The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

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Alumnus wins national student production award

Ben Cunin Alvarado ‘23 produces high-quality, lifelike LEGO commercial

Ben Cunin Alvarado ‘23 has always been captivated by the magic of visual effects and the power of storytelling through film. During his junior and senior year at LT, he was involved in LTTV, which gave him the perfect opportunity to dive deeper into his passion and grow in his knowledge of cinematography and visual storytelling, he said. 

In February, Cunin Alvarado was recognized at the national level by the National Academy of Television Arts & Science (NATAS) by being awarded with a national student production award, or an “Emmy,” in the commercial category. This is one of the highest honors a student can receive. 

“I put a lot of effort into the commercial, and I was very proud of the final product,” Cunin Alvarado said. “Balancing hope with caution, I tried to manage my expectations. When they announced I won, it was an unexpected and deeply gratifying moment.”

In just two weeks, Cunin Alvarado created his national award winning commercial “LEGO – The Purrfect House,” using every computer in LTTV at one point to make sure it was finished in time. The commercial follows a lifelike LEGO figure whose LEGO house was pushed over by a cat. He ends up going to the store, picking out a new LEGO house kit, and building it for himself. 

“Making the LEGO seem lifelike was a creative journey,” Cunin Alvarado said.  “I used a technique called stepped animation, where the LEGO figure moves every other frame instead of every frame. This gave it a stop-motion feel, which I absolutely love. To make it even more realistic, I spent a lot of time matching the lighting and reflections from the clean plates I shot at Target. It was all about bringing that little LEGO character into the shots and making it feel like it belonged there. It was challenging but so rewarding to see it all come together.” 

In order to advance to being considered for a national award, Cunin Alvarado was recognized at the regional level as well by winning the NATAS Midwest Chapter Crystal Pillar award. 

“When [Cunin Alvarado] produced the LEGO commercial, I knew it was going to be successful,” LTTV sponsor Bill Allan said. “It won third place in the Midwest Media Educators Association Video Festival, and it won first place in the [NATAS] Chicago/Midwest chapter. After it won first place in the Chicago/Midwest competition, I had a feeling it would be submitted to [the] national competition.” 

Allan has been working at LT since 2006 and worked in film and television for eight years prior. He saw Cunin Alvarado as a valuable member of the LTTV program as he became immediately involved after joining, Allan said. Cunin Alvarado knew all crew positions for LTTV truck and studio (camera, audio, graphics, replay, tech directing, and directing), as well as produced many individual and group projects. Cunin Alvarado was also the Director of Creative Services while involved in LTTV. 

“When we received word that it was a finalist, top five in the nation, I was extremely excited,” Allan said. “When [his commercial] won first in the nation, I was overwhelmed with joy; it was truly an epic moment of victory for [Cunin Alvarado], for the LTTV program, and for our school.”

Maddox McDonald ‘24 worked alongside Cunin Alvarado during his time on LTTV, as well as helped him make edits to his commercial during the filming and editing process. The two collaborated on multiple other projects including a silent film, where McDonald asked Cunin Alvarado to be his cinematographer. 

“We knew he had the technical ability to be this successful and amazing,” McDonald said. “He was able to master the storytelling even though the commercial was only a minute long.” 

When Cunin Alvarado won this award, LTTV club leaders, who worked with Cunin Alvarado, were called out of fifth period to watch the award ceremony. Before the ceremony, McDonald filmed interviews with club leaders to make a short documentary. 

“There was uproar in the LTTV studio [when he won],” McDonald said. “We all texted him to say congratulations. We were all really proud of him.” 

Go to our website,, to watch “LEGO – The Purrfect House” and McDonald’s documentary.

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Lillian Davis
Lillian Davis, News Editor
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