Combine a music video project with the University of Colorado Denver College of Arts & Media Design Studio 3 class, student-run CAM Records, and local community bands and you never know what you’re going to come up with.
Two years ago, it was zombies.
“One of our student production groups was assigned to the band MTHDs,” recalls Michelle Bauer Carpenter, assistant professor, Digital Design. “The video concept the students pitched had a three deep, moving storyline. But, the band wasn’t interested. They only wanted to do a video with Zombies. So, the group brilliantly transformed their pitch, using zombies as a metaphor for the human condition. In it, the zombies do good deeds and it is quite spectacular to watch.”
That kind of collaboration and real-world experience is exactly what Carpenter had in mind when she started the annual fall course four years ago. It’s what makes this class invaluable to her Digital Design and Transmedia students and it’s what makes this year’s world-premiere FREE music video event, on Dec. 13, a must-see. Six brand-new videos will be screened at Crossroads Theatre, and three of the groups will perform live including CAM’s own nationally acclaimed Mix a cappella. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the program set to run from 7 to 9 p.m.
Creating the videos requires Carpenter’s students to understand and assume the roles of director, producer and/ or cinematographer. They take the project from the pre-production planning stages, pitching concepts to the bands (their “clients”) and scouting locations, to the actual taping of the video, ending with post-production including multiple edits, inserting graphics, and sweetening audio. Then, when it’s perfect, it’s on to the premiere.
Carpenter describes her role as an instructor, creative consultant, and executive producer. “Overseeing student projects can be stressful. This project teaches the importance of meeting deadlines, and being innovative when solving design problems. You always need a Plan B and sometimes a C and a D! When the videos are finally screened I am always proud of the students and their dedication to the project.”
But, as intense as the 10 weeks are, Carpenter’s students couldn’t complete their project without another group of dedicated students from CAM Records. Led by Storm Gloor, assistant professor, Music & Entertainment Industry Studies, CAM Records goes out and finds the groups, handles the contracts, the business issues and all the communications. “Instead of simply sitting in a classroom and imagining what it might be like to go out and do all this, these 10 students work with actual artists, supporting them by applying the skills they’ve learned in our courses,” says Gloor. “I think the students are surprised to find out how busy artists are and how much has to be considered when writing contracts.”
The artists selected and signed by the CAM Records students — and featured in this year’s music videos by the Design Studio 3 class — sing about obsession, a man’s journey through life, and family and friendship.
But they don’t sing about zombies. At least not that we know of!
(Photo: Local band deCollage and their song “Lady Antiquity” is featured in a new music video produced by CU Denver’s Design Studio 3 class.)