Remember when it looked like the election hinged on the candidate’s stance on Iraq? This presidential campaign has been two years in the making and the political landscape has changed a lot over those two years. Our video/photo/interactive historical look back has been a little over a week in the making but that week included some 24hr workdays. The day before the election we published Choosing a President.
We had a hard time pitching this at the Times. It was hard to explain what we were trying to do to the top editors. We didn’t want to do a video, or an interactive or a photo gallery. We didn’t want to tell an audio story or a print story or a story through infographics and illustration. We wanted to do it all. In one story. To make it all work as one. To make it long by web standards. Most of all, we wanted it to be good. I mean, why would you do less telling the story of the most significant presidential campaign in history?
We thought that setting up the political landscape in 2006 would be a great way to start this story. The problem is, it’s complex. To paint the scene in 2006 you have to introduce a lot of characters, relationships between contenders and political parties, motivations etc. Just cutting from photo to photo or video clip to video clip over top of narration didn’t seem like the best way to do this in a timely fashion. We opted to produce the opening sequences in After Effects, so that we could introduce the field of candidates and visually show relationships and motivations backed by narration.
Getting back into After Effects was fun. It can be a daunting program if you don’t use it everyday, and getting your head into it can sometimes take awhile but in the end, it can do things you can’t do with a camera. Like pivot on a dime hovering over the U.S. and swinging from state to state to hear the voices of voters. Hopefully we will use this story telling device more in the future. We’re a long way from the production quality of the TV and movie industries that use these post production programs everyday but I like to think we look a little classier.