I was hired as the first in-house video producer at Northeastern over six years ago. Before that, the university’s sporadic video needs (admissions videos, alumni news magazine episodes, prominent faculty lectures) were outsourced to a Boston production company at great cost to the institution. My starting salary and equipment budget nearly covered the cost of one Husky Nation, which I would go on to produce. My first episode turned out to be the series finale. It was that good. Somehow this “missing media” checkerboard made it through reviews. Maybe my boss thought I was doing something avant garde.
Compared to today’s production pace, 2009 was a relatively quiet year in Northeastern’s video marketing department. Every morning, I had the luxury of spending time surveying the digital landscape to see what other universities were doing in the space. Based on YouTube and iTunesU activity, it didn’t seem like many institutions had a dedicated marketing videographer, let alone an entire staff. In my estimation, less than half of all college marketing and communications departments were putting out enough content to necessitate internal resources. (If you’re the exception, use the comments section to share the first higher ed video you ever published.)
But by the end of the year, I was taking requests from the 4 As: Admissions, Advancement, Athletics, and Aoun (Northeastern’s President). In my second year, I got to hire an additional producer to meet the growing demand. Flash forward five more years and there are at least a dozen video producers in various departments and colleges throughout campus. Even our university police department has a dedicated videographer/editor. (Steven Bukenya is the very talented Media Specialist for NUPD.)
Last month, all the video folks at Northeastern got together for the first time. If you had video in your job title, you got an invite from Frank. We met for an hour but could’ve talked all day if we all weren’t so busy making movies for the same institution. Look for Frank’s take on combining forces in an upcoming post.
The existence of large centralized production teams (like Stanford’s) or various independent producers dispersed throughout a university (like NU) has become common. The opportunity to start a conversation across college video departments is one of the main reasons for launching this blog. Read the first Video For Colleges post if you’re curious about the other reason.
Recently, I got back into the habit of scoping out at least one university’s YouTube, Vimeo, or customized video channel per day. The goal is to build an arsenal of examples that demonstrate very specific applications for higher ed video. In other words, are there tangible results that can be achieved through our work? Using this blog as a forum for your observations and ideas, I’d like to work together to create the “power of video” master list.
Here’s my first submission for your consideration. I’ll file it under the “change a mood” category, even though this video’s effect is far more nuanced. The Butterfly Effect comes from Stanford, who, as I mentioned earlier, has a large dedicated video staff. But this wasn’t entirely an inside job. According to the credits, it was photographed, produced, and edited by Mark Hanlon for a School of Medicine Magazine article of the same title.
I don’t want to spend much time with analysis here. The only thing I’ll say is that before I watched this video I was feeling one way. Afterwards, I felt different. If you read the YouTube comments section, you’ll see that I’m not alone in experiencing this video’s mood changing effect. It sunk some moods:
And lifted others:
I also felt challenged to be more ambitious with my work and push my clients to reconsider their expectations when it comes to this medium. How did The Butterfly Effect effect you?
Lastly, we’ll soon be sharing our first Video For Colleges podcast episode. It features an in-depth interview with The Butterfly Effect’s creator. Don’t miss Mark Hanlon’s tips for handling such delicate subject matter and capturing graphic images in intimate settings.