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The Complications of 360 Degree Video

Before shooting with a 360-degree camera, I really had no clue what to expect. I didn’t know what the camera was going to look like, how it was going to work, or even how I was going to hold it. I thought to myself, “I wouldn’t consider myself to be an expert on cameras. Am I even going to be able to use this thing?” My first experience with a 360-degree camera was nearly a year and a half ago. I was privileged to be tasked with shooting footage of the Brodhead Center and thus, learning how to use a 360-degree camera. The problem is, as I said, that was over a year and a half ago and I haven’t touched the camera since. After my first shoot, I could successfully answer those questions that I previously had to ask myself. Now, I can barely even remember what the camera looks like, let alone how to use it. And so, with the new duty of filming the extravagant Trinity House, I was once again tasked with learning the ins and the outs of the 360-degree camera. Lucky for me, one thing that I do remember is that the camera itself was not that difficult to use. The application, on the other hand, is quite the burden.

The main problem wasn’t the camera itself. The camera that I was using was the Nikon KeyMission 360. It looks like a fist-sized cube and has two curved lenses and image sensors to capture footage from the front and from the back. If I’m being honest, I couldn’t even tell you which side of the camera is the front and which was the back. It has almost perfect symmetry. The directions appeared fairly simple. While the camera was off, it said to hold down the button on the top until the lights were flashing (to send it into pairing mode) and then connect the camera to your phone via Bluetooth. After pairing, connect to the camera’s wifi network and you should be all set up. Finally, you can use the app to remotely start and stop filming as well as view an in-app gallery of footage taken so far.

Now, let me recall for you my experiences with the camera’s pairing capabilities and use of the application. The day of shooting, one of the other interns (Katie) and I spent nearly 30 minutes just trying to get the camera to pair with our phones so that we could use the application. When we picked up the camera from the Office of News and Communications nearly a week before, we practiced pairing it with our phones to make sure that we knew what we were doing. After following the steps over and over again, for close to 20 minutes, the camera finally paired and we were on our way. We knew that there was a chance of these complications happening again but were just hoping that they wouldn’t arise when it came time to shoot. When we tried this in Trinity, it didn’t pair. We tried for a half hour with no luck. We didn’t think it ever would pair. So, we needed to come up with a workaround.


The workaround.

We hadn’t practice filming manually because we knew that if we did it this way, we would not be able to view our footage in real time. The camera doesn’t have a digital screen, thus, the only way to view the footage that you have taken is through the application. But, since the application wasn’t working, we had to just go for it. We started filming. We weren’t sure if we were actually capturing any footage because neither of us had tried manually shooting footage with this type of camera before, but had to go for it anyway because it was our only option. Then we realized, “the camera must have an SD card!” For those of you who don’t know what an SD card is, its basically a memory card used in portable devices such as cameras. So, we plugged it into a computer and viewed the gallery of footage. It was working! We were actually capturing footage. Now that we could finally see what we were recording, we wanted to make sure that the footage was visually pleasing. I’ll get into how we shot in a bit, but (through examining the footage) we basically realized that the tripod that the camera was on was sitting too low and needed to be raised.

Without the convenience of the app, we didn’t know whether or not we were getting footage. Even if we were, we didn’t know what it looked like. Eventually coming to the conclusion that the tripod needed to be raised became much more difficult and time-consuming than it needed to be. Although the camera’s specs and shooting capabilities are great (it shoots 360-degree 4K Ultra HD video), due to the inconsistencies and problematic nature of its ability to pair to your phone, I would not recommend it as the top choice for 360-degree video.


How we shot.

There were a few approaches to filming that Katie and I could have taken. The first was that we could walk around Trinity with the camera on an attachment and film the dorm as one continuous shot. There were a few problems with this option. The first is there would be a person, relatively close to the camera, in the frame at all times. This would take up a lot of space in the film. Also, if we were walking, there would be a lot of twists and turns trying to navigate around the dorm. If the camera is twisting, that defeats the purpose of the 360-degree video because viewers are supposed to have the freedom of doing this on their own. Lastly, although the dorm is glamorous, not all of it needs to be seen. There are some highlights such as the game room, common rooms, and movie theater, but we really didn’t think that people would care about the hallways and stairwells. To get from one noteworthy place to the next, we would need to pass through these boring places that would make the video long and drawn-out.

The second option was to set the camera down on a tripod, start filming, step out of the frame, leave the camera there for 10-20, and then come back in and stop filming. For the final video, we would then edit the parts with us in them out and stitch together this footage. This is the choice that we decided to go with. It would allow us to present the glorified parts of Trinity House and give the viewer enough time to pan around each room, all while leaving out the uninteresting aspects of the dorm.

Using Canva Animator to Make Even More Awesome Content

One of our social media secret weapons is the online tool Canva, especially since the advent of Instagram Stories last year. Our office relies pretty heavily upon the tool for stylized, easy to build graphics, and now, animated video content as well.

I recently had the opportunity to demo the new Canva beta animations tool on Duke’s Instagram Stories to highlight a very exciting partnership between the university and the American Ballet Theatre.

Canva is a great tool if you’ve got really visual content to accompany any text about your story or research that you want to highlight. In this case, we were fortunate to have some incredible dance photos at our disposal. I knew I wanted to highlight these images and push people to the story via Instagram Stories.

Enter, Canva. The great thing about this tool is its user-friendliness. I was able to login to our office account and design slides using photos and text, just as I would ordinarily. The difference comes in when it is time to export your slides. You’ll notice that there is a new option under “Download” in the top, right navigation bar. Select this new option, “Animated GIF/Movie,” then click “Preview Animation.”


This will open the Animator tool:

From here, you can select from any of the six options or “styles” on the right for your animations, which will be demoed on the slides you have created. Once you are satisfied with your selected animation form, you have the option to download them as either a GIF or .mp4 file. For example, @DukeUEnergy recently used the tool to create a GIF that they rolled out on Twitter:


For the purpose of our Instagram Stories, I selected “Download as Movie.”  Then the file will be downloaded to your computer. Here is our final product:


We’re not quite done yet. Because all four slides were created in one Canva document and not individually downloaded, they exported into one, 28-second long video. Instagram Stories will only allow 10-second long clips for each part of the story. So I had to do a bit of tedious editing on my end. First, I emailed the .mp4 file to my iPhone. Then, I went into my camera roll and edited the whole video down into separate clips featuring each slide. I saved each edited segment as a new video file, so as not to lose the original 28-second video. The end result was 4, 7-10 second long videos featuring only one of each of the animated slides. I was then able to upload these, in order, to our Instagram Stories.

The result when it played back was one seamless “video” on our Stories. With the video broken into 4 separate parts, I was also able to attach a link on to each segment of our Story that sent viewers directly to the Duke Today article about the partnership. The end result can be viewed on Instagram’s mobile interface as a feature on @DukeUniversity‘s account.

This whole process took me less than an hour. With a little creativity to work around the Stories time limit function, Canva Animator is a really great tool to easily make videos with a highly produced feel with (very little, at least on my part) video skill.

Facebook’s Algorithm Changes & What It Means for Brands

Doooooooon’t freak out…but we are here to talk about the Facebook algorithm.


In January 2018, Facebook announced it would be changing its news feed algorithm to prioritize content from “friends, family and groups.”

Zuckerberg himself said that his team would be “making a major change to how we build Facebook” including promising users that they’ll see “less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”


Explain yourself! What does it all mean?

Content directly from publishers won’t perform as well unless people engage with it, which means businesses are going to have to work harder than ever to gain their customers’ attention on the platform.

“I expect that the amount of distribution for publishers will go down because a lot of publisher content is just passively consumed and not talked about.”- VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri via TechCrunch



The winners: Users/Facebook

They should find Facebook less of a black hole of wasted time viewing mindless video clips and guilty-pleasure articles.

Long-term, it should preserve Facebook’s business & ensure it’s still a major provider for referral traffic for news publishers and marketers, just less than before.


The losers: Publishers

Many have shifted resources to invest in eye-catching, pre-recorded social videos, etc. in recent years. It sounds like this will no longer be a productive use of time.


Now. Here’s the good news:

As for definitive, long-term effects? The general consensus is that time will tell.

Mosseri admits that he expects publishers to react with “a certain amount of scrutiny and anxiety,” but didn’t have many concrete answers about how they should react beyond “experimenting … and seeing … what content gets more comments, more likes, more reshares.”

So for us that means business as usual in terms of creating the most compelling content. Our goal has always been ENGAGEMENT (shares/comments), but now more than ever.


So what now?*

Continue creating quality content that will promote conversation amongst users.

Experiment more with Live Video as it seems like it will be prioritized based on the engagement it gets on the platform.

Think about investing time in Facebook Groups as they are prioritized over Pages.

Brush up on your Ad spending skills & increase your budget.

*Via Hootsuite.

3 Things We’re Doing Wrong in Higher Ed Social Media

1. Calling Snapchat “dead.”

Yeah, the redesign makes your life harder. Are you going to friend all of your students so that your story shows up in their friend feed, or are you going to be content with showing up in the “Discover” tab? You decide, but know that incoming students aren’t giving up Snapchat anytime soon. We’re just going to have to figure out a way to engage. And speaking of engagement…

2. Failing to engage.

We’re really used to broadcasting. We broadcast all the time. We tweet and share links to our sites. We tell people what we want them to know. Increasingly, though, our incoming students and our other community members are looking for engagement. So, yeah, we’re going to have to do some one-on-one stuff, which takes some man/woman-power. And looking ahead, we’re going to have to engage both in the messaging apps we already use (have you checked your Facebook Page inbox recently?) and in the apps we’re going to have to learn to use, like WeChat and WhatsApp.

3. Using YouTube as a video bucket.

Your YouTube channel isn’t just a place where you can chuck all your video content so that you can embed it elsewhere. YouTube is a social platform. Yep, and it’s getting to be even more social with the addition of the community tab and a coming-soon Stories-like feature. You’re going to have to roll your YouTube strategy into your general social media strategy, so start laying the groundwork now to get control of YouTube on your team.

Live Video: Higher Ed and Beyond

2016 was undoubtedly the year of live video. Although YouTube was one of the first social media platforms to introduce live video in 2011, Facebook’s introduction of Facebook Live at the end of 2015 was the catalyst that sparked the beginning of the live video movement. It didn’t take long for this new broadcasting medium to catch on with viewers, leading Instagram and Twitter to follow suit with their own live features a year later.

Live video is authentic, engaging, and powerful, demonstrated by its quick rise to popularity and high engagement rates among viewers and broadcasters alike. Compared to 2014, 81% of internet and mobile users watched more live video in 2015. Out of all of the social media platforms that currently have a live video feature, Facebook Live sees the most traffic of live video viewers. On average, viewers comment 10 times more on Facebook live videos than on regular videos. Viewers’ attention spans are also longer during live videos, with the average viewer watching a live video 3 times longer than a typical video.

How are people using this new portable broadcasting medium? Companies and organizations may broadcast live during news announcements, performances, behind the scenes tours, demos, interviews, and more – the possibilities are endless. Those that come to mind for many social media users are live videos by individuals that document their personal experiences, whether in a serious or casual setting. My personal favorite is Candace Payne’s Chewbacca Mask video, which holds the current record for the most viewed Facebook Live video at 160 million views.

While it may be obvious for some individuals and organizations of what they should use live video to broadcast to users, higher education institutions have differed in their experimentation with live video. The most popular live video platform used by universities remains Facebook Live – although many have not yet stepped into the realm of live video at all. However, over 85% of universities have a presence on YouTube, demonstrating that the vast majority of universities understand the importance of video in engaging their audiences. It’s exciting to see more and more institutions use live videos on social media to reach new audiences and provide a different and immediate digital experience for their viewers. The majority of higher education institutions use Facebook Live in a way that reflects the type of content they publish. This is frequently demonstrated by live streaming of lectures, speeches, and notable events on campus. Duke recently streamed it’s 2017 commencement ceremonies (above) and the first press conference by Duke President-Elect Vincent Price.

During these videos, many of the videographers utilize Facebook Live API, allowing them to broadcast using a professional camera rather than through a mobile device. While using live video for these types of events can be effective, live video provides an avenue to do something different than what might normally be done through video. Since live videos in essence become regular videos once the live stream has ended, live videos should sometimes take the opportunity to distinguish themselves through content and style. Broadcasting live events can draw an audience, depending on the anticipation of said event and whether it is time-sensitive or crisis related. However, in order to truly make the most of what live video has to offer, making use of all of its features, such as live chat, will be vital.

Live videos can be used to allow social media users across the globe to glean an intimate and personal experience of life at the university. Social media is increasingly becoming a space where brands are expected to be authentic and expressive, while social media in and of itself is a place where corporations and individuals alike can let their personalities shine. I hope that universities will be at the forefront of using live video in creative and innovative ways to captivate their audiences. Vanderbilt has used live video to bring prospective students on virtual tours on campus while fielding questions using live chat. Here at Duke we have used live video to allow online viewers to ask questions to professor and author Dan Ariely during a Q&A with students in Perkins library.

Watch live: Duke professor Dan Ariely runs a demonstration of his new book, "Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations." The book reveals insights into motivation and what drives people — how it works and how we can use this knowledge to approach important choices in our own lives.In this Facebook Live, Ariely is asking students to participate in solving a puzzle for money … or pizza, demonstrating the complexity of what motivates people.Leave questions for Dan in the comments.

Posted by Duke University on Sunday, November 20, 2016


The world of live video combines the immediacy of live TV with its ability to immerse millions into the same place and moment, the omnipresent and immediate nature of social media and mobile phones, and the ever-transforming landscape of technology. With live video, the sky’s the limit and you’re the director. I’m looking forward to seeing how this versatile and immersive tool will empower higher education institutions and individuals alike to create, engage, and connect.






How Duke Students Welcomed the First Members of #Duke2021

For the 861 student applicants who got good news about their admission to Duke University Wednesday night, the acceptance notice was just the beginning of the welcome they received.

For the Devil’s Advocates, a Duke student social media team working with the Office of News and Communications, the notices were a highlight of weeks of work to create social media graphics and digital swag and to electronically greet the students.

Here’s a replay of how last night played out:


The Advocates oversee @DukeStudents accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, tumblr, and Snapchat. When the Early Decision notices went live online at 7 p.m. Wednesday, the team was ready with personal greetings to the first acceptances of the Class of 2021.

Most of the greetings carried best wishes, but there was some early advice as well:

“When you arrive, make sure to talk to those around you; their life stories may be eerily similar or wildly different, and each person you come across will have something valuable to teach you. Keep your ears and heart open, and you’ll learn just as much from them as you will in class.” Jair Oballe, Class of 2019

The Advocates helped the Class of 2021 celebrate their news with a Spotify “Happy Dance” playlist around the theme of admitted students being “The One,” a playlist that had no problem fitting in Orleans and Olivia Newton-John as well as more contemporary singers.

Leading up to 7 p.m., current Duke students shared words of encouragement and their own memories:


At 7 PM

When the admissions notices went live online at 7 p.m., Twitter was immediately filled with admitted students sharing their good news and posting photographs of their letter of admission (with their addresses blacked out). The first admitted student to tweet with the hashtag #Duke2021 was Michael Castro.


The @DukeStudents Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat accounts immediately started sending congratulations and welcome messages to admitted students.


Soon after the Class of 2021 started the celebration, parents, siblings and Dukies joined in:

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Christoph Guttentag tweeted: “Loving these #duke2021 tweets. Congrats to the first Blue Devils of 2017!” At one point, #Duke2021 was trending on Twitter in Durham.

To wrap the celebration up, the Devil’s Advocates ended the evening with this tweet:

This was originally published on Duke Today

The Rise and Fall of Vine: My Story

Vine has changed my life for the better. It has taken me down paths that I could have never expected, given me experiences that I could have never imagined, and helped me get into my dream school. I will forever be grateful for you, Vine. To the creators of Vine and the community that I have come to know and love: I’ll miss you.

Within a few months of the January 2013 Vine launch, I downloaded the application and tried to figure out how I could use it differently than others. At the time, most of the content creators with the biggest followings were producing funny 6-seconds skits. These short videos would then get on Vine’s Popular page, where people would go to watch the funny videos. This helped viewers find the best content while also expanding the audience for the producers. It was a win–win for both the viewer and influencer.

Next, the style of videos began to vary. Some creators were making stop motion videos, a cinematographic technique whereby the camera is repeatedly stopped and started to give animated figures the impression of movement.

After the news was released, Vine founder Dom Hofmann (@dhof) tweeted this picture via twitter, with the caption “5/5/12”

After the news was released, Vine founder Dom Hofmann (@dhof) tweeted this picture via twitter, with the caption “5/5/12”

I discovered a new way to take advantage of the interesting recording style of videos on Vine (the tap and hold technique) that was later coined as “Vine Magic.” I would start recording a video and then abruptly stop it, change something in the frame, line up the frames again, and restart the video recording. These videos looked like illusion, like magic.


I created videos like this for nearly six months without recognition. I just liked to make the videos, so I did it. It was a way to showcase a creative side of myself that not many people knew about. Then, suddenly, my videos began to gain traction. A few of them landed on the Popular page, and from there the momentum took me away. I gained followers at an unimaginable pace. I kept posting videos and people kept enjoying them. I quickly had 100,000 followers. I couldn’t even wrap my head around it.

The craziest part is what happened next: I started getting job offers at 15 years old. I was asked to sign a deal with GrapeStory, a mobile-first influencer-marketing agency. At the time, this company had exclusively signed with many of the top influencers on Vine. I was honored, even though I didn’t really know what it meant. I soon found out. GrapeStory finds companies for influencers to work with and promote on their personal accounts. As of today, I have produced Vines with companies and brands including Aquafina, Charmin, Chips Ahoy, Ritz, Virgin Mobile, Milk Bone, Coca Cola, Major League Soccer, Kellogg’s, Chrysler, Silk, Microsoft, NBC Universal, 7UP, Intel, Visa, Nickelodeon, and even Marvel. I went from being your average high-school student, worried about sports and homework, to being a content creator and advertising outlet for Fortune 500 Companies. It was crazy.

Then one Monday, during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I created this video:

After less than an hour, it had more than 20,000 likes. In less than a day, it had reached nearly 300,000 likes. I was getting emails from places like Good Morning America and the Today Show asking to feature it. Good Morning America did a short feature, breaking down the creation process of the video:

This vine was reposted by celebrities all over Twitter and Facebook. A number of my friends told me that they had seen the video before realizing that I was the one who made it. This was by far my most popular video ever. It is currently sitting at 530,000 likes and over 63,000,000 views, just on Vine. I reached 1 million followers on Vine in July of 2016, and I credit my swimming pool post for these numbers. It’s still tough for me to digest the fact that the number of people who follow me on Vine are nearly the same as the amount of people who live in my home state of Rhode Island.

I would consider 2014 as Vine’s most active year. That is when I saw the highest level of engagement and success in my videos and the videos of my peers. As 2015 came around, I could tell that traction was slowing down a bit for Vine as a whole. Engagement seemed to drop steadily. On top of it, a lot of Viners were moving over to other platforms such as Instagram and YouTube because they saw more opportunities to make money and engage with audiences. Viners were losing interest in the six-second video and posting less, thus the viewers were increasingly losing interest and using the application less frequently.

The decline of Vine was circular in nature. Although I started creating videos because I loved it, I continued making videos because of the audience. But when the audience left, so did my desire to post. As the audience disappeared and engagement slowed on the app, influencers didn’t feel the need to post as much. As influencers were posting less, their followers noticed, and they opened up Vine less.

I can’t say I was surprised when I heard that Vine is dying. For me, it’s the end of an era. While I would have loved to avoid this day, I respect Vine’s decision not to drag out the application’s demise.

As the Vine meets its end, social media is not over for me. Vine has taken me down a particular path and steered my future. I love social media and have now been exposed to the world of marketing and advertising and want to pursue it as a career.

As for the future of short video, I don’t think anyone truly knows what’s next. Will it continue its popularity on Twitter and Instagram, or will a new platform emerge? What does Facebook Live streaming mean for sharing things in real-time? Will Snap and Instagram stories replace television one day? Although I’d like to believe that platforms can adapt to change and stay popular forever, the truth is most probably won’t. There will always be people trying to revolutionize technology, and chances are, the platforms that we know and love will someday all be discontinued, just like Vine.

Getting a Handle on Global Duke

Last year, Duke alumni lived in 162 countries, some of which were so unfamiliar to me that I wouldn’t have been able to find them on a map. Thousands of Duke faculty and staff members travel internationally each year, and Duke students—nearly half of whom study abroad—might even have that number beat.

The Duke community is exceptionally international, and the university’s global programs and partnerships are so numerous that it’s often a challenge to keep up.

Enter the Duke Global Baton

The Duke Global Baton is a collaborative photo project showcasing the Duke community’s travels, adventures and daily lives around the world, all in one place.

We recruited a virtual relay team of students, faculty, staff and alumni to “pass the baton” around the world, highlighting the university’s widespread global engagement.

Every two days, a new Blue Devil takes over the account. One day the account may be with a PhD student researching malaria in a remote Amazonian community, and the next with an alumni travel group searching for lemurs in Madagascar.

By Duke, for Duke

This project creates an inclusive space for Duke people to share their global experiences and allows the wider Duke community to see the world through the lens (literally) of their classmates, mentors, colleagues and friends.

Other Duke community members who are not part of the relay team are invited to contribute to this gallery of global experiences by using the hashtag #DukeIsEverywhere, and hundreds of people have done so throughout the summer.

With a diverse group of participants taking over the account from 31 countries in six continents, Duke people are able to see the huge range of international opportunities available to them at Duke.


  • Provide a one-stop look at a range of university activity.
  • Showcase Duke’s global activities in a visually engaging and emotionally compelling way.
  • Position Duke as a globally focused university.
  • Encourage engagement with the #DukeIsEverywhere hashtag.

Lessons Learned

  • Plan in advance, and have a backup if plans fall through.
  • Understand that giving up control over the account comes with risks, but also results in spontaneity and fresh voices.
  • Set clear guidelines.
  • Ask people why they want to participate to determine whether their goals are aligned with the campaign.
  • Engage an undergraduate to run the project; this year’s coordinator, Tamara Frances (Duke ‘18) brings enthusiasm for social media, knowledge of Duke, and familiarity with Instagram best practices to the table.

Our Accomplishments

By hiring a tech-savvy undergraduate to coordinate the account behind the scenes, collaborating and cross promoting with other social media campaigns on campus, designing digital flyers to promote the account at Duke, and launching a #DukeIsEverywhere photo contest, we’ve surpassed the 1,000 follower mark; represented more than 40 Duke schools, initiatives and programs; and engaged 54 participants to bring Duke Global to life.