Since 2006, U.S. rock band The Killers have released a Christmas song for charity. This year, their “Christmas in L.A.” release was done in partnership with global not-for-profit (RED), with song proceeds going to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS.
With just three weeks to produce and release the song, including the accompanying music video, Killers frontman Brandon Flowers reached out to BYU alum and friend Jared Hess for ideas. Hess suggested BYU media arts and animation students for the job.
BYU animation program director Kelly Loosli saw this as a great opportunity. “Learning concepts is great, but there is nothing like a real production with a tight deadline and the possibility for broad viewership to inspire students to apply their knowledge and challenge them to approach video production in new ways,” says Loosli.
With juniors and seniors already committed to films, first-year animation students jumped in. “They are a very talented and passionate group. I knew they would be excited to take this on, give it the required energy, and deliver an outstanding video on time,” says Loosli. “Students were thrilled, especially because it was for the The Killers!”
Loosli helped put together a crew for the Los Angeles-based video shoot by calling on former BYU students and classmates in the industry. The team had one day to shoot the video, and three hours with Owen Wilson, the lead character.
BYU media arts and animation students worked on postproduction, combing over footage and transforming filmed elements into animations. Students used Adobe creative tools for the video, including Adobe Photoshop for backgrounds, Adobe After Effects for compositing and enhancing animation, Adobe Premiere Pro for editing, and Adobe Flash Professional for roto and animation work.
“Having to jump in and apply industry-standard applications to create the video not only strengthened students’ basic production skills, but also pushed them to learn to use the software in entirely new ways,” says Loosli. “The students also worked together in a collaborative lab space, where they could share concepts and approaches with each other in real time. The learning curve—and opportunity for learning—were tremendous.”
“Christmas in L.A.” can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=938GYJjxBeU.