By Marcy Stamper
Passersby on Glover Street in Twisp may be spotted loitering on the corner of Second Avenue, intrigued by the video montages playing in a continuous loop in the windows of The Merc Playhouse.
The videos were made by students in the Liberty Bell High School video production class, who combined their creative skills to make three short films inspired by themes in “The Miss Firecracker Contest,” the current show at the theater.
The fast-paced videos — just 45 seconds each — blend archival footage loosely based on beauty pageants, roses and yard sales, all themes that come up in the play. The idea was to grab people’s attention and draw them into the play, said one of the young filmmakers.
One group mixed and edited archival imagery of beauty pageants and old TV commercials for hair spray. Another filmed roses with different lighting effects, scattered rose petals, and interspersed footage of southern-style mansions that recall the setting of the play. All the videos incorporate fireworks.
The third video combines images of spinning wheels and yard sales with family portraits that are used on the set of the show. The portraits were created by the Liberty Bell advanced photography class, adapted from photos of the cast.
The Liberty Bell commercial arts class is also represented at the theater, with larger-than-life black-and-white drawings of characters from “The Tempest.”
All the video students did online research to find images, and then figured out how to combine them. “We tried to have equal say. We all got clips and did editing,” said student Madeline Bosco.
Fallon Hutson, a fourth-year student in video production, worked on rotating roses and applying what’s called the Ken Burns effect, which combines panning and zooming.
But the real challenge came in mixing slow-motion shots, creating vignettes, fading from one image to another, and then programming the films to play continuously, said teacher Robin Nelson Wicks (who also appears in the play).
The “Miss Firecracker” videos can be watched ’round the clock in the windows of The Merc Playhouse, at least through the end of the show’s run on Sunday (March 12).