Behind the Scenes of Macareindeer!

You’ve danced as a reindeer — now see the magic that made it all happen!

Our director Jeff took the lead on this project. He wanted to take a song that people know and love and warp it into some sort of Christmas card. We had originally thought of using the macarana as a halloween/zombie track, but when the idea of making it a holiday card with dancing reindeers popped into his head, well…that’s how we ended up here. ;)

If you haven’t seen it, here’s the original video of the macarena.

It would take quite a bit of movie magic to recreate, so using the original as inspiration, we filmed Jefff dancing each part. Here’s a look at the footage before the reindeer heads were added:

You may be asking yourself, is Jeff part of a family of identical quintuplets who all work at JibJab? As awesome as that would be, it was actually a bit of fancy filming footwork! From Jeff:

“Here at JibJab, we have a room called Studio A, which is a magical place filled with props, costumes, fabrics, crafts, and all sorts of stuff to make some creative fun. This is where we rolled out a large sheet of white paper and had me ‘do my thing,’ as it were. (apparently my ‘thing’ is dancing around like an idiot…my mother is so proud).”

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“After doing the macarana over 100 times in different positions and distances from the camera (literally over 100…I counted the footage) we took the video into After Effects and keyed out the white, similar to how they show the giant maps on TV when they talk about the weather. While we could have used 5 dancers for this card, it’s actually easier to get more ‘sync’ movements when you use footage of the same dancer multiple times. Once it was all keyed, it was just a matter then of picking the best takes and aligning the footage to make it seem like we were all dancing at the same time!”

Fun fact: Jeff lost 13 pounds in pure sweat, give or take a bucket, during this process!

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After the last dance, the reindeer reigns were handed off to the rest of the production team to put on the finishing touches, including designing the FIST/mask assets to help frame the face and give it more character, animating the faces overtop of the footage, masking the hand/arm motions and anything that passes over the face, and adding lipsync to make the characters actually sing the song. It’s just that easy!

Hopefully this inside look gives insight into the blood, sweat, and tears (but mostly sweat) behind the production of JibJab videos. Thanks, Jeff, for your sweet moves, and making it far easier for us to dance this holiday season.

Send Macareindeer today!

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