Once again, UAS topped itself in its own Halloween celebration. It’s been rather amazing to witness how quickly the competition for best costume, best department, and best group has expanded from a friendly rivalry between two departments six years ago to an all-campus, no-work-gets-done day of competition here in 2006.
Our department decided on an Italian restaurant as our theme this year. Only after the theme was voted upon did anyone come up with ideas on how we’d pull it off. Chef uniforms; mafia undertones; lobster, spaghetti, fork, wine bottle, and buttered bread costumes – it all came together through post-decision brainstorming.
And, of course, without even donning a costume, I got to have my own fun.
Having originally (but not lately) been the “department to beat,” we tend to hold our theme close to our chest. That doesn’t mean we don’t offer clues in the weeks leading up to the big day. I was asked to create some fliers advertising the spaghetti lunch we were planning to offer and I decided I could have some fun doing it.
Using photos from last year’s Willy Wonka theme, I created four fake magazine covers (1, 2, 3, 4. Google Image Search was my muse.) Each of them had a small headline about “Cirigliano’s,” the name of our Italian restaurant (and, not coincidently, the original family name of our boss, Michael Ciri.) I have no idea if anyone deciphered the subtle clues after we pasted those fliers all over the campus’s bulletin boards, though.
I also designed (read: blatantly copied from Sbarro) the Cirigliano’s logo. We used it for business cards, printed signs, name tags, and one, giant, hand-painted sign.
While the rest of the department was meeting evenings to create massive murals out of paint and Visqueen, designing department decorations, and deciding on a menu, I was working hard to complete the previous year’s Halloween video. It’s been sort of a tradition for me to put it off until the last month, but this year I put it off until the last minute. Instead of getting it out a week before Halloween, as was my plan, I put the finished version online with only a half-day to spare.
Why the delay? Mostly because I didn’t feel inspired until about halfway through the editing process. Usually finding the right song is all the motivation I need, but I couldn’t bring myself to edit to the obvious choice: the original Oompa Loompa song. But things changed when I found a techno version online; I thought maybe I could pull off a techno-style video. Once I started stringing together reams of looped video, strobes, crazy visualization backgrounds, and mosaic’d video tiles, I realized that, well, I don’t much like “techno videos.”
Once I took most of that crap out and started to edit the video thematically (Blueberry section here, Oompa Loompas there, round out with the rest of campus) I got hooked on the editing and the rest came easily. Some of those techno effects remain (like the part with the flash photography or the vertically mirrored clip.) I liked them barely enough to justify keeping them. Parts of the video still seem too hastily edited; I may go back in there and tighten up some shots, I don’t know. I have completion issues.
Besides taking too long to get in my groove, there was another reason the editing process was rushed. A week before Halloween, someone from Activities and Housing asked me to create a short video for their department’s group presentation. They took a risk revealing their theme to me – The Academy Awards – if only because they wanted the video to be a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for Michael Ciri, the director of my own department. Of course, I was happy to oblige.
Until, that is, I realized that I wouldn’t be given much direction on the project. To those not in the know, it may not sound like much of a feat to edit a two-minute clip together in “only” two-and-a-half hours, but you have to realize that includes the time spent deciding on a style, creating 15 Photoshop slates, finding and assembling the video clips and images, putting it all to music, and authoring it to DVD. Tip: When pressed for time, steal your ideas from Youtube!
Actually, the hardest part of editing the video was keeping it all a secret. I couldn’t wait to see how it would be received during the group contest. (By the way, Activities and Housing loved it, the crowd howled with laughter, and the boss was suitably floored. Success!)
The competition has become so stiff at UAS for the coveted “best of” awards; it’s not surprising that we didn’t win again this year. At least we’ve pulled off the Best Individual Costume, two years running. Gloria’s homemade spaghetti bowl gained top honors.
After the judging, we invited everyone back to the IT department for spaghetti. Around 1pm, people started forming a line at Cirigliano’s kitchen doors and we rapidly served something like 80 bowls before the crock pots ran dry. During all that, I wedged my camcorder high up near the corner of the ceiling. I suspect that our bustling waiters will make for an interesting time lapse, but I’m burned out on Halloween now, so we’ll have to wait until next year’s video editing session to find out.