TOPS Night is an annual event at my high school organized by the Grade 11s to wish the graduating Grade 12s farewell. In 2022, it was held live in the Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute cafeteria on the evening of June 16th, featuring dancing, singing, piano - almost like a live concert. This video is a recording of the live event that I directed and edited parts of.
Created: June—July 2022
Time taken: ~150 hours (estimate) over a month and a half
Edited in Premiere Pro, After Effects, Cinema4d
When I was in Grade 8 and just got accepted into TOPS, I attended TOPS Night 2019. That evening, sitting in the cafeteria seats of a foreign place, I took in the coloured lights on the stage, videos that could pass as professionally produced, and skits that I enjoyed more than musicals I'd attended. And it was all created by students! I was so impressed. I was so excited to join this vibrant community of talented, dedicated people I could work together with. I swore that when I would be in Grade 11, I would try to make our TOPS Night as cool as this. But then, over the past 3 years of covid forcing clubs online and our best math teacher leaving, I've felt the spirit of the school slowly slipping away. I've lost the awe of the students and the community.
But this year, I was in Grade 11. It was the one chance I'd have to contribute to TOPS Night. Maybe I could recultivate the sense of professionalism, inspire some awe and excitement into joining TOPS for the next generation the same way that the previous seniors did for me. So, I set out to create a film of TOPS Night 2022 that looked professional. Like the professional concert films like Olivia Rodrigo's SOUR Prom or the video recordings of the Grammy performances.
This is by far the most ambitious film I've made. I dumped the majority of my July and 100+ hours into making it. I directed the filming of the show, coordinating a team of camerapeople - something I'd never hadn't done before while working on my personal youtube videos in isolation. I found joy in outsourcing. That was new to me. I usually have the tendency to take over and do all the work by myself because I couldn't trust others. But this project was so big that I couldn't have done it on my own, and I was forced to fall back on others. And they caught me with open arms. It taught me to trust others with my premiere projects, which I wanted to protect from the outside world like they were my babies. A month ago, Sigil told me that being a CTO doesn't mean doing the coding, but having the vision of the technical product and keeping the software engineers aligned towards the vision. While working on this film, I understood that. Being a film director doesn't mean executing the editing, but being the one with the vision that keeps the team aligned.
I hope you enjoy this film. I hope you enjoy the performances, the singing and dancing and piano and OSU. I hope you enjoy the speeches. I hope you enjoy the TOPS community. I hope this film can make you re-experience the TOPS family, can make me re-experience the TOPS family I wish I had.
Shoutout to the editing crew of Gloria Liu, Jonathan Wu, and Sarah Li. I would go through the hell of editing another 2 hour video to work with this team again.
In addition to the main concert film, I also spent about 20 hours creating this intro with after effects and cinema 4d, inspired by the marvel 3d intro. This was my first time using cinema 4d and I found the process of learning a new tool very rewarding.
Shoutout to Quan Chen for composing the music you're hearing. I almost feel like a movie director who gets custom composed music for their films.
I also edited the Grade 12 graduation video. A huge thanks goes to Michelle for helping me put this together.