The media production team at the Global Campus includes, from left, Luke Gramlich, Karl Northfell, Amy Cooper, Kris Katrosh, Dylan Craig and David Reynolds.
Amy Cooper, animation coordinator at the U of A Global Campus, believes the animated TV commercial they produced to promote U of A ONLINE caught the judges’ attention in an international competition because of its ability to evoke emotion.
The 30-second commercial won a platinum Hermes Creative Award, the highest award administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communications Professionals. The association is an international organization of marketing, communication, advertising, public relations, media production, web and freelance professionals.
The Global Campus media production and marketing and communications teams developed the advertising video to recruit more students to the U of A and its academic colleges.
The commercial, which features both two-dimensional and three-dimensional animation techniques, won the platinum Hermes award, the highest given by the association, in the animation category. The same Global Campus team that produced it supports U of A faculty daily in the development of media content for academic courses, and the team won a gold Hermes award in 2017 for a TV commercial as well.
Cooper said her favorite medium in which to work is 2D animation, the same hand-drawn animation of classic Disney movies. The emotions that the commercial evokes, along with the animation style, combined for the prize-winning result.
“Emotionally, I think the commercial has an incredible ability to connect with the viewer through the power of animation,” Cooper said. “We start with an eye-catching sweep down from the iconic Old Main building, and then land on a group of graduates, who, in the next 30 seconds, energetically transform from their graduation apparel into the garb of their careers of choice.”
The commercial is fun and exciting, and it encourages viewers to think about their own possibilities, she said.
“What do they want to transform into after they graduate? ” she asked. “Ending with the family before we return to the graduates also reinforces that, at the end of the day, this story is about what’s best for you. It’s the human side of what a new career can mean to any individual and their family. When we return to the graduates, it closes the narrative loop; In this moment, the students are graduating, celebrating and tossing their caps, but we’ve just seen what’s next for them: myriad endless possibilities. ”
The principles in 2D and 3D animation are the same, Cooper said, with the difference being that 2D animation is hand-drawn while in 3D animation digital sculptures are created and rigged like puppets on strings. The commercial includes more than 750 frames Cooper drew by hand. However, it was a team effort, she said, with other staff members helping with 3D illustration such as the windows on Old Main and digitally sculpted mannequins used to see how shots Cooper envisioned would work.
The commercial also features what Cooper described as magical transitions such as crumpled paper turning into a football as it flies through the air and a woman in a cap and gown moving seamlessly into a hospital room wearing her scrubs with a stethoscope. Each scene morphs into the next without traditional cuts in the action.
Cooper learned basic drawing skills as an art major at the U of A. After graduation, she went to work at the university’s Tesseract Studio for Immersive Environments and Game Design, where she learned animation skills.
At the Global Campus, David Reynolds, animation supervisor with a background in Hollywood productions, nurtured Cooper’s love for telling stories and storyboarding aptitude. Reynolds encouraged Cooper to excel in the storytelling aspect of animation, she said.
Kris Katrosh, media production manager, and Kay Murphy, director of marketing and communications at the Global Campus, came up with a basic idea for an animated commercial not long before the U of A closed on-campus operations temporarily because of COVID-19.
“The heart of this commercial shows how an education from the University of Arkansas transforms lives by displaying graduates in caps and gowns who transform into the professionals they plan to be,” Murphy said. “That’s powerful. Kris, Amy, David and the rest of the media production team delivered a final version that exceeded our original expectations. ”
Television stations across Arkansas aired the animated commercial a few months each fall and spring, beginning in Spring 2021. The same commercial and 15-second clips cut from it ran in internet marketing campaigns, which included placements on YouTube, Hulu and Discovery +. Social media also provided a vehicle to share the commercial.
The media production team’s mission is to empower faculty members to use innovative teaching strategies that immerse students in learning and help them succeed. The team helps faculty create videos and animation that vividly explain essential, complex course concepts to U of A students.
Along with Katrosh, Reynolds and Cooper, the team includes Jerin Crandell, post-production supervisor; Dylan Craig, visual information architect; Luke Gramlich, video project specialist; Whitney Winkler, digital media editor; and Karl Northfell, visual designer. The media production team is a part of the Global Campus instructional design and support services unit, which helps U of A faculty develop courses for all educational delivery modes, especially online courses.
Communications team members who also contributed to the commercial include Leonard Ridley, manager of web design services, and Caroline Chandler, graphic and web designer.
The Global Campus provides financial and in-kind support to academic units to launch new online courses and programs, sustain existing ones and maintain regulatory compliance. It provides support in designing academic courses to meet national quality standards, linking faculty with learning technology experts and assisting with recruiting and marketing.
About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Found in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $ 2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few US colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. US News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research News.