NASA Valentines <3
Creatives at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland, love to tell a story. From the scientist, to the producer to the science writer, we all work together to tell the public very complicated science information in a relatable way.
This task can be a tricky one.
The story behind the NASA Valentines has two components. First, we wanted to create “lovable” messages to teach the public about the different sciences we study. Second, we wanted to develop a project that emphasized collaborative storytelling between the missions in heliophysics, astrophysics, space technology, planetary and Earth.
What better way to do it than by showing some love?
Bringing this project to fruition took a lot of communication. For the last two years, I served as the project's design lead. As a member of the Goddard Social Media team, I coordinated with social leads in different divisions to come up with a design plan. Together we came up with a list of sayings and storyboards. Graphics included everything from simple stills to interactive gifs.
The result was a branded project that included the creative input of 12 people and a lot of cross-collaboration between missions that looking for ways to communicate together.
The Goal of the NASA Valentines was divided into two objectives.
1. Engagement: To teach our audience about NASA science in digestible graphics with links to free material for download through NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio. We gave away the graphics for free. On social media channels, like NASA Goddard streams, we took the time to publish the graphics while explaining what our center studies.
2. Inclusive Storytelling: To encourage cross-collaboration between different aress of study.
For example, with the eclipse Valentines, The NASA Moon and NASA Sun accounts sent messages to each other showing love for the event.
The NASA Earth, NASA Moon and NASA Sun accounts also worked back and forth with creative messaging. Members of the NASA JPL team in California as well as NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., also collaborated with Goddard, creating similar Valentines in our style guidelines. What resulted was a Valentine generator for people to send e-cards.
As a science agency, our goal is to share our research with the world. NASA was an early adopter of creative storytelling and new ways of doing so. Through social media, our creative team is encouraged to think of new ways to engage with the public, while inspiring new generations of science innovators.
To complete each of the designs, I used a variety of Adobe Software:
Illustrator: I used Illustrator to create planets, stars and custom backgrounds. For many images, including the Moon and Earth animations, I took photos taken and turned them into custom animation layers.
Adobe After Effects: I took the layers from Photoshop and Illustrator and imported them into After Effects to add animation movement such as circular motions, flying and blasting stars. I used the graph editor to ensure movement looked natural.
Photoshop: I used Photoshop to generate gifs from exported movie files. I also used the program to work on lighting and shading to some of the graphics.
Impact and Experience
Overall, the experience of creating NASA Valentines was collaborative, exciting and positive. On social media, the messages helped generate hundreds of conversations about science in areas like ice, the Moon and how the Sun works. Goddard’s social media team took those questions and helped provide answers. The posts were shared numerous times and were used by other NASA agencies around the country.
NASA headquarters saw the imagery and also used the graphics to promote science conversation. With a following of over 30 million on Twitter and Facebook, the messages were able to go further. The Valentines were also adapted for Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook platforms.
Other centers emailed me directly and asked for branding guidelines to create their own cards. There’s already talk of how to create new Valentines for 2020.