The DAE and the Journey of Modernization

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Students from all corners of the world, with all sorts of backgrounds, flock to the University of Georgia. UGA has a culture that can be difficult to navigate no matter who you are. But we want everyone to feel like a dawg. Football games and student clubs help UGA feel like home, but academics can still feel daunting. That’s where the Division of Academic Enhancement comes in.

The DAE (dae.uga.edu) provides academic strengthening services to UGA students throughout the year, including tutoring, scholarships, and academic coaching. For international students, the DAE helps minimize the learning curve of transitioning to a new culture and a large university. For first-generation and underrepresented students, the DAE provides scholarships and resources to help navigate the stresses of a new environment with new demands. The DAE helps students utilize their strengths and overcome their weaknesses — all students no matter their backgrounds can benefit from these offerings.

The multifaceted, enriching resources of the DAE are important for success yet not widely known. Many students don’t realize the DAE is easily accessible and others aren’t willing to take initiative since it’s an unfamiliar environment. The website is text-heavy, causing students to lose sight of resources that are beneficial to them specifically. Also, students might not understand that the DAE provides services to everyone. Without getting the right message across, the DAE’s impact doesn’t reach its full potential.

To best represent the mission of the DAE to students and enhance their initial interaction with the DAE, six high-energy, personable videos highlight the DAE’s offerings. Although the DAE is an academic institution, these videos showcase the community aspect, which is welcoming and fun. The six videos encapsulate the DAE team, Trio McNair scholarship, Trio SSS scholarship, initiative programs, courses, and academic coaching. The videos showcase the welcoming, personable, and energetic aspects of the DAE with the opening message of “What can DAE do for you,” followed at the end of each video with “#DAEforME” to best represent the community that places its emphasis on personal growth and purpose.

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Potential local and social impact

These six videos will impact the DAE by building awareness and a deeper understanding of its services. This impact will extend to the target audience — students who need extra assistance through college. That might look like financial assistance, learning how to study, or extra help with chemistry and accounting. These videos will help the mission of the DAE to be better understood, and more students will get the extra help they need in a supportive community. This will give students the tools to make an impact wherever they go.

Technology

Because our assignment revolved around creating content for digital use, our group heavily relied on an array of technology. It’s safe to say that every member of our team had the opportunity to interact with a piece of tech that they had never previously used. Capturing video, recording audio, building our website, editing content, and even the simple act of communicating required us to embrace various technology for efficiency and quality.

A Canon EOS 60D and a Canon EOS 80D were both utilized to capture most of our video for interviews, B-Roll, and stop-motion images. Additionally, a DJI Mavic Two Pro drone was used to capture some of our more dynamic shots and gather B-Roll as well. For capturing audio, a Røde microphone handled most of our needs. The only exception was for the courses video, where we had Macie Banks record a voice over with a studio grade Shure microphone in a recording studio with Adobe Audition. The last piece of visual equipment we used were lighting panels from Grady and the Dodd.

Editing and graphic creation required the use of various Adobe software in order to properly stitch the pieces of the videos together. Adobe Premiere Pro CC is where the majority of our editing was tackled. With this software, we were able to string the videos together, sync audio, color correct, lay graphics into the videos, etc. Adobe After Effects is the software that our graphics and computer-generated images were created on. Our poster was created with Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator, and all of our editing was housed on Apple MacBook Pros and Microsoft Surface Pros.

We also used technology to host everything we created — a website and Medium. For the creation of the project website, the team opted to use Bootstrap because it allowed us to have the most freedom of design while using a free template (The link to the template can be found here). The source code for the website (HTML, CSS, and supplemental Javascript) was edited in Brackets since it was the source code editor we were all familiar with. While being designed, we held the files on Will’s website which is hosted by Reclaim Hosting. Any time a file was created, changed or updated, it was uploaded to the website through Cyberduck. Once the website was finalized, it was sent to Chris to be hosted on the NMI server.

We also used technology to plan the logistics of our project and stay in contact with each other. Microsoft Outlook 365 was used primarily to contact our client and DAE faculty members, while Slack was the primary mode of communication between group members. Occasionally, we texted each other directly, but we found it best to use Slack for most communication to keep everyone in the loop. Google Calendar and Google Drive kept our group organized — they held every file, all of our notes, scripts, poster, video files, audio files, schedules, meeting times, and virtually anything else we created. Technology helped us maintain deadlines, keep a line of communication open, and share everything that a team member or client might need.

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Kai and Nick going from filming on set to the editing room.

Lessons Learned Through Research & Brainstorming

The New Media Institute prepares students for the ever-changing technology landscape, and we have applied that knowledge to these six videos. Our research concluded that Millennials have an attention span of eight seconds and Generation Z has an attention span of six seconds. How can we use this technology to capture their quick attention spans to effectively get the DAE’s message across?

After digging through the DAE’s website and 25 example videos, we stitched together our plan to best get the DAE’s message through to our audience, who now belong to Generation Z. Our research and brainstorming, fueled by YouTube videos and other informational videos that attract Generation Z, led to our use of fast-paced, energetic, and graphically stylistic videos.

The NMI has taught the importance of design and cohesiveness. We wanted each video to have a playful design and voice to best capture the DAE. When creating our deliverables — poster, trailer, website and campaign pitch — we made sure to implement playful energy.

Strategic Planning

The NMI is fast-paced, just like the industries we want to go into (filming, public relations, graphic design). Creating six videos in 11 weeks on top of classes, internships, jobs and the like is no easy feat — it requires planning, communication, and flexibility. Kayla, the communications manager, created detailed weekly and monthly calendars and to-do lists by working closing with Kai and Nick, the media specialists, Kevin, the creative design lead and Will, the content support specialist.

The most effective strategy to finish all six videos with a quick turnaround was to split each one into different phases: preliminary (beat sheet, shot list, script); scheduling (filming time and voice-overs with faculty, students, drone footage, stop-motion); post-production (editing, graphic animation overlay, combining voice overs with footage). Working backward from the due date, the team strategically planned reasonable due dates for each aspect of the video.

Kayla also allotted time to create the trailer, poster, website, this medium post, campaign pitch, project pitch, and presentation rehearsal. The project timeline included specific due dates for rough drafts and weekly to-do lists for each member to maintain organization and efficiency.

What happens when things don’t go perfectly as planned? Buffer time and additional meeting times were allotted for in case of changed plans. Things never go perfectly, but our team made sure to remain flexible throughout the project. From small edits to entire script reconstructions, our team always found a way to meet the client's needs with the highest possible quality.

Filming

When the time came to film, our first step was to reach out to the people that know the DAE the most — the faculty and staff of the DAE. Once we met with the key players and had a grasp of the content they wanted to convey in the videos, filming quickly followed. With their relatively extensive experience in video creation, Kai and Nick spearheaded our filming efforts by creating beat sheets, scripts and then taping formal interviews with the faculty.

Once we had a grasp of the faculty and staff’s desires for each video, we dug into another important aspect of the DAE — the students. Once we received permission from the staff, we contacted and filmed students for five of our videos. Our main goal when filming the students was to capture the essence of the DAE and what it has done for them.

Most of our videos followed a traditional format of interview and live action footage, along with some voice over here and there. One of our videos involved creating construction paper people along with many, many paper props. We then brought these paper people to life through stop-motion animation. All five of us spent 16 hours over 3 days in a single room constructing, moving and filming. Tiring? Yes. But extremely fun and a good team-building opportunity? Also yes.

None of this happened on a linear schedule, as it involved many moving parts (no pun intended) and lots of overlap from creating scripts for one video while filming for another. The team remained flexible and strategic throughout this short timespan since schedules and scripts don’t always go as originally planned. Once the footage was finally gathered, filming wrapped up and post-production began.

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Nick editing one of the videos.

Post-Production

Post-production is the period that professionals call “where the magic happens!” Since our videos utilize a plethora of graphics, animations, and “doodles,” we ensured to plan plenty of time for post-production. You can have the most profound, stunning images and videos in the world, but with the wrong editing team or limited time, the end result will be lost in translation.

Our first step in post was to review all footage and audio that we had gathered. We then pieced them together like a puzzle. We essentially had to ask ourselves, “what is the best way to portray the footage, and how can we best assemble it into compelling content for a screen?” On some occasions, it was best to string the sound bytes together first and fill in the visual aspect accordingly. Other times, the inverse proved to be more visually effective. The first round of stitching is called the “rough-cut.”

From there, the media specialists refined the footage into a fine-cut that was then ready for graphic animation overlay. At this point, our goal was to incorporate graphics in a way that added character to the videos. Because we are appealing to Generation Z, we wanted to have eye-catching details to maintain interest. Once the graphics were created, the videos reached “picture lock.”

Picture lock is one of the final steps in our editing process where the length and timeframe were officially set, the frames were finalized, and the last steps of the videos began. This is the point where we color corrected, put the graphics onto the video, added closed captions, ensured continuity, and set the videos in stone. Once we finished these steps, we were left with six final cuts ready to introduce all that the DAE has to offer.

Final Products & Presentation Prep

Advice to Future Students

Kayla Nichols —

The NMI capstone will teach you valuable life skills as long as you put in the work and take it seriously. Be aware of your own strengths and weaknesses as they will both become valuable aspects of the project. Working with a group of talented people with diverse skillsets is beneficial as long as you are true to yourself and supportive of your team.

Communication is always important, especially when working with a group and for a client. Being honest and transparent will take you far and help you create the best final product.

Will Ridings —

This Capstone journey has brought new friends and allowed me to refine skills I already had while letting me learn new ones. It required a lot of time, but every second was valuable in creating a final product that I’m exceptionally proud of.

My advice to future NMI students is to embrace learning something new! I never imagined that I would enjoy coding/web design, but now it’s something that I find myself doing for fun. It also allowed me to pursue computer science further (Javascript, Python, Java, etc). Also — I now have some great hard skills for my resume.

Nick Papasidero —

This experience was insane. If I’m honest, I wasn’t excited for Capstone when I first registered for it a semester ago. With everything that comes with senior year, I wasn’t expecting this project to be something I would actually be interested in. I expected to learn some new and mildly useful tools to use technology to create a product for a client that doesn’t know how to use that technology themselves. I never imagined they would handpick me for a special project that fit my path perfectly. You will be surprised by how well the Capstone will fit you.

Kai Yost —

I can’t tell if it was pure luck or not, but our group got along perfectly and I truly felt that I’ve made friends that I’ll keep with me beyond graduation. But regardless, I would encourage all students in the NMIX Capstone to keep an open mind and be ready to learn. AND TAKE RISKS! We made a stop motion animation video! Out of paper and felt! That’s WILD!!! I mounted my camera horizontally on a C-stand, like WHAT!!!

For more practical advice, I’d also recommend making sure you have consistent and concise communication with your client. One of the best privileges of the Capstone class is that we get to work with a client, and learning how to manage client needs with your own creativity is an incredibly valuable lesson that you will use all your life.

Kevin Schoenblum —

I would describe this experience as truly a gift! Never before have I been able to take full ownership of the creative direction of a project. Equally as daunting and scary as it was fun and challenging — this team has been a joy to work with and I have been so impressed with the value that they each brought to this project.

Students of the NMI are unlike any I have met before. To anyone already considering New Media or looking for something to take them out of their comfort zone, THIS IS THE PROGRAM FOR YOU! I now have the foundational skills that give me an edge in my industry, connections to some of the most intelligent professors I’ve had at UGA, and a wonderful gaggle of humans to include in my network.

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The team (mostly) smiling for the camera following the 16th (and final) hour of stop-motion filming. (from left to right: Will, Nick, Kayla, Kai, and Kevin)

More information about this project can be found at dae.mynmi.net

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New Media Capstone students work together to build new media solutions to address specific client problems, explore and implement emerging technologies, or both

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