Ethan Willis – Promotional Video for the Albert Gore Research Center

Project Process Essay by Ethan Willis

For my public history project, I wanted to construct something that would lead researchers to the Albert Gore Research Center. Originally, I had planned on making an exhibit that commemorated students at Middle Tennessee State University that served in World War II. After learning that a physical exhibit of this nature would be difficult to construct without funds, a large collection of memorabilia, and a place to display it, I decided to change the focus of the project. Due to the large collection of information, materials, and footage about the Tennessee Maneuvers at the Gore Center, I saw it fitting to create an online exhibit about the maneuvers in order to make this information known to the public. I was pleased with the overall direction of the project as I began to assemble it but I felt that something was missing. My goal from the beginning was to create something that would endorse the Gore Center and draw the public and researchers to its array of collections and materials. It was then that I decided to yet again change the focus of the project to be centered on the Gore Center itself. The final product is a promotional video that highlights each collection along with information about materials.

I completed this project by using the basic iMovie software on a Macbook computer. After spending hours looking through the Gore Center database of files, I gathered photographs that I believed would represent each collection accurately. I then wrote up a small script that would be read and recorded. This would be placed as audio and correlate with each photograph within the video.  The biggest problems that I encountered with creating the video were the complications in recording the audio. The background noise behind the narrator can be accredited to the built-in microphone within the computer that was used. Although I tried to use another microphone for better sound quality, the iMovie software would only allow audio to be recorded with the built-in microphone.  Blending the audio levels was the only way to reduce the background noise.

The greatest successes of the project were the photographs that I was able to obtain and add to the video. At first, I had anticipated not having enough photographs and had planned on setting the duration (amount of time that each photo is displayed on screen) of each to seven seconds or more. The final product consists of about half of the photographs that I gathered from the Gore Center, with an average duration of five seconds for each. Another success worth mentioning is that when I recorded the audio, it was almost the same amount of time as the song that was used in the video.

The things I enjoyed most about this project were gathering photographs and editing. I have a small amount of experience with making videos of this nature and was excited to edit and prepare it for publication. It was very interesting to search through years of history in order to collect each component that was needed to convey the importance of every major collection at the Gore Center. The thing that I disliked most about the project was the lack of professional equipment. Although I am satisfied with the final product, there are needs within it that I wish could be met with the use of better editing equipment and audio tools. I would have also liked to of used a narrator with a better and more theatrical voice.

I believe that this promotional video endorses the Gore Center well. As stated before, my goal was to create something that would spark the interests of the public and encourage them to learn more about the wealth of information that is kept there.  It seems that many students and individuals within Rutherford County are unaware of the Gore Center, its collections, and the efforts that are being made to build MTSU’s rich history and the lives of middle Tennesseans. Through the use of this video, my hope is that individuals will be drawn to local history and given the confidence to discuss it.

Throughout the semester, we have discussed the benefits and problems of technology when conveying the significance of history. Although it can aid the public and motive them to learn, technology poses a great threat to the stability of public history institutions. I have learned that in order for these institutions to thrive and serve their purpose, they must adapt and devise strategies for the future. Changes should involve new, creative, and innovative educational programs that promote civic engagement and conversation. Fully accessible to the public, I believe that this video will encourage others to visit the Gore Center and contribute to its efforts to be the leading archival institution in the region.

To view the video, go to and search “The Albert Gore Research Center”. The account name: willisethan


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