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Leaping Forward

Since joining the BrandJRNY team, I have made leaps that I never imagined myself accomplishing. I originally wanted to be a part of the video editing team because that is where I felt most comfortable based on my previous experience. However, I quickly found myself on the community storytelling and VR/AR team, where I was going to be doing lots of activities that I had never done before. 


My first experience outside of my comfort zone was definitely creating a Snapchat filter for the Point Pleasant vs.Wahama basketball game. I use plenty of face filters, but I had never designed one, let alone a geofilter. I was worried about my skill level and whether or not I’d accomplish my task effectively. However, after some practice with the program, I ended up with something that I was proud of. In fact, I even had the chance to model for my creation, which received upwards of 63,000 impressions.


My next task was to produce the Share Your Story event. My teammate, Logan, and I were nervous about how to promote the event and were unsure of what to expect. We ended up being pleasantly surprised by the turnout. Over the last month, we have interviewed several people that have told some absolutely profound stories. They ranged from casual talks about local businesses to suspenseful recollections of the Silver Bridge collapse. It has been an unforgettable experience to be able to share these stories. 


One of our most exciting endeavors was using hologram technology. We used one of our Share Your Story participants, Rick Handley, to create a hologram of him telling his story. Making the media was really cool, but the best part by far was showing the people of Point Pleasant our project. Their faces lit up every time. I think that was the moment I realized what this project could mean to people.


Rick Handley tells a story during the Share Your Story event as Hunter Bennett captures an augmented reality recording. Source | David Smith
Rick Handley experiences his story in augmented reality during an event at the Gallery at 409. Source | Brand Storytelling team

If there is one thing I have learned from this project, it is that sometimes you need to take a leap forward. Even when you are unsure, stepping up to the plate and giving things a shot is worth it. 


I found myself presented with another opportunity recently. We heard that National Geographic would be in town filming the day after the brand launch. We were invited to sit in on their production, but only a few students could attend. While I’d have to stay another night in the Lowe Hotel by myself and miss class the next day, I decided to stay.


Sitting in and talking with members of the crew was a really cool experience. I gained insight into what a career in video production is like, as well as some advice on how to get a foot in the door at National Geographic. 


BrandJRNY has been an absolute joy to be a part of. It is not too often when you have the chance to work on something that not only brings you fulfillment, but also benefits other people.


“My name is Hunter Bennett. I am on the Community Storytelling and AR/VR Team. I spend most of my days working as a resident assistant or hanging out at U92 College Radio. I love going to shows!” - @huntain


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Housed at the WVU Media Innovation Center, BrandJRNY is a community branding initiative that is a grant-funded collaboration between the American Electric Power Foundation and WVU Reed College of Media.

The Initiative was previously funded by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation for our three pilot projects.

Original website designed by Mariah Elliott, under the direction of PI and Director Dr. Rita Colistra.

Photos and content may not be used without written permission by contacting brandjrny@gmail.com.

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