Music Video Class Offered by Media Arts Department

Fabiola Prieto

At last, the music video production class promised last semester was brought by popular demand. After two years of planning within the visual and performing arts division, MA 117 has come to fruition.
In this class, as explained in its syllabus, “Students will gain experience in camera operation, sound recording, and video editing as they relate to the production of music videos.”

In their second week, students seem eager to begin their projects; long discussions are triggered when topics such as the artist’s essence and style come up. This is all part of the pre-production process.

The students are to “crew up” into three groups (depending on the turn out of students), and “Whoever brings the [musician] will be the director or have a say on who the director will be,” said Michael Pitts, media arts professor.

Pitts has worked at GCC for twelve years, and teaches concurrently at Pierce College. He has directed more than 10 music videos from different parts of the world, and was the creator of a show from the early nineties called: Jazzin’ America; where he featured various Jazz and R&B artists.
This particular class is experimental; it’s still uncertain whether one session is sufficient to end up with a quality piece, but Pitts is hopeful and the media arts department is ready to provide students with all the resources necessary to accomplish it.

“Everybody in the crew has to be on the same page,” said Pitts. Such production relies of the organization and willingness of all to do their part. Although the students will vote on the song each crew will be working with, the result will be a duplication of an already produced video. The student’s job is to find a similar artist or band and re-enact all the shots. According to Pitts, this will facilitate the process by giving these potential producers a solid base and allowing time to concentrate on the shooting and editing part.

GCTV, the school’s studio and Macintosh-equipped laboratory, along with cameras, sound-recording tools, software, and knowledgeable instructors are available to those who undertake the challenge (as long as they abide by with the school’s rules and regulations). This class is only open to students who have taken Media Arts 101, which is the introductory video production class that Pitts also teaches.

During class meeting, students seem comfortable in this new mission; they’re familiar enough with the professor to mix lecture, jokes, and family matters in the 3 hours and 23 minutes that they’ll be meeting each week.

At this point they’re in the research process, and they resort to a projection of Youtube in the media arts laboratory. They watch the beginning sequence of the Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night,” Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” music video, and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
“That’s a classic! That transcends time. Why?” Pitts asks about “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Again, a discussion bursts -the average student here has clearly been touched by the MTV generation. Do they have the answer? Perhaps not, but they’ve taken the first step toward tapping into a potential passion.

“The biggest challenges will be working with the musicians and narrowing down to a single song [per team],” said Pitts. His 35 years of teaching experience give him confidence, but this is a collaborative effort and it is up to the students to come together and cook up a musical masterpiece – or at least something well done.

For more information on this class and the Media Arts Program e-mail Mike Petros at [email protected], Michael Pitts at [email protected] or visit the Media Arts department in SG335.