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Over the last year, through the Origin Experience, Starbucks has taken groups of their partners to three locations where their coffee is grown and processed.

The goal of these trips is to inspire a new found respect and appreciation for the hard work and passion that goes into each pound of coffee they sell, and for the partners to be able to go back and talk about the work Starbucks is doing on the ground as well as the long-term relationships they share with the growing regions and the communities that live there.

With only a limited number of Partners being able to go, Starbucks wanted to document the experience in a way that could be used to educate and inspire partners who were unable to go.

As a result, MediaStorm was commissioned to travel on the three pilot Origin Experience trips to Costa Rica, Indonesia and Tanzania and do original reporting of the partner's experiences.

The final result is seven character-driven short documentaries and a trailer with elements from all of the trips. Not only did we document the experience of the trips, but also followed our characters back home to their markets and documented the impact the experience had on the individual partners.

Client: Starbucks
Published: February 25, 2011
The Challenge
On a project of this magnitude there are always many challenges to address and overcome.

On trips like these where you have several dozen people packed on buses travelling from location to location on a very aggressive schedule it can be difficult to zero in on the essence of what the trip is about and it can be quite a challenge to achieve intimacy with any one subject. We felt that in order to really capture the impact that an experience like this had on the participants, it was paramount to capture those subtle moments that reveal the change in someone's outlook.

In order to tackle a project of this scale MediaStorm enlisted the skills of top multimedia photojournalists to tell these stories, with two of the photojournalists traveling to each location at a time. This presented challenges in the arena of continuity, both in the approach and style of storytelling and in the management of the assets on the back end.

With the project all being shot on the Canon Mark 5D Mark II and 7D there were several challenges in dealing with the shortcomings of those cameras both in the field and in post production. Syncing the audio with the visuals on these cameras was quite a challenge and trans-coding the massive amount of footage captured to files that were compatible with Final Cut Pro was time consuming.

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The Solution
In order to achieve the intimacy we desired we decided that the best approach would be to follow single, individual characters through the Origin Experience and then back to their home markets. We felt that going deep with a single character would ultimately be more powerful and lead to more intimate moments that would overall represent the Origin Experience. We literally followed these individuals through every step of the experience, with cameras rolling the entire time. This allowed us to tune in and capture the “light bulb” moments we needed.

Planning our approach and creating a strong attack plan before the first trip allowed us to keep a consistent storytelling style through coverage on three different continents from different photojournalists. We found that having a strong plan and focus going in allowed us to have a foundation and framework for what we wanted to capture in the field while also allowing for flexibility.

We tried several different solutions for audio in the field on the Canon HDSLR's. We recorded on external devices like the Zoom H4N and synced afterwards using PluralEyes in Final Cut Pro and also used XLR adapters like the Beachtek and Juiced Link. Ultimately, using the Juiced Link DT-454 was the best option for us. This allowed us to sync the audio to the visuals while shooting in the field, and saved us valuable time in post production by having the audio already synced.

The demand for this content following each trip was high and having a well defined post production work flow and tailoring that work flow to best fit this project allowed us to edit the massive amount of content in a timely manner, getting it to our client as fast as possible without infringing on the overall quality of the pieces.

One thing that really helped in our relationship with Starbucks as a client was having them come to our offices and sit in on the last few days of the edit. This allowed them to see first-hand the effort and work that goes into the post production process and allowed us to discuss in person how certain storytelling elements did or did not fit the storyline. This face-to-face time proved to be invaluable to these pieces and the subsequent work we have done together since.

The Results
The result of this project is over 45 minutes of original content contained in 8 unique stories of partners from 5 different countries experiencing Origin on three different continents.

The pieces captured not only the amazing experience of seeing first hand how coffee is grown and processed and the people and communities who's lives depend on the coffee that Starbucks buys, but also showed the impact the trip made on the partners as they went back home and shared the stories with fellow partners and customers.

About the Client
Founded in 1971 in Seattle, Starbucks has become the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world, with more than 15,000 stores in 50 countries. They participate in a number of community support activities, including their Shared Planet initiative, (Starbucks)RED, the Starbucks Foundation, and the Ethos(R) Water Fund.

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