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A group of Northern Kentucky University students bring the multimedia magic to Cincinnati’s final, iconic LUMENOCITY event. 

Photo by Chris Strobel

By Jayna Barker
NKU Marketing + Communications

Filming for 12 hours in 90-degree weather. Spending weeknights and weekends perched in front of a computer. Poring over animations. Editing video footage.

While these tasks might be common for most classes in the College of Informatics at Northern Kentucky University, a particular group of students will have an end result that is just a little different than the typical class assignment.

Under the guidance of Chris Strobel, electronic media and broadcasting program director and professor at NKU, a group of students in EMB 394 and MIN 394 just wrapped up a major project with Lightborne—the creative design and production company located in Over-the-Rhine that famously created the digital effects for Katy Perry’s 2015 Super Bowl Halftime Show. This year, Strobel and his students partnered with Lightborne to create media installations for Cincinnati’s LUMENOCITY celebration, hosted by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO).

LUMENOCITY’s final weekend, which takes place Aug. 5-7, is expected to bring more than 16,000 people to view the 10 shows throughout the three-day period. NKU students created two films for LUMENOCITY’s block party and hospitality area of Taft Theatre, located on Fifth Street between Sycamore and Broadway.

The first film is a 15-minute, live-action production that follows a construction worker who discovers a piece of magic at Music Hall—the event’s previous location for the last three years. The construction worker gathers music and culture from iconic locations throughout Cincinnati, ending at Taft Theatre, the event’s new location for the final celebration while Music Hall is under renovation.

The second film, a 45-minute animation will hover over iconic locations in Cincinnati. The student chose places that represented places in the Queen City that people care about.  

“This is completely student done, with guidance,” Strobel says. “The framework was there, but the students made it their own. That’s part of the fun—they get total ownership. That’s what we do within our programs. We want to create media that’s effective, and in order to do that, you can only really learn what when you’re doing something for the real world.”

Strobel says that the project was a fortuitous one for his students, who didn’t realize they would be taking part in this iconic Cincinnati event when summer classes started May 9. While the students create media every week for their classes, most of them aren’t used to creating a project that will be seen by the public.

“What I like about this particular experience is that there’s a heightened amount of awareness and pressure because of the public aspect to the final product,” Strobel says. “I think the most amazing part to me has been the really complete trust that CSO and Lighborne has placed in us.”

Katherine Vieth, an electronic media and broadcasting senior with a minor in media informatics, worked as a key animator and drew many of the different buildings for the series of graphics for the 45-minute animated film.

“It feels amazing to be creating something that is going to be seen by people other than professors and students at NKU,” Katherine says. “It’s awesome to have the opportunity to be a part of something so iconic to Cincinnati. I’m also really grateful for the people I was in class with. Everyone was smart, driven, had unique talent, and was really supportive of each other. Chris did a fantastic job at pushing us and encouraging us to take the wheel and steer in our own direction.”

David Campbell, an electronic media and broadcasting senior, was the director of the live-action film.

“It was really fun working on this project and going around to all the locations,” David says. “Seeing these locations up close—some of which I have never been to—was really breathtaking. My goal for the video was to show off the city, and if someone watching sees these pretty parts of the city, it gets them talking and wanting to go see that part of the city for themselves.”

Sara Hughes, an electronic media and broadcasting junior and graduate of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College’s audio visual program, is a student producer of the live-action film.

“It feels like an honor to be a part of something like this, especially with it being the last year,” Sara says. “It’s definitely been a part of my past to see LUMENOCITY in action, and it feels even more memorable to be a part of it.”



Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Cincinnati


Friday, Aug. 5–8 p.m., 9:40 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 6–2 p.m., 3:40 p.m., 8 p.m., 9:40 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 7–2 p.m., 3:40 p.m., 8 p.m., 9:40 p.m. 


Tickets are $12 each. You can purchase tickets on LUMENOCITY's website.