New Tuition Program Gets an Old-School Video

Thu March 29, 2018

On February 8, 2018, Chancellor Rebecca Blank announced “Bucky’s Tuition Promise,” a new financial aid program that will make a UW-Madison education more accessible. Beginning next fall, tuition and segregated fees will be covered for incoming freshmen and transfer students from Wisconsin families that have an annual household adjusted gross income of $56,000 or less. To help build awareness, the Office of Student Financial Aid worked with DoIT Academic Technology’s Video Production service to create a video in the style of an 8-bit video game.

“We often struggle to get students and their families to understand that we are more than paper pushers and are smiling faces here to help!” explains Cori Splain, a special projects manager with the Office of Student Financial Aid. “So I pitched the idea of making it an 8-bit video game, because retro video games are in right now and a lot of people who played them now have kids in college.”

With a clear vision, Cori focused on implementing her idea but ran into multiple challenges. She attempted to develop the video herself using Scratch, but quickly realized the video required needed more animation expertise. When she reached out to Ozzyie Chen, the DoIT developer embedded in her office, he knew she needed a group with a unique mix of animation and video editing skills. Having seen some of the light-hearted segments in the annual DoIT Accomplishments videos that the Video Production team have done, Ozzyie connected Cori with David Olson, a videographer and animation artist.

The two immediately fell in sync and began working on the video. “It was encouraging to work with a partner on campus who was willing to explore creative methods of communication that diverge from the traditional approach typical of university outreach initiatives,” notes David. “The main approach for this specific project was to focus on high impact visuals that students can actually enjoy as important content is disseminated.”

The storyline for the 8-bit animated video mirrors the experiences that the Office of Student Financial Aid sees many families go through. Derek Kindle, Financial Aid Director, wanted to directly address that reality where a “middle school age kid dreaming of going to UW but having too many barriers, then considering it again in high school and having too many barriers.” These cycles in real life could be demonstrated as stages in the video game.

The video follows an animated character overcoming game-like barriers even as the evil boss taunts him with sayings like “FAFSA, scholarships, and financial aid are all so confusing. Your future at UW-Madison is uncertain.” But even when the character gets knocked down, they always persevere and hit “continue” on their way to finding the key — Bucky’s Tuition Promise — that unlocks the last barrier to a UW-Madison education.

Completed in early February to line up with the Chancellor’s message, the video was initially shared internally on campus before being made public on the ”Bucky’s Tuition Promise” website on March 21, 2018. “The video was really great to use with campus partners to explain and launch the program,” states Cori. “Now that it is on the website, it will be interesting to see what others think as well.”

The Video Production team enjoyed the opportunity to both support such an important program and put their animation, writing and other creative skills to use. “The end result is a product that’s fun and effective,” notes David. “That’s a win for everyone.”

Check out other samples from the Video Production team in our portfolio.