In late 2012, Blake Morgan (2013’s Student Head of Television and Media) dreamed big. Having seen other organisations promoting themselves through lip dup videos, he pondered whether St Andrew’s College could do the same. After some initial planning of a possible route around the campus and identifying some potential songs, the project was shelved until 2013 because of time constraints.
From this initial planning however, some important realisations were made, notably that the size of the campus made it too difficult to complete the whole shoot in a single shot. Consequently, the decision was made to split the filming into three separate sections which would make the process logistically easier. The College had developed a promotional video in 2012 called “Feel the Spirit” and Blake was keen to create a new video that was designed and influenced more by students.
At the outset, Blake had a clear and somewhat ambitious goal: exceed the ~5,000 views of the “Feel the Spirit” video, and the resulting “This is Us” lip dub achieved that within a few months, currently sitting at ~14,000 views at the time of writing:
This amazing project did not just miraculously fall into place and significant planning and communication from Blake and his team contributed to this successful outcome.
The first steps was to take his idea to the Director of Communications, Mrs Francesca Eathorne, to see if she would support a student video replacing the “Feel the Spirit” promotion. After receiving her endorsement, along with that of the Rector, Blake wrote a letter to staff outlining what he was attempting to do and a time table of the day the filming would take place. He then presented this to them at a staff meeting as well so they had an opportunity to hear first hand what was being attempted.
The critical message was there was only one take on this – to reduce the potential disruption to classes, the filming had to be completed in one session meaning at most, two takes would be achieved, with no chance to rehearse. The filming team then had to co-ordinate the necessary resources:
- A helicopter that would take off in the final scene, rising up to provide an aerial shot of the students on the College grounds
- A professional camera operator to help with some of the filming
- A steady cam rig that would stabilise the image being filmed whilst the camera operator ran around the campus
- Lighting from the TV Studio
- A video camera owned by one of the Media teachers
- Portable speakers to play the sound track so students could accurately lip-synch to the song.
- The TV studio for the editing of the footage, mostly Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects
- 20 fellow students who would be helping with the filming, lighting, sound and co-ordination of the students and staff.
The actual filming went remarkably smoothly, given the scale of the project and the lack of rehearsals. Some challenges were experienced however, notably the over exposure of some of the first scenes shot, but Blake and the camera operator were able to adjust this for the remaining scenes after a quick review of footage between sections. Additionally, co-ordinating the junior students was not easy, and the decision to film them essentially playing in the playground made the most sense.
The editing of the raw footage was completed over the following fortnight and it was published to the St Andrew’s College YouTube Channel where it quickly went viral, being seen by current students, Old Collegians and even other Colleges around New Zealand that were keen to try and make their own equivalent lip dub promotional video.
When I chatted with Blake about this video, six months after it was published, he reflected on the things he was most proud about his involvement in this project. Very simply, they were that this was entirely the work of a student initiative and that it was accepted by the College leadership and seen as a valuable way of promoting St Andrew’s. He felt that the video “worked” because:
It shows who we, as students, are. It was not necessarily aimed at prospective parents who might be considering sending their students to St Andrew’s, instead it was aimed at other students or kids who might see it and think they want to be part of a school like that.