Sermon Graphics: God Is Bigger Than…

Here’s the graphics for a sermon series we are starting this weekend. Unfortunately I was sick for a good part of the week and that drained a lot of my creative energy. It is challenging to design graphics for a sermon series that is not figurative or illustrative in itself. I was inspired by a technique I saw here. I tweaked it and tried to make the grunge blob represent your world. Sort of stretching it a bit but it’s Friday and I have more stuff I need to get done.

Here’s my go at it.

Any feedback or ideas?


October 31, 2008. Tags: , , . Graphic Design. Leave a comment.

Sermon Graphics: Everyone Needs a Wingman

I work in a paradoxical job. In some areas I get a ton of creative freedom. In other areas I get very little. I don’t get wiggle room when it comes to the package/ name/ theme for the sermon graphics. But I get complete freedom with the design of the graphics package for sermon series, videos and other promotional pieces.

Last weekend we threw it back to the 80s with a message wrapped around Top Gun, “Everyone Needs a Wingman”. It was a great message about the need we all have for community. I always struggle when a sermon series is based on a movie or TV show. I don’t want to just rip it off but at the same time how much can you change before you loose the cultural tie in? It’s a balance that I tend to lean towards imitating the style of the original.

This isn’t one of the graphics I’m proud of. It’s a logo on some stock footage. Design at it’s basic form. But it worked for the weekend.

October 27, 2008. Tags: , , . Graphic Design. Leave a comment.

Dallas After Effects User Group- Oct 2008

One of the big additions to After Effects CS4 is MochaAE. I’ve been using Mocha for several months now and it blow After Effects point tracker away. Mocha is a planar tracker that works by defining the plain you want to track and then works on differentiating the plain to track from the background.

Here’s some issues that AE’s point tracker can’t handle but Mocha handles with ease:
-Motion Blur
-Noise/ Grain
-Tracks that start and/or move off screen
-Objects that obscure part of the track

I’m giving a crash course on how to use Mocha. Here’s an example of what I quickly cranked out that we’ll be working dealing with tracks that move off screen and are obscured. The track is decent for how quick I did it. The composite is bad but the focus is on how to use Mocha, not compositing skills.

Join us this Thursday at BB Gun Interactive at 7pm. Find out more details at the Dallas AE User Group Home Page.

October 21, 2008. Tags: , , , . Video. 2 comments.

Stress Intro Video Week 4

Here’s the last intro video for our series on Stress and Strain of Life. Just like before the graphics were treated in Photoshop and animated in After Effects. I know the video is not perfect. I created it while I was running sound for our North Texas Leadership Conference on Thursday and Friday. During the sessions I’d be working on my MacBookPro.

I know some of the titles are up there for too long. That is one area I need to improve on. How long should text be on the screen? I typically read the text then add a little more to take into account for the font and distance from the screen. Does anyone have any other rules of thumb for how long text should be on screen?

The video was scripted out by my senior pastor. I would really like to get a creative team together. I think technically our videos have been pretty good but I think the content is where we are hurting now.

Here’s the video:

October 20, 2008. Tags: , , , . Video. Leave a comment.

NTLC Video Loops

As I wrote yesterday we are hosting our North Texas Leadership Conference for pastors at the end of the week. The main design of the conference was outsourced. I was given this Illustrator file to repurpose for other designs.

NTLC 2008 Notebook

I was then told to make it colorful. Yup that was my design direction. So I had some video screens I needed to fill with some loops and here’s what I made:

Title Loop:

Background Loop:

Background Loop Deuce:

The loops were made in After Effects. The color cycle was made from just solid fills fading from one color to the next around the color wheel. One video goes clockwise, the other goes counter clockwise around the color wheel. The radials rotate. And the particle system loops thanks to so help from the loop master from Igniter Media Trent Armstrong and also from the Creative Cow After Effects Podcast.

October 15, 2008. Tags: , , , . Video. Leave a comment.

It’s The Time of Year I Feel Like Quitting.

Every year in October I want to quit my job. Why October? Because every year we host a conference for pastors called North Texas Leadership Conference. It’s not even the whole month, it’s really just the week of the conference. And this week is that week.

I don’t want to come across too negative. The conference is great. We’ve had some great speakers. Some of my favorites over the years have been Samuel Chand and Craig Groeschel.

I love the heart of the conference. We limit the number of pastor and our church really focuses on pouring into these pastors. In fact we run the conference at a lost. We feed them a nice dinner. They walk away with 6-8 books that our Pastor has enjoyed reading. And we only charge $50 because our pastor remembers a time when he couldn’t afford to buy a book. He had to return to the bookstore for a few days to finish reading it.

But I still feel like quitting during this time of year. Why?
– The weekend still comes at the end of every week
– My designs get micromanaged but I get very little direction on the design
– There is no way for me to pull off the quality we do on the weekend for the conference because so much of it’s last minute. This really frustrates me. Example our sermon graphics for the weekend, take me 1 hour if I have the background designed. These leadership lessons are longer and can take me 2-3 hours per lesson. I have about 10 lessons I get on Monday for a conference that starts on Thursday. So I have to cut corners and it bugs me.
– No matter how hard I try no one really understands how long it takes to design something or make a video.
– It could be so much better but I don’t get the time or the help to make it better.

But I’m not going to quit today. These feelings are natural especially for someone who works in a create on demand job. I have a high standard and drive for excellence to it really frustrates me when I’m not given the time or the resources to make something the best that I think it can be.

So what do I do when I want to quit? I’m going to smile and work hard. I might vent a few times with some close friends. But I’m going to get through this. This isn’t my first time around here. I know it’s going to pass.

If you’re the praying kind, I’d appreciate a prayer or two this week. And as I’m writing this you can tell I have little kids in my house because I have a line from Finding Nemo stuck in my head, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”

October 14, 2008. Personal Growth. 3 comments.

Sermon Intro: Week 3

Here’s part 3 of 4 of the video intros for our series: “Answers for the stress and strain of life”.

I still like the style of the video and how, for this series, I was able to theme the sermon gfx, video backgrounds and intro video. I thought I edited the doctor’s interview better this week.

But I had some problems with this weeks video:
– A few of the text plates were too long. I made them all 5 seconds and a couple didn’t have to be that long.
– I had my lav mic crap out on me during the second shoot of Doctor Bruce. You see the shot dip down as I’m checking my audio. I also had to use the on camera mic.
– The script was blocked out by the senior pastor. I think the script needed some help. But I need to work out a better process for collaborating with him.

October 13, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Video. 3 comments.

FXPHD Preview

Here’s the o-week video for the next semester at

October 12, 2008. Tags: . Personal Growth, Video. Leave a comment.

Better YouTube Videos

Once again I maybe late to this party but I just found out not only are there higher quality videos on YouTube, there are QuickTime videos on YouTube. If there are QuickTime videos you can watch them in QT or download them.

I don’t like it but I’ve been asked several times to pull a clip of YouTube before. My previous workflow was:
1) Use Firefox and the download helper plug-in to navigate to the page
2) Use the download helper to download the flv life
3) Use the now discontinues Visual Hub to convert the YouTube video to something useful.

But you can add a bookmark to your web browser with the javascript found at Mac OS X Hints

Once you’re on the YouTube page it will reload the page with a QT movie instead of a Flash movie. If you have QT Pro you can download the file and/or convert it into your desired format.

Props to Jonas Hummelstrand for the tip. He’s got a great blog about video production and After Effects. He’s the one who introduced me to as well.

October 9, 2008. Tags: , , . Tech Stuff, Video. 3 comments.

Color Correction can save your…

Color correction can save your… shoot. Here’s the raw image from a shoot from the intro video we showed last week.

I hate using the built in view finder of flip out display to gauge proper exposure. I typically run the image through my laptop and use the scopes in FCP (more in this older post) but this was a little more run and gun. One thing that appeals to me about the new HP-170 from Pannasonic is a built in scope for exposure. I think it’s a histogram but I’m going from memory.

Being on my color grading kick I ran the footage through Apple’s Color. The clip has a primary, two secondary, a color fx and then a primary out correction. I really like the workflow inside Color. I found it much easier and faster to work in than After Effects. What I don’t like about Color is how I get my footage in and out. I’d really like to see it integrated better with a FCP workflow. I think I’d like it to work more like a plug-in like Magic Bullet Looks. Enough talk here’s what I ended up with.

Because the clip was so under exposed I boosted a lot of gain. I didn’t try to reduce the grain other than the color fx styling that’s going on. Thankfully playing on large projectors and the average viewer at 25-75 feet away you get away with alot.

October 8, 2008. Tags: , , . Video. 2 comments.

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