On December 9th, 2010, 250,000 people with a uw.edu address received a link to the University of Washington holiday video. It is probably the widest distribution I've ever had for one of my motion projects.
This was a high profile project, and it's pretty amazing that they let me proceed in my usual I-have-no-idea-what-we're-going-to-get process. The client and I talked at length about possible approaches, and they offered several questions to try. The end result could go in many possible directions.
The first day was a test-drive shoot, to see what questions elicited what kind of answers. It was a two to three person crew--me and the client. We roamed Red Square and Paccar Hall and I walked up to various students bearing my camera rig (Canon 5D) on a tripod. "Hi," I'd say, in my earnest, disarming way. "Can I ask you a a question?" When I handed them my microphone it was pretty obvious what was going to happen. Rarely did anyone turn us down. "Thinking of 2010, what are you grateful for?"
That night I composed a rough cut of the best answers and posted it on a password protected Vimeo page for the client to see. It looked good, but the long answers would make it hard to show the diversity of the campus community in a 2 minute piece. We brainstormed some more about possible approaches, and the client suggested a one word response, which is what really nailed it.
We shot a couple hours a day over the course of five more days, including one long day where we covered both the Tacoma and the Bothell campuses. I handed over a rough cut, to which the client made changes that fit the messaging that they had in mind. Victory Studios composed the final edit and post, which made it through the many layers of administrative approvals (it is only the University President's greeting, after all) with no changes. That fact alone made this an unprecedented achievement.