VR and Drones – creating videos for JAGS’ Open Day

Following our rebranding and repositioning work for the John Whitgift Foundation (JWF) last year, we were approached by James Allen’s Girls’ School, (JAGS), to help them with some editing for a leavers’ video and then the project grew into the bigger exercise of creating 8 videos for their virtual open days that were held in September.

With the school closed for the first lockdown, and leavers not having the opportunity to celebrate their last days together, we were initially asked to create a leavers’ video for them. During this work, we also discussed the longer-term issues of Open Days and that the school had very little digital material to show off the school and not much time to produce it. They knew they needed a video to show the full potential and facilities to new parents and pupils who were now unlikely to be able to visit the school in person.

The virtues of virtual
After the success of this initial video, they could see we had the creative editing skills and we explained that we had a team who could deliver on time. We quickly undertook a site recce of the various grounds and school buildings and plans were put in place to film during the summer holidays when there would be very few people about. We put forward the suggestion of working with and art directing both our videographer, Duncan Smith and a drone pilot, Jason Smith, so that we could capture the school in different ways. The idea was to combine talking heads of key members of the staff, including the new headmistress, Mrs Alex Hutchinson, with the more interactive feel you get from drones.

The exterior filming was as expected from great drone video footage that you now see everywhere but the interiors were a whole new experience. Using a VR headset, and careful planning, we were able to fly through the whole school capturing their amazing facilities. Some tricky manoeuvring by Jason under the lid of a grand piano and around the hanging obstacles in the art room left us all speechless at his skills with a drone. You can see how this ended up after hours and late nights of careful review and editing by our senior designer, Joe Cook, in the virtual tour shown here:

The potential for this type of filming while COVID continues to hinder our ability to visit and see places for ourselves is truly awe-inspiring. For schools and the property sector, you will see this used more and more. And even after COVID, it would save us time visiting places that might not be the right fit or that open our minds to places we hadn’t considered, especially holidays if we ever get to go away again!

But something was missing!
So our first few videos were complete and ready for the virtual Open Day but there was a sense that something was missing … the kids! There was such excitement when these videos were finished and seen for the first time that, with the relaxing of COVID rules and schools reopening in September, it was agreed that more videos should be made, but this time, with the children of the Prep and Pre-Prep. So with the proper PPE and safety guidelines followed, a small team of two (Simon and Duncan) returned to shoot various classes on their first few days back at school. What a great experience, to see the joy on the children’s faces as they saw friends again and were able to play together in their bubbles – it was heartwarming… and helped us capture some fantastic video and photographs at the same time. And then Joe was back to late nights of reviewing and editing to get the final videos complete for launch.

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The final videos and some of the photos can be seen above and on the JAGS Junior School website. The introduction to the school by the new headmistress, Mrs Alex Hutchinson can be seen below. The other images show some of the other videos we did along with an introduction on how to apply to the school by the senior school registrar. You can visit the ‘Virtual Open Event’ to find out more.

The school shares many of the same values and beliefs that apply to the schools of the John Whitgift Foundation, so they were also interested in some of the messaging and storytelling we had undertaken for JWF – here’s to hoping we can work together on other exciting projects to tell their story and give more insight into this fantastic school.

Jo Denham, Head of Marketing & Communications at JAGS said:

At very short notice, tothepoint worked quickly and to deadline in difficult circumstances. The final series of films reflects the vitality of our school whilst showcasing our wonderful facilities and staff, providing an excellent insight into life at JAGS for prospective families.

JAGS is an independent day school situated in Dulwich, South London, England. It has a senior school for 11- to 18-year-old girls, a prep school for 7- to 11-year-old girls (James Allen’s Preparatory School), and a pre-preparatory school for 4- to 7-year-old girls. It is also the oldest girls’ independent school in Greater London and is supported by The Dulwich Estate a registered charity established by its founder Edward Alleyn in 1619 to offer educational opportunities to disadvantaged children, housing to the elderly in need, and a place of community worship.