Over the past few months, Pepper Tree Post has delivered a series of videos showcasing the Starling Network, a comprehensive set of tools and principles that empower organizations to securely capture, store and verify human history.
Jointly developed by USC Shoah Foundation and Stanford University’s Department of Electrical Engineering, Jonathan Dotan, co-founder of the Starling Framework and a fellow at the Stanford Center for Blockchain Research, explains that “Starling is innovating with the latest cryptographic methods and decentralized web protocols to meet the technical and ethical challenges of establishing trust in our most sensitive digital records, such as the documentation of human rights violations, war crimes and testimony of genocide”.
As you’d expect with a project that has a strong historical context, the material used for the videos came from many diverse sources: archive footage that spanned old black and white film, degraded VHS, news footage from war torn places, interviews with key people and a smattering of stock footage. Maria Juranic, co-producer, co-director and editor on the project, was responsible for taking all of this material and turning it into stories that people could relate to: “The media team wanted to bring in emotion right off the bat into these videos. We knew that the audience had to hear human stories and see relatable faces before we unleashed into the technology. For that reason, we cut in stories of these survivors who look like they are our cousins, friends, and grandparents in the hope that it would entice the audience to ask questions. Once we built that interest and trust, we introduced the technology and all the ways it has helped us and how it could potentially harm us.”
For PTP, the job entailed grading and delivering five videos, each focussing on different aspects of Starling (Overview, Technical Partners, Case Study). Milton Adamou reflects on his approach to grading:
“These videos are not only tricky due to the diverse nature of the material, but also because of the story they tell. At the heart of these videos, we’re dealing with a product that’s been designed to serve a very profound purpose, and striking the balance between ‘product placement’ and empathy for the victims behind the images is crucial.”
“After numerous discussions with John, in the end we decided to take a naturalistic approach, making sure the footage flowed in a cohesive manner. While some parts were stylized at appropriate moments to create some eye candy, by and large we kept it natural and real.”