Here’s a side project I worked on. It’s for Global Advance a ministry my church supports. They wanted a basic talking head promo video with some b-roll footage thrown in.
So we shot the talking heads on green screen with the Sony EX-1. I then edited the about 30+ minutes of them talking down to around 3 minutes.
This is a bit of a tangent but I’m becoming a bigger and bigger fan of scripting out what’s going to be said on camera. That way the person can focus more on delivery and not worry about if they are getting all the content in, if it’s making sense, etc… I really want to get a teleprompter but it’s not going to be in this year’s budget. I’m going to experiment with some free teleprompter software I’ve found and just put a laptop directly below the camera lens and see how that goes. We’ll see how the sight lines work out.
Back to the project. Once I had a locked down edit that was approved by the client I edited the B-Roll then I moved the project from FCP to AE using Automatic Duck’s plug-in.
Once in After Effects I pulled the key with Red Giant’s Primatte plug-in, which I love for keying. I get extremely good results so much faster than I was with Keylight. The background was made from an EPS map of the world and Trapcode Form. I didn’t realize it until recently but it copies a look from CNN. Didn’t mean to, I don’t watch CNN. Finally I stylized the b-roll seperatly from my talent with Looks and added some motion graphics for the intro, a couple of catch phrases and an outro. Added audio from Sonic Fire Pro.
Overall I’m happy with how the project turned out and so is Global Advance, which is the important part.
This was another quick turn around project. It’s a promo for a mission trip to LA. They wanted something visually sharp and hit some stats about the needs in LA. I didn’t have any footage to work from so I went searching for some “b-roll” on vimeo. Found this guys work here: http://vimeo.com/10452247. Once I had some footage I pulled the clips I liked, added the text and ran the footage through Magic Bullet Looks.
One of my biggest challenges in video production is finding good music for video and motion graphic pieces I create. Typical stock music resources run a huge range of prices. Not only is there a variety of prices, there is a variety of quality. Another challenge I’ve run into is most stock music is edited for standard broadcast lengths. Which is great if you need a 10, 15, 30 or 60 second music bed. The full length is usually in the 2-3 minute range. So if your spot doesn’t fall into one of those lengths you’ve got to edit the music to match.
This year I budgeted some money to but some stock music. After looking a various different resources I finally landed on Sonic Fire Pro. If you’re not familiar with Sonic Fire it’s a combination of their software and layered music tracks. Here’s some of my major reasons:
- It will create a track with a beginning, middle and end to any length you desire
- You can adjust the timing of the track to match your edits. In other words you can retime a musical transition, build up, break down, etc.. to match the edits of your video
- You can change the mix of the track. You want these instruments to fade in or out at a certain point no problem. They even have premixed moods for you like background, dialog, breakdown, lite, etc…
- Imports your audio and scoring markers from FCP. Will also export your mix back to FCP for you.
- Each track has about 6-8 variations of the arrangement. Different than the premixed moods but alters the arrangement of the song.
The music quality is not as great as some of the high end stock music resources (where you’d be paying $$$ per track) but the quality is good and the customization makes up for it.
Plus they seem to run deals to add CDs to your library at significant discounts if you are patient and budget for it.
In the world of video production the tools I use on every project is Final Cut Pro or After Effects. Most the time it’s a combo of those 2 product together. There are times that you want to extend the toolset of FCP or AE because a new tool does the job more efficiently or extends AE/FCP to a new realm. Red Giant Plug Ins are by far my favorite.
For motion graphics work I use the Trapcode Bundle Retail price $900 non profit price: $449. There is nothing in FCP or AE to replicate some of Trapcode’s products. There are particle generators in AE but Particular is much more flexible.
For color correction I use the Magic Bullet Suite Retail $800 Non Profit Price: $400. I tend to use colorista to color correct my footage and then use looks to stylize my footage. How’s it stack up to FCP tool set? FCP color corrector is pretty lame but I do like Color. I prefer Color for color correction over colorista but I prefer Looks for creating the grade or look of my video. How’s it stack up to AE’s tool set? Color Finesse is a very good color correction tool. More powerful than colorista but slower in my opinion. Looks for me is still where I tend to go to do basic color correction and establish the grade or look for my video. Unless it’s a poorly shot video that needs lots of color correction then I’ll open Color Finesse.
For keying I love their keying suite Retail: $800 Non Profit Price $400. How does Primatte compare to FCP? Hands down it blows the built in keyer in FCP away. How does it compare to the tools in AE? Keylight does a great job in AE but I’ve found Primatte WAY faster to work with. For our video announcements I can set up a very good key in 2-3 minutes with Primatte compared to 30 minutes with Keylight. That’s because Primatte gives you tools to visually edit your key instead of always moving sliders. Primatte also has color matching and a light wrap built into the plug-in. Which involves more steps and plug-ins with Keylight.
FYI I bought the Trapcode bundle, Looks and Colorista a few years ago. Last summer I got into a beta program to test www.redgiantpeople.com and was given the Red Giant Mega Bundle.
So I was given a logo, a very brief script and asked if I could make a promo video for a local mission trip. And I had an afternoon. Here’s what I came up with…
It’s a simple After Effects project. 2 of the animations were too similar for my liking but it is what it is. This is one of those projects where I had to quickly nail out the content, then finesse the animations from there.
Around May every year our church has an annual business meeting. Last year I had only been around for a few weeks at my job and they asked if we could put together a year in review video. Last year we didn’t have enough lead time or archive footage to pull it off. This year was different.
We began kicking around ideas about 6 weeks out. We established a scope for a 3 minute video recapping the major events and stats from the last year. Then things changed the week of. The project scope was tossed out the window and what we ended up with was a 9 minute video.
Here’s what saved me:
1. I had b-roll from events over the last year
2. We had brought in a photographer recently to shoot footage around the church during a Sunday morning.
3. We had each department head write out a short script to recap their year. We then highlighted what would be delivered on screen and what would be read and I’d show b-roll.
4. I had a years worth of bumpers to pull from for eye candy.
5. I reused some testimonies we showed last fall for small groups.
I had a few challenges:
1. We wanted to highlight our small group ministry but we don’t have a point person over that ministry currently.
2. I had no footage or testimony from our missions trips and our missions directors were over seas.
3. I had 2 working days to pull this off but I ended up working during one of my off days to pull it off.
Not having footage for the missions piece I decided to create a kinetic type video. My first true kinetic type video but I found a tutorial to quickly lay out the text in Illustrator and then bring the file into AE to animate. I got the idea from here
The run down is this:
1. Lay out the text in illustrator.
2. Create outlines from text and ungroup.
3. Group the letters to form a word.
4. In the layers pallette choose release to layers in the options menu. Then drag the new layers out of the current layer.
5. Save the file and import into AE as a comp.
6. Animate the layers position.
7. Sequence the layers to animate in to the audio.
8. Precomp now animate the precomp using scale, anchor point, rotation to focus on the key words. Make sure rasterize continuously is checked so the vector artwork stays sharp.
9. Add motion blur and stylize the background
We got a great response to it. I’ve got some ideas for next year:
1. I need to get footage and testimonies from missions teams when they return.
2. Need a small groups point person as well and time to shoot new testimonies.
Earlier this year we did a sermon series called Ignite. The series was about the power of the Holy Spirit. I was given some graphics that I thought looked great and thought this project was going to be fun. As we brainstormed some ideas it seemed like the best idea for a bumper was to creatively present some Bible passages. So that’s what we did.
I used Trapcode Formto create the particle field. Then laid my text out and fly the camera around. Pretty easy and a fun project.
Over the last month or so I’ve seen a couple of problems with Apple’s Compressor just acting goofy. Typically a batch will begin to render and then I can’t cancel the batch and compressor is responsive, but isn’t doing anything. It won’t cancel my batch and it won’t render anything new. I found a couple of trouble shooting options.
Option 1: Reset background processes. This is from the compressor application menu/ Reset Background Processing
Option 2: Compressor Repair:. This week I accidently dropped an audio file onto a .wmv droplet I have and compressor locked up. It would cancel the batch and resetting the background processes didn’t work either. But this little app worked like a champ.
Hope this saves you a headache down the road.
So last weekend we kicked off a new sermon series. I didn’t have locked down sermon gfx but I had a design brief of introducing the end times but not scary graphics wise I knew they were going with a heros kind of look.
I really liked what Ken Wilson had done at NewSpring. But I felt it didn’t meet my “not scary” criteria in the brief. It doesn’t fit our culture either.
I found this template but didn’t want to drop the money. I know it was done with Trapcode Form which I have but couldn’t figure out how to wrap the particle system in 3D space like a ribbon.
Well I was running out of time and settled on this video. It’s just a slightly tweaked version of a tutorial Andrew Kramer did for his Twitch plugin. The sound FX came with twitch and the track is from Sigur Ros.
I know it’s a tutorial based project but I’m really happy with how it came out. I think it really hit the balance of the intensity a series on the end times has but without being disturbing or scary. Even though I personally really dig the piece Ken’s team put together.
Here’s the quick recap:
-I’ve been burned out in ministry before.
- You must take responsibility for your spiritual health. This means you must be taking steps everyday to grow closer to Jesus and further from sin.
- You can’t always be “ON”. There needs to be times for you to receive at church and you need to honor the sabbath. For me that means one day a week I am off and not thinking about work. This needs to be the same day my wife and kids are off. It’s family fun day and we get to relax and be with each other and friends.
- Learn when good enough is good enough. Strive for excellence. That’s the best you can do with your time, talent and tools. Too many times we strive for perfection and it’s based in the sin of pride. Focus on making Jesus look good in our work and our lives. He needs to look good both places.
Let’s finish this series up with our need for accountability and community. Just as our work can get out of balance, we will drift one day at a time from walking with Jesus and away from community and accountability. These relationships with others that go deeper than “How are you doing?” and “shop talk”. These deep relationships are not natural in our culture.
The biggest reason I’ve drifted out of community is my culture is addicted to busyness. We’re lazy and we look for shortcuts. In essence we’re living dietary supplements and Red Bull. Supplements and Red Bull are not bad in moderation. But if you’re skipping meals and just taking vitamins you’re not going to last long. If you’re skipping sleep and relying on Red Bull you’re not going to last long. In addition to a balanced diet and proper sleep, suppliments and Red Bull can be good, even beneficial. Well I have my doubts about Red Bull but I say that while I’m drinking a latte I just made.
The biggest shortcut that affects our relationships is technology. Technology should be a supplement to our relationships, not a replacement. Social networking should add to our relationships, not replace them. For a great book on the dark side of technology and social media check out Shane Hipps book Flickering Pixels. I’ve found great benefit to Twitter because it has allowed me to connect with other church media/ tech guys. It’s resulted in face to face, genuine friendships. Check out Church Tech Director’s Round Table as an example. While technology can keep me in touch with people far away it can also drive me away from those closest to me. Our culture drifts towards connivence instead of community.
The biggest reason I’ve drifted out of accountability is I’m ashamed of sin in my live.. In a culture that’s busy, it’s easy to hide. In a culture that focuses on how you look on the outside, it’s easy to hide. If we’re ashamed of sin in our lives, we hide from intimacy. Small groups are not the solution to overcome shame. I’ve been ashamed of sin in my life and in a small group. But I just put on a front and said I was fine, never admitting to my need of dealing with the hidden sin in my life. It’s not a small group we need it’s the cross of Christ we need. That is where our sins are forgiven and covered in the blood. It’s where we can stand up as Paul says in 2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Once I got things right with Jesus I realized my sinfulness pulls me away from God and away from accountability and towards the dark.
1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and odo not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
When I got honest about my sin. I brought it to God to be forgiven and talked to my wife and a friend for accountability I found freedom. The power of that hidden sin was broken. The temptation may still come I know I have people I can be honest with. People who love me and will pray for me, encourage me and most of all will call out the sin they see in my life with love. I’ve set up accountability with them. I use x3watch.com on my computers and they can see my iPhone browser history anytime.
Some practical ideas for application:
- Is technology and social media enhancing relationships or tearing them down for you?
- Set up some boundaries for technology/ social media. Have times each day/ each week where you go dark and are not checking email, IM, texting, twitter or facebook. Instead focus on being present with the people you’re with.
- Are you accountable to someone? Are you honest with that person? You need someone of the same gender who you can be honest with. Someone you can trust to love you, accept you and kick your butt to step up and be a man (or woman) when it comes to dealing with sin.
- Is there hidden sin in your life? You need to get real with Jesus. Then begin to walk in the light and confess those sins to someone you can trust.
I pray my story can be an encouragement for you. At the least it’s been very cathartic and freeing to get my story in the light.