mask Photoshoot Minerva_.jpg
TWU videographer Daniel Cantu, right, films Minerva while facilities management staff member Roger Reichenbach operates the cherry picker. Photo by Michael Modecki

The making of a video: A look behind the scenes

Do you ever wonder about the making of the videos appearing on the Texas Woman’s University homepage? A lot of work goes into creating what you eventually see on the website — from the planning and organizing to the actual production.

A video promoting TWU’s “Pioneers Protecting Pioneers” campaign encouraging the wearing of face masks currently greets visitors to the university’s Fall 2020 website. Take a look behind the scenes to see how a TWU Marketing & Communication team took it from an idea to a reality.

Once the idea began to take shape, colleagues Christy Savage (coordinator, marketing & communications), Renee Thompson (manager, design services) Taylor Patterson (marketing designer), Monique Bird (manager, social media & media relations), Michael Modecki (university photographer) and Daniel Cantu (visual media specialist) brainstormed who would be included in the photographs and video that would be seen not only on TWU’s website, but on the university’s social media channels as well.

“We started with (Chancellor Carine Feyten) and knew we wanted to include her in the video to show that wearing a mask is a safety priority from our top leadership,” Savage said.

Including Minerva in the video was an obvious choice, she added.

“She is a campus icon. As an alumna and now a staff member, I love Minerva.”

Patterson designed the mask and Kay Collins (assistant to the associate vice president for marketing & communication) sewed it. Facilities Management & Construction staff Glenn Davidson (carpenter, who also is included in the campaign) and Roger Reichenbach (electrician II) put the mask on the 15-foot-tall statue.

Other choices included people from each of TWU’s colleges.

“I really wanted to include staff who I know work closely with students and that students would recognize, along with students themselves,” Savage said.

Diversity also was key.

“We wanted to show real people, real students from all walks of life from all over campus,” Savage said. “We wanted students to see themselves and feel empowered to wear a mask to protect others like their peers and mentors are doing.”

Featured in the video, in order of appearance, are:

  • Minerva — Pioneer Woman, Brand Ambassador
  • Carine M. Feyten — Chancellor & President
  • Heather Bennett — Pioneer Ambassador, bachelor’s in child development-child life, Class of 2020 (December)
  • Jian Zhang — associate professor, math & computer science
  • Camille Mims — student assistant, Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach
  • Damon Cottrell — assistant dean, clinical professor, nursing
  • Jennifer Niederhaus — police captain, Department of Public Safety
  • Kendalynn Clemons — Starbucks student employee
  • Theodora SamBrew, resident assistant
  • Minerva again

Savage said locations were chosen based on the person being photographed.

“We photographed a lot of the staff in their offices and faculty in classroom settings,” she said. “We also used areas around campus that are both beautiful and easily recognized by the TWU community.”

Twenty-one people were photographed and filmed for the campaign over a nearly three-week period. Modecki said transporting photography and video equipment across campus — a difficult job in the best of times — was made even more difficult by the campus lockdown.

“Before the lockdown, Daniel and I each took responsibility for our gear and signed the equipment out of our building,” he said, adding that the equipment was stored safely in their respective homes. “With everything going into lockdown, we would not be allowed back into the building once it was closed. Luckily, we both live close to campus.”

Modecki said it took 30 minutes to an hour to set up lighting at each location prior to the photo subject’s arrival. Once the lights were set, he said, “I always have a conversation with the participant to gauge how they are feeling about the shoot. Typically, I’ll ask some questions, try to put them at ease, and start shooting when the time is right.

“Even with a mask on, emotion can be seen in these photos.”

When it came time to take video of Minerva, Modecki worked with university DPS and facilities management to schedule a cherry picker in order to get that sweeping effect and closeup in video images of Minerva.

Fortunately for Cantu, he wasn’t bothered by heights.

“Going up in the cherry picker was a blast,” he said. “It’s not every day you get to play on a crane. I was so focused on getting the shots needed for the video that 10 minutes passed before I even realized I was 20 feet in the air. I’m looking forward to using it more in upcoming videos!”

Once the filming was done, Cantu began the editing process.

“I just do my best to edit the footage in a way that is consistent with our original concept,” he said. “Usually, the video will go through a few rounds of feedback from the Marketing & Communication team before it’s ready to go.

“From the time we finished filming, we were able to turn the project around in about three days.”

Social distancing was observed whenever possible, and those involved behind the scenes also wore masks when taking part in photo or video sessions.

“After working from home the past few months, it was really nice to be back on campus working with people again,” Cantu said. “It is still a little strange having to gesture a handshake from 6 feet away, but I’m definitely trying to embrace the new normal.”

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By Karen Garcia
Marketing & Communication
kgarcia@twu.edu