Just East of West


Director of Photography

Don Blackburn



Just East of West - Pippa McBride/Brennan McBride


Case Study: GEOINT Revolution

Client: United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation


Initial Concept Meeting:

The CEO of USGIF wanted an opening video for the GEOINT symposium. This annual meeting and conference is the main networking and communication venue for the geospatial intelligence industry as a whole. Our client had been slowly developing a grounding theory for his industry which he wanted to use as a way to both unify and challenge members. At the same time, this served to cement the status of his foundation as a recognized authority.  He described a range of technical developments which were setting up a springboard for a vast sea change in the world of GEOINT - a far wider application of ideas and techniques, a new influx of users for that technology, and a very different flow of influence between industry and government. He wanted to create a sense of urgency around the idea that behaviors needed to change in response to this ‘tipping point’.


Research and Brainstorming:

We immediately got to work on learning more about the various aspects of what our client was calling the “GEOINT Revolution”. We found interesting examples of technology and process applications outside the norm for the industry. We tracked down possible interviewees who could bring valid, unusual voices to the discussion - including those operating outside the traditional industry. We researched the ideas, speeches, articles and activities of these potentials, so that we understood them as individuals and not simply representatives of a company or theme.


Concept Development Meeting and Planning:

We returned to discuss our findings and ideas several times. Our client had a concept he needed to communicate, but it covered a huge area. We needed to narrow down which parts were most fundamental to creating the sense of action and participation that he wanted. We decided that the video needed to begin as almost a shock - a direct challenge to established conventions, both in music and in style. We knew we still needed to convey some of the technical developments, but that needed to be a fast introductory segment that set us up to discuss the disruptions occurring within the industry. Finally, we decided that we needed to end with a call to action that addressed the individual. We needed to make the point that this changing environment was both a challenge and an opportunity.



It turned out that the most effective way to access a variety of voices was by taking advantage of an industry wide event that USGIF was already committed to hosting. In this way, we could wrap multiple interviews into a single day for which people were already traveling, greatly reducing the budgetary burden of the shoot.  Although we had developed a set list of interview questions approved by USGIF, we drew on our knowledge of each interviewee to point questions towards areas of their individual work or statements that they had made. This helped us get the statements we needed and also got the interviewees involved in the process. When you can say to someone that “your work in project X really demonstrates this concept” or “during your speech for the XYZ, you mentioned something very interesting,” you are showing them that their work is respected and applicable. The interviews became real conversations.


Rough Cut:

Even though we had a clear idea of what we wanted to convey and the kinds of responses we wanted to elicit, this was not a scripted piece. Going through all of the interview material, we saw several different avenues to explore before we settled on the most complete and best way to get our message across. We created three different rough cuts and put them in front of the client. This allowed us to compare reactions and combine feedback into the best framework possible.



We knew we had a real opportunity to add a whole other layer of information with our visuals that would be accessible to people with knowledge of the industry. Our topic was so large that it would be prohibitively expensive to shoot new visual coverage. Stock footage, although useful for parts of the piece, was too generic to add the additional layer of information that we needed. This required a new round of research and reaching out to companies who were involved in the industry to see whether they were willing to share material. Every company we contacted was happy to help because they understood that this was an opportunity to benefit from a wide audience. The result was that many of the visuals in the finished piece are an additional layer of pertinent, accurate information for the intended audience. They are real examples of the range of new applications to which geospatial technology is being applied.



The video contains some very deliberate stylistic choices - we went with a choppy, disruptive graphic style open, to grab the viewers attention and make the point of the rush of technological changes which set the stage for the GEOINT Revolution. We also chose a color treatment style. We used a dark, blue-tinted treatment for the b-roll. This helped unify the many different sources and shot styles we were required to draw from. It also make a nice contrast to the warm, more natural interview treatment, which was used to underline the concept that people are still important in this technical environment. Two different pieces of music were chosen. The first piece was dramatically different from the usual type of music we used for USGIF pieces. It was more driving, beat focused, and disruptive to the status quo. The second piece was closer to our traditional style, a unifying and uplifting track that made the point there was still room for the traditional in the new environment.


Fine Cut:

The fine cut incorporated all of the feedback and commentary on the content and visuals we had received so far.  Final color was tweaked and the sound was mixed and sweetened.



Our client was extremely pleased with the final video. It played in its intended role as opening video for the GEOINT Symposium and was very well received. It was also posted online and went on to be widely shared and played. USGIF is now giving this video continued life as an image piece which can be played in various environments, both online and during events and meetings. It serves the dual function of explaining the GEOINT Revolution and helping to position USGIF as an important conduit for community discussion.

GEOINT Revolution


United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation


This foundation image video links technology to industry change and positions USGIF as a change leader.


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