Bright lights, loud noises and video games: Video Institute premieres another film, another story
blog by The Canisius Griffin • October 22, 2011 @ 7:00am
Bright lights, loud noises and video games – exactly what the architects had in mind when they designed the Montante Cultural Center.
Well, maybe not. Nevertheless, video games brought roughly 80 people to Montante Tuesday.
On Oct. 18, the Canisius College Video Institute premiered the first of two new films it has produced. “Game Create,” created by senior Garrett Weinholtz, can technically be defined as a social documentary. The production takes a look at a unique gaming subculture that exists in which people “look under the hoods” of gaming consoles to create different artistic expressions.
Inside the video game subculture, there are people who take apart various gaming consoles and begin tinkering with the finer workings of the machine. Through bending circuits in new directions and writing new code for the console, a video game fanatic can make his console do pretty much whatever he tells it.
For example, one way gamers tinker with their consoles is to make their consoles into musical instruments. They fool around with the melodic game tones until they find just the right note. This music scene is what drew Weinholtz to the idea for “Game Create,” as he explained at the premiere.
“I picked up a Gameboy and tried to make it sing,” explained Weinholtz about his love for the fusion of music and gaming. This passion grew and grew until it was a mild obsession for Weinholtz.
Perhaps this fanatacism is what allowed Weinholtz to complete such an intensive film project; work on “Game Create” started in January, went through the summer and finished this semester. The intensive nature of the film project meant that Weinholtz had to reach out for assistance and advice from his peers and superiors.
Jamie O’Neil, co-director of the Canisius College Video Institute and director of the Digital Media Arts Program, assisted Weinholtz in the filming and editing of the movie.
“He was really helpful…when it came down to it and it was down to the wire, he had some really good suggestions,” said Weinholtz, who was grateful for O’Neil’s guidance.
Senior Christopher Hyzy, one of Weinholtz’s roommates and friends since high school, was also an important figure in the creation of this movie. Hyzy traveled with Weinholtz to New York City to attend the Blip Festival, a celebration of the fusion of music and gaming. Blip Festival was highlighted by the performance of Anamanaguchi, a popular chip band that makes loud, hard music on a Nintendo NES, a console from the 80s.
Weinholtz commented on the fast-paced nature of the quartet’s music.
“It was like a punk rock concert there…it was way more than I expected.”
Back in Buffalo, scenes from the rave-like event were edited into the movie so viewers could experience the concert from his NYC trip.
As he worked on producing the film, Weinholtz attempted to channel his inner Anamanaguchi when constructing the soundtrack for the film; he said much of the music for the film was produced on a Gameboy.
Even for the casual gamer, this level of skill on a console is remarkable. “Going under the hood” of a game gives the creator a chance for artistic expression while still putting his knowledge of the technology to use.
The crowd at Montante on Tuesday was not as homogeneous as one might assume. Mixed in with the expected crowd of teenagers and young adults were people in their 40s, 50s and 60s. While some of these people were likely at the premiere to support the Video Institute in general, others readily admitted their long love of gaming.
“Video games have been my life for 40 years and I’m still not sick of them,” said Michael Thomasson, a “game mechanic” who has created and released video games on a variety of old platforms.
The new generation of gamers, while taking advantage of the new technology available to them, still understand the value of old school consoles.
“[The film] showed that old technologies are not obsolete as it is so often assumed,” said junior Rich Lunguino, commenting on the continued appreciation of the older gaming platforms.
Weinholtz’s film was premiered through the Canisius College Video Institute. Debuting in 2006, the film company gives students the chance “to put their classroom lessons to work on projects that will benefit the college and the community at large.” Part of the group’s initiative is to produce documentaries and promotional videos for not-for-profit agencies that otherwise do not have the resources to tell their stories.
Releasing films since 2006, the Video Institute has produced documentaries on such topics as Buffalo’s Central Terminal and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Boathouse. In addition to these works, the organization has also made a number of movies about Canisius’ service and immersion trips.
Weinholtz is hoping that his documentary will signify a growth for the Video Institute. “Game Create” is the first film produced by the Video Institute that does not address a social need or college service trip. Although the value of these films cannot be dismissed, productions appealing to a wide variety of audiences will bring about more growth for the Video Institute.
By Dan Ludwig