, came to us with a new proposition, we didn’t have to think twice. She needed our help to produce an 8 episode web series for Harper Collins on Fantasy Worldbuilding, something all of us fantasy and sci-fi nerds instantly geeked out over with the possibilities.

The series is based on esteemed author interviews produced by Jenn and Harper Collins. Our task was to edit those down and bring each topic to life through visuals which enhance and expand upon the author’s words.

We wanted to tackle this on 2 different fronts. While the author is on screen, we will emphasize their points with hand-drawn graphics that reveal and float in the space. These are reminiscent of the author’s own notes as they work out an idea, evolve a specific aspect, or even eliminate elements that aren’t working. We see these like pencil drawings on screen… loose and free, able to be emphasized, changed or erased. We liked this, as it helps show how messy the creative process can be, but it’s the path you have to follow to find a better idea.

As the discussions require further explanation, we jump into our Full Screen graphics. We continue to lean into the world of books and authors, relying on paper-craft and stylized CGI to tell the story. We like the tactile nature of paper- craft and its gentle nod back to books. The look of layered, cut paper to build reflects how stories are built up one piece at a time. Characters, iconography, illustrations, & maps can be created with this technique to provide a bold and unique look for the explainer sections of the video.
For all elements, we began with a tactile approach and then brought them into the computer for further manipulation.
The hand-drawn elements will started with pencil to paper. We draw out the typography, arrows, accents and illustrations. Those were then photographed so they could be isolated and animated individually. We even made a custom hand drawn font to speed up our production process. A similar process was used for the paper craft elements. Those illustrations began on the computer though, as digital vector illustrations. Those vector illustrations were then cut out of paper by our versatile plotter-cutter. Each individual element was then photographed and brought back into the computer to be rigged, animated, and create entire scenes from.We love this approach as it retains the essence of hand crafted elements but still allows for great flexibility in production.


In addition to the creating the 8 full length episodes, Houses created teaser trailers for each. Above you can find one of our favorite cutdowns. 

Click on the image below to view all 8 episodes on Facebook Watch. They’re a lot of fun and some good nuggets of info for those aspiring Fantasy authors!



Houses in Motion
Director: John Earle
Design & Animation: Alex Trimpe, Caroline Duffy, Katie Falk, Julie Morris, John Earle
Fabrication: Katie Falk, Caroline Duffy, John Earle
Edit & Sound Design: Dan Jusino
Copywriter: Gianna Orzo
Audio Mix: Explosion Robinson
Series Producer: Jennifer Shaw