Tracey Brown shoots the coin for the promotional video.
July 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This historic legislation ended segregation and banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
One of the ways the federal government commemorated the enactment of this landmark in American history was to issue a commemorative coin by the United States Mint. Congressman John Lewis sponsored the legislation that authorized this commemorative $1 coin.
Commemorative coins issued by the United States Mint are affiliated with a related “recipient organization,” and a portion of the surcharges from the sales of these coins are authorized to be paid to these organizations. For this particular coin, the United Negro College Fund was selected.
Two members of the Mint’s Office of Corporate Communications, Heather Sabharwal and Kim Jenkins, joined on the project. Heather was the co-producer on this endeavor, coordinating communications between the Mint and UNCF, coordinating communications between Rep. Lewis’ and other congressional offices, formatting the script for interviews, and conducting the filmed interviews with both Congressional members. Kim served as co-writer, third camera operator and graphics editor for the project.
We began developing the storyboard with the concept of immediately drawing the viewer in by creating anxiety with archival photographs depicting tense moments during the struggle for equality. This would serve as the lead-in for Rep. Lewis’ segment, where he would speak of his personal experience and reflections and segue into the symbolism and significance of the coin. To prepare for the shoot, Kim and I watched several programs and television shows that had been filmed in Rep. Lewis’ office to get an idea on camera angles and lighting conditions.
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On shooting day, Heather, Kim and I found ourselves in a long line of scheduled visitors for Rep. Lewis. Once it was our turn, we met the congressman and found him to be a gracious and humble host. I set up two Satchler tripods in a parallel fashion with Sony FS-100 camcorders mounted on them. The cameras were fitted with Samyang 35mm and 80mm lenses, both set at f3.5 for minimum depth of field.
Kim set up a Sony RX-10 mirrorless digital camera on the interview table, with a view of the obverse of the coin in the foreground and Rep. Lewis in the background. All cameras were set to 24p, and we used a Rode NTG shotgun microphone into one of the FS-100s for the audio capture. We brought a set of Kino 4 bank lights with us from the Mint, but found the office to be very well lit with beautiful natural light.
After the interview, Congressman Lewis showed us his personal collection of pictures and memorabilia related to his involvement in the Civil Rights movement, and allowed us a chance to film him with them. Martin Luther King, Jr., President Lyndon Johnson and President John F. Kennedy... they were all there, and so was Congressman Lewis.
We shot another interview a few days later, using the same three-camera and audio setup—but with a juxtaposed angle to Rep. Lewis’ interview. Later, we laid out some parchment paper and used a Revo Quad Skate Dolly for the panning coin shots in the case.
All editing was done within Adobe Premiere Pro CS6, with the exception of the animated photographs that Kim edited in Photoshop and After Effects. I recorded my voiceover using an Audio-Technica 4047 microphone in front of a SE Reflexion Filter, to an Avalon 737 mic pre, straight into Premiere. The Music was from Warner/Chappel Production Music.
The full five-minute video was ready on time and delivered to UNCF with a week to spare. The video was so well-received that UNCF requested both 60-second and 30- second versions, and more than 120 television stations carried the UNCF program that featured both short versions of the commemorative coin video.
Tracey Brown is the lead audiovisual specialist for the U.S. Mint. He can be reached at email@example.com. You can watch the full promotional video discussed in this story at http://youtu.be/-2wAjv9DLps.