Live From Final Four: In Familiar Territory, North Carolina’s New Media Team Looks to Tell a Unique Story

New social media workflow has Heels churning out creative content

Ken Cleary has seen his share of Final Fours. Since graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1991, the men’s basketball program has made a staggering 11 of its all-time 20 Final Four appearances. Few have the perspective and appreciation for just how much the video workflow process has changed for athletic department videographers than Cleary.

UNC team videographer Josh Reavis shoots during Friday’s open practice with a Canon 5D on a Ronin gimbal.

Since moving into his role of directing the athletic department’s new media division when it was founded in 2007, seen the roles and demands of his team change again and again. The days of serving in a newsy role have made way to a new era of more creative, behind-the-scenes storytelling and bringing fans greater access than ever before through content.

“We’re looking to find the unique story and the unique spin on things,” says Cleary. “The enormity of coverage here is obvious. This isn’t like a regular season game where [a fan] may have missed it and they want to go find the highlight. They saw the game. So it’s the behind-the-scenes and those types of things that we really want to document.”

UNC has two video staffers, two photographers, and a social media director all helping cover the festivities and create content. At event’s like the Final Four, many people wear multiple hats, as well. Cleary is even doing what he can to help out on the coaches video side of things.

The Tar Heels’ New Media team is shooting exclusively with DSLRs here in Glendale, AZ this weekend. There are two Canon 5Ds and a Conan 7D being supplemented with a Ronan gimbal and a collection of smartphone gimbals. All editing is being done on Adobe Premiere after the school struck a complete Adobe Creative Cloud deal earlier this year.

According the Cleary, social media distribution has become the primary destination for much of his team’s content and that workflow has improved over the past few months.

UNC’s Director of Social and Digital Media Dana Reynolds (center) uses a smartphone on an Ikan gimbal to shoot content for social media distribution.

The Tar Heels social media strategy changed earlier this year when the department brought on Dana Reynolds as the new Director of Social & Digital Media. In the past, while many on the team were empowered to acquire and post content, it meant that the various social accounts were in the hands of too many people and that led to confusion as to what had or hadn’t been posted and led to some duplicative effort. Now with Reynolds on hand, she can lead the social content strategy plan and serve as a conduit for any content acquired by other members of the department.

In addition to all of these various efforts, Cleary doesn’t want to overlook the core fundamental responsibilities of a videographer: chronicle and archive.

“Pure archival is not necessarily the first thing that most people think of when they come into a postseason scenario like this,” he says. “Having been lucky that North Carolina has been involved in 20 Final Fours, we get calls from people all the time looking for [old footage]. So now it’s very front of mind to make sure we get every press conference and every piece of behind-the-scenes footage somewhere safe so that when we get back to Chapel Hill, we can get it sorted out. That’s so important.”

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