As Canada Post plans to scale back its home delivery of traditional paper mail, it looks like many Canadian colleges and universities are continuing the shift from traditional paper greeting cards toward online video greetings for the December holidays – whether Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, winter solstice, or even Festivus. Ever politically correct, most public institutions simply wish their stakeholders “Happy Holidays,” or perhaps “Safe and Happy Holidays,” although the Christian federated or affiliated colleges often still use the “C” word.
I’m assembling the video greeting cards I encounter from Canadian colleges and universities into a Youtube playlist (let me know if I missed one!) but as my own Christmas gift to you, this blog discusses some of the common themes and outstanding examples of this year’s crop.
The most common format of holiday greeting videos in recent years is simply an animated card – jingling bells, nondescript but vaguely Christmasy music, plenty of snow, perhaps a forest or an image of campus, and animated script wishing holiday peace and joy.
Centennial College spices up the recipe a little, by adding the request “that you please take time to lend a helping hand to those most in need.”
Red Deer College’s holiday greeting features a barefoot Santa frolicking on the beach, and 50 festival flamingos to mark RDC’s 50th anniversary.
NSCC’s greeting features images of multiple campuses, under softly falling snow, visited by an ambiguous comet streaking through the sky (Santa? the Star of Bethlehem? or just a graphic embellishment?), and winds up with holiday wishes “from our family of campuses throughout Nova Scotia.”
Royal Roads University has a lovely animated version of their campus (although I rather doubt they get nearly enough snow to build a snowman most winters in Victoria!).
There are a dozen other examples of these sorts of greeting videos on my Youtube playlist.
The other most traditional approach to video greetings is a warm wish for the holidays from the institution’s president, on behalf of the board and administration.
This is the approach taken by Collège Boréal, although President Pierre Riopel has a nice moment at the end of his message when he blows a handful of artificial snow at the camera.
Simon Fraser University’s holiday greeting video features President Andrew Petter, who starts with some of the highlights of the year 2013, in a holiday greeting directed at donors.
Many campus communications offices have experience gathering sound bites from people on campus, and weaving them together into newscasts, promotional videos, or podcasts. Several institutions have created much more engaging greeting videos by including a variety of voices, usually in diverse languages, often with a snowy backdrop, with fast-paced edits and appropriate background music. Typically these collections begin or end with a word from the campus president and/or board chair.
McGill University’s holiday greeting video is a multilingual greeting reflecting the international origins of 9,000 students from 150 countries, literally waving the flags of their respective countries.
Georgian College asked its students and staff “What’s your Holiday Wish?” and gathered answers like “a puppy,” “a car,” “to pass all my exams,” and “a box of motivation.”
King’s University College asked dozens of staff and students to share how they celebrate the holidays, with much of the video shot outdoors in some serious snow. The variety of voices, interspersed with bloopers, Christmas wishes, favourite holiday activities, and even Festivus greetings, keeps the pace moving despite the length of the video.
Vancouver Island University’s video features sports teams, students, and faculty wishing “Happy Holidays” in a wide range of languages, including first nations and international languages.
Dalhousie University’s greeting video includes behind the scenes shots, and plenty of staff and students wishing holiday greetings in their native languages.
Huron University College does a lovely rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” even though many of the “singers” are in different keys, or simply speak their lines. Many scenes are stolen by pet dogs and cats, who apparently were enlisted to participate as well. (If you’re in a hurry, the final verse starts at about 2:46.) My favourite section of the video is the bloopers, which start at 3:15 – there’s nothing like animal bloopers to liven up a Christmas video!
It’s not the WestJet Miracle (with 29 million views!), but once a month, Trinity Western University treats its campus commuters to “Timbits, hot drinks and smiles” as they drive onto campus. In December, volunteers wore antlers, Santa hats, or full-blown costumes of Santa and Mrs Claus, and the one-minute video captures the morning feel-good. The video ends with the greeting, “Merry Christmas, Commuter!”
Capilano University’s video greeting features a choir singing softly a cappella and forest images.
Huron University College posted a 3-minute video of the college chapel being decorated for Christmas, set to classical carols. The college Chaplain talks about the crèche, the Principal shows us his “stall,” and we even witness the preparation of hosts at the altar.
One of my favourites (and not simply because it’s my alma mater) is Western’s gingerbread University College. Slick photography, good pacing, pleasant music, and of course plenty of seasonal calories. Very nicely done!
Sheridan College, internationally renowned for the quality of its illustration and animation grads, naturally turned to animation for its video greeting. It’s a 3.5 minute animated short, “‘Twas the Night before S-Mas,” which builds toward the big reveal, Sheridan’s new “S” logo lit up like a Christmas tree.
In addition to the Gingerbread greeting from Western’s president, the Western Creative Services team created an amusing little video on their own time, inspired by Jack and Jones ads with Christopher Walken. Relaxing in a wingback chair by the fire, Terry Rice snips an elaborate paper snowflake using nothing but his fingers.
On behalf of everyone at Eduvation and Academica Group, I’d like to extend our best wishes to you all, for a peaceful holiday season, and a happy and prosperous new year!
If you spot a new video that missed my deadline, please mention it in the comments below!
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