Winter 2017 was a fun semester for me, busy, but fun. The main reason I stayed so busy was my internship, which I did with a company called Elevati. You can find more information about them here.
The video team consisted of me and the video director, Alexsa Cordova (she’s married now, but technically I’m still correct on her name because she hasn’t legally changed it yet.) Most of the videos I worked were with Adoption.com. A large portion of my time there was spent working on Family Profile videos, and Adoption Vlogs. That turned out great for me, though, as these were probably the most fun for me to do.
Family Profile videos are used to help expecting mothers who are considering adoption find a family to place their child with. These families create profiles, add photos, write blurbs about themselves, but the videos really help expecting birth mothers to really get to know who these people are that could potentially be adopting their child.
The first of these videos that I did was actually shot by the family. (They lived in Indiana, which was too far for us to go and shoot it ourselves.) I took the video they shot and edited in a way that told a story about them, added photos and home videos accordingly. This experience was different than what I’m used to – since I hadn’t shot the video myself, I had no creative choice in the production process, only the post-production. What they gave me was what I got.
That’s it. Make it work.
Another different thing was the tone and style I was told to go for. Birth-mothers are more attracted to a video that looks like it was a home-video style. They don’t want it to be too cinematic, or else it looks staged, or unreal. It can’t be too “perfect.” That being said, it still needs to look nice. Anyone can record a video and call it a home video. Doesn’t mean it’s good. Finding a balance was very important.
After getting the video edited, I then colored it, and found music that worked with it. After it was approved by the media manager and the family, it was uploaded to YouTube, and connected to their profile on Adoption.com.
The second family profile video I did while at Elevati was for a family that was close enough for us to travel down and film them in their homes. This time we were able to get things set up the way we wanted with lights, two cameras, audio, furniture, etc. We were also able to get all the b-roll we knew we would be using. It’s hard for some of the families to get b-roll because it’s not something they’re used to even thinking about. Even the most mundane acts can be interesting if shot the right way!
They also gave us photos and home videos. We ended up having a lot of footage by the end of the shoot. It became quite a task for me to cut things out to make the video fit the time-frame. I feel like I learned a lot about having to cut clips you love for the sake of progressing the narrative.
It was fun to film them outside, when we were out walking with them, I started recognizing the street we were on. It turned out that they live just a few houses down from where my brother used to live! They were in the same ward (congregation) at church.
The family profiles were bigger videos, but weren’t particularly regular. In between these videos, I was working on several other projects.
- Creating and enforcing a schedule to make past videos public on YouTube
- Research for adoption records and reunions in each US state
- Pre-production for a video series instructing adoptees on how to find their birth families
- Filming scenes and interviews for said video series
- Animating HTML 5 banner ads for various adoption agencies around the country
- Editing adoption vlogs and posting them to YouTube
The adoption vlogs became one of my favorite projects. By the time I left my internship, we had two families regularly uploading their videos to our drive each week. I would then edit them, color, and add music to each and get them approved. For YouTube, I would create a customized thumbnail using a template and design I made specifically for these videos.
The background behind the text were originally a color that I would pull directly from the video, but we eventually went with all thumbnails being black to help build cohesiveness.
These videos were each about 1-2 minutes (so again I had to cut out things when people started to ramble a little bit). All of them were very fun to make, but I definitely had favorites:
Lastly, I also worked on animating HTML 5 banner ads for various adoption agencies around the country. The design team would create the actual assets, and I would animate them and get them ready to be sent to DoubleClick Studio so they could be made live online.
This was pretty new to Elevati, and so a lot of research went in to how to make these work, which programs were best to use, which programs could we use on our very small budget, how to make click-through rates increase, etc. There were a lot of bugs to work out, and it took a while, but we worked through things mostly with Google Web Design.
I’m not a huge fan of that program.
Nevertheless, we made it work. Not only that, but our banner ads were getting clicked on like crazy!
My favorite Ad I animated was one that wasn’t done in GWD, but was edited in After Effects and later turned into a .gif. It took a long time to figure this one out, mostly because the original idea was set aside for so long. We all wanted to do it, but since the owner of the company wasn’t sure it was possible to get it done, he told us to abandon it and focus on the other ads we were busy with already. The moment I had some time to work on it though, everyone was super excited to see it completed. I learned a few new effects in After Effects and worked with tracking and masks and eventually made the original designer’s ideas come to life:
For the sake of the video, the black bars on the top and bottom are added. Please ignore them, they don’t actually exist.
Everyone was thrilled to have this ad working. We did run into issues with trying to save it as a gif. The video was playing back very slowly, no matter how fast we tried to speed it up, but with a little bit of research and trial and error, we finally found a work-around to make the video work with GWD and have it function as a clickable banner ad that still looked good at full speed.
Overall, I really enjoyed my internship at Elevati and feel like I really helped the company make a difference in the lives of many families hoping to adopt. I’ve made a lot of connections with the people working there, and have greatly increased my network of people and possibilities. I told Nathan, the owner, that he should hire me as a full employee to help with more video. He laughed, but said he would if he could. Unfortunately, the company currently can only afford to operate with a small team and a few interns. At least for now. In the future, I’d love to work with this company, or one like it. I’ve definitely found I love the feeling that I can use my talents and interests to help make a difference in the world, which is something I felt at my internship with Elevati.