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Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts

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Readers to the Rescue, The Library of Congress

Readers to the Rescue,
The Library of Congress

“The Library of Congress came to us with a problem” said Jeff Sheets, director of the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts. “How do you get 3rd to 5th graders to want to read? Well, we’ve lost them to the screen, so maybe the solution is we use the same technology that got them out of books to get them back into books.”

To address the Library of Congress’s question, students at the Laycock Center assembled a team of collaborators from the fields of illustration, animation, film, music, advertising, and computer science. Pooling their talents, the group pictured a mix between Mad Libs and Choose Your Own Adventure in digital form. The result was Readers to the Rescue, an interactive storybook website featured activity on read.gov/readers.

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It’s not surprising in today’s world to witness a two-year-old skillfully navigate through several menus on a tablet or smartphone, opening and closing games and other apps. Children often integrate touch screen technology into their lives while still in diapers, but what effect does this early adoption of technology have on children? As technology advances and is adopted by younger children, reading frequently takes a backseat to more visually stimulating alternatives like games or videos.

A plethora of research indicates, however, that if children ages 8-11 learn to enjoy reading books, then they are more likely to stay in school, stay out of gangs, avoid drugs and generally be more successful in life. Because of these effects, the Library of Congress began its lifelong reader initiative and, along the way, recruited BYU to help in the cause.

“The Library of Congress came to us with a problem” said Jeff Sheets, director of the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts. “How do you get 3rd to 5th graders to want to read? Well, we’ve lost them to the screen, so maybe the solution is we use the same technology that got them out of books to get them back into books.”

Sheets and the Library of Congress recognized that entertainment like video games, apps and YouTube is already being adopted by toddlers and is even more prevalent with older children. To address the Library of Congress’s question, students at BYU’s Laycock Center assembled a team of student collaborators from the fields of illustration, animation, film, music, advertising and computer science.

Pooling their talents, the group pictured a mix between Mad Libs and Choose Your Own Adventure in digital form. The result was Readers to the Rescue, an interactive storybook website featured activity on To play the game visit: read.gov/readers.

As children across the country read the virtual storybook, inserting characters of their choice along the way, they are able to rescue a new character once they complete the book, which also enables the reader to unlock another book. There are 36 books total, which are new renditions of public domain books.

Vanessa “V” Burnett, an advertising major graduating in this coming spring, was already involved with the Laycock Center when the Library of Congress reached out to Sheets about the lifelong reader initiative. She served as a student director for the project—a difficult task when considering the scope of the project and the diversity of those involved.

“It really does take a lot of people to help a project this size come to life,” Burnett said. “The great thing about the Laycock Center is that anybody can be involved but you just have to be willing to put in time and to sacrifice other elements of your life.”

Despite its ambitious nature, the Readers to the Rescue project was entirely student planned and produced “from the first idea, to the last ounce of programming.”

“It has been a project of love and labor,” Burnett said.
“I just felt grateful to be a part of it and that through the whole process, I was an integral part.”

Sheets was also justifiably pleased with the outcome.

“The feedback that we’ve gotten is that this is as professional a project as they’ve ever received,” he said. “They’ve worked with hundreds of outsourced creative agencies and producers of creative content, and this is right up there with everything they’ve gotten and, in some ways, the best they’ve ever gotten.”

Illustration student Melissa Manwill was tasked with creating the characters for each of the 36 stories, from which experience she gained more than just better illustration skills.

“Artistically, I think I grew a lot because I was just doing so much work on top of classwork and other jobs,” Manwill said. “That was the big thing: teamwork. You don’t usually do collaborative projects in illustration, so that was pretty big for me.”

This landmark project did more than help the Library of Congress further their lifelong reader initiative. Students not only honed skills for their particular field of study, but also learned how to collaborate with their peers from other disciplines. On top of all this, the experience showcased students’ work on a national and global scale. In short, the Readers to the Rescue project has changed countless lives in countless different ways.

“You recognize this as a project for helping other people and really creating progression in the world around you and in communities,” Burnett said. “Why not be a part of something that can truly be in homes all across the United States, all across the world to help children catch a love for reading?”

Photo of students working on a project for the Laycock Center

Students working on the Sacred Gifts project.

The Laycock Center played an integral role in the presentation of the new Museum of Art exhibit Sacred Gifts: The Religious Art of Carl Bloch, Henrich Hofmann and Frans Schwartz. This exhibit included masterpieces on loan for the first time in North America. The Laycock Center sent a team of collaborators from multiple disciplines to many of the castles and churches where the artwork resides to capture video footage for the exhibition.

The introductory film that visitors watch when attending the exhibit was planned and produced by students from the Laycock Center. Their team also assisted with the creation of the iPad app that provides patrons with information about the artwork and the artists.

Click Here to download the iPad app.
sacredgifts

Click to view the Introductory Film

Photo of Jeff Sheets, Director of the BYU Laycock Center

Jeff Sheets, Director of the BYU Laycock Center

The BYU virtual tour project offers a unique blend of multimedia and cultural elements that highlight the gamut of BYU experiences.

The product of this creative force includes video walkthroughs of campus paths and historic buildings, classic pictures from BYU’s past, and even a music video parody that crystalizes students’ feelings on the testing center. Through this virtual tour, prospective students and others interested in BYU can step onto campus from anywhere in the world and get an in-depth look at BYU life.

Take the tour.

 

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Before students ever step on the BYU campus, they — or anyone else in the world with an internet connection — can now experience a virtual tour of BYU unlike anything that’s been available before.

BYU students wielding cameras with fisheye lenses walked nearly every inch of the 560-acre Provo campus to capture images that they would then stitch together to create the tour. They also inserted a host of existing content into the experience, including embedded videos, social media plug ins, historical information and student advice.

There is even a game-like element to the tour, where users can collect hidden items to unlock prizes. This is much, much more than Google street view.

Experience the tour for yourself

“I’m a senior, and honestly, I was starting to get kind of sick of campus,” said Paris Sorbonne, an advertising student who served as the project manager on the virtual tour, “but there was this moment during this project when I thought I want to be here. This campus is just so beautiful. There is a legacy behind it. It’s changed lives. So that split second when I felt that, I thought this is what I want the tour to be about.”

The tour includes stunning visuals from all over campus and features many favorite spots and a few unique spots. Users can view LaVell Edwards Stadium from the 50 yard line, a sunset from the top of the Y and the inside of the Carillon Bell Tower.

The project to build the tour began in May and wrapped up just a few weeks ago. In six months, 15 BYU communications, theatre and media arts, information technology and music students came together and created a product that required hours upon hours of work and a unique level of collaboration.

“Our goal was to get totally different students working together,” said Jeff Sheets, director of the BYU Laycock Center, which helped organize the project. “This project really stretched the students and provided them with hands-on learning they wouldn’t have been able to experience otherwise.”

BYU information technology professor Derek Hansen specifically studies how social technologies and games can be used for the public good. Under his guidance, the students created the game-like elements within the tour.

“The creativity, dedication and resourcefulness of the BYU undergraduates who worked on the virtual tour was inspiring,” Hansen said. “Personally, it was enormously rewarding to see the scope and quality of the final tour.”

The idea for the virtual tour came when XplorIT, a company in California that specializes in 360-degree virtual tours, came to Hansen. They offered him the use of their technology if students would do the leg work of creating the tour of BYU’s campus. Hansen and Sheets created and co-taught a spring term course students could enroll in to participate in creating the campus tour.

“When I saw the class pop up, it was exciting,” Sorbonne said. “I was able to take this class instead of a management skills class. So instead of reading about it in a textbook, you’re actually learning it and applying it.”

For information technology student Robert Jackson, the project enabled him to learn valuable skills not typically associated with his field of study.

“It was presented to me as an opportunity to learn about a new technology,” Jackson said. “It sounded really cool and something fun to do. It turned out to be a lot different than I thought. As the IT student, I thought it would just be just coding things, but I was able to meet so many good people and learn a lot of new skills.”

Jackson and Sorbonne have continued to work together on new projects outside of the virtual tour. For Sheets and the Laycock Center, that’s a major outcome that he hopes students come away with from projects like this — the value of collaboration.

The virtual tour team looks over the map used to plan out the project.

The virtual tour team looks over the map used to plan out the project.

Part of the virtual tour team in the Laycock Center.

Part of the virtual tour team in the Laycock Center.

Information technology professor Derek Hansen addresses students in the Laycock Center.

Information technology professor Derek Hansen addresses students in the Laycock Center.

virtual_tour_tablet

Photo of fans from the BYU Lens of Loyalty film

BYU fans in the Lens of Loyalty film

Hyundai Motor Company challenged 25 universities across the country to a film contest called the Hyundai Lens of Loyalty. After submitting a one-page treatment for a film, seven finalists were chosen to produce the final product and were funded $10,000. BYU was among those chosen to participate in the contest.

The film was then created, produced, and edited by a student team at the Laycock Center. Dustin Locke headed the effort as advertising director with Layne Russell as film director.

Of the seven finalists, BYU was awarded the additional $10,000 grand prize for its five-minute film highlighting BYU football fans from around the world. View the winning film.

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Few universities enjoy the international name recognition of BYU, as proven by the recent triumph in the Hyundai Lens of Loyalty film contest in December 2013.

This fall, Hyundai Motor Company challenged 25 universities ranging from the west to east coast including heavy hitters such as Oregon, Michigan and Florida to the film contest. After submitting a one-page treatment for a film, seven finalists were chosen to produce the final product, and were funded $10,000.

Of the finalists, BYU was awarded the additional $10,000 prize by a panel of judges for its recent five-minute film highlighting BYU football fans around the world. The film was then created, produced, and edited by an innovative student team at The Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration. The team included students from all disciplines, including advertising, film and music. Students Dustin Locke headed the effort as advertising director, with Layne Russell as film director.

The aim was for students to showcase football-related traditions unique to their school, according to a press release by Hyundai Motors. “We thought about it and unfortunately BYU can’t compete with tailgating,” explained Locke, advertising major. “But the one thing that sets us apart is reach and the fact that we bring a lot of people to away games.”

The idea then developed to let the fans speak for themselves about their passion for BYU. “We have a uniquely true world-wide following here at BYU,” said Jeff Sheets, director of The Laycock Center. “We then cross-sourced and looked for the most unique and insightful fans to be featured.”

Fans from as far away as Hawaii, London and South Africa were featured in the short film. One man, a foot cancer amputee living in Barcelona, Spain, proudly wears his BYU emblazoned prosthetic to show he bleeds blue. Another couple in Hawaii installed one of the first satellite dishes on the island in order to see the BYU football games. They then proceeded to invite their neighborhood to watch the Cougars fight their way to victory over the years.

“It was a cool experience for us to go across the world and talk to BYU fans. I don’t get to play on the BYU football field, so it is cool to do something for the team,” commented Locke with a wry grin.

Incredibly, the team put together the entire production, from recruitment of fans to editing in only two and a half weeks. Students worked night and day to put together the film, while scrambling to get homework done between traveling around the world. The dedication in these un-paid students embodies the mission of the Laycock Center to facilitate a collaborative environment for creative ideas and stunning talent.

As Vanessa Mckenna, advertising major, excitedly exclaimed, “It’s all about collaboration!” and a literal love of the game on and off the field.

Filming in Ghana.

Filming in Ghana.

The Laycock Center partnered with Vittana, a nonprofit organization that connects willing microloan lenders worldwide with students in need of financial assistance for school. The team sought to create a clarion call, through commercials and documentaries, to inspire people worldwide to help provide educational opportunities to struggling students. The students pay back the loans upon graduation, and loaners can donate again to another student.

The Laycock Center’s team travelled to Bolivia, Ghana, and the Philippines to meet individual recipients of the microloans and help tell their stories. The Laycock Center collaborated with the Marriott School’s Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance on the project.

 

View the commercial

View the documentary

Filming the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra.

Filming the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Philharmonic is the premier orchestra at BYU. They’ve been known for their outstanding performances of timeless masterpieces. But not everyone seems to enjoy the idea of sitting in a concert hall, listening to an orchestra. So we asked ourselves how we could make the BYU Philharmonic Orchestra appeal to everyone. The answer: Let them see the Philharmonic through a new perspective.

After some testing, we decided to mount GoPros on just about every instrument in the orchestra. To add some beauty, we filmed at the Utah Salt Flats at sunrise. We simply provided a way for people to see classical music through a new lens on the Salt Flats. The result was magic.

 
 

View the film

A STUDENT LABORATORY FOR REAL-WORLD, INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATION

Tucked away behind a stairwell in a corner of the Harris Fine Arts Center, a group of enterprising students and faculty are making things happen. Big things. Animators are working meticulously with illustrators to bring characters to life in a digital story- book that will reach millions of American school children. Advertising students and media arts students are teleconferencing with a high-profile client whose innovative company provides microcredit loans that make college affordable for students in developing countries. A composer is working with a student film production team who will engage more than 200 students in an upcoming film shoot of his new musical.

This hive of innovative, interdisciplinary endeavors is known as the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts. Under the guidance of director Jeff Sheets, the Laycock Center brings together students from different disciplines within the College of Fine Arts and Communications and across campus and provides them with opportunities to collaborate on real-world projects.

These ventures are as varied as the students and faculty who plan and carry them out. With the help of the Center, they are constantly cooking up projects that range from facilitating students’ artistic visions to solving world problems.

The experience is one that transcends what any of BYU’s programs could accomplish individually.

The year 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts, a landmark undertaking that embodies the use of creativity to enact positive change in the world. The Center began as a generous endowment to honor the George Elijah and Fern Redd Laycock and their children and has blossomed into a model for excellence in interdisciplinary collaboration.

The Laycock Center was created to develop the next generation of creative leaders, “whose spirit, intellect and character will influence and inspire the world through creative collaboration.” They are also taught to develop creative ideas that pro- mote “the good, the true, and the beautiful” in order to serve God and humanity. Over one hundred and forty projects have been executed with well over one million dollars of funding, creating unparalleled opportunities “for students to develop and excel in collaborative environments under the tutelage of master mentors.”

The Laycock Center has begun to see the fulfillment of one of its key missions, which is “to facilitate an unprecedented culture of mentoring, creativity, and collaboration in the College of Fine Arts and Communication” through innovative activities in which students receive increasingly elevated roles of responsibility and creative ownership. As the world continues to change and evolve, the Laycock Center’s purposes will become even more relevant and impactful on a global scale.

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