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Preview: Common Craft - Common Craft - Our Product is Explanation

Common Craft - Common Craft - Our Product is Explanation

Welcome to Common Craft. Our three-minute videos help educators and influencers introduce complex subjects. Find out more


New Video: The Invisible Power of IP Addresses

Tue, 13 Sep 2016 17:40:28 +0000

IP Addresses Explained by Common Craft

At the very heart of the web are a set of rules or “protocols” that let us send and receive information. By understanding Internet Protocol Addresses or IP Addresses, we can see how information is delivered on the web.


What it Teaches

Without IP addresses the internet could not function. They are essential. Unfortunately, because IP addresses are often hidden from view, we rarely hear or learn about them. This video reveals the powerful role they play on the web through a useful analogy involving traditional mail. It teaches:

  • Why rules or “protocols” are important in the basic functions of the web
  • Why traditional mailing addresses are an example of a protocol
  • How IP addresses are used to request and receive information on the web
  • Why there are two versions of IP addresses

Watch the video.

New Video: The Deep Web, Explained by Common Craft

Wed, 03 Aug 2016 00:28:09 +0000

When it comes to research, search engines are not enough.

Waiting just out of their sight is a world of valuable resources called the Hidden or Deep Web and understanding it makes research more effective. This video is perfect for schools or libraries who need better ways to teach research. 


What it Teaches:

This video is designed to highlight the major differences between the normal web sites we see in search results and the databases, services and websites that are found in the Hidden or Deep Web. It teaches:

  • How deep web resources are different than public websites and search results
  • Why deep web resources don’t appear in search results
  • Why deep web resources often require special permissions or payment
  • Where to find free access to the deep web
  • How the deep web is used in research and everyday situations

Watch the full video now

Common Craft Videos are Changing - Here's Why

Mon, 25 Jul 2016 18:56:26 +0000

Back in 2007, Sachi and I had an idea. YouTube was just getting started and we wanted to make videos that explained technology. After a few failed attempts, Sachi suggested pointing a video camera at a whiteboard and recording human hands moving paper cut-outs and markers on the screen. This was the birth of Common Craft videos and our first video was RSS in Plain English, what many consider the first explainer video of the YouTube era. Sachi in 2007 with out 1st generation whiteboard setup Since then, a lot has changed, but the basic format of Common Craft videos has remained the same. The 80+ “ready made” videos we license to educators all use live-action, stop-motion animation with paper cut-outs. For each video, we print, cut-out and animate every piece of paper that appears. We film the video over 3-4 hours and then Sachi edits it all together with a voice-over. It’s all very time-consuming. And now, we’ve made a decision to adjust our method. Common Craft is going digital. Let me explain... Finding a Better Way We love our work and there are two big things we love to do: Produce explainer videos that help educators Create resources (Cut-outs, Explainer Academy) that help professionals become better explainers In reviewing our time and priorities, we saw that the video production method we’ve used since 2007 is complex and involves extensive time, equipment (lights, camera, software) and know-how. Unlike so many other parts of our work, the process had not evolved to be more efficient. At the same time, we have grown even more focused on helping others learn to explain ideas and create DIY animated videos. We could see that teaching our live-action, stop-motion process would be a challenge. An Idea Was Born We started asking ourselves what really mattered and what could change after nearly ten years. We considered questions like: What if we experimented and developed a new, more streamlined method for making Common Craft videos? What if the method we develop is focused on simple, inexpensive, DIY tools (like presentation and screencasting software) that almost anyone can use? In the end, we gathered feedback and agreed that our work as explainers is grounded in our process for writing and refining scripts, and developing visual stories. While stop-motion animation and on-screen hand gestures served us well, they were not required for creating the same compelling explanations that our fans and members love to use. So, we started experimenting and developed a simpler production method over the last year that’s all digital. In fact, this method was what we used to create the 60+ videos in the Explainer Academy and is the exact same method we teach in the DIY Media Maker Course. It's known as "Common Craft Style". Looking Ahead Starting immediately, future videos for the Common Craft Video Library will be created in digital format. We’ll be developing the same scripts, storyboards, visuals and voice-overs as before, but the visuals will be animated with software instead of edited video footage. With this new efficiency, we're excited to create more videos, faster and hopefully continue to inspire others to become explainer video creators. If you’re interested in the Explainer Academy, take our free course or sign up for the Explainer Academy newsletter. [...]

New Video: Open Source Explained by Common Craft

Wed, 01 Jun 2016 16:04:00 +0000

You've heard of open source software and you may even use it every day. But have you ever wondered why it matters? That's one of the questions we're hoping to answer with this video. How is open source different from proprietary software? Why is open source software useful and popular? 


What it Teaches:

This video follows the story of a software developer who created a new tool and is trying to figure out how the tool will be shared and supported in the future. It teaches:

    •    Why open source makes sense for some types of software
    •    How open source differs from closed source, or proprietary software
    •    What motivates people to work on open source projects
    •    How businesses work with open source software

Watch the full video now

New Video: Artificial Intelligence Explained by Common Craft

Tue, 08 Mar 2016 17:51:33 +0000

From what you see in movies and on TV, it's easy to think that true artificial intelligence has arrived. But in reality, it's still mostly a dream. 

Our latest video (our 80th!) explains the basics of artificial intelligence, where we are today and what we can expect in the future. 


What it Teaches:

The goal of artificial intelligence is to create computers that are as intelligent as humans. Achieving this goal is a huge, huge challenge. Today, researchers are making progress and forms of artificial intelligence are starting to appear in everyday life. This video teaches:

  • Why artificial intelligence is so challenging to create
  • How we use forms of artificial intelligence today
  • What is required for computers to teach themselves
  • Why empathy and emotional intelligence are very difficult for computers
  • What we may see in the distant future

Watch the full video now

We'd like to thank Tim Urban at What But Why for inspiring some of the ideas in this video. His article on The Artificial Intelligence Revolution is a classic. 

The Explainer Academy Launch is Just Weeks Away

The Explainer Academy is one the biggest projects we've ever taken-on. Over months, we've developed completely new and original approaches to teaching the skill of explanation.


The "Explanation Master Course" is a multimedia experience with dozens of short, animated videos, visuals, quizzes, exercises and downloadable templates and guides. 

Want to be notified when it launches (and get a discount)? Sign up for updates here.

More Cut-outs!

Our library of downloadable Cut-outs continues to grow. We now have over 2,350 handcrafted visuals for presentations, videos and more.  

Get unlimited access starting at $49 a year

New Video: Presentation Planning Explained by Common Craft

Tue, 26 Jan 2016 14:12:34 +0000

Have you ever heard the term "Death by PowerPoint"? It's a reference to presentations that are disorganized and go on forever. It's a plague and we want to help.

Our latest video was suggested by members and is designed to teach students an essential 21st century skill: how to plan a presentation so that it's organized and easy to follow. 


What it Teaches:

All great presentations have one thing in common: they are well organized. This video illustrates how to plan your next presentation so that your audience easily understands what you have to say. It teaches:

  • Why effective presentations matter
  • How to organize and group ideas using sticky notes
  • How to use an outline to develop specific points
  • How to move your points into PowerPoint or Keynote slides
  • Why visuals are important and how to use them

Watch the full video now

Video: Algorithms - What They Are, Why They Matter

Wed, 09 Dec 2015 14:26:36 +0000

The Common Craft libraries continue to grow.

Today we're publishing a new video (our 78th!) and have recently added a lot of new Cut-outs (now over 2,200!)

The new video explains algorithms - what they are and why they matter.


What it Teaches:

This video is an introduction to the basic ideas of algorithms. It explains how computers, websites and digital products need instructions that answer the question “what should I do next?” in order to complete tasks, serve customers and gather information. It teaches:

  • Why algorithms are similar to offline customer service
  • How to think about and visualize an algorithm
  • Why algorithms run our favorite websites
  • How a popular music website might use algorithms

Watch the full video now

2,200 Cut-outs!

Our library of Common Craft Cut-outs is always growing and expanding. Here's a small sample of new ones.


Save 15% on Explainer Academy Courses

We're in the process of developing self-paced, online courses that will teach explanation and media creation skills (pretty much everything we've learned).

If you're a subscriber to the Academy Newsletter (view a recent example), you'll save 15% when the Academy launches.

Sign-up for the newsletter at

Recently Published Videos:

New Video: Privacy Online

Thu, 05 Nov 2015 14:07:26 +0000

We just published a new video and thought you'd like to know. This one explains a subject that touches us all: privacy online.


What it teaches:

This video helps students understand the reality of using today's Internet in terms of privacy. It explains how our actions online are tracked and used. It teaches:

  • Why privacy online is different than it is in the real world
  • How nearly everything we do online is documented and analyzed by companies
  • Why our data is important to the success of online companies
  • How our data enables websites to be free
  • What we can do to understand how our data is being used and make choices to protect it.

Watch the full video now

Save 15% on Explainer Academy Courses

We're in the process of developing self-paced, online courses that will teach explanation and media creation skills (pretty much everything we've learned).

If you're a subscriber to the Academy Newsletter (view a recent example), you'll get 15% when the Academy launches.

Sign-up for the newsletter at


New Video: Bias Detection

Wed, 23 Sep 2015 16:42:08 +0000

It's back-to-school time and we just published a video that's perfect for helping students navigate the wild world of media. It's all about understanding and detecting bias.

Here are the highlights:


Learn how to make ExplainerGIFs like the one above with our FREE GUIDE.

What it Teaches:

Building on the example of sports fans, this video illustrates how bias is a common and sometimes productive part of how we communicate. It also shows how bias can cause problems when it’s hidden or not detected. This video teaches:

  • Why bias is a common and expected part of communicating
  • Why high-quality information needs to be unbiased
  • What problems occur when bias is ignored
  • What to look for - common signs of bias in media

Watch the full video now

Coming Soon: Our Secrets, Revealed

Our big focus this fall is getting the Explainer Academy ready for prime time. For the first time, we'll show you every step we take in making a Common Craft video from scripts to storyboards and production.

In fact, we recently filmed a whole video shoot to document how the videos come together.


You can learn more and sign-up for updates at

New Video: Account Security (Why Strong Passwords are Not Enough)

Wed, 12 Aug 2015 17:35:54 +0000

Our latest video explains why a strong password is not enough and what we can do to prevent problems with access to our sensitive accounts.

It's called Account Security - Explained by Common Craft.  

Here are the highlights:

Learn how to make ExplainerGIFs like the one below with our FREE GUIDE.


Watch the full video.

About this video:

From email to bank accounts and healthcare information, a lot of our sensitive information now lives online. Along with strong passwords, there are many things we can do to prevent access to this information. This video explains:

  • The risk of others having access to your accounts
  • How to be responsible with login information
  • What to consider when using public computers
  • Two-Step Verification
  • Password Manager Apps

How to Use This Video

This video is part of our Net Safety series and is designed to help your audience understand ways they can be more safe and secure online. It can be used in corporate or educational situations. 

Watch the full video.