Another School Video (so many pumpkins)

Here’s a video filmed by my department that I was almost overjoyed to edit. Imagine my glee at editing something I knew would be of higher quality than the Independent Contract stuff I struggled with previously, and the video was filmed at a petting zoo.

The event turned out to be wonderfully visual, with fog rolling in behind morning interviewees and even a flock of birds flying ominously behind a teacher a one point! I tried to play up the Fall factor without getting spooky or trite, but there were just so many Halloween tropes at my disposal.

Third School Video + Independent Contractors

Although I work primarily creating K-12 educational videos, our department’s publicly viewable work exclusively comes from Marketing. As I outlined last winter, we occasionally get to travel for school marketing videos, but just as frequently we hire an outside production company to film for us.

You can imagine that this saves time and money while returning a lower quality product. Typically we receive back much less footage than we would shoot ourselves, and there’s always something ridiculous in production that we never would have let slide.

In this video, the main issue was with the interviews (isn’t it always?). We made the decision not to use the B-Cam angle due to the parking lot in the background, and the constant flow of cars back and forth was not only distracting but terrible for continuity. Furthermore, almost every single interviewee was chewing gum, which made editing audio between lip smacking and chewing frustrating at best, and we deemed some footage unusable when a piece of bright green gum was in the front of someone’s mouth, for example.

Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, if you’re being recorded for any reason… spit out your gum.

Sometimes, I Don’t (Get to) Edit

In December, the same team that traveled to New Mexico for their School Marketing Video went to Oklahoma to film a short video on switching schools mid-year. All of our shoots were spread out in the suburbs, so most of what I remember from Oklahoma is the highway, but we did spend one awesome night in OKC that culminated in running around the canal like kids.

For this video I shot the tight interview cam, occasionally asked an interview question, and was on non-slow-motion B-Roll. Waking up before dawn to drive an hour to film a gymnastics lesson was totally worth it when I got to take my shoes off and climb all over the gym equipment with my monopod.

My boss took this edit while I finished up the New Mexico video, and while it’s weird seeing someone else edit my work after so long of doing it myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Another School Video + First Business Trip!

In early November I traveled with my manager and our marketing liaison to Albuquerque to film our last school marketing video of the year. The idea is to film one school event/field trip and to do B-Roll with a student at home, and that’s exactly what we did. The field trip may have been more hectic than we bargained for, so much so that I begged to not edit this one myself, but in the end I pulled everything together fairly decently.

While I’ll probably never film interviews in front of an aquarium again, I would happily return to New Mexico for hiking and salsa verde.

School Marketing Video and a New Job

Three days after I started with my new employer in September, I was asked to create a school marketing video from new footage, however I thought best, given only a few examples from which to model my edit. I (plus marketing, legal, and the school) think I did pretty ok.

The trust and freedom I was afforded with this video is incredibly wonderful, and I can’t wait for more such work to come!

Tough Subjects, in audio

In the fall of 2014 I attended the RTC staff retreat. I felt like very much the outcast, their video person in a beach house full of writers, written word editors, operations people, etc… when everyone broke into their teams or discussed their processes, I was completely left out. The final night of the retreat we all sat around the table to discuss how to, as a company, tackle a large project for a client of theirs, Oconomowoc Residential Programs.

Somewhere in the conversation it dawned on me that the writers record their calls(/research) with clients (and why wouldn’t they?!), and that RTC has permission to use those calls in whatever capacity, and like a strike of lightning… I knew I had to do audio pieces. The content already existed, it just needed to be lovingly crafted into a narrative!

I was given several interviews each for two disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Prader-Willi Syndrome, and created two downloadable content pieces to compliment upcoming articles. I got to work with a writer (new for me) and craft pieces that were meant to speak to parents of children with the aforementioned disorders. After a lot of listening, highlighting, Google-ing, talking to the writers, talking to friends in psychology fields… I finished two very specific pieces.

The first piece to be published, on ASD, focuses on extremely violent child behavior and exists behind a paywall of sorts.

You’ll need to enter your e-mail to listen to it. The parents go through heart-wrenching situations and I’m still haunted by some of their anecdotes at times.

Now the second piece, on Prader-Willi, is a true emotional roller coaster. It took so long to gain approval from ORP that I stopped receiving updates from RTC on the project and only found it today when updating my project list on LinkedIn (true story). My name isn’t even on the page, but I remember all 13 minutes and 10 seconds of that finished piece, and that’s my voice introducing it, my voice warning you halfway through that you’re about to hear something awful, my taste that decided just how much hysterical sobbing was enough… I’m proud of this audio piece because I included the toughest topics and fought to keep them included. I’ll be blunt with you here: a kid chokes a puppy to death in this story. It’s awful, and it’s a really good reason why people with Prader-Willi need very precise care. If including that rough/controversial anecdote convinces just one parent to push for better services & care for their child, then it’s well worth it my book.

Products of a Product Launch

Only six months into my corporate career I have experienced two major product launches. The first, equipment and the second, software. Now, we probably all have an idea of how to introduce a new piece of equipment to it’s potential users and in this case my role was simply the photographer. The magic of editing such sleek photos doesn’t even fall to me (this is a good thing).

from mt.com/particletracke25

Our software product launch required more of my involvement, because honestly, how do you introduce a software? Have you ever heard about a new piece of software directly from the company? Okay, possibly but I definitely haven’t; it’s always literal word of mouth or social media. And our product isn’t 100% self-explanatory. We created two multimedia pieces, for which I filmed, gathered audio, edited, and had some input towards pre- & post-production.

Here’s the formal product launch video–very clean and corporate–but to an outsider, does it tell the right story?

Watching that, are you more or less confused? I’ve seen the footage so many times that the message becomes increasingly confusing as I watch it now. Almost at the last minute, we created our very first whiteboard video. As a friend described it, “It’s cute, but…” But do you understand the software now?

Is it abstraction or realism that you connect with? Which narration style/narrator do you prefer?

Web (Re)Design

Between VisCom and the corporate world, the one transition I can’t make is that of timing. During Soul of Athens production, when someone asked for something “soon,” they meant “pretty much immediately.” When an office coworker asks for something “soon,” it’s really more like “before the end of the week.”

That brings us to my first real completed project at work. From the time I got the official “Go” until the changes went live was somewhere in the neighborhood of eight weeks. Eight. Weeks. A VisCom quarter would have basically come and gone in that time and I would have forgotten all about anything I started so long ago. But here, I’m still tweaking things after launch. (As I should be, there’s still one small glitch.)

To preface, iCare is a software maintenance package. Instead of paying tons of money each time you decide to update software, you pay a fixed subscription price and all updates are included. It’s actually a good deal for the customer, but not an obvious value. (If Adobe tried to sell me the same thing for Creative Suite I’d be unsure.) So, how do we explain that online?

Here’s the original iCare page content, done by the previous Multimedia Developer:

And here’s the new one:

Our new addition is the Releases tab, to really drive home why a maintenance package is important.

Not super sexy or anything, right? That’s probably the biggest lesson I learned in those weeks of coding and recoding (and recoding). Form follows function supremely, and we’re here to inform, not woo, potential customers.

However, I’ll finish the next project faster having learned a few hard lessons.

  • Be patient. As I mentioned before, even priority projects take longer than I expect. If someone doesn’t get back to me “soon”, I ask again a little more politely.
  • Test everything in Internet Explorer first. IE users may be decreasing, but there’s still more of them than anyone else. I’m a diehard Firefox user and a Mac girl at heart, and it kills me to use IE9 on a PC at work every day, but that’s what it has to be.
  • Not everyone is a visual thinker (but remember who is!). I proudly show off my sketches and drafts but I’m not taking a web class with other students anymore. Coworkers may not have time to truly examine what I’ve shown them, or may not want to hurt my feelings/ask questions. If I can explain my visuals and try to tease questions out of others, that’s hands down the best plan.
  • Know your place. In my job position, I’m a code vessel rather than a web designer. Managers/coworkers know the products best and generally have good ideas for their web presence. All I truly need to do is make that as appealing and efficient as possible. Nothing you see above was my idea alone.
  • Know your CMS [content management system]. I wouldn’t have spent so much time learning JavaScript had I known our CMS wouldn’t take JavaScript. Whoops.
  • It’s cliche, but, honest communication. After VisCom critiques I can say what I’m thinking and digest others’ thoughts as well. But I’ve found that I don’t always get honest critiques back from coworkers. That leads to moments like “Why is that image still there? I never said anything because I thought it was a joke, but you never removed it.” Now that you’ve told me, I’ll remove it.
  • Nothing’s personal. In school I reminded myself that critiques weren’t personal (though they often were), but at work, that’s the case even less so. Everyone may love a feature but it doesn’t fit corporate guidelines or we simply can’t put it in our CMS. Sometimes my ideas suck, but sometimes they’re awesome and still can’t be used.