Music and Cameras – A Fruitful Collaboration

by Teresa Lynch

This past Friday, Studio 5 on the ground floor of the Radio-TV played host to 60 musicians from the Jacobs School of Music (JSoM), JSoM audio engineering students, and students enrolled in the T436 Multi Camera Performance Production (MCPP) course.

An MCPP student operates a camera during the orchestral performance of Bohemian Rhapsody

An MCPP student operates a camera during the orchestral performance of Bohemian Rhapsody

The reason this creative bunch descended on Studio 5? To collaboratively record a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody for orchestra – originally by Queen, but arranged and conducted by JSoM student Nick Hersh.

“[The T436 students] have spent a lot of time in the Musical Arts Center working, but not in the studio. Recording 60 musicians in Studio 5 and interfacing with an audio crew and the musicians was pretty challenging. I basically just facilitated communication and kept everything moving along,” said Matt Falk, the course’s AI.

“There’s a fun dynamic in the class because we’re working with John [Walsh] and Konrad [Strauss] from the music school and a couple of the directors from over there and all of our teaching styles and attitudes are really different. John’s a problem solver, but without being in people’s faces. Konrad is the director of the audio program and he’s really laid back. Then there’s me and I’m constantly freaking out trying to prevent mistakes,” said Matt with a laugh.

This is the first semester our department has offered this course. Dreamed up by John and Konrad, the course draws on each program’s area of expertise to create a collaborative course between Telecommunications and JSoM. “When you’re in the audio production program in Jacobs, you have to spend 80 hours a semester doing professional work like running sound to maintain your enrollment,” said Matt. “[The JSoM] has been doing these live streams of operas to the internet for a few years now – Konrad pioneered that – and it’s pretty cool, they get hundreds of thousands of viewers all around

MCPP students working diligently on the live production

MCPP students working diligently on the live production in Studio 5

the world tuning in.” The problem was that many of the positions for these live-streaming events involved camera work, assistant director, and other non-audio roles that didn’t give beneficial hands on experience for audio production students. “We have students [in Telecom] who know switching, who know camera work, who want professional experience to build their resumes and put on their demo reel. We also have advanced students who want experience directing, but don’t have opportunities. [The JSoM students] don’t want to do those parts, so the course covers these events and gives everyone more applicable opportunity,” said Matt.

The students not only do the live recordings, they also provide supplementary materials on the internet such as 3-5 minute vignettes with historical information about the productions or auxiliary content such as interviews with cast and crew of the productions. The collaboration has improved the production quality of the recorded performances making them distributable and of value to the undergraduate students’ demo reels. For Matt, the teaching experience of working with the students on a professional quality production has been invaluable. “It’s really awesome that [the Telecom department and JSoM] went out on a limb with this collaboration because it’s risky. There’s a lot of money and time invested and it’s all stamped with the JSoM brand. If something goes wrong, it’s on us as the instructors because the students are there to learn, but everyone’s really come together to make something we’re all proud of.”

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