Happy belated Easter, dear readers! Hope you enjoyed the gorgeous weather. I absolutely did! Exams are starting (ugh, I know), and unfortunately, I foresee lots of time spent cooped up in the library, looking forlornly out the window at the beautiful outside while trying to cram a year’s worth of polisci into my head.
Speaking of libraries, remember during Reading Week I was telling you about U of T’s first Library Video contest? I don’t know if you noticed, but the winners have been announced! There were seven finalists and three winners were chosen – a whopping 1,600 votes were cast in the process!
Margaret Wall, who organized the contest, graciously invited me to the awards ceremony at Robart’s last Wednesday and I got to talk with the three winners as well as one of the four runners-up.
When Margaret first told me about the contest, I was curious about how participants were going to balance editing videos with school work. In high school I had to make a trailer for the book we were reading in class (jsyk: Agatha Christie‘s And Then There Were None), and I spent hours and hours shooting the video, trying to get the audio overlaid, editing the effects… only to have my computer crash the morning it was due. I guess I’m not cut out to be a videographer either.
So I was surprised when the winners all told me that the videos were easy to make and didn’t take long to edit. Some were filmed using only their cell phones! Oh technology, ILU.
“I recorded the video at Graham Library in one day,” said Matthew Kupfer, a 4th-year history student. “I got the staff in on the joke; it was nice of them to sacrifice their Saturday morning for me.” Ben Gane, a 3rd-year political science student, agreed. “Luke, my brother, and I just came to Robarts one Sunday afternoon to film.”
What also surprised me was that three of the four winners learned about the contest through the posters and fliers distributed around the libraries. I thought most people would hear about it from the website. “Well, I basically live here at Robarts writing essays,” says Jonathan Ortiz, a 4th-year student studying fine arts history. “I saw the poster on the wall.” I thought Jonathan’s video was charming in its simplicity, using only a book cart and some books with text written on the spines. “I didn’t want to destroy the books, so I just used transparency paper. Actually, the hardest part of making the video was finding the cart to push around.”
I recognized most of the winners from their videos during the awards ceremony, but I couldn’t place Oscar Kisekka, until he told me that he only shot and edited the videos. His video was about a girl whose marks drastically improved after going to the library. The girl in the video, Nali, is a friend. Coincidentally, as he was talking I turned around and there she was, taking pictures for Oscar!
Matthew’s song in the video was actually a Shaft theme song parody and had the Graham Library staff going “Stacks!” and doing jazz hands at the chorus. “The song wrote itself,” Matthew said, “so after that, filming it was just finding all the right spots in the library – the nooks and crannies – and putting everything together.” The video looked pretty elaborate to me, with different cuts and edits. “It took about a day [to make]. I was pretty happy with it at the end. I just finished a big assignment, so it was a reward for myself.”
I adored Ben’s video, and it was one of the two that I voted for. It parallels the story of two students’ love for Robarts. I thought the stuffed owl in the video was a shout-out to Hedwig (Harry Potter’s snowy owl), but it wasn’t. “It’s just a stuffed owl my brother had,” Ben says, “Originally, we had another subject for the video planned, but the audio didn’t pan out, so we had to redo it with dubbed-over audio.” Intrigued, I asked him what the original was. “It was my brother playing some guy who likes to hide in the stacks and he thought he saw owls. He was supposed to be kind of crazy. Plus, my brother loves owls, so we had to work them in somehow.”
I concluded the interview by asking our winners if they had anything else to add, and Ben jumped in. “For the record, I don’t condone taking naps in the library; don’t follow my example in the video!”