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CDS hosts class for Merge Records

The Center for Documentary Studies will host a course starting Feb. 3 that involves editing footage from Merge’s 15th anniversary concerts in 2004.
The Center for Documentary Studies will host a course starting Feb. 3 that involves editing footage from Merge’s 15th anniversary concerts in 2004.

It’s a marriage of community and University in the truest sense: The Center for Documentary Studies will offer a new course this Spring in video editing for Merge Records. The Durham-based record label represents seminal artists like Arcade Fire and Dinosaur Jr.

Cam Carrithers, instructor for the course, brings original, raw footage he shot for the company during their 15th anniversary music festival in 2004. The groups captured include Spoon, The Clientele and Destroyer—students will get to decide which material appeals to them most.

“I thought it would be really cool to use footage that people in the community would actually care to use,” said Carrithers, a freelance video editor and producer who has also worked for MTV in the past.

Each student will edit one live video recorded in a multi-camera shoot. Working with this un-edited material, students will not only gain editing experience, but directorial insight as well.

The fate of the edited material depends largely on the quality of output produced by the students. Merge has yet to decide when or where to feature the final products, though they will likely be used in a promotional capacity.

Either way, participants are bound to learn much working for a professional client, led by an instructor with a personal relationship with the company and years of experience in the field.

“[They will] understand why we did certain things when we shot it­—how we really approached it like any documentary,” Carrithers said.

Students will set up accounts with Dropbox, an online storage space, so that they can share edits and idea concepts beyond classroom hours. This method will make the class more accessible to students like Katie Rowland, who will commute from outside the Triangle area. Rowland, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, plans to pursue video production professionally.

“It’s great that we’ll be able to edit something worthwhile and not something [frivolous],” Rowland said. “It’s always great to add another skill or experience with a professional client to the list.”

Pilar Timpane, who works with the Office of Student Community Volunteer Programs and has prior experience in documentary video editing, echoed Rowland.

“It’s a great way to keep learning while expanding your professional portfolio,” Timpane said.

Before coming to Duke, Timpane was familiar with the Center for Documentary Studies and was excited to hear about the course through a CDS newsletter.

Although the class has garnered interest from community members, Carrithers is hoping for greater enrollment of Duke students.

“We want to get more undergraduates—it would be nice to have some of the student body in the class,” Carrithers said.

The class is intended for those with video editing knowledge and experience using Final Cut Pro, but Carrithers emphasized that the course would be as collaborative as possible. Students with a passion for the music involved are encouraged to register.

“With enough dedication, everyone can get up to par,” Carrithers said.

Merge Records 15th Anniversary Videos begins Feb. 3.

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