UPDATE, December 2017: We’re thrilled to share that the videos from this event picked up a Gold MarCom Award, our first award for co-created content!
How do you get great video of 1,000 students traveling to a robotics competition in Atlanta from across the country and around the world? You ask them join the video crew. All of them.
SeaPerch “provides students with the opportunity to learn about robotics, engineering, science, and mathematics (STEM) while building an underwater ROV as part of a science and engineering technology curriculum.”
We’ve been working with SeaPerch for a few years now. Being there is amazing, hopeful, frenetic, and just flat out cool. These are the innovators, engineers and scientists of tomorrow, many of them just discovering how much they love robotics.
There have always been two major challenges in REALLY capturing this competition for home viewing: scale and authenticity.
Scale: There are literally 1,000 students, plus family, teachers, judges, supporters, sponsors, and enthusiasts, all shuttling back and forth between several events and arriving from all over the place. How do we do get cameras everywhere they need to be at once?
Authenticity: That hopeful, student-centered energy has always been difficult to capture in a meaningful way. It can be daunting to be an adult when someone points a video camera at you. Imagine what it’s like being a student. Speaking from personal experience, we’ll just say it can be… overwhelming. How do we make the young stars of the show more comfortable talking to the camera about their ROV, let alone their hopes and dreams?
The answer to both challenges was the same: find a way to turn THEIR phones into OUR video cameras.
We decided the real-time video co-creation platform Seenit would be just the thing to add to our toolkit for this project. We then used that platform to ask the students to tell us their story in their way with their own words… to take us with them on their journey to the event, behind the scenes, and during the competition.
It was a complete success. We had 97 student contributors sign up and send in 716 clips from Thursday night through Saturday afternoon, and we mixed together and uploaded a dozen themed supercut videos in 24 hours.
The clips were creative, heartfelt, thoughtful, and fun. We got everything from building at home to singing on the road to worrying about a presentation to aspirations for the future. And the students shot the video. User generated content (UGC) was a hit!
It took a lot of planning and coordination, but less than you might think. One person in Arlington, VA spent all day Saturday interacting with the contributors through the online studio, sending encouragement, asking questions, and screening incoming clips for distribution to the community feed. We had an editor in Baltimore, MD working out of the same online studio, pulling down content and mixing super-cuts, which we pushed out on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and in-app. And we had a small crew of our own on the ground helping out with some pro-shots of the actual event.
So, kids traveling from Puerto Rico and Hawaii and Texas and Pennsylvania and California, etc. sent videos from home, during their travels and at the event in Atlanta; one person managed the community from DC; the editor worked in Baltimore; the client kept tabs on everything from San Diego; and we produced a dozen videos, increased engagement with the teams and between the teams, and made some new superfans.
PLUS we can now take a deep breath and go back and stitch together some larger narrative storylines…
For about $10K in parts and labor, we think it was a pretty successful experiment.
Plus the t-shirts were pretty cool.