UAB Alumnus Is Viral Video Star
By Caperton Gillett
A few million people have seen Brian Curtin get his comeuppance in a UAB parking deck. He hopes that even more will tune in online to watch him get attacked by alien robots outside a Birmingham warehouse.
Bad things have been happening to this UAB graphic design graduate ever since he began making “stupid little short films” (his words) in high school using the video function on his still camera. He kept on making those films—with progressively advancing equipment and techniques—while he was at UAB, but it wasn’t until after he graduated in 2007 that Curtin found his cinematic calling.
As an art director at the Birmingham ad agency Big Communications, Curtin got plenty of experience using film-editing software—experience that spilled over into his own personal projects after work and on the weekends. Inspired by a raft of Star Wars-themed fan videos on YouTube, Curtin and some friends (including fellow UAB alumni Matt Hall and Mat Powell) decided they could make their own sci-fi movie, and make it better.
Following three months of elaborate choreography (it helped that he and another actor were “moderate breakdancers back in the day,” Curtin says), a month of shooting at a parking deck on UAB’s campus (first surreptitiously, later with an official permit), and six to eight months of post-production work on his computer, Curtin unleashed Concrete Hustle on the world.
The nearly four-and-a-half-minute film—a raging lightsaber battle involving three combatants, backflips, flying leaps, several stab wounds, and an apparent high-altitude fall off the parking deck—is a monument to non-stop action. And even though Concrete Hustle has no dialogue, it certainly spoke to its audience: As of November 1, it has been viewed more than 2.7 million times.
Brian Curtin returns to the parking deck to talk about his first million views, the enduring power of lightsabers, and the prospects of a Concrete Hustle 2 in this video. Story continues below video.
In Sync With UAB’s Computer Music Ensemble
By Blake Tommey
Two words sum up the UAB Computer Music Ensemble (CME): far out. The 12-member group in the Department of Music mixes synthesizers with software—including Apple Logic, Reason, and ProTools—to create often-unconventional compositions.
Senior Andrew Hyde came to UAB to study music. What type of music, exactly, was still up in the air: he had no prepared instrument and wasn’t very keen on vocal performance, either. Then he discovered the CME.
“Singing in choir isn’t really my thing,” says the music technology major. “I’m here to write good music on computers and learn those techniques and styles. That’s my niche.” Hyde’s brand of music features everything from singing robots and electronic drum circles to Wii remotes that trigger modulated synthesizer notes.
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UAB Alumni Thrive in Creative Careers
By Glenny Brock
UAB alumnus David Sandlin, who has built a successful career as an artist in New York (his painting "Begin" is shown above), is returning to Birmingham for the UAB Alumni Open Exhibition at the Gallery at UAB.
The UAB Alumni Open Exhibition, which opened earlier this month and runs through November 6, is part class reunion, part show-and-tell. The event has filled the newly renamed Gallery at UAB (formerly the Visual Arts Gallery) with paintings, drawings, photographs, mixed-media assemblages, and sculpture from about two dozen graduates of the bachelor of arts and bachelor of fine arts degree programs at UAB. But this inaugural gathering is as much a showcase of working artists as works of art.
Some of the alumni showing their work only make art as an avocation now, while others have forged careers as full-time artists. Yet all have learned that being an artist can mean making work and making it work—in part by applying lessons learned in the classroom in the real world.
The Power of Creative Thinking
“I always knew that if I personally wanted to make it as a ‘professional artist,’ I would need a supplementary income,” says Daisy Winfrey, a 2007 UAB graduate. “Ideally, this would be a job that existed in the realm of the art world, but I also knew it was possible it would be a job that I hated.”
As it turns out, Winfrey found a job that she loves. After completing her B.A., Winfrey became art director of Studio By The Tracks, a nonprofit organization in Irondale that provides free art classes to children and adults with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, or mental illness.
“I coordinate all the curricula and supplies for the adults and children who attend our art classes,” Winfrey explains. “It helps to be creative and it helps to be a problem-solver. I’d say that having an art degree facilitates this kind of flexibility and quick thinking.”
Click the arrow buttons below to see a slideshow of Winfrey's work. (Having trouble seeing the slideshow? Click here)
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