Aggie Vizzer earns Woodie Award
for best music video from mtvU


Lauren Simpson, a visualization sciences student from Texas A&M, turned a whim into an award, recently earning a Woodie from mtvU for a stop-motion music video she conceived, directed and created, with the help of fellow visualization students, for the band Motion City Soundtrack.

Simpson, joined by Michael Losure, a fellow Aggie “vizzer” who helped animate the winning entry, received the Best Video Award at the 2008 Woodie ceremonies held Nov. 12 at the Roseland Ballroom in New York City.

The ceremonies, including Simpson accepting the award with members of the band and interviews with Simpson on the red carpet and backstage, can be viewed 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.”

But Simpson’s video, “It Had to be You,” ultimately triumphed, garnering the most online votes in the 2008 Woodie Awards contest while competing with professionally produced music videos featuring the recording artists Gnarls Barkley, Erykah Badu, Vampire Weekend and Adele.

At the Woodie Awards ceremony, Simpson and Losure, who both currently work for Dreamworks Animation, sat near the stage with the members of Motion City Soundtrack and other pop music luminaries, like Moby.

“It was a pretty crazy night and its all a bit of a blur,” said Losure, who made the whirlwind trip with Simpson from San Francisco to New York.

The video project that earned a Woodie for Simpson began, she said, on a whim, when she “pitched” the concept as part of a mtvU  “Best Film on Campus” contest and won.

“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 music video she had in mind. 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.

“Without the Viz Lab, there wouldn’t be any video,” she said. “There’s no way to do a project of that scale without people lending their time out of the kindness of their hearts.”

In 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.

“Lars Doucet glued stuff and pinned stuff; he spent three solid days working on it,” said Simpson, of the help her video team received from fellow students. “Shyam Kannapurakkaran helped out with everything. He was there almost every single day. He went to Michael’s (hobby store) so many times, the manager knew his name.”

“Tony Piedra did the kitchen, Landon Ray held lights, moved the characters on a pulley system,” she said. “Tim Weaver made the Taj Mahal painting and the walls for the amusement park scene. So many people helped out. I don’t want anyone to think they weren’t important.”

The Master of Science in Visualization Sciences degree, established in 1989 at the Texas A&M College of Architecture, is designed to prepare students for a range of careers in visualization. The program, now housed in the Department of Visualizaiton, helps students develop the focused expertise and broad foundation knowledge needed in the burgeoning field of digital and electronic visualization. Graduates have achieved success as creative directors, computer animators, university professors, software designers and in many related fields where art and science merge.

See the videos

See Lauren Simpson and members of Motion City Soundtrack receive the Woodie Award for Best Video:

Simpson talks to mtvU viewers on the red carpet at the Woodie Awards:

Simpson, and MCS band members interviewed backstage at the mtvU Woodie Awards:

Simpson’s Woodie-winning Motion City Soundtrack video can be viewed online at

See the Aggie vizzer’s original winning pitch for mtvU’s Best Film on Campus contest, as well as an mtvU “making of the video” feature with members of Motion City Soundtrack, at

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