President's Holiday Card 2020


President of Winona State University

Target Audience:

President's peers, WSU alumni, students of WSU


Photos, Video, Photoshop, Premier, After Effects


Create a digital version of a holiday card that would be sent out to other university presidents, alumni, and WSU students. This card was to touch on the COVID-19 pandemic while remaining upbeat and positive

The Brief

The brief for this project was to address the COVID-19 pandemic while staying positive and resilient with the overall message of the card. This holiday card is created every year by the design students of the Campaign & Systems Design course, and always has two parts: a physical card that is mailed out to recipients and a digital card that is sent out via email and displayed on digital signage around the communities and campus.

The Process

I knew I wanted to explore the possibilities of a cinemagraph because I thought it captured the odd surrealism of going to college and being on campus while things were completely different than they normally are, I figured the audience would relate to that.

The next step was to create a concept & plan for the shots. My first version of ideation was just to get ideas out there are worry about refining them later. I researched cinemagraph styles and techniques and thought of various ideas revolving around how I could use motion as a highlight of each shot.

The next session of ideation was much more focused on the story I was going to tell. It needed to be about how we are staying strong during these difficult times, and I wanted to relate the story towards why we are all trying to stay safe in hopes that people would start to sympathize with the message and develop a better understanding of why the university has made the changes it did when it comes to classes and campus life.

Card Prototyping

After deciding on a few concepts that I thought might work, the next step was to start visualizing my ideas to see if they actually would work or not. 

The first few prototypes here were my first attempts at idea visualization. On the left is the physical card cover where I was trying to display the life of a student during virtual classes, and on the right is the inside of the card, where I created the basic layout I was going to design from.


With the rough layouts and visuals in mind, I started refining them by adding my own photos and adding in actual haiku poems instead of placeholders, as well as making minor tweaks to the layout here and there.

It was at this point in my process where I looked back in my notes and decided to utilize an idea: creating multiple cinemagraphs and stringing them together to create a cohesive story. I decided to pursue this option because I believed for storytelling purposes, it was much more entertaining for the user as well as a more effective method of getting the desired message across.

Final Version

Cinemagraph Creation

At the same time that the physical card was being designed and printed, I was also collaborating with a photography friend of mine on some cinemagraphs for the digital version of the card.

Using his photography skills and my conceptual skills and direction, we created a series of 5 cinemagraphs with photos and video.

Once all the content was created, I researched cinemagraphs and how to make them since this was a new medium I was working with. I found inspiration from some youtube videos, and started in the creation process.

Check out the main inspiration video here

Message to the Viewer

The message was going to be the same in this part of the project since it’s an accompanying piece, but it was going to be displayed in a different manner, and there was more to consider with this part: things like music, transitions, effects, and more.

It needed to have interesting visual elements along with a sense of community, resiliency, and optimism.

Content Shoot

To create all the content needed to make the cinemagraphs, we needed to go around the town of Winona and see what locations would work best for the shots I wanted to get, each shot relating to a haiku on the physical card.

We took photos and recorded videos all over town, including my own apartment, Winona State University’s campus, outside of local businesses, and more, each one a core point to the stepping stones of the message of the project.


Post Processing

Once I had all the content, I started editing as soon as possible.

I used Premiere to cut the videos down to only the best parts, Photoshop to adjust the look of the photos and videos as well as creating video loops, and After Effects to put it all together and add in various effects, intro/outro, and the music

Final Version

The final cut of this video was comprised of 5 cinemagraphs that tell the story of a college student adapting to life on campus, and understanding why we now comply with COVID-19 guidelines that were put in place to keep things safe. Each cinemagraph is paired with a haiku found on the physical card, and is ended with a text transition effect that relates to the topic of the next part. 

The Final Result

In the end, this project was in the top 5 projects chosen to be in the final round for the client to choose from. In the end it was not chosen as the winning project, but the comment was made that this was a great out-of-the-box solution to this project, and was something they had never seen before. 

Because of that, I still consider this project a success in my own way. It was an opportunity for me to explore new technologies and mediums I never had before, as well as being chosen as a finalist meant that even while exploring uncharted design territory, I can still create projects that are not only aesthetically beautiful but that also get a core message across to the viewer.