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NU | Film


A Different Way of Thinking

McCormick School of Engineering | Northwestern University

 

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NU | Film


A Different Way of Thinking

McCormick School of Engineering | Northwestern University

 

OUR ROLE     ANIMATION    EDITORIAL    DESIGN    DIRECTION    PRODUCTION    WRITING   
 

NU | Stills


NU | Stills


Client

Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering

Challenge

Most recruitment and marketing videos for universities strive for simple beauty: linear and drama-free. But that’s not how engineering works. The essence of higher education as practiced at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering is complex and imaginative, different from the others. How can that be captured?

There were other points to consider. Northwestern’s new branding standards need to be quickly grasped and interpreted with respectful creativity. Of course, return on investment was part of the equation as well. 

We knew we had to do something different to encapsulate our mission and serve different audiences, from prospective students and faculty to alumni and donors. But we didn’t know what that new way would be.
— Kyle Delaney, Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives and Marketing, Northwestern Engineering
 

NU | Approach


NU | Approach


Approach

For the project, Northwestern Engineering selected the Mode Project team because we’re small enough to be nimble yet fully equipped, Delaney noted, “to bring it all” – design/animation, editorial and production.


The relationship was collaborative from the start. Mode and Northwestern Engineering proceeded as partners, sharing feedback without pushback throughout the process. Together, we decided to engage the audiences with a film that embraces the school’s world view. We wanted to appeal to those who welcome that complexity. We did not want to take a simpler route with a broader, less targeted appeal.


We started the process by creating concepts that reflected a range of ideas and approaches, from scripted voiceover to documentary storytelling. In the end, both partners agreed on a dynamic documentary style driven by real voices, unscripted.


Working with the school’s marketing team, Mode hit on an unconventional but sensible approach for creating the video: the cameras stayed behind. Instead, we started by gathering 20 hours of audio interviews with students and faculty whose perspectives reflected the spectrum of Northwestern’s particular “whole-brain engineering” mission.


The subjects were free to share their passions for discovery without the distraction of cameras. Mode edited and organized the audio quotes by subject to ensure all important points were covered, and then formed them into a storyline to guide the collection of visuals before the cameras rolled onsite. This strategy brought efficiency to the B-roll shoot.


The school contributed research imagery and the brand assets such as colors and fonts; Mode delivered style frames for animations and tone boards to convey the look and feel. Art and science came together. Mode packaged its in-house design, motion graphics, live-action and editorial capabilities in a hyperkinetic montage propelled by the enthusiastic affirmations of students and faculty.


To encourage views and shares, it clocks in at under 2 minutes.

 

NU | Results


NU | Results


Results

Mode and Northwestern Engineering worked well together to summon up all the authenticity, emotion and excitement inherent in the pursuit of big ideas.


The result is an experience that excels across multiple channels, from web to social media to live events. It continues to energize alumni and thought-leaders and move them to engage and re-engage in what goes on at Northwestern Engineering. And as a recruiting tool, the video draws positive feedback from prospective students and faculty nearly every day.


The school’s peers agree: It’s the 2016 Circle of Excellence Gold Award winner, presented by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE):

 

By mixing authentic voices – almost symphonically – with great visuals, they delivered what they set out to do: create a video that stands out from the pack.
— Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)

 

Northwestern Engineering is proud to have a piece that captures its story and mission so well and at a comfortable price point. Mode Project is glad to be able to help the school achieve its goals the school’s own way, differently.


And we’re excited to continue our strategic partnership for two more videos. Coming soon: exciting developments in Computer Science and Engineering Design & Innovation at Northwestern Engineering.

NU | Awards


NU | Awards


Winner | Gold, Recruitment Videos
CASE Awards, 2016

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