Syncopasian, MIT’s premier East Asian a cappella group, produced a Zoom-themed video to keep music alive during quarantine.
MIT is home to over 500 recognized on-campus student groups and organizations. With the Covid-19 pandemic scattering everyone across the world, many student groups experienced a number of unfortunate disruptions and cancellations to their end-of-the-semester events and celebrations.
To stay connected and positive during quarantine, members of Syncopasian, MIT’s premier East Asian a cappella group, creatively produced a Zoom-themed music video to the song “Boy With Luv” by BTS (featuring Halsey).
Although all physically distant from one another, the group was driven to continue making music together. They initially considered hosting Zoom rehearsals, but quickly learned it was not a feasible option to produce high-quality video or sound. It was also a challenge to manage live-singing sessions with members who live in wildly different time zones spanning from the east to west coasts and as far as Taiwan.
To solve this problem, each member of the group individually recorded themselves singing to a synthesized computer track to keep time and to ensure that audio and video clips would line up together in post-production. “We had rehearsed the song together in this past fall semester’s repertoire, so because it was something relatively fresh in our minds, we thought we could make a quality production of it, even while we’re all separated at home,” says Justin Park, a sophomore and Syncopasian’s music director and co-production chair.
While Park was responsible for mixing and balancing each audio track together, Daniel Liu, a sophomore and Syncopasian’s concert and co-production chair, managed the storyboard and development of the Zoom-themed music video. As a group, they discussed and collaborated on what each single frame of the video would look like. “We consider all these factors, including how to combine 16 videos so that every member gets an equal amount of screen time,” says Liu.
Once the audio and video pieces were synced together, members of the group experimented with different Zoom features to add more fun and joy to the video. Specifically, they used the Zoom clap emoji to resemble their clap snare scenario and the raised hand emoji to transition into enlarged videos of soloists.
Although these activities can’t absolutely replace actually singing physically together as a group, Syncopasian’s shared love of music has been a helpful way of managing being apart from one another. “We just really wanted to try to overcome these limitations and still make a good experience together,” says Madeline “Maddy” Zhang, a graduating Syncopasian senior.
Developing the music video served as a small way to celebrate the group’s achievements and inspire other groups to find a way to stay connected. “There are always ways to stay connected and I hope this encourages people to continue exploring and continue to find ways to keep that going throughout all this,” says Park.