Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done

A picture of Estelle Caswell

Estelle Caswell

Animator, video journalist (Vox)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm an animator and video journalist at Vox.com and I focus on stories about music. You might know me as the video maker behind Vox's video series Earworm.

What hardware do you use?

I guess it goes without saying I have an iMac, and lots of random hard drives. I'm brand agnostic when it comes to backing up data.

Materials

I really like mixed media approaches to video so I'm constantly perusing public domain archives, old music magazines, and instrument manuals to repurpose. One dollar bins at record shops are a necessary stop when I'm coming up with visual inspo for stories.

Headphones

I use a lot of headphones but my go to are the Sony MDR-1000xs - I got them refurbished on Amazon for $200 cheaper than the regular price. They are such a good pair of headphones that even used they felt and still feel brand new.

Camera

I work full-time at Vox and our central studio rents us out equipment when we need to do field reporting or shoot in a studio, so I'm sort of limited in my options for gear. However, I always ask for the Sony A7 series because it's super portable and doesn't compromise on quality. It's a great little camera (sort of affordable) that can pretty much adapt to any video centric situation I throw it. I swear I'm not sponsored by Sony! Just to prove that I also use the Canon C100 and sometimes the Panasonic GH4.

Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet

Get one of these and learn how to use it, it will save your arm from any sort of strain that a trackpad or mouse might cause, especially for more creative applications like editing and animation. Got one 2 years ago and using a mouse now is like speaking a foreign language - I can't do it.

I don't have that many pretty things - my desk is a mess - but I do own a notebook that I use quite often for jotting down follow up questions during interviews, storyboarding ideas, and making lots of to do lists. It's from Papier Tigre and it's beautiful.

For procrastination purposes, because let's be real that's where we all come up with our best ideas, I tinker around with a Teenage Engineering OP-1 (I've composed a few pieces for Earworm with it) A lot of great music books like Album Cover Album, and a chunky black permanent marker and big blank page notebook for lots of fun doodles.

And what software?

Skype and Voice Memos for conducting interviews. Google Docs for writing scripts. Sometimes I'll use an app called Milanote for creating mood boards or pulling in archive and visual materials for scripts. It's a much better visual tool in the pre-production stage than Google Docs.

Dropbox for all of everything (it's the worst and the best at the same time.) Slack to know what all my coworkers are up to.

Spotify. I got a Spotify subscription when they were beta testing the service in the US and I've never looked back. Surprisingly I don't get to listen to music a whole lot while I'm working because I spend 70% of my time editing audio. However, I build playlists while I'm outlining a project to figure out what songs I'm going to feature in it. Usually I remember to make those private, but sometimes I forget. If you peep my playlists on any given day you might be able to figure out what the next Earworm episode might be.

After Effects/Photoshop/Premiere. I wouldn't have a job if After Effects didn't exist. Most of Earworm is animated within the program and Premiere is a necessary evil to edit each episode together after it's all assembled in AE. I use Photoshop mostly for creating textures for my animations.

What would be your dream setup?

My dream set up would be to have my own open air loft style office with giant windows and a big space to shoot demos, interviews, and stop motion animations. If I'm really dreaming big it'd have an expensive espresso machine and a library filled with every book about music ever published. Ideally it'd be $7 in rent a month.