Monday, January 9, 2012
Two Westminster College broadcast communications majors worked with faculty in Westminster's Department of Communication Studies, Theatre and Art to produce a promotional music video for JD Eicher & the Goodnights, an acoustic rock band that includes three Westminster alumni.
Juniors Joe Ligo and Andrea Tice undertook the project as part of a video production course taught by Bradley Weaver, Westminster broadcast and digital communications lecturer.
Ligo and Tice wrote, directed, and produced the four-and-a-half-minute video to announce the Jan. 7 release of "Easy," JD Eicher & the Goodnights' newest single from the album Shifting. The band includes Westminster alumni J.D. Eicher '09 on vocals and guitar; Ryan Kirk '09 on drums and percussion; and Dan Prokop '07 on keyboard. Completing the band is Jim Merhaut on bass.
The video includes stop-motion animation, a required project element that Weaver added after teaching a digital photography and moviemaking cluster course last spring with Kurt Roscoe, Westminster assistant professor of media art and consultant on the video. More than 900 digital still photos taken during an eight-hour photo shoot were edited to about 90 seconds of animation in the final product.
"Joe is an enterprising young professional with a creative eye," Weaver said. "He made the perfect partner for Andrea, who was in the cluster course, as they teamed up with J.D. and the band. They made an outstanding team to collaborate with up-and-coming musicians who have worked professionally with other music video producers on previous songs."
Lighting was the biggest challenge of the project, according to Ligo. "The broadcast major typically focuses on news, which is filmed in the studio where the lights are built in and it's OK if interview subjects aren't perfectly well-lit," he said. "However, we were filming the video in an office building and had to do all our own lighting. If camera angles changed, we had to change all the lights." In spite of the attention to details during shooting, Ligo and Tice spent hours adjusting colors on the computer to get everything to match in the final version.
Ligo found the process to be a great learning experience. "I used to think filming and editing were the most time-consuming parts of the process," he said. "But for this project, we spent as much time planning before the production and finishing the final product as we did filming the actual video. The final result was a very polished product but it required a big commitment. The biggest thing I learned is that you can't get by with creativity alone. Hard, precise work is needed to come up with a professional video."
"We had a lot of fun with this music video," Eicher said. "Our music tends to be more on the serious side. ‘Easy' is one of our more light-hearted songs and the video shows a more whimsical side of the band. I really enjoyed the stop-motion animation elements that help visualize the song's theme of things piling up in our lives."
"This collaboration is part of a continuing relationship that Ryan, Dan, and I have as alumni," Eicher added. "To be able to get together with current students and do something like this is really awesome."
"I wasn't sure what I was signing off on because I didn't know what stop-motion was or how it's done," Prokop said. "It's really cool to have it back and forth in the video with the band. I think it gives it a really creative edge."
Weaver is pleased with the creativity and professionalism of the project, especially since Ligo and Tice had to keep it simple with a $0 budget. He appreciates Eicher's support, suggestions, and constructive criticism.
"When I asked J.D. to offer his assessment for Andrea and Joe's grade, I gave him a scale of 1 (‘we don't want to use it') to 5 (‘it's polished and professional and we'll post it for the world to watch')," Weaver said. "J.D. insisted the team receive a 10."
Ligo is a son of Jesse and Amy Ligo of Mercer and a graduate of Mercer Area High School.
Tice of New Castle is a student in Westminster's Lifelong Learning Program.
Weaver, who has been with Westminster since 2000, earned an undergraduate degree from Alderson-Broaddus College and a master's degree from the University of Kansas. He is enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.