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Red Hat’s video and animation team kicked off 2020 with lots of exciting projects on the horizon, but like many organizations, the COVID-19 lockdown created unique hurdles for those of us in the creative community who are used to traveling and shooting footage on site. Like others, we had to adjust to find new ways of collaborating and creating meaningful content despite working remotely. From a Red Hat perspective, it was important for us to focus on creative work with authenticity, while also prioritizing safety.
To tackle this head on, we did what we always do to solve a creative problem: research ideas, prototype, discuss what’s feasible and come up with really cool solutions.
Challenge 1: Creating authentic custom photography while staying safe
Our brand typically relies on custom stock photography and highlighting the collaboration that is a huge part of our culture, but due to the current climate we needed to shift our photography from showing people working together in-person to more virtual and work-from-home environments.
We began by compiling a shot list that would satisfy our photography needs across several departments in the organization. Luckily, one of our photographers, Jason Arthurs, lives on a farm and offered it up as a location that would allow us to conduct our shoot primarily outdoors, so we could stay socially distant and use a limited crew for safety. As a result, we were able to capture a wealth of shots from several different locations on the farm that portray today’s working environment.
Challenge 2: An in-person video project that kicked-off in February, pre-lockdown
One of our video projects started back in February and was planned as three in-person shoots. But, after the lockdown began, we had to go back to the drawing board to rethink how to tell a human-centered story to promote Red Hat OpenShift, an enterprise-ready Kubernetes container platform, in our new remote working reality.
We looked at existing video conferencing commercials for inspiration before landing on an approach to make it feel fresh and still tell the story we originally planned for the in-person video. The next steps were to rewrite the script and figure out the logistics of filming our actors. Safety was one of our priorities in creating this video, so as a precaution we mailed video capture kits to actors. This would enable them to be their own crew and use their homes as the background locations. The actors recorded their lines of dialogue, while the Red Hat video team and agency directed remotely.
The end result was a scripted 90-second video that is both entertaining and insightful. The video has been viewed more than one million times - driven by a paid promotion plan that targeted audiences interested in containers, Kubernetes and virtualization.
Challenge 3: Creating new customer videos when we can’t go on-site to shoot
The Innovators in the Open program’s goal is to develop and execute a bold, new approach to our customer and partner success storytelling. For our team, that meant determining how to create video content that's relevant and interesting for our audiences knowing that our typical on-site customer filming opportunities were off the table.
We looked at ways to both leverage existing customer content and capture new customer stories in safe, creative ways. We wanted to develop an ecosystem of creative assets that can be individually tailored for each customer and wanted these concepts to be evergreen, so we can carry them forward in a post-COVID-19 world.
In the course of our typical filming, so much great customer content inevitably ends up on the cutting room floor. With limited filming options due to the pandemic, we figured why not repurpose existing footage to create something new? The result was "Topic Jukeboxes."
In one minute, we hear from three previously-filmed customers about a specific topic. This allows us to reuse existing video content in a quick hitting, benefit-focused way. Our first video in this format is "3 reasons why developers choose Red Hat OpenShift."
In two weeks, the video gained more than 1,500 views with a 54% retention rate (our research suggests the industry average is less than 40%) and likes and shares on social media are above average.
Challenge 4: Capturing a high-quality video conversation between two people in different locations with different camera setups
As part of Open Source Stories, we have a documentary film series that relies on in-person filming - so with the pandemic, we wanted to see how we could reuse existing Open Source Stories content and stories. This idea started out as a "where are they now" style piece, and we realized quickly that we could build something much richer and more true to the Open Source Stories brand if we turned it into more of a topical discussion between two people from separate films with similar interests.
The challenge here was capturing a high-quality video conversation between two people in different locations with different camera setups. We used a remote capture program called VMix, which allows us to use the participant’s existing webcams, making it very user friendly. We’re able to capture each individual’s camera at a high resolution while they can see each other and have an unimpeded conversation with some direction from our team, which was crucial in ensuring we got the content we were looking for.
We wanted this to be a way to showcase our catalog of films, bring new content to our viewers and further humanize our subjects. While this isn’t a revisit to their respective projects it provides a common ground for our two subjects. We wanted to explore the slight dissonance in their similarities. While the b-roll from old films isn’t a one-to-one to the conversation, when it’s paired with the conversation there is a beautiful expression of the ubiquity of their philosophies. Our team provided lots of design work to uplevel the production and create a cohesiveness to this series going forward.
The first Common Connections video, Creating the Classroom, was released in November and we plan to release one of these per quarter. We see this being a relevant format even when we are back to filming in person.
It is important to note that all these projects are not just the work of the video and animation team. We rely on several teams across Red Hat, as well as outside agencies and freelancers to help shape and create this work. These projects require help from account managers, project managers, creative strategists, UXers, designers, the brand team, social and communication teams, content strategists, the customer success team, subject matter experts, business units, the events team, and more.
While each of these projects had its own set of challenges, our primary goal was to focus on getting the creative to feel authentic in a time of COVID-19 as well as prioritizing safety on set. As 2020 is coming to an end and we are reflecting on these projects, we feel we have accomplished that goal and hope these examples help inspire you to think outside the box when faced with challenges.