Are you familiar with the #LowesFixInSix project?

When I first saw the hashtag I thought, "Complete a project in six years...I think I can handle that...maybe." As it turns out, I was sorely off the mark. What it really deals with is the sharing of great DIY tips or tricks through a series of six second videos.

Maybe you've seen the videos on Vine, BuzzFeed, or on one of Lowe's various other social media channels. Who knows, maybe you've even seen one of the tips they've highlighted because one of your friends shared it. But if you don't know what I'm talking about, let me take a moment to introduce you to a pretty awesome concept.

As a couple of DIYers we're always looking for great ways to simplify our voluntarily complex lives. Lowe's is aiming help us achieve this goal by taking home improvement tips that are simple, unique, time saving, and incredibly useful and turning them into Vine videos (which are limited to six seconds in length) to creatively demonstrate their implementation.

With the first set of videos created back in April, 2013, Lowe's uploaded the first one along with the #LowesFixInSix hashtag and began letting the ideas flow.

The results of their efforts have been great. Everything from the "why didn't I think of that!" type of ideas...

...to the truly ingenious...

The tips and tricks, sometimes submitted by social media followers, brought to life by Lowe's have taught many viewers a thing or two they can apply in their own lives. Most importantly, it's a really cool and creative way to share some great ideas in a quick bite sized and very shareable format.

I'll tell you one thing for sure, the #LowesFixInSix project is a way more effective use of Vine than all of the videos we've put on Vine of Mel and Lulu fighting.

So why am I telling you about the #LowesFixInSix project? Well, today I'm proud to say that Wendy and I are now officially a part of their project! But how did this happen?

Several weeks ago Lowe's contacted us to ask if we'd like to join them in creating a future video. They were looking for bloggers to offer up tips and tricks for everything from home improvement and repair, to cleaning or organization. The only caveat was that the tip would need to work well for their Fix in Six approach. Obviously we'd love to be part of such a cool use of social media, so we jumped at the opportunity.

Wendy and I put our heads together to brainstorm a tip that would work well in their format, and then they invited us up to New York to watch our idea come to life.

Not surprisingly, many of the tips and tricks we offered up were too boring (how to artificially antique screws), way too long for six seconds (how to spend five years renovating a bathroom), or too specific to a limited audience (how to install a transom window lift). But after all was said and done, we worked with the Lowe's team to settle on a simple and quick tip that would work well for the format and for the widest audience.

Our tip, "Use a walnut to disguise a scratch left on a wood floor."

Wendy and I have used this little tip repeatedly. And while there are obviously tons of ways to fix and disguise scratches left on wood, this little nugget works especially well when you're in a pinch. The idea here is that the walnut oil will fill the scratch and help rejuvenate the exposed wood a bit. Additionally, the walnut will help to taken in the scratch to make it less noticeable. Wendy has even used this little trick quite in her career as a Realtor when getting a house ready to go on the market, and we've used it in our own house on wood furniture scratches.

With our tip in process, complete with conceptual storyboard for the video, Wendy and I jumped on the train up to New York to spend a few days with the Lowe's social media team and their production staff watching our walnut tip transform from concept to reality.

When we arrived at the studios in Brooklyn we were quickly introduced to the production crew who were already very busy getting all of the various sets ready. I was completely distracted by the ridiculously cool studio building where the shoot was taking place. I spent so much time just staring at the old exposed floor joists, massive steel beams, and exposed brick walls with old cutouts where windows once lived.

Lucky for us our tip's shoot was first up on day one, so we were able to jump right into it. The crew had already fashioned several faux animal limbs that would be used to simulate a veritable stampede across a wood floor. Zebras, elephants, dinosaurs, and even a Tyrannosaurus Rex were among the crowd. Nothing was out of the realm of possibility.

We watched each take where the production team tried their best to mimic the natural motion of a zebra's footstep...

...and the stop motion experts pored over the footage to make sure it looked just right. 

It was great watching a bunch of perfectionists at work, and I really appreciated all of their efforts. It's amazing how much time and precision they were putting into six second online videos, not to mention the attention to detail. I mean, they set up what amounted to a casting call for the best looking walnuts to make sure we got just the right one for the tip. Half brain, full brain, robust, rotund, and other descriptors were all thrown around during the selection process.

After we learned that our video would include some live animal talent, both Wendy and I were very excited for the actors' arrival on set. As we ate lunch we heard the telltale jingle of a dog's tagged collar and we ventured out to meet the very special guests.

The first star of our tip video was Jack, the very furry and very friendly canine actor. This wasn't Jack's first rodeo -- he's actually somewhat of a star. You might recognize him from his role as the Febreze dog (giant furry car commercial). But even though he was a pretty big deal, can you believe it hadn't gone to his head in the least? Jack was friendly to everyone and preferred pets and scratches over everything else. Lots of people could learn a thing or two from this consummate professional.

Wendy even had the unique opportunity to help out with one of the animal talent. Here she is helping prep Monte for his scene. He had to just run across the little stage to get his treat, and as you can imagine, he was anxious to get his scene over with. 

Both Jack and Monte were animal talent from a group in upstate New York about two hours north of the city. We chatted with their handlers to learn more about their background and where they're from and were so happy to hear their backstory. They actually come from a rescue sanctuary that has over 500 animals currently being cared for. Of the 500, about 10% are considered "talent" that are hired out for video and movie shoots. Those 10% essentially pay the bills for the whole group, and that includes everything from a baby elephant to kangaroo to cockroaches.

I think the coolest part of the whole process was the fact that at any given time there were at least three and sometimes four shoots going on simultaneously. Writers, directors, production assistants, they were all buzzing around getting their work done, and we were trying our best to just stay out of their way. In spite of the fact I'm sure we were hampering their duties, they were more than happy to help us understand and document their process. It was a wonderful learning experience. 

When we weren't actively engaged in the video shoot process we were chatting about DIY and blogging with some of the other bloggers that were invited to offer their tips and tricks. Given that we haven't attended any blogging conferences, it was a lot of fun to get an opportunity to "talk shop" with a group of people with similar interests, hobbies, and enjoyment of spending much of their free time working on DIY projects. 

Bloggers from left to right: Emma Magazine, DIY Playbook, Bright Bold & Beautiful, OTH, The Ugly Duckling House, The Design Confidential, Emily A. Clark, and Charles & Hudson (not pictured), along with the Lowe's social media team.

The video shoot process went on for a solid two days, from early morning to late at night. During this time the production team shot the eight tips submitted by all of the bloggers and we watched as each set came together in the vision of the creative people responsible for them.

One of the coolest aspects of the experience was getting to talk to the various creative people that came up with the execution of the ideas. In each case they took the time to walk us through the concept, show us some initial mockup concepts (which I confused more than once for finished projects), and how each shot was being setup. In many cases, they even pulled inspiration from decades or centuries old art techniques embraced for a new digital medium. This definitely got the tech nerd in me interested.

One thing we all kept looking at was the complexity of each individual shot related to the simplicity of the tip. This was most apparent for the video that showed how you can microwave a sponge to kill the bacteria that might be living in it. Here's the finished Vine of the concept.

The filming of this quick video included the creation of a mockup kitchen, complete with tiled and grouted backsplash, along with a "heaven" style scene just above.

In addition to the basic set, little animated bacteria were created that would be filmed using stop motion techniques. 

And their "deceased" counterparts that come into play after the microwave does its job were made out of felt and paper.

All of the various parts and pieces would ultimately come together in a seamless video that does a great job outlining the simple tip.

One of my favorite tips brought to life was one submitted by Timothy Dahl of Charles & Hudson (who was also great to talk to as a veteran blogger). His tip involved using sawdust to help control water spills. 

This tip is near and dear to my heart, especially after we had a giant container of laundry detergent fall and break open in our basement. We used a combination of saw dust and kitty litter to soak up the gooey but excellent smelling mess. It was so interesting to see how they created everything from the fish to the water to the sawdust pile, but it should come as no surprise that they didn't use a fish, water, or actual sawdust pile for any of this stuff.

I got a real kick out of watching the various software solutions they used to make the stop motion process a reality. I just kept walking from set to set making a mental wish list of all of the stuff I would love, including more time, so I could make my childhood dreams of stop motion movie development a reality.

As you may be able to tell, we had a great time working with Lowe's on the creation of their #LowesFixInSix video tip series. We're so appreciative that they included us as a part of the project and gave us a cool behind-the-scenes glimpse into the very in depth process and massive effort that goes into making these videos a reality. Perhaps now we can use some of these newly learned skills to do a better job on our own Vine videos?

What do you think of the #LowesFixInSix project? Do you see any great tips that you'll be using in your future DIYs? Or better yet, have any great tips they could use in a future video? Let us know in the comments and tweet your tips to @Lowes using #LowesFixInSix. Who knows, maybe they'll make your tip a reality!

Comments 11

Comments

Kelly Wagner Amen
10/27/2014 at 1:20 PM
This is awesome! What a great concept and so fantastic that the animal actors are rescues. Congrats on being included, you two.
sj
10/27/2014 at 3:11 PM

Had forgotten about the sponge/microwave trick, so will start doing that again. And probably will always picture them being zapped like that. Also love the animal rescue actors.

KarinK
10/27/2014 at 3:20 PM

Never in my life did I think cockroaches would ever be referred to as "talent". This sounds like it was so much fun, and thanks for including the back story on the rescue critters (even the cockroaches).

Alex
10/28/2014

We were brainstorming different places where cockroach talent may have been used over the years. We came up with Men In Black, Joe's Apartment, and maybe an Orkin commercial?

10/28/2014 at 12:22 PM

Great post! I can't wait to share my recap. And it was SO great meeting the both of ya in person! Hope to do it again soon.

Alex
10/28/2014

Absolutely! Looking forward to your post.

Franki Parde
10/28/2014 at 1:23 PM

"Movin on up...." franki (KUDOS!!)

Laura C
10/28/2014 at 2:25 PM

Isn't that a pile of pecans in that person's hand (not walnuts)? Cool video.

Alex
10/28/2014

Good eye. It's actually Wendy's hand, and a mix of pecans and walnuts, which are more pecans than walnuts, it's what we had in the cabinet at the time and worked well on the scratched floor where she was using it. One thing to note, different nuts have different color and certain nuts work better than others based on floor stain color. It's also better to use raw nuts rather than roasted or otherwise prepared. Walnuts have a decent generic and not too red color.

bridget & Casey @ DIYPlaybook
10/28/2014 at 8:25 PM

Great post!! Your photography looks amazing!! =) So nice meeting both of you.

Anonymous
11/6/2014 at 8:42 PM

awesome experience; fun to read. so fun to watch you two.

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