Virtual campus tours take viewers to new heights

Prospective students can take a virtual tour with Baylor students as they explain the university’s traditions, campus life, academics and sense of community.
Prospective students can take a virtual tour with Baylor students as they explain the university’s traditions, campus life, academics and sense of community.
By Henry Eckels

The new virtual tours of Baylor’s campus as seen from the sky is meant to attract new students to the university and captivate those currently enrolled.

The Guided Virtual Tours, which were released just last week, comprise four videos that give tours of Baylor’s campus and tell real stories from the perspective of Baylor students.

The virtual tours guide views all parts of campus as seen from a helicopter.

Each of the four videos portrays a theme of life at Baylor and is narrated by a different Baylor student.

The guided virtual tours are designed to attract prospective students and inform them about the university, as well as remind alumni about their experiences.

It also reminds current students about on-campus opportunities.

The four videos present different aspects of Baylor life, highlighting topics such as class sizes, campus traditions, dorm life, student activities and study abroad opportunities.

Other features included from Baylor’s campus are The Baylor Marina, The Rock and the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat.

Ben Brune, the video production coordinator for Baylor Media Productions, filmed Baylor’s campus from the confines of a helicopter.

Brune said filming from the helicopter required him to make use of unfamiliar technology.

“The process was new to me,” Brune said. “We used a handheld mount to control the camera to collect nice and smooth aerials of the campus. For some of the footage we even used a remote-controlled hexacopter when we wanted to shoot a location on campus that we couldn’t do either on foot or in an actual helicopter.”

A hexacopter is a six-blade, remote control operated machine with camera connecting capabilities.

Brune said although the project had been in the works for more than a year, the actual shooting had to be postponed for months.

“We couldn’t shoot campus during the fall or winter season,” Brune said. “During that time Baylor looks grayer and deader than during the spring, so it wouldn’t look as appealing in the virtual tour.”

Niskayuna, N.Y., junior Nick Foreman said he thinks the virtual tours are attractive to both attending and prospective students.

“The helicopter views were really well done,” Foreman said. “They really put into perspective just how gorgeous our campus is in a way that you couldn’t perceive by simply standing on the ground.”

It is important to have a virtual campus tour video because of the age in which we live, Brune said.

“It is important because we’re now at a generation of students who have such great access to the Internet,” Brune said. “If a good virtual tour is the difference between whether or not a student is interested in going to Baylor, then we’ll make sure they have access to one.”

One of the virtual tour guides, Hardin senior Luke Russell, said the virtual tour guides will help attract students to Baylor whether they live in Texas or on the other side of the world.

“People involved in the making and communicating of the video tours, and those that post them on Facebook and Twitter have connections to people in other countries,” Russell said. “I think that when students from the other side of the world have access to these tours on the Internet and see Baylor’s beautiful campus, they’ll want to come here more.”

Another one of the tour guides, alumna Sarah Carr, said the virtual tour videos fulfill a crucial need that pictures and pamphlets cannot.

“Alot of prospective students don’t come to campus before applying, so these tour videos are important because they show Baylor from a bird’s eye view,” Carr said. “They also let prospective students hear stories from real students and give them a taste of what Baylor life is like.”

Waxahachie junior Ben Larson said he thinks the video tours’ aerial shots of campus alone would be enough to convince most high school students to become interested in attending Baylor.

“When you see the Baylor Sciences Building, Draper Academic Building and Pat Neff Hall in the evening light, that is enough to make any high school senior go ‘whoa, this campus is beautiful,’” Larson said. “The tour of campus alone is enough to make Baylor most high school students’ first choice.”