Denison University deserves an award for being a great video client! Over the course of their 5 year Higher Ground Campaign, they contracted with me to produce 7 fundraising videos, and after that was over, they again hired me to re-edit material we had recently shot for this short Annual Fund email effort.

The interviews for this piece were done as the campaign was in its final 6 months. The perspective of the students and faculty we interviewed was, "Wow, we are really seeing tangible benefits from the invesment our alumni have made in this campus!" The subtext and soft-sell message of that last campaign piece was, "Please don't stop... if you haven't given to your limit, please keep the momentum going to the end!"

For the Annual Fund piece, we had to recut those interviews to set a different tone. Now the goal was to say, "The Campaign was great -- and we did it. But now let's not forget that there are ongoing needs to keep this college running." That's the message of the 2 minutes you see here.

This was shot with a JVC HD100U. When we knew there would be a winter campaign piece, I ran over there on about the last decent fall foliage day before November grayness set in, to get the slomo shots you see. The slomos were created in Final Cut with the Re:Vision Twixtor plug-in, which I think is the best way that I have seen to get silky smooth slomos.

The interviews were set up for a day early in January, which happened to be very cold and snowy. We shot from high windows overlooking the campus to give a birdseye perspective of "higher ground". At times we really had to punch the light from my three Joker 400 HMIs and two 200s through the silk, in order to compete with those sunlit snow scenes! As the day wore on, we had completely different challenges to get clean looks of lit buildings after dark, without seeing our lights in the windows. Thanks to cameraman, assistant DP, and audio tech Jeff Eargle from Cincinnati to get all that work done. He did such a great job doing both audio and camera at the same time!

I wish I could say this particular piece was as effective at fundraising as the other pieces I did for Denison. I think it only brought in a little more than the cost of editing and the email blast, and I think there may be three reasons:

First, the email company didn't have robust enough servers to handle it, and the size of the download file was too great. So lots of people got frustrated trying to get it to play. Smaller sizes, and the new HTML approaches which do not require downloads (such as VIMEO now offers) would have solved this.

Second, I think we tried to do to much and made it too long for an email pitch. About a minute shorter would have been better.

Third, I think this kind of emotional depth is best reserved for a controlled environment such as home entertainment area, high-quality conference room or presentation situation. And it takes more time to settle and let the presentation take us to a different emotional level across a span of time. Email blasts should confine themselves to the humorous or rational part of the brain, not the attempt to probe the deeper emotions, in my view.

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