A few people people have commented on the use of brown paper in my Numberphile videos.
Anyway, I thought I'd explain here on my blog (so I have a permanent page to direct people to).
1. I THINK IT LOOKS COOL
Brown paper is more gritty, more tactile than a sterile whiteboard. It feels more real and is better for a video. Remember I'm making films, not Powerppoint presentations. Maths and numbers can be a dry subject... A bit of rustling and scratching paper just gives a film some extra life.
2. WHITEBOARDS SUCK
Whiteboards just scream "classroom" and "schoolteacher" to me... I don't want our videos to feel like we are trying to teach. We're just having a chat with our friends and scratching some notes to help explain stuff. We're not trying to be lecturers - or corporate motivational speakers!
3. KEEP THE SCRIBBLINGS
I haven't been promoting it too heavily yet, but I keep all the bits of the paper and later display them on Flickr. Check the link here. You can't keep a whiteboard and photograph it later. And filming would be a pain if I was constantly stopping to photograph the board.
4. EASIER TO FILM
Moving the camera between a gleaming whiteboard and someone's face requires more camera exposure/iris adjustments when filming. The brown paper is much easier to film.
5. IT CREATES A MOTIFF
a major part of the main Numberphile website design and gives us a distinctive look. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON IN MY OPINON!
6. EASIER THAN A BLACKBOARD
Many of the above issues could have been addressed by using a blackboard or slates - and indeed that was my original plan. But using blackboards and chalk is a bit messier and more cumbersome... Blackboard scribblings also can't be kept for photographing later. And they would still cause complaints about the scratchy noise!
A FINAL NOTE
All of this said, I'm endeavouring to reduce the scratchy noise for those who don't like it. We are phasing in better pens and I'm making a few tweaks within the audio editing.
I am now offering a limited number of the papers for auction on ebay... If any are available, they can be found at this link: BROWN PAPERS ON EBAY