The editors of the Penn Libraries e-newsletter (check out the latest issue) invited me recently to add my voice. I tweaked the “You’ve Got to Read This” feature into “You’ve Got to Watch This” so folks could vote up their favorites before June 16 for the Popular Choice Award for Video Contest 2014. We will announce the contest winners next Friday at PhillyDH@Penn 2014.
The conversations brought back good memories. Over the years, our campus contests have drawn national attention to individual works of student creativity. The contest entries are sometimes serious, sometimes funny, often quirky and always surprising. Some students who create videos for our contests study digital media, while others are in disciplines where it would be unusual to make a video for a course. For this latter group, the contest can provide a creative outlet and an opportunity to explore something they might not have tried otherwise.
A panel of students, faculty and alumni, led by Peter Decherney, professor of Cinema Studies and English, selects the winners each year. Online voting fuels the Popular Choice Award. We award $500 worth of equipment to the first-place winner and interview them about how they made their video. I find these reflections as interesting as the entries.
Several videos featured first on our contest pages have moved to a larger stage:
- After winning our first Mashup Contest with PennYo Affairs in 2007, Ryan Leonard went on to make the popular Weigle Music Video.
- Vince Levy’s My Bike video won in 2008 and went on to fourth place in the national Total Recut contest.
- Will Strasser’s Video+Poem+Painting won in 2009 and is used by many high school English teachers teaching W.H. Auden’s poetry.
- Nandini Chandrasekharan’s The Baroness’ Song went viral last year with attention from the Huffington Post.
All of this speaks to the reasons why we began the contest in 2007: showing students that visual and media literacies matter in today’s world. In the process, we have created relationships with faculty through our annual video contests. Faculty members assign video projects in their courses and use past submissions to our contests to guide their students. They encourage their students to submit videos to our contests after turning them in as class assignments. Developing this feedback loop of creativity and scholarship that can inspire future classes has been really rewarding to me personally.