It’s been months since the idea of shooting some marketing content for the UNC-Greensboro Office of Online Learning started talks. If you’ve never worked for a state agency before, then you don’t know what the term “lots of red tape” means. It takes lots of patience, time, meetings, more meetings, discussions, vetos and did I mention meetings? for ideas and projects to fully get off the ground. Luckily, however, our division’s new marketing head and team are persistent and do a great job at pushing these projects down the line to let them be the best they can be.
In a world where text-on-a-page Web sites, documents, etc. are taking over our lives in this digital age, we were commissioned to design a marketing campaign promoting our multimedia-infused alternative. The end result are a series of videos that will show text literally bombarding everyday life.
The first video for this campaign was carefully thought out between Patrick Griffin, A. J. Lee, Brooke Corwin, myself, Bryan Higgins and Jon Fredette. We decided that the first one would be more of a “draft” than anything. It was still unclear whether the idea was exactly what the higher-ups were interested in, so we decided to go with one of our many ideas that was the least daunting. The idea ended up being of a girl, in her cubicle at work, who is caught in a raining “text storm”.
Pre-production was pushed through fairly quickly and we locked a location in our offices; the location ended up being coder, Colin Dai’s, cube. We had to sissify his cube a bit since it would be a female actress playing the lead role. The principal role went to actress Elise Duquette (apologies if I spelled this wrong, Elise!) out of the Charlotte area. With a little time and bringing a female’s touch for a little help, we had a well-dressed location.
The project was lit with a variety of instruments. All overhead practicals were turned off because of being a low quality fluorescent. A Jokerbug 800 with 1/2 CTO was bounced off the ceiling for a bit of overall ambience, a 500-watt Lowel Rifa light was used as a key over the front cube wall at an angle, backlight was a 650-watt ARRI with diffusion rigged on a C-Stand in the cube behind, a 250-watt Lowel Pro Light with 216 was placed on the desk to keep exposure on the face when the umbrella went over and two 500-watt Lowel Omni’s with Opal diffusion created the slashes on the cube sides during the pull-back. To add a bit of spice to the scene, a practical china light was placed on the desk and allowed to highlight out a bit.
A RED One was used to shoot the project in 4k 2:1 24fps mode with a shutter of 1/48. The original shot was an actual dolly shot that was beautiful, but due to compositing factors, a static was used with a digital zoom added for practicality. To all you budding cinematographers out there, sometimes it’s not always your favorite shots that get used, but sometimes it’s for the better of the project.
Bryan Higgins, our effects heavy lifter here, spent many hours compositing each of the little “texts” falling. Afterwards, Jon Fredette did the sound design and I did very minor color tweaks on the final image. All-in-all, it came out to be a nice little draft; nice enough, in fact, that the division decided to use it as the first of the campaign and commissioned us for two more. Our second in the series has already been shot and is in the editing phase, and the third (which will be shot on 16mm film) will be produced in the next week. Updates and posts on those two will be forthcoming. The video for our first campaign is below (don’t know why the thumbnail looks so funky, but it works out when you play it):