OPB's Favorite Videos From 2017

By MacGregor Campbell (OPB) and John Rosman (OPB)
Dec. 14, 2017 2 p.m.

One thing's apparent with the videos OPB produced in 2017: we've gone a lot of places.

Digital videos took us to the unexpected: a rural haunted house, a nuclear waste storage site and even inside an oyster (we found plastic).


Our television programs explored the lasting impact of the Vietnam War, celebrated the Northwest's animation history and revealed culinary gold hidden in Oregon forests.

We've even travelled back in time: To early civilizations viewing a solar eclipse, an 1800s Battle of Two Thanksgivings, and to the 1960s where a Portland clown's TV show would later give birth to Krusty the Clown.

OPB's digital team dug through the videos produced over the past year to share some of our favorite's you might have missed.

Rusty Nails

Up until this year, we believed online videos had to be optimized for social feeds. We focused on short runtimes and a format that works with the sound off, like cooking videos and text-on-screen explainers. In 2017 our audience reminded us that while some of that is worth thinking about, ultimately format doesn’t matter: It’s about the story.

With this video about the Portland clown who inspired a popular Simpsons character, we ditched the text on-screen in favor of a real live person. We — digital producers John Rosman and MacGregor Campbell — wrote the script to sound more conversational and decided to experiment with an online voice similar to what you hear on radio. The video also combined physical archival material and motion graphics.

The video was a hit. It found a national audience and paved the way to a new (for us) approach to online video.

Summer Series

This summer, outdoors and environment mainstay "Oregon Field Guide" picked a number of summer-themed episodes from our archives to find new life on social media. The experiment rekindled the love for the OFG content.

A number of the videos, such as this profile of an ultra-light backpacker by Executive Producer Ed Jahn, were picked up on NPR’s Facebook feed, sharing the glory of summer in the Northwest with an international audience.

Charlie Haughey / Vietnam

This year, OPB's "Oregon Experience" produced an in-depth documentary detailing the history of Oregonians in the Vietnam War.

The 90-minute documentary made compelling television, with The Oregonian/OregonLive calling it "intimate and … immediate." We wanted to find a way to get some of these emotional stories in front of online viewers.


OPB producer Danika Sandoz, along with the show’s producers Nadine Jelsing and Kami Horton, did just that by recreating moving stories from the narrative into standalone vignettes.

This story of an Oregon photographer struck a chord with our online audience.

Ocularist Fred Harwin

Eric Slade’s profile of a prosthetic eyeball painter for Oregon Art Beat showed that what works on TV, can work just as well online — if the story's right. This story of an artist committed to his unusual craft resonated with viewers.

Outdoor Anomalies: Sea Pickles And Microplastics

Two environment stories found massive success online this year. Cassandra Profita’s exploration of bizarre, pickle-shaped creatures showing up in Oregon’s coastal waters, for Oregon Field Guide, combined gorgeous videography with a good old-fashioned science mystery.

And EarthFix’s Ken Christensen's look at the complex topic of microplastics, in an imaginative visual form. But stories resonated both in the Northwest and with national audiences. Christensen's story racked up the most views in OPB’s history.

Digital First: 2017 Eclipse And Timber Jim

As a digital team, we aim to create original digital-first videos that hopefully push OPB into topics, stories and angles that we’d otherwise miss.

MacGregor Campbell’s timely historical look at the 2017 solar eclipse found the core meaning of a headline-grabbing event.

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John Rosman’s emotional profile of an iconic Portland sports figure showed the heart of what can be great about sports, a topic OPB rarely covers.

Our New Year’s resolution for 2018: continue to create videos that pull you out of the digital noise and tap into what is essential about life in the Pacific Northwest.

Keep up with the latest on Facebook and opb.org/video.