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NYU Case Study

Challenge:

Create 12 recruitment videos for NYU’s international studies program—one video for each global center in locations spanning Asia, Europe, South America, Australia, the Middle East, and Africa.

The logistical challenge: interviewing 45 students about their experiences in countries all around the world. The creative challenge: reflecting NYU’s stimulating, cutting-edge, out-of-the-box reputation in videos that appeal equally to students and parents.

Solution:

We understood from the beginning that NYU likely wouldn’t send us to shoot in a dozen countries around the planet.

Our solution: we spent six days interviewing 45 students on green screen in a video production studio in New York City while they described their experiences studying abroad. Then we devoted a team of editors and motion graphics artists to place the students into international environments and richly illustrated the videos with images from each country.

Result:

A series of visually stunning videos that instantly created a viral buzz.

In the words of our client:

“The videos are smart, hip, edgy, and very original, just like the university itself. Indigo’s understanding of our brand and message, and ability to creatively weave them into our students’ personal stories, is simply unparalleled. These videos are an essential component of our recruitment campaign, and we can’t thank you enough for your tremendous efforts.”

Production notes:

Even before the video production began, we spent a huge amount of time planning the post-production. The client wanted groundbreaking videos, and we wanted to push our own envelope, so these videos would have to look and sound like nothing we had done before.

Our cinematographer chose a high-end Sony PDW-700 XDCam HD video camera for the assignment because it handles green screen so well. We used a four-man crew in the video production studio plus a makeup artist with the expertise to capture a very natural look under the lights.

The student interviews went great, but then we encountered an unexpected snag.

At the beginning of the project, the client had come to us with an unusual plan: they had shipped a dozen video cameras to students abroad with instructions to film extensively in each international location. Thus, the students’ own footage was to have been the core of each video’s visual treatment. Unfortunately, their plan did not work. The video footage shot by the students simply did not reflect the quality of the experience abroad that the client wanted to portray.

Faced with this unexpected video production problem, we proposed an innovative solution: illustrating the video not through live action footage, but with carefully chosen stills that we “animated.” To pull this off, our researchers gathered thousands of photographs from many sources: a trove of unused photos originally intended for NYU’s print materials and website; the students’ own personal photos; and stock photo houses. On occasion, we also hired local photographers for specific shots that were impossible to get through other means. For example, when we couldn’t find good photos of a remote Czech castle that one student cited as a highlight of his trip, we managed to license the perfect shot from a Czech photographer.

Our gambit paid off. Again, in the words of our client: “When our original production plan proved unworkable for logistical reasons, you and your team didn’t flinch. Instead, you came up with a solution that was even better than the original plan.”

Each video took about three weeks of post-production, with extra time devoted to the “pilot” so we could test various video editing techniques. Many jobs require just a video editor and an assistant, but for these 12 videos we assigned a much larger video post-production team. One group of video editors sorted through the interviews to select the best sound bites. Then senior video editors created “radio edits” that incorporated high-energy music to drive the show. Another senior video editor “animated” the visuals, while a motion graphics artist added motion blurs, lens flares, and other visual effects.

Our animator then created gorgeous map animations featuring the NYU logo to highlight the study locations at the opening of each video. He created the maps using Illustrator and then imported the files into Cinema 4D to create 3D animated versions. Our final touch was the sound design—subtle sound effects throughout the entire video in order to give extra impact to the visuals.

NYU told us that this is the best example of recruitment video production that they’ve ever seen. Let us know what you think!


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