Back in April, when many businesses were shut down and most of everyone’s time was being spent at home, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his artistic collaboration platform hitRECord were hard at work creating the YouTube Originals series Create Together. The series highlighted many ways in which creative people from all around the world can still collaborate on artistic projects even when it isn’t possible to do so in person.
The hitRECord platform is an online community in which artists from around the world are able to collaborate on large projects including short film festivals, television programs, national television commercials, music for streaming platforms, and more recently, music for video games. Dr. Samuel Stokes, a Natchitoches music teacher, is an Audio Curator on the hitRECord platform and has been involved in many of these productions since he joined hitRECord in 2015.
The Create Together series, produced by hitRECord in conjunction with YouTube Originals, featured artists from all over the world, creating six episodes that included music, visual art, cinematography, writing, photography, choreography, and animation from multiple contributors to produce collaborative art in the form of short films and music videos.
Stokes was involved in all six episodes of the Create Togetherseries as a percussionist, vocalist, and photographer. In some cases, elements that were used in the show were from collaborations that occurred before the Create Together show began production.
Stokes wrote and contributed a xylophone part for the song “Crazy” which was developed by hitRECordpartially at a live event at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020. During the live event, Stokes and other contributors participated from home by recording isolated instrumental and vocal parts, some of which were included in the final mix of the song “Crazy,” which was used in episode 6 of Create Together.
Other projects were started and completed during the production of the series, such as the recurring segment “Quarantine Beats,” which encouraged contributors to create percussive rhythms using objects they find around the house. In episode 5, Stokes is seen playing a rhythmic groove he composed for tuned wine glasses.
The centerpiece of the Create Together series was a music video entitled “Class of 2020,” which reads like a letter to 2020 graduates, lamenting the things they missed out on, but also expressing great hope in how they will go on to make our world a better place in the future.
Along with other contributing musicians, Stokes is seen recording the xylophone parts he wrote for the “Class of 2020” music video in segments during episodes 2 and 4, and is seen and heard on the final music video in episode 6. In the final video, another hitRECord user added animation to Stokes’s xylophone video so that it appears that the xylophone keys light up as they are struck. On September 1, the Create Together series was awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Innovation in Interactive Media.
Over the last two years, hitRECord has also been involved in creating original music for two upcoming Ubisoft video games, Watch Dogs: Legion, which will be released this Thursday, October 29, and Beyond Good and Evil 2, which is still in production. Stokes is singing backing vocals on three musicaltracks in Watch Dogs: Legion and will be in at least ten tracks in Beyond Good and Evil 2 as a percussionist, vocalist, and sound effect designer.