Making the Video: A Behind-the-Lens Look at “A Global Icon: Mary in Context”

These days, everything seems to be going digital. Artwork is no exception to this change, and museums are taking notice.

With its first online exhibition, NMWA has joined other museums in embracing digital technology. A Global Icon: Mary in Context, complements the museum’s exhibition Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea, now on view in the galleries. Through detailed images and videos, the online exhibition explores the portrayal of the Virgin Mary in artworks from around the world.

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Photography by Laura Hoffman

As the fall 2014 semester’s digital media intern, I was tasked with creating a series of six short videos for the online exhibition, delving into each thematic section plus an introductory video. Despite my past production experience, I wasn’t sure how shooting and editing seven videos would be possible with my two-day-per-week schedule and in less than three months’ time. However, with a plan of action and system of support, I was able to complete them just in time for the exhibition opening.

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Photography by Laura Hoffman

For each shoot, we would set up the camera, microphones, chairs, and lights (always bringing extra lights in case one unexpectedly popped) hours before the museum opened to avoid capturing background noise from visitors. Despite our best efforts, sounds—from the *ding* of an elevator door to an ambulance’s blaring siren—would interrupt the shooting. The video’s museum-staff narrators would recite each line of the script at least three times to ensure one usable take.

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Photography by Laura Hoffman

During this process, I began editing, piecing together the filmed footage with artwork images and music. At times, keeping track of the hours of footage, image positions, and potential music options was the most challenging part of the editing stage. Conversations between the digital engagement team, curators, and myself involved meticulous reviewing: Did an image move across the screen too quickly? Would panning across rather than zooming in flatter the artwork best? When should the music fade in and out so as to enhance the viewing experience?

By the end of my three-month internship, all seven videos had been exported and uploaded to the online exhibition, available through YouTube. When I walk into the introductory gallery on the museum’s ground level, I take pride in seeing the videos displayed on the installed iPads. It is exciting to see NMWA using technological innovations both on its gallery walls and through the digital realm.

—Dorothea Trufelman was the fall 2014 digital media intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Explore the full online exhibition, and plan your visit to Picturing Mary, on view at NMWA through April 12.