A Monster Mash-Up: Student Directs, Produces Wolfpack-Themed Music Video for ‘Thriller’

Tolar Ray films the NC State Dance Team in a night-time video shoot for Thriller

When Tolar Ray ’23 found out he and his bandmates in the Power Sound of the South marching band wouldn’t be in the stands at NC State football games this year, he was greatly disappointed. What’s more, they wouldn’t get to perform the special halftime show they had been planning during NC State’s home game on Halloween.

“Marching band is so much more than practicing music,” Ray said. “It’s about the social element with the football games and running out the tunnel on gamedays, and it’s a bummer to not have that this year.”

Fortunately, Ray and the band have found other ways to get creative this fall, and most recently released a virtual performance of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Ray combined his music and cinematography skills to direct and edit the video, which went live on YouTube Premiere at midnight on Friday. He collaborated with NC State’s dance team, color guard, and majorettes last Wednesday, and spent the weekend and most of this week editing and producing the video. As of Friday afternoon, it had already accumulated more than 1,600 views on YouTube.

Tolar Ray in red lighting using his camera
Tolar Ray uses his camera during the video shoot for “Thriller”

“I think people needed something like this right now,” Ray said. “It’s been a hard semester with little to no breaks, and for those of us in the band, a lot of people aren’t practicing with each other anymore. It’s an honor to bring everybody together and make this kind of collaboration keep happening.”

For the project, Ray compiled about 150 individual videos and audio recordings from members of the band and mashed them together into one file. To have space for and manage the 100 GB of content, he even had to get an external hard drive for his computer.

Although this is the largest production Ray has overseen, he has already made many videos for NC State Athletics, the Career Development Center, and the Technician. A member of the trumpet section, Ray has also lent his video expertise to the music department since the COVID-19 pandemic began, producing the video for the spring concert earlier this year.

As a communication media major, the opportunity to produce the video has provided a much-needed spark to Ray’s creativity during what has been a difficult semester.

“The first month was especially tough,” he said. “I wasn’t being creative at all and I wasn’t working on any videos. I’m glad to get back to having creative opportunities on a normal basis.”

Tolar Ray films a fire twirler during the video shoot

This post was originally published in DASA.

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