Stout students make music video for They Might Be Giants

UW-Stout News

Students shown with the characters they created for a music video for They Might Be Giants. From left are Amanda Nordman, Samantha Belhumer, Matt Patten, Ava Broscoff and Taylor Hewitt.
Students shown with the characters they created for a music video for They Might Be Giants. From left are Amanda Nordman, Samantha Belhumer, Matt Patten, Ava Broscoff and Taylor Hewitt. Image: Ursula Murray Husted

Going into their animation class last fall, University of Wisconsin-Stout entertainment design majors knew they would be assigned the obvious — an animation project or two.

Then they learned from Assistant Professor Ursula Murray Husted exactly what their main assignment would be: In groups, they would be creating animated music videos for a nationally recognized alternative band, They Might Be Giants.

The idea to use the class to collaborate with a band came from Husted. “I’m always looking for ways to get my students more involved in their projects and thought that making music videos for a real band would be a fun challenge,” she said.

Husted contacted a couple of bands, and They Might Be Giants liked the idea. They Might Be Giants has won two Grammy Awards and sold more than four million records since forming in 1982.

The band had a new album, “Nanobots,” and not only agreed to let UW-Stout students create a music video but proposed a contest: The best animated video from four teams in the class would be named the official music video for that song.

Each team was assigned a different song from “Nanobots.”

Suddenly, students realized that their assignment had the potential to go far beyond the classroom. “The band offering to make one of our music videos official was really exciting, but it also left a lot of pressure for us to do a good job,” said student Samantha Belhumer, of Rochester, Minn.

The extra incentive was just what Husted had in mind. “It was really exciting to see how the students threw themselves into the project,” she said.

The five students on the winning team worked on all aspects of the video, but they also had specific duties: Belhumer led character design; Amanda Nordman, of Cottage Grove, Minn., was the director; Matt Patten, of West Bend, was lead animator; Ava Broscoff of Howard Lake, Minn., was lead storyboard artist; and Taylor Hewitt, of Wisconsin Rapids, was environment designer.

In the winning video for “Sometimes a Lonely Way,” creatures resembling a fairy and an armadillo go about their daily lives while trying to avoid being eaten by giant vampire bats. True to the song’s title and lyrics, the video conveys a sense that life can be lonely, harsh and unforgiving despite its inherent beauty and promise.

On Feb. 16 the band tweeted the same day, the band said “Bravo! to UW-Stout entertainment design folk who made this original and amazing video to ‘Sometimes a Lonely Way.”

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