Welcome, welcome, welcome!
When the early decision deadline was approaching, Duke’s communications team asked me to come up with an idea to welcome the class in a friendly, fun way. I spent hours on Youtube watching other admissions videos, figuring out if there was a perfect recipe to get people excited for a school I already loved so much. It seemed impossible to nail down a video – there were so many different videos online, I had no idea how to replicate.
I realized, though, that I shouldn’t be replicating – that different videos reflected schools’ personalities. The engineering schools boasted crazy tech videos. At arts schools, dancers leaped across the screen in perfect pirouettes.
But, Duke has a little bit of everything. So what makes us different?
I thought back to why I came to Duke in the first place. And it clicked – it was the people.
It was this beautiful sense of community that drew me into Duke in the first place, that embraced me with open arms, that made my first moments on campus feel like I was sliding into a warm, comfy sweater that I had owned my whole life. And it’s this sense of community that makes Duke different than any other school out there.
I wanted to capture that in a video. A video that screamed at new students, “Hello! This is what you get at Duke. You get these people, this family. And you’re going to love it!”
There started my week of walking around campus with my camera. I’d see my friends, and before they could even say hello to me, I’d ask, “Hey, could I borrow you for a second? Could you just say ‘Welcome to Duke’ on camera for me?”’ Their eyebrows would initially furrow, but the look of confusion would be replaced in seconds by a look of genuine happiness, often excitement. “Of course,” almost every person would echo back to me as they got ready for their closeup.
And that’s the beauty of media, especially social media. Sure, social media lets us connect with old friends and new friends, share spring break pictures and tweet funny jokes for friends, but at the crux of it all, it’s about people connecting with people. This video not only gave me an opportunity to connect with the incoming students but also created a bridge for new students to connect with each other and their future home.
Getting people to participate was, like I said, easy – everyone wanted to welcome new students. The editing, however, proved time-consuming, and I worked on the video over the course of two weeks. My two major challenges:
- Music. For making videos, sometimes half the battle is finding the right music for the background. The music has to match the mood, or else, one risks ruining a video. Finding music that encompassed this “Welcome” vibe was harder than I thought – I spent an hour listening to different instrumentals on Youtube before I found something that worked. Everything else was too cheesy, too intense, too fast, too slow, etc.
- Multiple shots in a frame: there were so many shots of people that I could put in the video, I was left wondering, how do I put in as many as possible? This led to me shrinking and stretching the video shots to different sizes, in order to fit more than one shot in a frame. I ended up doing this multiple times in the video because it really emphasized the idea of Duke community. I use Final Cut Pro, and to adjust these shapes I used the Transform tool (circled in yellow). This allowed me to size and move clips accordingly (yellow arrow).
Overall, this video was a blast to make. While some hurdles cost me more time than I expected, the reward was worth it. Getting to play a role in welcoming new students to campus put a smile on my face, as it did with every single person I filmed.
Welcome, class of 2022 – see you soon.