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May 3, 2010
William Inman, 404-413-1355
Matt Rowles figured, at the least, the IndieATL music video series would provide graduate students in the film, video and digital imaging program some hands-on experience working on a professional shoot. He didn't expect the project, a collaboration between GSU's Digital Arts and Entertainment Lab and the university's student-run radio station, WRAS 88.5 FM, to evolve into an Internet sensation.
For the series, produced entirely by GSU staff and students, Rowles, digital media coordinator at the DAEL, teams with the staff at WRAS to bring in emerging musicians or bands to film a music video in the DAEL studio.
The concept is simple, but since the project began three years ago, it has gained serious traction online. Rowles said the videos have received more than 300,000 views on the various sites where they are hosted.
"People will take the videos and embed them into their own websites and blogs," he said. "We're averaging 800 views a day from all over the world."
The bands typically perform three or four songs for the video segment, then the mastered audio tracks are given to WRAS for radio play.
"It's a win-win for everybody," Rowles said. "For our students, it's a multi-camera shoot - they're involved in many different disciplines including multi-track recording and multi-camera editing."
Local, national and international acts have visited the DAEL studios, and the bands certainly have something to do with the project's success. The Black Lips have participated, as have other Atlanta favorites including Anna Kramer and the Selmanaires. Rowles said sometimes they're also able to work in higher profile national acts - such as Robyn Hitchcock, who was backed by R.E.M.'s Peter Buck during his IndieATL performance - that are on tour and in town for another performance. So far, they've filmed more than 35 performers.
"We also use it as a recruitment tool, and so far, we've had an increase in applicants to the master's program," Rowles said.
Steven Swigart, one of a handful of graduate students working on the project, said that it is exactly what attracted him to the program.
"It's fun, first of all, and I'm proud to be working on it," Swigart said. "I'm also getting experience with some of best equipment out there."
Rowles said the students operate professional studio, high-definition cameras using tapeless workflows - meaning the cameras record the video onto digital cards, which, Rowles said, helps to save time during post production. The DAEL also employs a "jib arm," a large boom device with a camera mount that creates the series' sweeping camera pans.
The filming process is very much like a television-style shoot, Rowles said, so it exposes the students to another form of video production.
"Working on this project also teaches us about sound production, which is also beneficial," said Swigart, who was the cinematographer for the grand prize winning commercial for the Georgia Lottery's "Powerball: Lights, Camera, Action" contest.
The grad students also get direction and encouragement from graduates of the program who come back to assist the crew during shoots.
"It's a good opportunity for us to work with recent graduates and get help or advice on our other projects," said Christopher Escobar.
For the radio station, it has been a means to increase their own music rotation as well as bolster their soon-to-be-unveiled streaming broadcast content.
"The project has worked out really well for us, and it's been really great working with Matt and his team over there," said Adam "Bomb" DeVore, general manager at WRAS - the largest student-programmed radio station in the country. "We get on-air content, and we put some songs into rotation, but most importantly, we're going to be increasing our web presence."
DeVore said the station is in the midst of finalizing their streaming broadcast feature.
To watch the videos and learn more, visit http://indieatl.com.