Frequently Asked Questions
What do you use to animate your videos?
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.
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, 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 actually 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 programatic animations works 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]?
That reddit thread is the only place I look when considering community suggestions. In the spirit of consolidation (and sanity), I don't take into account emails, comments, tweets, etc.
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?
Most music has been by written by Vince Rubinetti, which you can download on Bandcamp and stream on Spotify, Apple Music, and Google Play. The piano song throughout 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.
If you are interested in using this music, see this form from Vince’s site.
Can I translate your videos?
After YouTube stopped supporting the built-in tools they once had for the community to submit subtitles, we don't have a great way to coordinate these. If you'd like to contribute subtitles, you're more than welcome to reach out through the form below and share an srt file.
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.
For anyone who wants to dub content, you should know it takes significantly more time than most people expect.
Nevertheless, if you have a good mic, some video editing savvy, and you are willing to put in that time, we can have numerous 3b1b translation channels where they can be uploaded in an official capacity. Just send a message through the link below once you have created one. You can of course credit yourself on screen and in the description as the translator, and we can point to your own website/channel from there once it's been uploaded if you'd like.
Current translated channels.
Chinese (as mentioned above, on Bilibili)
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 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’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:
- I’m not a research mathematician, so am not the one to ask.
- There’s 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.
My organization would like to sponsor one of your videos.
The channel no longer does sponsored videos.