Graphics students provide play backdrop

Actors perform in front of a backdrop created by Media and Communications
students for the upcoming musical “Catch me if you can.”

The idea, in usual fashion, was brought to Samantha Green by the director of the show, Harry McEnerny. He wanted this spring’s upcoming musical to feature videos and animation in the background for the entire show.

This wasn’t the first time McEnerny had approached Green to ask for videos or projections for a show. She had already made some for “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” and “American Idiot.” But this was one of the first times Green had been given a lot of creative freedom.

She took the project over to the Motion Graphics and Animation class, taught by Andrew Wilson. A class she was already a part of.

“Andrew told his class, like; we have a real client with real needs and deadlines and then I turned around because I’m dramatic,” Green said with a laugh.

The class took it and ran.

“My initial reaction to the project was positive. I was excited to be able to work on something that would serve a purpose,” said class member Katie Saunders. “The fact that it was going to be seen by numerous students was something that really pushed me to work even harder on the project.”

The students have been working on this for a little over three weeks now and they’re very excited to see their own creations on stage for all the students to see. But they also couldn’t have done it without Green and Wilson along the way to help, and more importantly, trust them.

“I think it’s really cool that Sam thought to collaborate and incorporate a class,” said student Molly Marcy. “Like she’s actually trusting us.”

Marcy is working on the Airport, Dive Bar, and Frank’s Home scenes.

“Yeah, I have my degree, I graduated, but you’re all here to learn and get experience,” said Green.

She also has one student from the Video 1 class helping to create some of the videos being used in the show.

Wilson, the professor of the course, has allowed a lot of creative freedom with the projects as well.

“Sam and I just gave them the look, feel and style and then I let them do it on their own,” he said.

The work hasn’t been easy though. There was one particular hang-up on a revolving door animation. According to Wilson, the software they are using, Adobe After Effects, is a 2D animation program. Revolving doors would need to be made to look 3D, meaning they would need to look like they are using the Z-axis, not just the X and Y.

“It’s possible to manipulate 2D animations to look 3D, but I just couldn’t make it believable,” he said. “As soon as somebody notices the effect, it’s no good anymore.”

But it will all be worth it when the students get to see their work go up this week for the show.

“I am very excited to see the stuff I’ve made on the stage! I hope that all my hard work shows to both the audience and the production members,” Saunders said. “It is something I wouldn’t mind working on again in the future if I had the time.”

And Green said their work could be a way to boost the audience.

“People who may not have had a reason to come to the show, can now come and bring their friends to the show and be like, ‘hey I made that rat go across the dirty room,’” Green said.

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