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September 11, 2014

Vevo Sparks Creativity for MFA students

Animators collaborate with Vevo

The Vevo Project was a creative collaboration between students of the John C. Hench Division of Animation and Digital Arts and Vevo, the online site that defines itself as a “cornerstone” that connects music, artists, and the listener.

Professors Mike Patterson and Candace Reckinger collaborated with Mike Ditomo, creative services director at Vevo to run the Vevo- funded class.

The goal of the project was two-fold: create short, original IDs for Vevo and at the same time give the students the experience of working professionally in a creative role. The collaboration was a perfect fit for SCA professors Michael Patterson and Candace Reckinger, who both have backgrounds in directing music videos for MTV including the ground-breaking animation for A-Ha’s Take on Me and Paula Abdul’s Opposites Attract. The project was also a perfect fit for the the philosophy of the USC animation program which values a broad spectrum of creative approaches and techniques.






The group began with conferences over Skype with Vevo and the students to define the concept and approach. Vevo creative director Mike Ditomo proposed the question, “What does music mean to you?” says Reckinger. The students worked individually and in teams to animate, edit and refine their pieces based on the critiques and advice from the Vevo executives and from each other’s feedback.

“The class was a studio-like situation where we worked together to discuss concepts and design issues as a group. It was creatively challenging for the students and it was fun,” says Reckinger.

The studio setting of the DADA program allows for a variety of collaborative opportunities among students within the School of Cinematic Arts, as well as with students from other areas within USC. Pantawit Kiangsiri, an alum of the Thornton

School of Music composed and remixed many of the music tracks to match the animations.

For students, the class was a chance to showcase their own styles and put out their best work possible, under a deadline and in professional conditions. “It’s our goal to make sure the students leave school with good work that demonstrates their  creativity,” says Patterson. 

Graffiti artist and MFA student Frederico de Sa Fernandez says the collaboration was an opportunity for him to push his creative limits.  “We as animators are looking for a personal language. It’s like a diamond rock, it’s something you have to polish.”

For third year MFA Erin Shea, the experience gave her valuable insight as a media maker in the industry because it was something many of the students had never done before. “The best thing about the experience for me was learning how to balance Vevo’s goals and desires for each project with my personal creative  objectives,” says Shea. “Walking that line is very important to me as a media maker, since I plan to design and produce media for clients. I want to continue to make work that's meaningful to me, personally, and also makes the client really happy with the results.”

Professor Michael Patterson says the students at DADA are not only learning the technical skills they need, but more importantly they are developing a creative vision that will be valuable when entering the professional world.