Wow. We have been so excited about all the episodes this “season”. We can’t believe that we are finally releasing the last episode! And it feels like a grand finale–and in typical Olive Us fashion, a pretty big departure from everything else.
I suppose it sounds redundant now, but we are so thrilled to release Le Petit Chaperon Rouge! It’s another narrated episode, like Kish, but this time Betty narrates in French. So It’s our first episode narrated by a child, and our first episode in French. It’s a familiar story, so you should be able to follow along (and we know you’ll love the visuals no matter what). If you are interested, we have also posted the text in English and French here. It is based on a version Grandpa Blair tells. (We think this might be the most enjoyable way to study French).
We have been so excited about this episode for many reasons. Betty has learned the story at her school here in France. One of the first comments people make when they see the woods near our home is “they look like the woods where all the fairy tales take place!” It was such a treat to watch Tiger in a Jar “attack” the forest with their camera-work. We also loved making use of some gorgeous half-timber houses at La Galotiere (the place where we filmed Cider Farm), and: The Wardrobes! A huge thank you to Miranda Anderson’s genius behind the whole ensemble–including re-fashioning a ladies red dress coat into the perfect red riding hood. We drooled over every character wardrobe: Little Red! The Mother! The Wolf! The Grandma! The Woodsman!
But wait! There’s more! The last piece was the title by Merrilee Liddiard! Oh my! We are crying it is so beautiful, right? Don’t you want a poster of that title?
With all that, we hope you love Le Petit Chaperon Rouge!
Kish is our first narrated story. And our first, what’s the word? epic? film. We were really excited to make it, and try out a new episode form, and we are so happy with how it turned out! We hope you will love it too.
It has special significance for us because the story was written by Grandpa Blair–and his voice narrates. (If you’re interested, you can read the original story here.) It’s a story we have heard many times, and we have retold it many times as well. We love the lessons it teaches, and the wonder at the night sky it inspires. [Fun fact: Grandpa Blair–a retired linguist–had in mind how people approach learning another language when he wrote the story of Kish.]
We filmed this episode this past summer in Snow Canyon, Utah. When we knew we would be near the area, we were so excited with the prospect of making an episode based on Kish–it is for sure our most “cinematic” episode yet. We love having this substantial connection to Grandpa–that his creative work and our creative work are intertwined. This episode makes us feel grateful for Grandparents, and grateful that Olive Us has enabled such inter-generational collaborations (Hand cookies with Grandma Mac was another such collaboration we loved). Sharing stories and recipes through these videos has been a much thicker connection than we ever could have predicted or imagined. But we think the story of Kish is strong enough that you’ll love it even if it wasn’t written by your Grandpa.
And speaking of creative work, this episode took a lot of different thinking to go from a written story to a short film. For example, we adapted the story to remove dialogue–which was really central in the original story, but can get complicated or confusing when a narrator speaks for actors–and rely more on visuals to tell the story. Tiger in a Jar jumped in head first to bring Kish to life. We love the custom music written and produced by Geoff Groberg. And are so happy with the beautiful illustrations by Merrilee Liddiard. We can’t tell–does our enthusiasm carry over to this blog post? Because it’s hard to contain it in these parts. Watch Kish Now!
The visuals from the Kish setting–Snow Canyon in Southern Utah–were amazing. This was one of the shoots where every few minutes, someone would say, “Is this place for real?!!”
To share Kish (and we hope you will!) use this code: https://vimeo.com/59196587
The last few episodes from this season are different from any other episode we have done to date. We’re excited to give you the first taste. It’s Shadow Puppets, and (fair warning) it just might make you want to make some shadow puppets. Hats off again to Tiger in a Jar, for the great concept, and the amazing illustrations by Merrilee Liddiard. Right? Watch Shadow Puppets Now!
Everytime we watch the episode–like clockwork–everyone wants to experiment more with shadow puppets.
Do you have the same reaction? We kind of think you will.
What are you waiting for? Go make some shadow puppets!
One of the most frequent bits of feedback we get is that parents love watching Olive Us with their children. (We do too!) One of the surprises we have learned is that many times, the ages of the children mentioned are very young—in the 1-3 range. So we really wanted to do an episode that was targeted to these very young viewers.
To help us think about this, we tried to imagine an episode that would be ideal for 2-year-old June, and we think that with How to Be 2, we landed on the perfect idea! We also found in the process that the older kids get a kick out of How to Be 2 as well. In this episode, June takes center stage! Watch June demonstrate how to be 2: from waking up, to having breakfast, to making animal sounds, and more. We hope you love How to Be 2!
Thanks again to the fantastic Tiger in a Jar, who did their usual magic (the eye! the hot cocoa mustache!), and we loved (and June especially loves!) the animal illustrations by brilliant illustrator Merrilee!
Are you ready to visit an apple cider farm? This episode follows Maude, Olive, Oscar, Ralph, Betty & June as they visit the award winning cider farm in Normandy.
We visited this farm during the first Olive Us shoot in the Spring of 2012 as a break after shooting the first season of Olive Us. A friend had recommended we try the apple juice and pear juice. Of course, the juice was amazing, but everyone was so struck by the stunning scenery, we determined that we would come back and film an episode here, and now we have! (In fact, there is also another upcoming episode that includes some of the half-timber cottages from the farm. We won’t give any spoilers, but we’re excited to show more of La Galotiere in the coming weeks.)
We weren’t very familiar with the process of making apple juice, I mean, we have juiced apples before, but this was different–even simple aspects like the fact that many apples are gathered from the ground after they have fallen rather than picked from the trees, or that there even was such a thing as a “tree-shaker”. The Olivier and Choisnard families were so kind and accommodating, and passionate about their work. We loved learning what is involved in making the perfect apple juice. We loved seeing the whole process, then tasting the award-winning product afterward. We hope you love Cider Farm!
This episode has been on our minds since we filmed the first season of Olive Us. The first season was filmed during Spring 2012, so stacking wood didn’t make much sense. But whenever we have stacked wood, we have loved how beautiful the process of moving the big pile into more organized stacks is, and the result of nice stacks of wood is always reassuring as winter approaches.
And it’s the type of work that is very visually rewarding: you see the big pile shrink, and the stacks in the barn grow. We also thought it was a perfect candidate for an Olive Us episode because everyone can contribute and work together.
Tiger in a Jar of course takes any idea and makes it beautiful. They also had the idea to have a prominent narrator, and we love the seriousness with which Oscar approached his role! Here’s to pretty, cooperative work & cozy evenings by the fire!
Watch Stacking Wood now! (And, trust us, you will definitely want to watch to the very end.)
Maude, Olive, and Betty loved making this episode–and the whole crew loved eating the cookies when the filming was done. These cookies are a favorite treat during cold weather–though they are yummy all year round. It always feels like a fun way to celebrate “bad” weather. The recipe we use (and have used for decades) includes the spelling you see. We didn’t want to jinx the tradition, so we’ve kept the spelling. Watch it now!
And we loved the ingredients introduction that Tiger in a Jar came up with. So fun!
Olive snapped this behind the scenes picture–you can see the high-tech mark-ups (i.e. bar code tags) video team used to frame the shot. This was the first inkling any of the crew (outside of Tiger in a Jar) had of the ingredients introduction.
Special thanks to Emily Bourassa for Wardrobe assistance, and Tea Collection for wardrobe consideration.
Would you like to make Snoball cookies? Here’s the recipe:
2 cups butter
1 cup powdered sugar
4 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Cream butter and sugar.
Add remaining ingredients.
Roll into small balls. Really small. No bigger than a “biggie” marble.
Bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
After cooled, roll in powdered sugar.
Perfect to pop in your mouth. And pop, and pop, and pop. Yummy!
We have been looking forward to releasing this episode for years. Betty in Paris has been a film we have been imagining even before Olive Us was conceived. This episode has a couple clear inspirations: One inspiration is the film The Red Balloon. Another is a film idea from Josh Stanley, the Blair’s uncle. His idea was to show his daughter (at the time around Betty’s age) roaming around NYC. He would be there the whole time, but always behind the camera, so it would look like this vulnerable child wandering around New York.
We have wanted to do that kind of film ever since we heard his idea, and thought Betty in Paris could deliver the feelings of vulnerability, and childlike curiosity about a big city. Tiger in a Jar brought their usual genius, and imagination and watched Betty closely to bring out some of her simple, naive responses to some of Paris’s landmarks.
We spent two days filming Betty in Paris, and felt like we could have used three more–such a wondrous city, and Betty’s interactions felt so simple and fun. We hope you love Betty in Paris!
Hooray, it’s here! It’s here! We’ve been so excited to give you a taste of Olive Us Season 3, and now we can! We tried a lot of new-to-us types of videos, we filmed in several new locations, but we love how Tiger in a Jar still captures what is different and distinctive about Olive Us, while we continue to reinvent it. And we are so, so delighted with the result. We hope you will be too.
Ready for a taste of Season 3? Watch it now!
Plus! Shut the front door! We’re hosting a big contest to celebrate, and you could win an iPad mini. Find out about it here!
Hooray! It’s the Holiday Season! Merry Merry Christmas! This episode features Ralph, Maude, Olive, Oscar, Betty & June hunting down the perfect Christmas tree. The inspiration for this episode came from a photo shoot we did last year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from All of us at Olive Us!
p.s. Find out more about this episode, including how we “chopped down” a young pine in the forest in this post.