Lauren Simpson, a visualization sciences student from Texas A&M University, turned a whim into an award, recently earning a Woodie from MTVu for a stop-motion music video she conceived, directed and created with fellow visualization students for the band Motion City Soundtrack.
Simpson and Michael Losure, a fellow Aggie "Vizzer" who helped create the winning entry, received the Best Video of the Year Award at the Woodie ceremonies held Nov. 12 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.
The ceremonies will be aired Wednesday, November 19 on the MTVu cable channel and via webcast on the MTVu website.
"I had my fingers crossed, because I knew we were up against professional videos," said Simpson. " I didn't know how it would be received by the general public."
Simpson's Motion City Soundtrack video, "It Had to be You," ultimately triumphed, garnering the most online votes in the 2008 Woodie Awards contest while vying against professionally produced videos featuring the recording artists Gnarls Barkley, Erykah Badu, Vampire Weekend and Adele.
At the Woodie Awards ceremony Simpson and Losure, who now both work for Dreamworks Animation, encountered a number of pop music luminaries.
Simpson said she got involved in the production of the winning video on a whim, entering a "pitch" that won a "Best Film on Campus" contest also sponsored by MTVu.
"It was a long shot, but I sent it in anyway," she said.
That win provided Simpson and her team, which included Losure as lead animator and fellow Vizzer Igor Kraguljac as director of photography, with a $10,000 budget to make the video.
The trio traveled to Minnesota, where they filmed Motion City Soundtrack band members for the live-action portion of the video. They then returned to College Station to begin the arduous process of creating the stop-motion sequences, relying heavily on support for fellow students in the Department of Visualization in the Texas A&M College of Architecture.
The Master of Science in Visualization Sciences degree, established in 1989, is designed to prepare students for a range of careers in visualization. The program helps students develop the expertise and broad foundation knowledge needed in the burgeoning field of digital and electronic visualization.
"Without the Viz Lab, there wouldn't be any video," Simpson said. "There's no way to do a project of that scale without people lending their time out of the kindness of their hearts."
The stop-motion sequences in the video featured boy and girl doll characters watching TV in a living room, traveling on their couch through an amusement park and flying through the air. The tiny, detailed set included numerous props such as a swamp, the Taj Mahal, a carousel and animated blooming flowers. Simpson acknowledged the contributions of her fellow students who helped create the sets. "
"So many people helped out. I don't want anyone to think they weren't important," she said.
Simpson's Motion City Soundtrack video can be viewed online at http://woodies.mtvu.com/nominees/best_video_woodie.