More than 100 students from the Farmington High School 2019 senior class having been spending a lot of their time recently putting together a "lip dub" video — the first of its type in the area.
Mindy Southern, innovation and communications director for the Farmington R-VII School District, along with her assistant Christian Campbell, oversees the students producing content for Black Knight TV (BKTV) at the high school.
According to Southern, the unique video is the senior project for the TV production students.
“This is a final project for our TV 3 and 4 class,” she said. “Ethan Buerck, Maria Harris, Ryan Fuemmeler, Xavier Hamblin and Javan Koderick are in that class and they have been organizing this for about the past two-and-a-half months. Basically their goal is to start from beginning to end in the whole production process of the 'lip dub' video — organize all the talent, put a script together for everyone and communicate to everyone. It’s kind of their culminating project for the year. We incorporated just the senior class this time around, because it was a pretty big undertaking. Think sort of like ‘High School Musical’ production.”
The process is called a ‘lip dub’ video because the students appearing in it are singing and performing to the music, but the finished audio is added later in the studio editing process.
“Javan was there with the music,” Southern said. “A big part of it was that the music that was playing will not actually be in the final cut. We will have a clean cut of the song. It was important that we had a loudspeaker so that all the people could hear the music and sing it to the right beat, so that we can match it up in post-production.”
Putting together such a large group of people and props for the video took considerable time and effort and challenged the student’s production abilities. Shoulded with that responsibility was Ethan Buerck who was put in charge of the overall layout and coordinating all the elements involved in shooting the video.
“The hardest thing was organizing it,” he said. “We knew when we came in that we had the idea. We found the song, [but] we didn’t know where we were going from there. We started with a form to fill out for where do people want to be in the video and that really helped us. While we didn’t have people where we originally assigned them to, it gave us a good spot to where we were able to plug people in.
“There were difficulties at first, we didn’t know the path we were going to take. We tried several different things before we ended up with what we got. After that we just drew it up and started walking through it — and it just kind of clicked.”
Southern said, “Ryan blocked out the original portions of it. This is where I think we should be at this part of the song. The rest of these guys helped with organizing all of it into place and they also just kept everything going.”
Maria Harris explained the evolution of the video production from the original concept to the final shoot.
“Things went away from our original plan,” she said. “But as far as our groundwork, we really had a good foundation to work with, which was nice.”
Southern asked, “What were some of the things you did in that groundwork?”
Harris said, “A lot of it was just trying to get people excited about it. So, we went to all the seniors at seminars and tried to get people to fill out the form, tell us where they wanted to be and who they wanted to be with.
It was something totally new and people heard it and thought it sounded lame, but I think once we got in there — got to filming — a lot of people had fun with it. A lot of dividing up music, walking the plan. Credit to all the lead people and everyone on the site. They came up with all that themselves. We didn’t guide them.”
Southern explained that the students' video production responsibilities were in addition to completing their regular classwork and taking care of the normal production schedule for BKTV.
“This crew of people also are in charge of helping us run after school events, so this is not all they have worked on for the past two and a half months,” she said. “They have to work sporting events after school. They edit different projects that we have going on like announcements, news — they anchor things for us.”
The physical work of shooting the video was undertaken by student photographer Ryan Fuemmeler who faced a few challenges in shooting the event.
“This was a big undertaking for a high school photographer,” Southern said. “One of the things he had to do was walk backwards the whole time. Xavier Hamblin was his guide in all that.”
Fuemmeler said, “The hardest part was walking backwards, making sure not to fall and to make sure I was steady with the camera. I had one mess up during rehearsal — I stepped on a balloon and tripped — but other than that, there really wasn’t anything that was too hard. I had to make my way down some ramps and turn around and walk up some stairs.”
As guide, Xavier Hamblin's job was to provide a clear path to prevent the photographer from falling over objects or colliding with people when walking backwards filming the video.
Once the shoot is finished, the lengthy process of post-production, or editing, begins. The team has to make decisions as to what scenes and takes are used, along with “dubbing” in the soundtrack used for the video. Southern noted that the crew would be in the editing lab for around a week to finish the video.
“We will all be in this editing lab together, discussing the editing process," she said. "We’re going to put together 'a making of the video' as well, so that we can share that with people. We watched several of those to prepare for this — how to make the video and learned several techniques that we should be using. People from Q Creative came in and volunteered their time to work with us.”
Q Creative is a professional multimedia production company based in St. Charles, Illinois. Krista Aders and Josh Massey volunteered their professional advice to the students for the shoot.
According to Southern, the video is expected to be around four minutes in length when the editing is finished.
“You would think four minutes is not that long," she said. In the planning process four minutes can be an eternity. A couple hours of rehearsal. Today we laid out three hours of time to actually film and they did excellent. We finished an hour early.
“They’re going to have the three minutes of video and they will put in the last part with the chant and roller coaster. We’re also going to have a blooper reel and some behind the scenes stuff.”
Buerck said, “I think it makes me respect bigger productions, too, on a whole other level. It’s only four minutes, but so much went into it. I can’t imagine filming an Avengers type of movie.”
Harris noted that they were planning to post it on the YouTube channel for BKTV Studios and that the school will be free to do all the social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Southern admitted that the original concept was to involve students in other grades, but due to the available resources and getting everyone to understand the idea behind it, they decided to use only the senior class.
“When I first went to them, they all looked at me like I was crazy," she said. "We were going to try it with the whole school. After we met with Q Creative, they said to try to scale it down, so we did the senior class. [High School Principal] Dr. LaMonds was very on board with it. We want to tell the administrators 'thank you,' because we can’t do something with horses and tractors and getting all the kids out of school without our administrators being 100 percent behind it.
“Next year the goal is to have every kid, cook, janitor and teacher — everyone — involved in the whole layout. We want to involve the whole school and make this a yearly tradition.”