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Behind the Scenes of the Semester at Sea LipDub ship tour

"semester at sea lipdub" "MV Explorer lipdub"
Just one of the great moments from the SeaDub video

The reaction

Anyone who has ever been on the MV Explorer knows that beyond the voyage, beyond the coursework, beyond the field excursions, there is something special about Semester at Sea. That thing. That completely and totally unique aspect of each voyage is the hardest part of it all to put into words.

Our students and lifelong learners return to a world of people who know that they have just spent time taking classes and studying abroad in multiple countries and traveling by ship. But that’s as far as their minds can take them.

Finally, the Fall 2011 shipboard community has pulled off the impossible: they have created an accurate depiction of the unique spirit of shipboard life.

It’s bigger than just this voyage, though.

In the last 3 days, the video has been watched over 32,000 times! The response has been overwhelming and it has come in from some of our earliest alumni to our most recent. Since Saturday morning when we posted the video to our blog, we’ve had:

  • 184% increase in traffic to our blog
  • 21,638 site visits (the daily average before Saturday was 216)
  • 30,235 page views on the blog
  • 181 comments on the video on our blog, Facebook, Vimeo and YouTube
  • 257 mentions on Twitter

The story

We’ve loved reading everyone’s reactions and hearing the memories the video invokes. We wanted to give you one more little gift from this incredible piece: the back story.

The Semester at Sea lipdub ship tour video was produced and directed by Andrew Centofante, the Fall 2011 videographer. But Andrew will be the first to tell you that he had A LOT of help putting this together. Spencer Weiner, the Fall 2011 photographer; Valerie Brown, the Fall 2011 Communications Coordinator; and their entire team of work study students pulled together to make this magic happen. Finally, this video would not have been possible without the teamwork, leadership and enthusiasm of everyone on board the MV Explorer – students, lifelong learners, faculty, staff, and crew alike.

So here, from Andrew, is the story of how it all worked out.

We shot this on Nov 28th, the reading day between Hilo and Costa Rica. The first thing we did was poll the students as to what song they wanted to do. After listening to many suggestions, we decided on Wavin Flags by K’naan.¬†It had a good tempo, was inspiring, and had a unified world feel to it. It also had the perfect theme – flags!

We then mapped out the route of the ship, trying to hit all of the main areas without too much overlap. We walked the ship and realized it was taking us about 10 minutes and the song was only 3 minutes long. Luckily this song was in wide release for the World Cup and had been made in many different languages. English, Spanish, Arabic, French, Hindi and Chinese. I made a master cut and uploaded it to the public drive.

Next I broke the ship up by “seas” giving everyone a section of the ship, portion of the song, and languages. We practiced every chance we could and let the students decide what they wanted to do in each section.

For filming, we decided to use a wheelchair to push me around the ship for smooth movement. Spencer would push me while my work study kept us on time and shouted out directions.

The admin team coordinated with the senior officers and gave us access to the bridge, the cabin stewards and deck 8.¬†I worked with the AV officer, Lawrence, and we patched the song to play over the PA – unfortunately it didn’t play in all areas. Lawrence brilliantly decided to play it off of a channel on the TV and we then output it into amps throughout the ship allowing us to boost the volume in addition to the PA.¬†This gave us a single source that we could all be in sync with.¬†We even strung one long chord and amp from the AV booth to the bridge because the bridge doesn’t have a TV or audio.

During planning, we figured that we could probably get 3 takes in before the spirit of the community died and the crew needed to get back to work.

On the day of dub, we all gathered in the union for some last minute details and then broke off for a little more practice. It was a beautiful day and everyone seemed really excited. At 1400 sharp the countdown started and the music began to play.

Tragedy - I ran into a wall, students were everywhere and one of the wheelchairs was not in its designated spot. Unusable. We all ran back to our spots and 15 minutes later we started again.

Tragedy again Рwe hit a major bump and the camera stopped recording, and then we ran directly into a student. Unusable. I was sweating now. We had one more chance to get this right. We all got into our places. The countdown began and the music started.

The ship exploded with energy. It was electric. We hit all of our cues on time and all of the students sang their hearts out. We got to deck 8 and all I could think was not to screw up. The captain waved his arm presenting the community and everyone who had gathered on deck 7 went nuts. If you listen closely you can hear the ship’s horn sounding and the crowd starts chanting S-A-S, S-A-S!  It really was one of those moments that blows you away.

Yes it is.


  • Life at Sea

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