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  • Writer's pictureUpLifter Video

The (Somewhat) New Normal

Video Storytelling and Fundraising in the COVID world.

COVID-19 has presented challenges to nearly every organization. Video conferencing over Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc. have become the norm.

In the video production field, the challenge has been how to tell visually impactful stories while following social distancing and other COVID related guidelines.

How then can organizations create and produce video content to reach and engage their once in-person audience? Fortunately a large focus of video production is problem solving!

Cue the music! No really.

The journey for us began with a "virtual" song performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. A couple members from the BPO approached us with an idea of releasing a self-shot video performance of the song Firebird by composer Igor Stravinsky. The song was selected because of it's meaning, a story of a soul’s awakening and rebirth.

At this point a few other orchestras had released similar videos, but most did not capture a vivid story of the music.

Over 50 musicians each recorded their individual performance with a smart phone and sent the video to us for the edit. Along with the performance videos, historical photos of the City of Buffalo were used to tell the story of the City's rebirth.

"The Firebird video is soaring and triumphant, all three minutes of it, what [conductor Joanne] Falletta calls “a love letter to the region.” - Jerry Sullivan of

What made the video successful was two things.

First, we provided a guide to the members of the orchestra that participated. We wanted to ensure the smart phone videos were captured in the best light, using good composition and in the same orientation (horizontal). Smart phone video can be a great tool, but camera phones do not perform well in low light situations.

Second, the video files from the smart phone needed to be sent through an application like Google Drive, Dropbox or WeTransfer. This ensures the video remains the highest possible quality. Simply texting or emailing the video will compress it to a point that is unusable.

After a good deal of back and forth with musicians and BPO staff, all files were collected and the final product came out great. Collaborating is a major part of video production and a process we truly love.

Video is great to keep your audience engaged and involved, but it is also a great way to fundraise.

Video Fundraising in the COVID World

A stand alone video post is not the only option for virtual type videos. The same lessons learned and applied to the BPO video were be used to create an interactive social media event. The appeal of premiering a video on YouTube or Facebook is the ability to interact through a live chat with your audience.

Due to COVID restrictions, The Buffalo Jewish Federation needed an alternative to their 500 person Annual Fundraising Gala. We produced a telethon style video, The Campaign for Jewish Buffalo Presents: A Star Studded Kick Off Event.

A YouTube Live event was set up to allow people to engage the audience via Live Chat. The organizers of the event made it even more personal by dropping off gift bags to anyone who registered for the online event. The gifts bags included a deck of cards to be used during the live stream along with a custom video from a magician. The virtual card trick even further connected the audience to the event.

The 45 minute video included a mix of three different media. Phone video was sent in from participants who recorded speeches, Zoom interviews and messages were recorded and we captured professional in-person, socially distant segments with the event hosts and participants.

The typical 500 person annual gala had twice as many online viewers.

Literacy Buffalo Niagara did a similar online event to unveil their new logo and branding message. Booked for the Evening included segments all professionally shot and produced by Uplifter Video while adhering to proper COVID protocols.

Literacy Buffalo Niagara also teamed up with a marketing strategy company to generate more buzz and awareness prior to the event with a custom website, virtual tickets, animated GIF stickers for social stories and more.

Along with the new logo reveal, the event featured a new Branding Video. The video focused on the message,“change starts with a word.” The video highlights the stories of students and volunteers currently in the program. Beyond the online event, the video will be used to send to sponsors, volunteer tutors and students to better explain Literacy Buffalo Niagara's programs and purpose.

"I was unfamiliar with the necessary steps in producing a video like this, but the team at Uplifter provided all the guidance needed. They provided us with a professional experience, took the time to understand our agency's needs and wishes, and executed an absolutely perfect product." - Amy Mazur, Director of Operations for Literacy Buffalo Niagara

Collaboration and Partnerships

The key to all these examples is a strong collaboration. Organizations know their audience best and must be engaged with any video production company to focus on what message should be told.

We want to partner with organizations doing great things for Western New York because we were born and raised here. Storytelling is our passion and we want to see this region continue to grow and shine.


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