They're shot with a jerky hand-held camera, and the lighting is just so-so. But, what they lack in technical expertise they more than make up for in spontaneity, wit and charm.
University campuses are rampant with so-called lip dubs: videos of popular songs, often shot in a single, unedited take, with students lip synching the lyrics and the original soundtrack dubbed over. There's even a website, universitylipdub.com, which features more than 40 lip dubs created by students from various countries. In Canada, about eight universities have produced lip dubs, says Ken Steele, senior vice-president at Academica Group, a higher-education market research firm. But more are sure to come.
One of the first Canadian lip dubs was made last fall by almost 200 communications students at the Université du Québec à Montréal. Since then, the video has become a YouTube sensation, attracting more than six million views. The video features groups of UQAM students singing, dancing and, briefly, drinking along to the Black Eyed Peas's party anthem, I Gotta Feeling as the camera weaves up and down hallways and stairwells on campus.
Dalhousie University students released a lip dub of Katy Perry's pop hit California Gurls renamed, naturally, Dalifornia Gurls. A week later, it had more than 20,000 views on YouTube. Several members of the Dalhousie Student Union started the project to welcome incoming frosh during this year's orientation week festivities. While university officials didn't know about it at first, they cheered the effort. "It was quite nice to see Dal students doing something purely for the fun of it," says Charles Crosby, a Dalhousie spokesman. However, one critic took exception to the video's portrayal of Dalhousie as "a place to meet women." Crosby says the university is sensitive to such issues but, he says, he doesn't believe there was any "insidious" intent. "At the heart of it, it's a bunch of students having a blast," he says.
Matthew Melnyk, a social media liaison officer at Brock University, pitched the idea to various student groups on campus which then created a lip dub of Come Together by the Beatles. Melnyk says his goal was to foster school spirit and get students engaged. And while he doesn't envisage using the lip dub as a recruiting tool, he does think that "it doesn't hurt to have a bunch of students looking like they are having fun on campus." Academica's Steele agrees that the videos aren't a great recruitment tool because they're "typically done with extremely low production values." Still, he adds with a chuckle, six million is "an awful lot of hits."