We live in a time when social media “engagement” means mere seconds of interaction. A look, a like, a share, even a comment – basically a digital twitch.
So how did Adobe get Adam Henderson to spend more than 40 hours on “Make the Cut,” a video-editing contest to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Premiere Pro? Okay, the grand prize of $25,000, which Henderson won, didn’t hurt. Before that, though, it was also a chance to edit a new music video for the band Imagine Dragons. And it turns out the reward emerged before Henderson learned last week that he had beat out 9,000 other contestants. (See his winning entry above).
“It’s such a surreal validation. It’s been such an amazing process that I do feel like I’m probably better I what I do,” says Henderson, who edits videos for a living near Dallas, Tex. “But even if I hadn’t won it I would still feel that, since I took all that footage and created something that made sense.”
Here was the premise. Adobe teamed up with the rock band Imagine Dragons to shoot raw video for their new single, “Believer.” Contestants had from March 14 to April 8 to take the footage and edit together a music video no longer than 4 minutes. Fans would have their say, and there were subcategories to win that paid between $1,000 and $2,500, but a group of professional editors picked Henderson’s grand prize winning video.
“He really expanded the footage in a creative way, which allowed him to maximize each frame,” says Vinnie Hobbs, a judge who has edited music videos for Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, Drake and many more. “That was really smart and it takes a storyteller’s mind to do that.”
In all, Adobe conservatively estimates that more than 180,000 hours of editing time accrued during the contest. That’s nearing a year’s worth of time spent in less than one month.
“On average, it can take about 15-20 hours to edit a music video,” says Adobe Chief Marketing Officer Ann Lewnes, “so we wanted to give our fans enough time – 25 days – to create their cut. And of course, the 25-day time limit paid homage to 25 years of Premiere Pro, allowing editors to really get hands-on with the product.”
That level of engagement has some quality symbolism for a software company that has outlasted many competitors. The company has weathered its own demands for change, including the move to Creative Cloud and away from discrete software sales.