Creative Process: UNC-Chapel Hill Admissions’ Congratulations Video

I made this video for UNC’s Undergraduate Admissions’ Instagram to congratulate the newly admitted applicants. One of the greatest things about my internship was the creative freedom I was given to try out new ideas and types of content. With this project, for example, the only guidelines my bosses gave me were to keep it short and simple, but still celebratory enough to make the admitted students feel special. The project also had a quick turnaround time, so it couldn’t be too complex. I had always wanted to make a video that featured this type of writing special effect, and I thought this would be a great opportunity to learn how to do it!

My initial idea for the video was to show someone “painting” in the air in front of the Old Well, a famous landmark at Carolina. The first few clips would be shot from a variety closeup angles to keep what was being painted ambiguous. The end of the video would feature wider shots to reveal that the person had painted “congrats!” I had previously watched a tutorial on how to do the writing effect in Adobe After Effects for a simple title graphic, so I figured the process would be fairly similar for a video with actual film footage (rather than just a plain background). My ideas, however, made it a little more complicated, as the angles of the shots had to align with the angles of the text, so I wasn’t exactly sure how to go about filming.

I first created some vector mockups of the “congrats!” text from a variety of angles on Adobe Illustrator, and these gave me something to reference when I was filming. Some of the shots I had in mind would’ve been too complicated to incorporate, so I decided to stick with a side-angle shot, a shot from the back in which the person would be “behind” the text, and a standard shot from the front.

The filming and editing processes were both fairly simple but took a lot of trial and error. My friends, who volunteered to be in the video, had previously helped me with some of my film projects, so they knew I needed multiple versions of each shot. Despite the tour groups and other passerby that stared as we filmed, the two willingly “painted the air” numerous times so that I could get the footage I needed. I realized later on that I should’ve filmed more versions of the shots so that I could’ve had more flexibility during post-production. Needless to say, the editing process also required a lot of guesstimating. Since the effect I was going to use only works with text made within the application, I had to replicate my vector mockups of the text within After Effects. I then had to figure out how to align the timing of the effect with the timing of the footage; although I wasn’t able to perfectly sync them up, I think I got as close as I could.

The entire project took about three days to complete, and the video ended up being one of the Admissions’ most liked/viewed posts on Instagram! Even though it’s a super simple video, I’m actually really happy with how it turned out, mainly because I sort of figured it out along the way. Now that I know how to do this effect, I will definitely try and save myself some time during post production by being more precise during the filming.