Frequently Asked Questions

AnimationsTopic RequestsTranslationsLicensingSpeakingSponsorshipsNameMusicRecommendationsMath questionMath resultsAdvice for creators

What do you use to animate your videos?

Almost all animations are made using a custom open-source Python library named Manim. Code for specific videos can be found in this repository.

I started the project concurrently with starting the channel, intending for it to be more of a scrappy playground of code for my own use cases than an explicitly outward-facing or professionally maintained tool. Since its inception, a community got together and created an alternate fork which is aimed at being more stable, better documented, and better tested. Anyone looking to get started with Manim should probably begin with the community version.

The original version, used for 3b1b videos, is perhaps best viewed as a testing ground where I try to quickly put new things together while developing new videos.

There are many other excellent channels that have made use of it for their own expository videos.

If you want to make your own animated math videos, I would encourage you to also take a look at the full landscape of tools available. For simple graphing, you can’t beat Desmos. Geogebra is also incredibly extensive, and if you use a Mac I’d recommend looking at Grapher. For plotting, matplotlib is of course extensive, and Mathematica is also a bottomless pit of functionality. The main difference between manim and other math-visualizing tools is that it’s structured to build potentially long scenes for videos and to hopefully look smoother and prettier than, say, matplotlib.

Keep in mind that plenty of professional animation tools like Blender and After Effects can be made programmatic too. Also, be sure to ask yourself if what you’re doing benefits from being programmatic. If all you’re looking to do is simple moving/fading animations, using something simple like Keynote or PowerPoint might take you farther than you’d expect.

It’s wonderful to see others using manim, especially if it helps them explain math in ways that otherwise would have been hard. But every so often I see folks using it mainly to animate simple movements or to write and manipulate Latex expressions. In those cases, and I fully acknowledge the hypocrisy here, I can’t help but speculate that another tool might have made the job easier. I also get worried when I hear people ask things like “How do I sync up narration into manim?”. This is just a tool for spitting out the individual clips to be edited together later, you should certainly use traditional video-editing software for as much as you can!

Where programmatic animations work best is when you have a situation where the code directly reflects the math you’re trying to explain, or where iteration, abstraction, and conditionals make a set of illustrations possible which otherwise would have taken much too long to do manually.

Will you please make a video [some topic]?

In the spirit of consolidation (and sanity), that Reddit thread is the only place I look when considering community suggestions, so you're request is much more likely to be considered if it's there, as opposed to email, comments, tweets, etc.

Can I contribute/fix translations of the videos?

That would be wonderful, thank you! My friend Ben Eater and I are building a system to make it easier for communities to contribute translations to YouTube channels they follow: Criblate.

There, you can review a translation, whose first pass was often machine generated, and once your review and edit is approved it will be added as the official subtitles for that language on YouTube with attribution to you.

Our plan is to use these translations for dubs as well. A new-ish feature on YouTube lets me add alternate audio tracks to videos, but creating dubs and syncing the timings reliably takes significantly longer than people expect. We'll be working on tooling to streamline the process, and if you're interested dubbing and being part of early experiments, feel free to let me know via the general contact form.

In the past, my policy with dubbing was that anyone who was interested was welcome to give it a go, and I'd upload it to an official translation channel. In light of the ability to add alternate audio tracks to the main videos, moving forward it will be better to consolidate translations on the main channel when possible.

Since YouTube is not available in China, there is a small team of volunteers that make them available on Bilibili with Chinese translations. You can find the means of contacting the team on that page if you want to help out.

Existing translation channels:

You are not allowed to re-upload the content on your own channel, and such re-uploaded content will be taken down as a copyright violation. I know that might seem harsh, and that many re-uploaded dubbed videos are done in good faith trying to spread math around the world. However, there need to be consistent principles around how the lessons are put out under the channel name. To take one potential problem, there is otherwise no mechanism for preventing the insertion of unwanted promotional or sponsored additions, or other sorts of edits that misrepresent the original intent of a video.

Can I license these videos/Is it okay to use the material in my own work?

If you want to use some of the visuals offline for classroom usage or a presentation, feel free to do so. Under the standard YouTube license, you are free to embed the videos in your own site or blog, as long as it is not behind a paywall. In both cases, attribution is of course appreciated.

To re-upload the content in any way, including adding them to a new video platform or incorporating clips into your own video, you will need to purchase a license which begins with filling out the form below.

Are you seeking to license clips or full videos?
Are you looking to license any of the following series?

Will you speak at our event?

This year I'm trying to keep talks to a mininum, especially any requiring travel. If there's a very compelling reason to join the event, or on the off chance I happen to be in the area anyway, I'm open to inquiries. Just know that without meaning any offence I probably won't be able to accept.

My organization would like to sponsor one of your videos.

The channel no longer does brand integrations.

What does the name 3blue1brown refer to?

I'll be the first to admit this is a little odd. The logo is a loose depiction of my right eye color. It has what's known as "sectoral heterochromia", meaning there are different colors in different sectors, which in my case looks like 3/4 blue and 1/4 brown.

In the same way that many channels simply share their name with the author, a younger me thought that a more genetic signature might be neat. Plus, the channel is all about seeing math in certain ways, so it felt fitting. The name is just a reference to the logo, factoring in a desire for something deliberately weird-sounding that stands out.

What's the music playing in your videos?

You can find it on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play. Almost all of it was written by Vince Rubinetti. The piano pieces used in the Linear Algebra and Calculus series, which Vince listed as “Grant’s etude” and “Grant’s Opus” on the album, are little snippets that I wrote.

For usage and licensing questions, see this form on Vince's site.

What books do you recommend for learning math?

See this post. And while we're at it, here are a few other online math resources you might like.

Can you answer a math question for me?

I'd prefer that you post it to the 3b1b subreddit. That way, even if I'm too busy to answer (or if I don't know!), there's a good chance someone else will help you. You should also post it to the math stack exchange, or to Quora, where you'll be exposed to many, many great minds who are eager to help you out.

I believe I've solved a famous unsolved math problem/developed a novel idea. Will you check it for me?

Unfortunately, no. There are two important things to note here:

  1. I am not a research mathematician, so am not the one to ask.
  2. There is too little time as it is to read and learn all the things I’d like to read, so I have to draw certain boundaries on where that time goes.

I'd like to get get started making math videos online, do you have any advice?

When we kicked off the Summer of Math Exposition in 2021, I made a video centered around this question. Here are the main points I made there:

  • Just get started. Begin iterating and receiving feedback before overthinking it.
  • When explaining new topics, try putting concrete and specific ideas before general and abstract frameworks. This runs contrary to how most of us start explaining things that we already understand well.
  • Topic choice matters way more than production quality.
  • That said, get a good microphone and learn how to use it (an embarrassing number of 3blue1brown videos have terrible audio.)
  • Embrace niche topics, especially when getting started, rather than trying to cast the widest net you can.
  • Know your genre, and be wary of pattern matching from creators outside your genre. Some educational creators play the role of student documenting their own learning, others play the role of an expert conveying what they've spent years learning, others are teachers targeting students in school, others are journalists trying to summarize recent breakthroughs. All these (and more) have value, but they have different implications for pacing and style, so what works for one may not work for another.
  • In math especially, topic definitions should not be seen as a starting point, but an ending point.
  • Always ask what picture or visual you could use to elucidate a topic. It doesn't have to be fancy, and sometimes topics don't lend themselves to a visual, but it's always worth asking.
  • Using math animation software (like manim) can be useful when the topic at hand lends itself to a programmatic description, but I've seen many people overuse and abuse it, e.g. by just displaying a series of equations or text which are unnecessarily animated.

Various other videos I've made associated with the summer of math exposition also implicitly convey thoughts I have about the matter.