We recently had the pleasure of working with our friends in the Emory University Alumni Association to produce videos celebrating the achievements of two alums: Honorees, Ambassador David Adelman, consultant to many on trans-Pacific trade and Richard Hubert, a long-time international health advocate, were both outstanding personalities to meet and be inspired by. While it’s easy to be consumed by day to day tasks, these two men specialize in thinking about the big picture and how decisions made today can have an impact on the world-stage years from now.
As video creators tasked with telling a concise story about the honorees that will provide some background for people in the audience at the actual Emory Medal event and for viewers online afterward, it’s our job to not only tell the story but to also show the story. We ran into a problem early in the post-production process – we were short on visuals! Shooting B-roll (the footage used to show what interview subjects are talking about) was never part of the plan for this video. The style and look of these videos had been established in years past and photography would be our main source of coverage. So, our job was to get creative and become detectives in order to find visuals that worked.
In today’s modern age of digital photography, you’d expect there to be a decent archive of photos to be found of notable individuals like the Emory Medal honorees, but when searching for photos that cover not just the last five to ten years, but the last fifteen years or more, you’ve got to rely on personal scrapbooks and organizational archives among other sources.
For the Richard Hubert video, it was more about organizing all the photos we received of him at events and people working on actual global health initiatives in Africa and North Korea, so that was not too difficult. Even the few extra images we needed were only an easy e-mail away. To show more visual proof of David Adelman’s exploits in the Georgia State Legislature, as an ambassador to South Korea, member of the Grady Health System board and as a fiercely devoted family man, we called every resource we could think of.
For somebody like this who has been in high profile circles in and around Atlanta for a number of years, it would make sense to start any image research with the newspaper of record, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution – it was a dead end. Due to cuts in recent years, there is no archival staff (only one part-time person) and very little archiving actually done. We got in touch with the communications office of the legislature – they have a Flickr page, but there were no photos of Ambassador Adelman there. We sometimes use royalty-free stock photos for videos like this, so we began searching some of our stock resources next with the idea that government activities are often considered stock – nope, no dice. BUT, our luck started to turn after getting in touch with someone at Grady Health System who was able to help with an image of the exterior of the hospital – just what we needed.
Then, we found Wikimedia Commons, which proved very useful. This was the starting point of our process of gathering our photo database. And in case you didn’t know, photography and or video footage produced by the federal government is considered public domain, which means anybody can use it, a situation we took full advantage of. An area of surprising access was with the cable news network, CNBC; we were given a contact at the network who was very helpful and gave us access to a few video clips and screenshots featuring David Adelman on television! With these sources of photos made available to us we were able to show David in a variety of real life situations and get the b-roll coverage we needed to create our profile.
Filmmaker Ken Burns is widely known for his impressive use of photography and other visuals found through diligent research when telling the stories of times gone by. While we have produced projects about historical topics and with a similar need for visuals before, this story was the most current to be told using this style. By doing the research and looking for these images, we learned more about our subjects, which in turn helped us craft a better narrative. The goal of these videos is to help illustrate why these people are being honored, but also to inspire viewers. If one of our videos can inspire people to think better, live better, or do better in any way, that’s amazing!