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2018 in video: Ken Fagan

For ASU Now videographer, finding both the drama and the heart is the key to a good story

ASU Now videographer Ken Fagan takes video of a revolver
December 28, 2018

Thinking visually, communicating that way, is an opportunity for me to show you how I view the world. I really care about the stories I tell and how I present them, and I hope you get something out of the telling.

This past year I started collaborating with University Archivist Rob Spindler on a new series that takes a place or object on our campuses and tells you the history behind it. Every so often you will see a “Hidden in Plain Sight” video that will hopefully clarify something you have always wondered about on your campus (such as the Philomathian seat or how a gym hosted a very famous Jimi).

Our features look at both the past and the future of ASU. Here are some of the top stories this year compressed into two minutes:

And here's a closer look at some of my favorite stories of 2018. 

Delving into a piece of Arizona history: Pleasant Valley War

In the late 1880s and early 1890s in Pleasant Valley (now Young, Arizona), residents were on constant alert over cattle rustling and attacks, leading to a high level of stress and wariness that boiled over into violence and massacre. Eduardo Obregón Pagán, Bob Stump Endowed Professor of History at ASU, released a book, "Valley of the Guns," analyzing the trauma of the Pleasant Valley War. We explored both his book and the history behind it.

This video production included: many different sound effects, discovery of old photographs in the ASU archives, the use of a replica Colt 45 peacemaker pistol, on-location video production in Pleasant Valley, a visit to the gravesites of some of the victims and a whole lot of imagination. Pagán is a great historian, who has written an insider’s view of how situations can be blown out of proportion and end badly, very quickly.

A man and his Thunderbird

After Chris Ames’ 1956 Ford Thunderbird continued to overheat at slow speeds (as did every other '55,'56 or '57 T-bird), he decided to do something about it. He returned to ASU to take a thermal dynamics course to try to correct the problem. He succeeded through research and redesign of a specific part attached to the water pump. His new part, A432, will be available for purchase in the near future. Ames is a go-getter who didn’t let age or retirement get in the way of going back to school and taking an engineering course at ASU to solve a problem that had been plaguing a classic car for over 60 years. He is a very nice person who persisted till he succeeded, something we all should aspire to.

Recycled banners and a very cool jobs program

The ASU bookstore began selling bags created from recycled banners used on all of ASU’s campuses. The bags are produced here in Tempe at the fashion incubator FABRIC. Not only is it an example of the university assessing the use of materials through their entire lifecycle, but also a way to extend the life of discarded materials to provide useful products to the public. More importantly, this project provided jobs through a FABRIC program that teaches young adults with disabilities how to sew, work as a team and produce a product for the market. The young adults creating these works of art are amazing. Along with their mentor, they are exceptional people.

A Fulbright Scholar and his passion for the desert

Eli Rafael Perez Ruiz, a Fulbright Scholar at ASU from Mexico, talks about his research on ecological and hydrological processes within deserts. Other than an amazing opportunity to join him at work in the beautiful desert south of Tucson, Arizona, it was also an opportunity to get to know an ingenious scholar who cares deeply about his research, his family and the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts.

Tell me your story

This job is a continual learning experience, nonstop. I haven’t even touched on all the possible stories out there and the different ways I can present them. With the help of our incredible teams at ASU Now and Media Relations and Strategic Communications, I look forward to trying new techniques and telling new stories. I want to hear about what makes your corner of ASU interesting, so send stories my way at Looking forward to hearing from you!

Top photo: ASU Now videographer Ken Fagan captures footage for his Pleasant Valley War video. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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