The digital marketing series is a behind the scenes look at projects, campaigns, tools, tricks and other marketing machinations happening at Oregon State University.

An emotional connection

Whenever a police car is following along behind me I get this overwhelming sense of panic and fear. Usually they speed ahead or turn off in other pursuits but for that instant I am frozen thinking about all the possible laws I could have broken. It doesn’t matter what city I’m in, if they are a sheriff, state trooper or even campus security they all bring that same reaction. For many reasons (media, TV, personal experience) over time the law enforcement brand has developed this emotional connection.

That is exactly what we should strive for in our marketing efforts, although probably along the lines of hope and positivity instead of panic and fear. If we can create that kind of emotional response when people encounter our brand we will have joined the elite.

Ignore their minds connect with their hearts

Sometimes we get stuck trying to force our “Strategic message” on audiences that can’t relate. A great example of this is our Brand Statement. “Oregon State University is an authentic community, whose accomplishments, inclusive excellence, innovation and leadership promote a healthy planet, wellness and economic progress.

Your average human doesn’t think in these terms, that statement is really hard to understand. They don’t have a history of higher ed nomenclature to pull from. The base instinct that we are actually going for is “OSU, yeah they are super smart” or “OSU, they always impress me”.

Our typical pattern would be to do a very good job of storytelling. We would find a research breakthrough and if we were good we would come up with a way to make it relatable. It could be in written form, story, video, web site, etc.. Then if we were really good we would have systems in place or ways to make sure that content had maximum exposure.

Does that sound familiar? The content was created from an institutional perspective. The likelihood of creating an emotional response is pretty low. What if we came at it from a different direction? What if we created content with the purpose of getting people to think “wow, they are super smart”. We could come up with content that taught people something and not academic sense, more on a real life level. I bet if you made a list you could think of five things that you have always wanted to learn or maybe it’s five life hacks you learned in the last year.

Here is my list

  • Learn how to be an average singer. I don’t want to be a rock star I just want to be able to sing karaoke and people not hate it.
  • How to bake chocolate chip cookies? I’m terrible at anything culinary and learning simple recipes was super useful.
  • What are the best house plants and how to keep them alive? Plants are great to have around but I used to kill everything. A simple guide on what plants are easiest to grow and how to keep them alive would go a long way.
  • Poetry, I have always had an interest in writing poetry but I have no clue where to start. A basic guide would be really helpful in potentially unlocking something I’m passionate about.
  • How to change a flat tire. It seems silly but this is not a skill that you are born with and is useful for everyone.

So imagine we developed a series of content that accomplished all of these things. They were branded OSU but just cut right to the topic, no bull, no core messages. Imagine if you learned how to sing from a YouTube series? Wouldn’t you have a great connection with whoever provided that? The positive experience would transfer to the brand, people would consider us to be knowledgeable only because they had an experience where we taught them something as simple as how to change a flat tire.

Not only does this simple transference happen, but the content we would be producing is much more shareable and has a chance to reach a much larger audience. Even the best breakthrough research content has a limited audience and it is also temporal. Todays innovations are old news tomorrow.


  • This is just one example and it might not even be a good one. It just represents the shift in how we could be connecting to our audiences in addition what we do now.
  • The OSU brand statement is not meant to actually show up in any collateral it is by definition steeped in academic terms. I very much believe in our brand statement and think that it is quite well written. It is just the easiest example I could find.
  • My visceral reactions to law enforcement, following me, no way reflects how I actually feel about them. I am deeply thankful for the men and women who dedicate their careers to protecting our communities. It’s also quite possible that the negative emotion tied to their brand is a good thing. It might help keep crime in check.



The idea came from an off-hand comment in another interview I was having with Ron Mize, the director of CL@SE at OSU. We’d talked about the subject of the story: The Tenured Faculty Diversity Initiative for almost half an hour. At the end of our chat, I asked him what he does for fun. Of course, most of our very dedicated professors don’t have a lot of free time, and he explained that he ESPECIALLY doesn’t because he happens to live in Portland and commute to campus in Corvallis four days a week.

I was shocked. I hate commuting. I live exactly 1.5 miles from campus. It takes me about 10 minutes on my bike…

“But people do this?” I asked.

“Yes,” he answered. And it’s not just him. There are more than a dozen faculty members at OSU in this unofficial carpool, and the idea intrigued me.


My first thought was, “This could make a great story for our Beaver Nation PDX newsletter,” which I work on and contribute content to regularly. It focuses on content that relates to our Portland audience. Blah Blah…. But the idea became more than that for me….

I mean, these people are brilliant, right? Ph.D.s! In a car! For hours at a time! The conversations they must have! It wasn’t difficult to get the rest of my team on board with the idea.

I knew I couldn’t just talk to them about it. I needed to experience it for myself, so I got permission to join them on a Wednesday in May. But I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. Please never accuse me of not suffering for my art. This is what happened:

•5 p.m., Tuesday: I picked up a car from the motorpool
•4:30 a.m., Wednesday: I drove to the Park-N-Ride in Tigard
•6:15 a.m.: I began my journey back to Corvallis with the Carpoolers
•7:30 a.m.: I arrived in Corvallis and made my way directly to Java II for some caffeine
•5:30 p.m.: I met the carpoolers again
•6:30 p.m.: We are stuck in traffic behind an accident that eventually closes I-5 North.
•7:30 p.m.: We arrive back at the Tigard Park-N-Ride. I hop back into my motorpool car and turn around
•8:00 p.m.: I stop at the Sonic in Wilsonville for more caffeine. And tater tots. I need the tater tots.
•9:00 p.m.: I drop off my motorpool car. Go home and directly to bed.

The result: This story. And I’m totally and completely thrilled with it. It was a blast, and I hope you enjoy reading it!


Clear Lake is located at the headwaters of the McKenzie River.  It sits right around 3000 feet above sea level and the temperature fluctuates from around 35 to 43°F year-round.  The bottom composition and water sources for this lake all contribute to unbelievably clear water.  Rowing on the surface is more akin to flying across an alien terrain than what you’d typically expect on a mountain lake.  These conditions all contribute to a remarkable albeit challenging SCUBA diving destination.  It is an odd site to see weekenders unloading camping gear alongside divers unpacking tanks and fins.  It’s easy to understand the allure of diving Clear Lake once you drop below the surface.  Exploring the bottom of Clear Lake you will come across a preserved forest frozen in time, carpets of algae, and sunken boats.  Some claim it is possible to experience up to 200 ft. visibility in the lake.  Locals mentioned we were in the midst of a seasonal algal bloom though even so we estimated being able to see over 100 feet.  All of this awe and wonder doesn’t come without a cost.  During our visit the water temperature averaged about 40 °F.  Even with a 7mm semi-dry suit (I was the only non drysuit diver in our group) I was pushing my ability to fight off the cold after 30 minutes underwater.

 P1040283   P1040286

This trip was part of our continuation down the path of becoming AAUS certified scientific divers.  Currently in the middle of production on a film about global coral reef decline ( it became essential for us to develop underwater filmmaking skills.  It has been an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience thus far.  Diving and shooting in varying conditions has really helped us become quicker to adapt and meet the demands of the shooting situation.  In all honesty capturing images underwater has proven to be far more difficult than we could have anticipated.  Our appreciation for what you see in any given BBC ocean documentary has gone through the roof.  Behind every shot is an incredibly skilled camera operator/ SCUBA diver managing an array of variables to capture the stunning images in the given project.  Our humble efforts have yet to reach that level though each dive gets us a bit closer to our goal.


Equipment Used:

Panasonic GH4

Panasonic Lumix G Fisheye 8mm lens

Nauticam NA-GH4 housing

Interactive Communications has the important task of being a multimedia production team on the Oregon State University campus, which includes the production of video content ranging from short documentary to the university’s institutional commercial. We often get questions from our university partners from all corners of campus. Can you make a video for us? Is it possible to get such and such footage from such and such project? Can you teach our student worker how to use a camera? And the age old question…

What camera should I get?


Last week, our discussion on camera equipment led to three key principles in building a camera package for use in the higher education environment. With this in mind, I’ve spec’d out three different packages. A low-cost package that aims to get quality without breaking the bank, a package that emphasizes future-proofing and finally a package centered around getting the best images within a higher-ed setting.

What we didn’t talk about last week was what kind of image quality and control we are looking for. Naturally for us, we want the best possible image, which typically translates to bigger sensors, thus leaving out handheld camcorders (dubbed “handycams”) cell phones and GoPro’s as cameras. Why not handycams, cell phones and GoPros? Short answer: Lack of control. Long answer: Another blog post.

I don’t want to knock these amazing devices in any way but if we want to ensure control in the work we do, the best possible solution will be a dedicated camera for the job. I also purposefully chose cameras that double as great photo cameras as well as having impressive video capabilities.

In these packages, I’ll list out a specific camera and additional accessories to consider with a general budget in which the package should typically run. However, I won’t be too specific, I feel like it’s important to do research and read about what makes a good tripod or a good camera bag.


Entry option


In this package, the cameras suggested are both excellent cameras but also share the feature of having a dedicated lens attached. This means spending less money on lenses, which can be a huge expense. This does, however, limit the longevity of the camera, whereas an interchangaable lens camera (ILC) would be more versatile.

  • Panasonic FZ1000 or Sony RX10ii ($800 – $1300)
  • Tripod + tripod head ($200 – $300)
    • I’ll say it once and say it again, do not skimp on your tripod. It might be tempting to buy the $35 special, but you’ll regret it the moment you try to get a steady shot, or a panning shot (you know, what a tripod is used for…). The more you spend on a quality tripod, the better.
  • SD cards ($100)
    • These cards are getting cheaper by the day and with bigger capacity. Look for 32GB and above, but don’t skimp on the speed class, U1 or U3 is what you want to look for.
  • Batteries ($100)
    • The question of generic or OEM always comes up here. If it’s a question, just get OEM.
  • Zoom H1 or Tascam equivalent ($100)
    • These portable audio recorders are great to connect microphones with and also to record using their built-in mic. They use microSD cards, so if it doesn’t come with one, make sure to get one. In this case, speed doesn’t matter as much.
  • Lavalier microphone ($50)
    • A lav mic is just for interview situations. Almost a must for higher-ed.
  • Camera bag/backpack ($150)
    • A good quality bag will survive the test of time, keep your gear safe and make sure your gear has a place to live. Comfort is also key!
  • Total: $1,350 – $2,050



Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-G7FRA w EF-S 18-135mm IS STM_WEB IMAGE_pack_tcm13-1064826

This package offers a couple cameras that are capable of swapping out lenses, which provides the ability to get better images and range of shots. This comes at the cost of complexity and cost.

  • Panasonic G7 or Canon 70D ($800 – $1100)
    • The price here includes a kit lens.
  • Lenses (0 – $1000)
    • Spend nothing or spend it all on lenses. Like tripods, what you pay is what you get, so spend more money on good lenses, they will last a long time.  
  • Tripod + tripod head ($200 – $300)
    • I’ll say it once and say it again, do not skimp on your tripod. It might be tempting to buy the $35 special, but you’ll regret it the moment you try to get a steady shot, or a panning shot (you know, what a tripod is used for…). The more you spend on a quality tripod, the better.
  • SD cards ($100)
    • These cards are getting cheaper by the day and with bigger capacity. Look for 32GB and above, but don’t skimp on the speed class, U1 or U3 is what you want to look for.
  • Batteries ($100)
    • The question of generic or OEM always comes up here. If it’s a question, just get OEM.
  • Rode Wireless lav kit ($400)
    • A wireless system will greatly improve versatility and workflow during shoots.
  • Zoom H1 or Tascam equivalent ($100)
    • While the lav kit will work seamlessly with the camera, a portable audio recorder
  • Camera bag/backpack ($150)
    • A good quality bag will survive the test of time, keep your gear safe and make sure your gear has a place to live. Comfort is also key!
  • Total: $1,850 – $3,250


An ideal


If your university has emphasized its support behind video storytelling, then this is the package for you. It combines the best functionality in technology today and longevity of use for years to come.

  • Panasonic GH4 ($1500 + $1000 for lens)
    • I’d recommend the Panasonic 12-35mm F2.8 lens, it’s pretty much the best lens that Panasonic offers for this camera system, thus a great image and lens that will work for many years to come.
  • Tripod + fluid head ($500)
    • A quality fluid head ensures smooth pan/tilt movements without jitter.
  • SD cards ($100)
    • These cards are getting cheaper by the day and with bigger capacity. Look for 32GB and above, but don’t skimp on the speed class, U1 or U3 is what you want to look for.
  • Batteries ($100)
    • The question of generic or OEM always comes up here. If it’s a question, just get OEM.
  • Sennheiser ew100 ($630)
    • More versatile than the Rode wireless lav kit, the Sennheiser kit is a bit more expensive while being a mainstay in the industry.
  • Zoom H4n or Tascam equivalent ($200)
    • The difference here is the ability to use equipment that connects via XLR connector in addition to 3.5mm, which is an industry standard. This uses an SD card, so don’t forget to buy one.
  • Rode Videomic ($150)
    • An on camera shotgun microphone will be extremely useful when you don’t have time to setup a wireless lav. Not only that, this mic will pick up some excellent ambient sounds that will really help in editing.
  • Camera bag/backpack ($150)
    • A good quality bag will survive the test of time, keep your gear safe and make sure your gear has a place to live. Comfort is also key!
  • Total: $4,330

A camera is just a tool

The real key here is to get people thinking, and to give a general idea of what kind of investment it takes for a certain level of production. I tried to make these suggestions with campus communicators in mind, emphasizing a practical, timely and holistic approach. While these cameras are easy-to-learn, the art of storytelling is a lifelong pursuit in itself. Today, we discussed the tools to make that possible and I certainly hope that I’ve helped in starting a conversation on what tools are needed for your level of storytelling.

Let us know if you have anything to add or if you have questions on anything. And if your department has specific needs, we’re more than happy to talk. Thanks for reading!



Getting Started

My internship at Interactive Communications has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. The journey here was quite random, after being rejected for a graphic design internship I was encouraged to apply for an internship with Web Communications (the department’s previous name). I kindly thanked the referrer, wallowed in self-pity and didn’t apply due to having no experience with web design or motion graphics.

Weeks later Santiago, the Assistant Director, contacted me and asked if I’d like to interview for the position, I thanked him for the opportunity and pointed out my lack of knowledge in their field. He explained that a few of their previous interns started off with a print background and transitioned into motion graphics, and that the important part was having a strong sense of design. The interview went smoothly, Santiago and Dave liked my portfolio, so I tried out After Effects and joined the team.

The Office, the Team and What I’ve Learned

A little while after I became a member of the group, the office moved downstairs to the basement of Adams Hall to an open floor plan with everyone in the department in one room. I understand this setup isn’t for everyone, but I honestly think it’s facilitated growth in our relationships and brainstorming. There are many moments when the office is so dead silent that visitors feel awkward entering the room and other times when it’s in an uproar either due to Kegan having an epiphany of what the next world changing app, sitcom or invention should be or Justin sharing a random video that’s on the borderline of morbid but you can’t help but laugh because of how hilarious it is. This place isn’t just a workplace; it’s a space for discovery, storytelling, laughter, and working hard.

Through these last two and a half years I’ve learned what it’s like to be a part of a true team. Each person brings a readiness to work with others, explore, stay focused and have fun. One of the projects that really brought us all together was the creation of the Beaver Nation Web Campaign. Every individual was involved in the gathering and creation of stories, videos, web design and photos. I narrated for the Beaver Nation Trailer, created a few animations and designed the Beaver Nation History Site.

Home page screenshot of the Beaver Nation history site with an archival photo of the Oregon State Campus in the background.
Home page of the Beaver Nation history site.
An image still from the animation  of Brian Wall.
Brian Wall Animation Still

When I started this internship I had no idea I would get to use and develop such a diverse amount of skills. I’ve explored narration, web design, motion graphics, puppet design, photography, project management, archival research and more through this position. I also didn’t realize I would meet such cool people, each person is witty, hilarious and fun to be around.

A screenshot from the animation Metabolic Melodies: Hemoglobin's Movin' Around, a light hearted animation that describes Hemoglobin in the body.
Here is a still from the animation I directed called Metabolic Melodies: Hemoglobin’s Movin’ Around.

Now It’s Your Turn (possibly)

My time here at Interactive Communications is coming to a close as I graduated with my degree from Oregon State University in June. Their internship will become available in the Fall. If you are a current student at Oregon State with a passion for graphic design, web design, motion graphics, animation and/or video editing then reach out to the team. If you want a creative internship that pushes your skills to the next level in an unpredictable and fun environment then this is the place for you. Email Interactive Communications at:

downloadIf you’d like to follow my journey you can find me at

– Taylor

Interactive Communications has the important task of being a multimedia production team on the Oregon State University campus, which includes the production of video content ranging from short documentary to the university’s institutional commercial. We often get questions from our university partners from all corners of campus. Can you make a video for us? Is it possible to get such and such footage from such and such project? Can you teach our student worker how to use a camera? And the age old question…

What camera should I get?

Sure. You can go to Google, type in the same question and you’ll get an immense amount of information with a tremendous amount of varied opinions. The question our office can answer quite knowledgeably is what camera will work for higher education. Our office has been producing video content in-house for the university for over five years and we’ve learned a bit about bringing creative in-house to higher ed. Some of our work is award-winning, some ambitious and some just plain silly. All-in-all, we have a good idea of what campus communicators need and more importantly, what does and doesn’t work.

When a department approaches us with this question, their needs are simple: A camera that can shoot video, but also take photos. The good news is that pretty much every camera produced today can do this. The bad news is that every camera produced today can do this. To narrow the field, we often ask ourselves: Is it practical? Is it timely? Is it holistic?

  • Practical: The camera has to be something people will actually use and practical to use
    • Our campus communicators are already tasked to be multimedia multi-tools, we don’t need to send them to film school. However, nor should we neglect the basics.
    • No one should need to lug around a 50lb camera bag, plus tripod. Our campus communicators aren’t film crews and neither are we. If it doesn’t fit in the workflow, then it’s not practical.
  • Timely: There must be bandwidth to dedicate time, energy and passion to producing content.
    • This is a huge barrier to many departments on campus because of the multitude of tasks that are required of our campus communicators. Again, it has to be practical.
  • Holistic: We need more than “just a camera”. Additional gear that will support the sustainability and practical use of the camera are imperative.
    • Tripod, microphone, memory cards, batteries, lenses and anything else that might be necessary depending on application.

The bulk of this discussion has been very much a gear/equipment-centric discussion. However, we cannot stress enough how the camera is not indicative of the end result. Rather, the team behind the camera has everything to do with the caliber and quality of the produced video or photos. It’s extremely important to recognize how the camera will be used and to what means.

Justin and Darryl on location in Brazil

Next week, we’ll look at a couple different camera packages that will follow these guidelines and hopefully help those in higher ed to find the best solution for a camera package. Thanks for reading, and feel free to send a message or leave a comment.



The digital marketing series is a behind the scenes look at projects, campaigns, tools, tricks and other marketing machinations happening at Oregon State University.

Maximizing reach

So much of advertising depends on reach. It doesn’t matter what medium or channel you are considering. Before you can drive engagement and deliver conversions you have to start by reaching your audience.

Sometimes reach at a university ebbs and flows outside of our control. During the summer months reach is diminished. Students leave, faculty go on vacation and our physical touch points start to dry up. The same goes for our digital space, during these months some of our audiences have fewer reasons to go to our home page. The natural (unpaid) forces that provide motivation for people to enter our funnel temporarily dry up.

Commencement 2015

There are also a few times each year where our natural reach is maximized. During commencement our touch points increase. Parents, siblings, alumni, current students, etc. all coming to campus, some for the first time in years. Web traffic analysis shows that this is also a peak time for the university home page and core sites.

As bargain hunting marketers we make an effort to pounce on the opportunity. Every year our department composes features about our graduates often including stories and videos detailing their exploits and possible career options. This allows us to celebrate the university through the stories about some really interesting people. These are particularly useful in targeting our prospective parent demographic. Parents want to imagine their students getting a degree and moving on with the job of their dreams and we happily share examples with them. Callie our storytelling guru and Darryl, the lord commander of video production, usually pair up to make excellent content.

Here is one student from this year’s graduating class.

Normally these profiles would be inserted into our carousel towards the top of the Oregon State home page. Without going on a rant I’ll just say I’m not much of a carousel fan. Typically this feature of our site has a 1.3% click through rate. You can spin that number however you want, but to me it isn’t good enough. This year we decided to try something new.

Going outside of the box

It is unrealistic to consider completely redesigning our home page for this one use and the current design was never constructed to be very flexible in terms of layout. We decided that there might be a way to augment it with some small CSS tricks in order to take advantage of this temporarily increased reach. Oliver (one of our graphic designers — which is oversimplifying his amazing talents, but I digress) came up with the concept of adding functionality that allowed the home page to essentially slide away revealing bonus content. The thought would be to make it feel like you were finding a secret or something hidden. Making an emotional connection rather than the expected experience with the carousel. The simple act of changing the background to an image, instead of a color, might register with the users that something has changed.

Screenshot of our home page with a background image for the first time. You can also see the button that was added.

Screenshot of our home page with a background image for the first time. You can also see the button that was added.

After talking it through we came up with a fairly simple solution. We inserted a new graphic that when clicked slid the main content area of the home page to the right revealing our special commencement feature. This was done with one line of jQuery and absolutely positioning the commencement feature underneath the main container with CSS. We played around with all sorts of ideas, but this seemed like the best compromise. We didn’t want to impede the user experience by forcing people to go through this feature, but we also wanted it to be interruptive enough that it would be noticeable.

After clicking the button in the left corner of the page the main content area slides to the right exposing our hidden content.

After clicking the button, in the left corner of the page, the main content area slides to the right exposing our commencement feature.

The results are in

By attaching event tracking to the button, that activated the animation, we were able to track how many times users interacted with our marketing Frankenstein feature. During the 14 days that this feature was on the home page it was “opened” 3,956 times by 2,652 unique users. Those numbers in isolation tell me that at least some people figured out how to interact with this new feature and absorbed some of our storytelling goodness. A few of which probably clicked on it a few times for the fun of it.

A more complete pictures comes into play when you know that there were 101,906 unique users that visited the home page over that same 14 day window. Giving us a usage rate of 2.6% (amount of unique people who interacted out of the total unique people who possibly could have). That is almost double our standard CTR of the carousel, so in some sense you could consider this a smashing success. I also heard anecdotally that people enjoyed the hidden content and generally thought it was a pretty cool feature.

However, I can’t help but feel a little pessimistic. Capturing less than 3% of our users just doesn’t feel good enough. There are all sorts of reasons why I could explain it away. Maybe the button was not very noticeable. Maybe people saw it, but there were no visual queues for them to know that it was clickable. Most likely people saw it and didn’t care. Those users show up wanting to fulfill whatever task they came for and have little interest in being caught our web.

I suppose the takeaway here is understanding that these natural cycles exist and that they can be a valuable tool for maximizing reach. It is also important to explore new techniques and creative ways to capture your extended reach. We proved that it can have a positive impact, but we also found we have plenty to learn when it comes to understanding our audience and the best way to connect with them.

– Kegan


Time lapse photography has occupied my attention for several years. The visual passing of time strikes a chord with the part of me that is in constant daydream mode. With most of my experience coming from video production and not photography I had (and very much still have) a lot to learn. At this point I should mention that when I refer to time lapse I am typically referencing the process of combining numerous photographs into video form as opposed to dramatically speeding up recorded video. I flirted with both and settled on the photography base as my preferred method.

Start simple

My first foray into the world of time lapse was pretty basic. I started with a fixed camera taking “standard” photos, usually over the course of 30-40 minutes. Nothing special here, but I was trying to convert my video knowledge into basic photography principles. It was fun, but not particularly successful.

What I learned

  • You need a really sturdy tripod base. Any vibration or movement will more or less ruin the party.
  • Understand the passage of time and how fast your subject moves. Things that move slower require a longer interval between photos to create any effect. Think of a plant growing from a seed. You might have to take one photo every week to notice any difference. ON a busy street corner you could take a photo every 3-5 seconds. The sky is popular component of good landscape time lapse. Keep in mind that an interval of at least 10 seconds is useful to create dynamic cloud movement.
  • Understand how long you have to actually run your time lapse. Not being a fan of basic math I struggled with this. For example, pretend you are setup to do a nice landscape time lapse. You reckon since the clouds are slow moving you might want to have an interval of 12 seconds between photos. Going with the assumption that you are going to produce a 24 frames per second video (cinematic standard) it will require 24 still images to make up one second of video. With this information we can figure out how much actual time you need to have your camera running for every second of time lapse video. 12(seconds between photos) X 24(total frames needed for a second of footage) = 288 seconds or a little less than 5 minutes. If you are ever going to use the time lapse for anything you want a time lapse to last on screen for at least 10 seconds (at the very least). So if we extend that information we now have 5(minutes for every second of video) X 10(minimum length of useful video) = 50 minutes! The takeaway here is to plan out your shots, in some cases be prepared to be out there for hours.

Motion Controlled Time Lapse

Naturally after I crawled further into the subject I noticed people making incredible camera movements throughout their time lapses. I was obsessed and had to figure it out. The concepts are all the same, but now you introduce the technique of moving your camera during the interval between photos. Each movement is incredibly subtle, but over the course of the entire time lapse it adds up to, in some cases, a six foot slide or a 180 degree pan.

In order to jump into this technique some additional equipment is required. There are many manufacturers out there so I won’t get into specifics, but you will need a system that will drive the motion of your camera over time including a control system that can program the movement. Some have been able to master this with a simple slider and moving your camera by hand, but human error makes this very difficult. Having this controlled mechanically and by a computer provides a much more consistent result.

(Random example of some time lapse with motion. There are tons of amazing examples on YouTube and Vimeo.)

Motion Control Systems

Hyper Lapse

After spending a lot of time practicing the “vanilla” time lapse and even leaping into some motion controlled projects I was pretty engrossed in the art form. I mention art form because it’s more and more evident to me that you will only get as far as your creative mind will take you. I consider myself fairly well educated in the science of time lapse but to truly get the shots that make you go “wow” you need that left brain point of view. I don’t say this to deter you, but be prepared to crawl on the ground, climb a mountain or do whatever it takes to find that elusive void to make art.

Darryl, another time lapse acolyte in our department, turned me on to the concept of a hyper lapse. Instead of taking tiny movements sliding or revolving around a fixed point (tripod) you move the whole package throughout space. An example of this is approaching an object of note from say a 100 yards away. Between intervals you would move your tripod in a very controlled manner. If done well this creates a “sliding” movement but on a very large scale. This technique becomes another layer of complexity that takes a while to master.

(You can see the hyper lapse concept in a commercial we produced for Oregon State. They create an almost dreamlike feel.)

What I learned

  • Planning is even more critical for this kind of move. You want a relatively straight path free of obstacles and hazards. If a car parks itself along your path the party is over. Try to have your move as linear as possible. Since you are mimicking a sliding movement you don’t want to have to bend around a tree or else it breaks the illusion.
  • Although you are moving your whole tripod the camera needs to stay locked onto the target. Think of looking through your viewfinder as crosshairs. You want to move your tripod and then re adjust the camera so it is still framed similarly. Using your grid will help with this, but ultimately takes a lot of practice. If you change your framing the video will end up a little insane. (you just have to see for yourself)
  • This technique requires some manipulation on the video processing end. Because this is done by a human hand inevitably there will be some wobbles in your path. Using a tool like the warp stabilizer in Adobe Premiere/After Effects does a great job of smoothing out these rough edges.

My love for time lapse photography will always evolve as I learn, but that’s part of the fun. I haven’t even scratched the surface of Night Sky time lapse. Being in Oregon there is always a vista just down the road. Trial and error in one of the most beautiful areas in the world. I could do worse.



Since this past winter, I’ve been working with colleagues from Information Systems and college web and communications teams on mapping a digital platform strategy, a plan that will help to guide the overall direction for web and mobile for the university. It’s an exciting development: it is the first time in my seven years at Oregon State that our main IT and communications units are collaborating with campus at this level. We’re happy to be able to share this initial draft. It should be a great foundation for things to come.

Take a look and let us know what you think.

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 1.53.54 PMI recently got a tour of the new online catalog that our Extension office built. Essentially it houses all of their publications in one easy to navigate Drupal site. For anyone with Drupal or database experience you know that alone is a heroic task. The site is full of features and cool modules. It is a shining example of quality content, great architecture and strong development. A big congrats to everyone in Extension and Experiment Station Communications who knocked this one out of the park.