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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Going Viral - YouTube, Lip Dubs and Your School Spirit

Before we get to the heart of this viral matter, click play above, stop your twittering long enough to get sucked into this incredible video, then come back and we'll talk. Go ahead, I'll wait....

Glad you're back.

Feeling a little inspired right now? A nice break from flitting from one canapé of info to another, isn't it? That's where the power of a school lip dub comes in.

One seamless camera shot
Lib dubs are infectious video blasts of school spirit meant to inspire awe in viewers, pride in students and staff, and purposely designed to go viral via Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

They're bright, loud and chock full of turn-by-turn surprises requiring incredible timing, choreography, and coordination. And the absolute rule for lip dubs is they must be done in just one seamless camera shot.

The challenge is to bring viewers through the front doors of the school and immediately launch into a series of visual stunts while lip-syncing to the works of Lady Gaga, the Black Eyed Peas, Rihanna - or any other Grammy-worthy icon.

Typically, the camera winds through the hallways, poking into classrooms, band rooms, science and computer labs, and voc-ed facilities, all the while making its way up and down staircases, shooting high and low and, in the case above, even being raised up by a cherry-picker.

Over-the-top action
The action has to culminate in an over-the-top rally in the gym or other cavernous venue and must pack a huge raucous punch before ending abruptly or setting up a denouement before the credits.

Pop the term "lip dub" into YouTube search and you'll find dozens of examples of school videos with various levels of talent, equipment and production values. They all have one thing in common, though. Everyone has a blast and school spirit rocks off the charts - and stays that way as the video's hit count escalates in the days and weeks ahead. The one you just watched was sitting at 350 hits yesterday afternoon. As I post this, 24 hours later, it is just breaking 6,000 views.

Think of it, every student and staff member gets to say "check out what our school did" and their relatives and Facebook friends get to say, "yeah, I saw you on the stairwell" or "that wig you had on was so random!"

What I love about the offering from Shaftesbury High School in Winnipeg is that it projects the school's enthusiasm so well, it can double as a marketing piece for the school. In fact, it was designed with that dual purpose in mind and now resides on their schools splash page. What I also find unique is that rather than opting for a hip-hop anthem, the song used was penned by a teacher.

'Complete and utter mayhem'
The other nice touch in this lip dub is the fact that the staff members are so very conspicuous as they ham it up with the students. At the 4:40 mark, Principal Riffel and Vice-principal Wiebe introduce the pep rally as "wild, insane" and "complete and utter mayhem." You know they're having fun, too.

And did you notice any bad behavior in the video - anyone making rude gestures or sulking in the corners? Of course not. Kids' love this stuff. It's not only a symbol of pride for them but will earn them social credit with their peers from other parts of the city - especially when they get some ink in the local newspaper.

I can't think of a healthier way to compete between schools. Downsides? I can't see any. But just how does a school put one of these together?

I don't have a clue. Maybe some of you do and can weigh in below with your comments. But my advice is to get the blessing and cooperation of your principal first. Then go to the most technologically savvy group of staff and students at your school, show them the Shaftesbury video and ask, "How can we make something like this happen?"

After the story boards, the logistics, the shooting, editing, and exhilaration are over, you and your students will have a video you'll be chuffed about and can distribute far and wide. More importantly, you will always remember the experience.

You may even treasure it more than your yearbook.

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