“The Vault,” one of our newly renovated editing suites, got its name from its previous managers who used it as a vault for campus maps. And boy, was it a sight in those days… I don’t have any photos of the room at its earliest stage, but here’s how the space looked back when we initially prepped the space for painting.

Since we regularly record narration for university videos, Dave gave me some wherewithal to give the studio an edge towards being recording-friendly.

Conventional options for sound treatment were out of the budget, so we had to think beyond a quick $1k investment in Owens-Corning foam. Turns out the old mattress that had been sitting in my garage had a use after all, along with the room’s old carpeting, and a lot of basic black felt from JoAnn’s that came at about $3/yard. Fortunately for us, OSU surplus is right around the corner and they were more than happy to pawn off some old cubicle walls they had lying around. With a little help from a stud finder and a staple gun, we had a really inexpensive (and effective!) alternative for absorption panels.

I somehow managed to sell Justin and Darryl on the idea of suspending the two largest panels from the ceiling, so they helped me devise a plan to mount them up and wire a lighting system to go on top of them. Lucky for us that Darryl’s pretty handy with a soldering iron, so we cut up some cheap plastic molding from the hardware store and stuck on the most inexpensive LED strips we could find.

The cubicle panels weren’t quite enough to curb the reflective nature of the rest of the ceiling. I wanted to preserve the reflectiveness of the floor to satisfy a few recording nerdisms, but there was just too much metallic “bounce” lingering for me to be happy. Another thing I had lying around was a memory-foam mattress topper, so I cut the pieces down into uniform squares, which then needed some frames.

Another point for the scavengers. University facilities buildings have an excess of old palettes that they’re more than happy to part with. Throw in some elbow grease, repurposed hardware from the cubicle panel extras, and more felt and we had enough DIY absorption panels and bass traps to get the room’s frequency response more than flat enough to record in.

So there you have it. A fully kitted-out and record-ready editing suite for a hundred bucks or so. Doubles as a futuristic lunchtime chill space. #score

This past summer of 2015, I, along with Callie, produced and shot the short film “Reach”. It’s about a group of students that traveled to Uganda to meet and understand a life-destroying condition known as “obstetric fistula”. We traveled with these students and shared the experience of hearing devastating stories and meeting women who have survived the disease. However, I’m not here to talk about the film itself. I’m here to talk about how we lost the majority of our equipment and continued to produce a film.reach-animationOur stay comprised of about 2 weeks in the country. We were greeted with the most open arms and to extremely gracious hosts. We were welcomed to their homes as they cooked, cleaned and did everything to make our group feel comfortable. And beside a bit more humidity and heat than I’d prefer, we felt safe. I tell you this because our hosts became our friends and they played such an important role after we discovered our equipment vanished.

It’s taken a while for me to come to terms to the fact that our equipment was stolen. Personally, it was hard to know that it happened under my watch but without going into too much detail into why and how, the fact of the matter still remained: Everything was gone.

Gone were the thoughts of “What does my next shoot look like? Who do I interview next? How many timelapses can I get tonight?” Immediately, I sprung into action and started listing out exactly what was missing. Our hosts, being as helpful and beyond appalled as to what happened, helped us file a police report. The police then brought dogs, to see if they could sniff anything out, to no avail.

It wasn’t until noon when I sat down, it all started to sink in. I realized that we were 1 week into our 2 week trip. Callie told me that not all was lost. She kept the hard drives and a camera with her that night to work on. We still had something to shoot on! Gears started turning and I began to think what we needed to continue our production.

    • This is what we had: A camera, lens, one battery, two chargers, one memory card and two hard drives. Those two hard drives were a miracle, as they had everything we’d shot backed up.
    • This is what we needed: an acceptable microphone and a tripod.

I thought I was fair in thinking we only needed two things. I was also confident to think that in Uganda, those two things could be found somewhere. Our hosts arranged a ride for me to take me into the market to find a camera store. Any camera store.

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This is me proudly displaying my craftsmanship in taping back the headphones for our new lav mic.

It must have been 6+ hours until we got back from the city. We probably checked five different places, made multiple calls and came home with one of those two things: a tripod. During dinner, I sat there and felt defeated. We had a camera that could record ambient audio, but not interview audio. Maybe we could use our phone as a recorder, that would have worked better than in-camera audio.

Then, a moment of brilliance. I asked our group, “Does anyone have iPhone headphones?” All of them turned to me and several started to speak and said they do. Bingo.

The microphone on the headphones, it was crazy but it just might work. After testing it, we concluded: it worked surprisingly well.

So for the next week, production moved forward using a Ugandan tripod and makeshift iPhone headphones lavalier mic.

For the first time that day, I felt pretty good about myself.

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A still from one of our interviews using the our new “mic”

Reach: Partnering With the Forgotten Women of Uganda will be released within the next month and preliminary viewers swear they wouldn’t have noticed that all our gear was stolen during production. Also, a special thanks to our friends at Terrewode who without their help and understanding, we would be looking at terribly shaky interviews and barely audible anything. 

 

-Darryl


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.

Disclaimers

  • 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.

-Kegan

-Kegan

 

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: web.communications@oregonstate.edu.

downloadIf you’d like to follow my journey you can find me at www.taylor-howard.com.

– Taylor

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Our latest digital campaign is underway. It’s our Beaver Nation interactive documentary, and it’s following the themes of the ongoing Beaver Nation efforts led by our sister unit, University Marketing. The whole campaign launched last year with our new commercial (also produced by our team in partnership with University Marketing).

What the interactive documentary does is establish a sense of place. Oregon State University has the great benefit of being located in a natural resource wonderland. Old growth forests, dramatic volcanoes, glaciers, gorgeous coastlines and waters rich with sea life, an array of agricultural products, vineyards, hop farms, pastures, painted hills, mysterious canyons: all of these wonders orbit our main campus like a constellation of glossy tourist brochures. You sometimes have to pinch yourself as a reminder that it’s all real.

We’re lucky to live in Oregon. And that our campus has such deep connections to every corner of the state.

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The Beaver Nation documentary and site is intended to show our reach within the state and beyond, but it’s more than that. We also want to just step back and celebrate the places that we’re fortunate to be surrounded by.

Our crew traveled to all of these spectacular places to uncover the stories of the people who call them home and are connected to them. And we didn’t just focus on OSU students, alumni and faculty. Anyone who loves where they live and appreciates their local bounty–and works to protect it–is an honorary member of Beaver Nation. It’s not just about orange and black…it’s about making a difference in your community.

We’re releasing a new chapter every few weeks through early 2015, and we’ll be finishing with coverage of Beavers around the country and across the globe.

What I’m particularly proud of is that the entire project has been produced completely in house with our full-time staff and student workers. Our team can compete with the best agencies and show the potential of committed workers devoted to the institution. Beaver Nation isn’t just out there. It’s right here, inside our studio as well.

And our staff also produced the various chapters. Each region had a different producer who pulled together the team and invested a part of themselves into every story, word and pixel. And the results are amazing. It’s a great privilege to be part of this talented crew.

– David

Ruth-Hamblin

Every now and again I get to help Justin and Darryl on their video projects. Most of the time it is usually because they know I would have a personal interest in the subject matter. This time it was for an upcoming video to be aired on the Pac12 network. It features Ruth Hamblin, the starting center for the OSU women’s basketball team. The final story hasn’t come together just yet, but the general idea focuses on her being able to balance being (AN AWESOME) division I athlete and an engineering student, which is considered by many one of the more difficult and time intensive undergraduate degrees at OSU.

Side Rant

I want to go back to her being an awesome athlete. I watch a lot of college basketball, mostly mens, but over the last couple years I have started to watch more NCAA women’s basketball. The women’s team is leaps and bounds more fun to watch. From a pure basketball standpoint they win hands down. Their fundamentals are strong, they can shoot from anywhere on the court and they actually run an offense instead of the weird quasi-offense that our mens team runs. In the middle of all the excitement though is Ruth. She is absolutely one of the most devastating defensive presences I have seen at any level of basketball. The way she impacts the game is really fun to watch. She recently put together a 10 block game, which also included around 20 shots altered (insane!). She is just a sophomore, which basically means who knows how crazy good she will be after two more years of training.

I shouldn’t let my singular praise overshadow the rest of the team. From top to bottom the women’s team is filled with ballers. With only one senior, and I think also only one junior, the team is set up to make a deep NCAA run in the next couple years. Point guard Sydney Wiese is a freshman with excellent ball handling skills and court vision, not to mention a crowd stirring super quick southpaw 3pt shot. She has unlimited potential and will be fun to watch. Honestly, I could go player by player and talk about all their amazing abilities, but there isn’t enough space and you really just need to get out and watch them in person. You won’t regret taking in one of their next home games.

End Rant

Ultimately the point of this is to share the fun opportunities we get working at Interactive Communications. For me it was a big personal bonus to get to meet Ruth and thanks to Justin’s quick thinking I got the absolute great honor of getting my turn-around shot rejected by “The Hammer.” Below is photo proof of the sequence. I can now check getting stuffed, by OSU’s best shot blocker in history, off my bucket list.

Step 1: Think you can make a shot

ruth1

Step 2: Get destroyed (pretty sure she barely tried)

ruth2

Step 3: Have a good laugh because it was the most fun failure in my entire life

ruth3

– Kegan

-Kegan

This is a quick video tour of our new office space. It is also a test run of a new toy that Justin put together. He picked up the new GoPo HERO3+ and built a motorized brushless gimbal. Which of course means, a thingy that helps keep the camera stable and smooth while you move around.

The test turned out well. He tossed on a warp stabilizer in premiere for kicks, but honestly I think it wasn’t worth it. You can see a little bit of the warp side effects when you first come down the stairs. Otherwise it provided a really smooth hyper stable shot. This isn’t our first venture into “steadicams”.  We tried something called a Cowboy, which was borderline a scam. We went with an actual steadicam, but the lack of uber forearm strength has really limited our abilities. This contraption is very lightweight making it easy to get the shot. You can also do it 4 or 5 times over, which we all know is what we really need to get it right.

Toss that on top of the freaky high quality image that you can get from the newest Go Pro Hero3+ and you have a pretty sweet rig. Next we need to take it out to the track or in the field somewhere to give it a real test.

-Kegan

-Kegan

This next June will mark seven years from when I started working in the Marketing Department as an intern. From there transitioning to where I am today in Web Communications.

During that time rumors about moving offices always seemed to persist. Every other month there was a different remodeling, renovating, redesigning or re-something idea floating around. There is nobody to blame really. Universities are notoriously slow and cumbersome when it comes to things like this. Toss in the fact that most of the people in our department are dreamers and you end up with an ever evolving sense of possibilities!

Well it finally happened. Essentially we kicked out the Geospatial Services group in the basement of Adams. They definitely got the crappy end of the stick on that one. I feel for my friends in that group. I will miss the ever-present smell of toast, wafting down the hall, in the morning. After they moved we went to work as a team. Cleaning, painting, laying new wood floor (pretty hoss for a bunch of web geeks), putting up the trim and eventually putting together what can only be described as an Ikea office showroom.

Immediately as you come down the stairs you see our chalk wall of productivity. This is space for Dave to layout our current and upcoming projects. Think wall sized gantt chart

task-wall

If you turn to the left you will now see our cozy little living room space. I envision doing some of the more mundane tasks while lounging on the couch half asleep. It is a little hard to see but we also have the most glorious rug. It has a moose-like animal on it. I feel like it is a work of art and have a hard time stepping on it. Callie picked it out and will receive a 5% per month pay increase for excellent rug taste. At least that is what would happen if I had any say/control over such things. For the greater good it is probably best that I do not.

seating-area

Here is a good look at the general office setup. We all get our own desk space and grid like shelving unit. You can add cubbies, drawers or cabinets to fit your own personal style. We certainly haven’t figured everything out with this new environment, but that will come with time. We might also end up hating each other, it is hard to forecast. Either way I feel like it will work itself out.

office

Lastly, we have a nice section for our interns. Since over the years they have done most of the work around here we figured they should also get a nice clean work space. If you are a bright person and want to continue doing all of our work as an intern shoot us an email, we are pretty much always hiring.

interns

I forgot to get a picture of our new video editing suite, but it is also pretty incredible. It will be a big asset for our projects and random youtube video watching abilities (always during lunch…).  Below is a list of things we have learned mixed in with things that I think we will have to conquer as a group.

  • Temperature: It is pretty impossible to please everyone. It seems like it is boiling lava hot or frigid. Still have to find that middle ground.
  • Music: I like to blare my music loud and I have been known to listen to a new hit jam 10 times in  a row. You can assume that nobody else on the planet would enjoy that.
  • Assembling that much Ikea furniture sucks. We need special interns just for that.
  • Using a nail gun makes you feel like a tough guy.
  • Smells: You can use your imagination here. There hasn’t been any big problems yet, but it seems like an inevitability at this point. Somebody is going to bring in some sort of stinky egg lunch and the whole office will notice.
  • By moving to the basement we have taken small steps in eliminating all contact with other humans. Sometimes stray customers from parking services happen by, but someday I am confident we can get that to zero incidences. 
  • Having this space has spurred the idea of doing potluck breakfast once a month. The first one was fantastic, I gorged myself on bacon products. The only downside is knowing that I have to wait a full month until the next one. 

-Kegan

-Kegan

video tracking shot via sled
Darryl Lai being pulled by lead sled dog Justin Smith. Both are Web Communications staff members.

 

You might wonder how the title of this relates to the above photo so let me try and establish the scene. Darryl (AKA “Da-REAL Deal”) squirreled himself into some kind of tiny sled. The reason this tiny sled exists still evades my comprehension. Justin then attached this strange sled to his waist much like a sled dog. This weird setup was an attempt at getting a tracking shot of a cross country skiier. The idea was that the skiier would come at them while justin ran along pulling Darryl on his tiny sled.

The trouble was that it absolutely didn’t work. The motion was so rocky that it really didn’t turn out well. Now I didn’t watch further than the first 30 seconds and they are very good at post processing so maybe it will be usable. However, I kind of doubt it. The purpose of this post is to show you what it takes to make really high quality work (in any field). You have to be excited about the possibility of failure. You have to continue to try new things, take leaps of faith, screw up and hopefully do better next time.

This isn’t supposed to be a warm and fuzzy motivational pitch this is just simple fact. If you want to do anything great (doesn’t matter what it is) you have to try everything. No matter how crazy or weird it might seem. You have to do whatever it takes to get that epic shot.

-Kegan

-Kegan