What I’ve Been Listening To…

I’ve been on a jazz kick lately. I’ve also noted that iTunes has been posting some $5 album sales. Now for me I don’t like buying DRM music and I want to pay as little as possible. So my first stop has been iTunes because they have the best user interface and high quality previews. Then I’ll jump over to Amazon.com and check out their MP3 downloads and see who’s cheaper and if the album I want from iTunes is a iTunes+ album (higher quality and no DRM). Anyway…

-Miles Davis Quintet: The Legendary Prestige Quintet Series
-John Coltrane: Blue Train
-Miles Davis: Birth of Cool

As you can tell I’m a fan of late 50s early 60s jazz. Just sharing what I’m enjoying.


November 21, 2008. Tags: , . Random, Sound. 2 comments.

Bible Character Intro: Jacob

Last weekend we planned to have a service based on Jacob. But that changed. So here’s the video we shelved. I think it’ll get used eventually.


The video was based on a template I had used before. It was a 1080p project and lets just say a 1080p project is a render hog. Way more intensive than 720p. Here’s the breakdown of how I made it:
– Voice over was laid down with a Shure sm7 in ProTools.
– The Biblical Art is from Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld etchings.
– After it was animated I stylized the etchings with Magic Bullet Looks
– The audio was scored in Sound Track Pro. The audio is a mix from included Apple loops and Designer Sound FX

The projects was simple enough. I have a feeling if my boss likes it I’ll be making a lot more of these videos.

November 18, 2008. Tags: , , , . Video. 3 comments.

Social Media and the Church

As I’ve been thinking about how the church can better communicate, social media keeps coming up. But the challenge for me has been how can some of these technologies be leveraged by the church.

My Space and Face Book are probably the most popular social media networks. But it’s challenging for a business or organization to leverage either of these networks. Except for myspace music/ band pages. The reason for this is most social networks are about people connecting to other people.

The social network that I think has the most potential for the church I think is Twitter. If you’re not familiar with Twitter check this out: http://www.commoncraft.com/Twitter. That link takes you to a video that describes the network better than I could.

While Twitter may seem mundane. Who really cares about “What Are You Doing?” But the truth is I’ve found it helpful to connect with experts and others in fields I’m interested in (video production and graphic design). But I’ve found I can stay in touch with some friends better than I could through their facebook updates or even the occasional email.

So how does this apply to the church?
– You can send messages out to all your followers
– You can poll all your followers or have them submit ideas and/or questions
– You can get a pulse of what’s going on in people’s lives from their twitter updates. It’s amazing how many prayer requests I’ve seen
– You can search through Twitter to see what others are talking about. Or what people are talking about your organization.

So how can your ministry begin to use Twitter? Develop a Twitter Plan
– Choose your twitter check in times
– Plan 3-5 daily tweets
– Schedule your tweets using TweeLator.com
– Create an auto-welcome message and a auto follow message. (you can ditch and block the spam accounts that pop up
– Supplement with spontaneous Tweets

November 18, 2008. Tags: , , , . Marketing, Tech Stuff. Leave a comment.

Dallas After Effects User Group

There’s another meeting of the Dallas After Effects User Group this Thursday (Nov 11). Last month I was supposed to demo Mocha and it’s integration with After Effects. Unfortunately a small family emergency popped up (my wife was locked out of the house with two tired kids) prevented me from making it last time. So this time I hope to present what was planned for the last meeting.

Here’s a preview of what we’ll be working on:
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.

For more info check out the Dallas AE User Group site: http://www.dallasaeug.com

November 17, 2008. Tags: , , , . Video. Leave a comment.

Developing A Communication Strategy

Well this week I’m wearing a different hat for me, the communications/ marketing hat. I don’t know if it’s my strength but I’ve been thinking about how we could change somethings around the church. I’ve been wanting to make several changes but in the past my ideas didn’t have the sticking power. Currently there are some cultural changes taking place within the organization that might give my ideas some sticking power.

As a result this post is going to be longer than normal. It’s a lot of thoughts in progress but I thought I’d share my thought process and what’s influencing these thoughts. If anyone has any insights/ ideas I’d love to hear from you.

I’d like to say that I’m a marketing genius. Heck I’ll settle for a genius in almost any field. But my thoughts have been the synthesis (some of it was just straight stealing because they were so good) of ideas from:
Seth Godin
Kem Meyer
Tim Schraeder
(just realized all their blogs are on typepad. Coincidence?)

So the culture of our church is changing:
-Mass marketing has lost it’s impact (low ROI)
-Economy of our community is changing
-We are not doing mass mailings
-We are approaching a growth season for our church (January through Easter for us) so we are evaluating how we are going to communicate to our community.

So here are some of my goals for our communications:
-Reinforce that we are a unified church working toward a common vision, not a federation of sub-ministries. In the past every ministry would promote itself and the new series/ changes they were making for the growth season. I’m pushing for us to establish a theme for our growth season. Something generic enough like (join the journey, get in the game, walk through the door, etc…). That way sub ministries can promote to join the process by: Attending a LIFE group, being baptized, becoming a member, attending all the weeks of the sermon series, brining a friend, etc… It’s the principle

We need to use leverage our website and social networks for communicating with our members and community. Currently we have about 50 visitors a day to our website. This is about 1% of our weekend attendance. So we need to change some things to push our website. Here’s what I want to do:
-Redesign the website to better reflect our new goals and brand. Get content from sub ministries that tells a story, not just a static brochure. Have news nuggets where people can quickly see what’s going on. Develop connection points for people to get involved and take the next step. Expand experiences beyond the event (Bible study for current series, pictures and videos of events, testimonies, etc…)
-Reduce the size of our bulletin from it’s 11×19 size. Remove the inserts we put in the bulletin for special events etc… 50-70% of our bulletin is static information. Have only current info in the bulletin and let it be short to the point, push people to the web for more info. Let the bulletin content peak an interest and push them to the website to answer their questions.
-Instead of having signup sheets and brochures in our welcome center, put a couple of kiosks where people can sign up online.

This is a bit of a mind dump for me about some changes that we might be kicking off. We have a meeting next week so we’ll see what happens. But this might mean I’ll be designing a new bulletin layout and a new website over the next few weeks.

If you guys have any ideas on how to improve our communication and how we use the web I’d appreciate it.

November 12, 2008. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 9 comments.

What I’m Digging: Boxee.tv

Ever since the 2.0 software for the iPhone came out and the remote app was unvield I’ve been wanting an Apple TV to be my media server at home. But then I found a MacMini that wasn’t being used so I set it up as a test media server in my house. I knew I could use the remote app on my iPhone to control iTunes and when I wanted to I had 4 seasons of The Office I could watch.

But I’ve also found myself watching more and more internet video from hulu.com and the networks (CBS, ABC, FOX and NBC). Wouldn’t it be great to get these feeds onto my TV? Enter boxee.tv

Boxee is currently in Alpha testing but I have some invites I can send out. Boxee is a media center with social networking ties.

Lets break it down. First the media center. The navigation is very smooth. On a mac it uses the Apple Remote that comes with most macs these days. Navigation is very simple. You can view videos, music and pictures. Boxee will play non-DRM music and video files you have on your computer and here’s where the cool part comes. It brings in internet feeds.

For video it brings in Flash feeds from CBS.com, Hulu.com, Comedy Central, YouTube and some other internet feeds. This is a huge source of free videos! Because they are pulling Flash feeds they don’t have ABC which uses Microsoft’s plugin Silverlight.

For audio feeds there is a podcast feeds, last.fm, bbc, npr and some others I haven’t checked out.

For my setup I am running from the DVI of the MacMini through a Apple DVI to Video adaptor and then taking the composite (RCA jack) to my 32″ old SD TV. And the picture looks pretty good. In order to make the menu legible I’ve had to test different screen resolutions and I have to turn off over-scanning which means the picture never fills the screen. But the image is bigger than my laptop so that’s good.

The media center is the only part I’ve really tested. But boxee does take the media center one step further and adds social networking. Once you add your friends you can see what they’ve been watching and what the recommend and vice versa.

Overall I have to say boxee is a very slick media center. The killer feature is the ability for it to bring in video and audio feeds from the internet. For playing back content I already have I find myself using iTunes and the iPhone Remote app or Front Row. I would like to see an iPhone remote for boxee. It is in Alpha right now so it has a few bugs. Like not being able to skip ahead or back in a video feed. Kind of a bummer if you missed something or hit a wrong button 45 minutes into a video.

November 6, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Sound, Tech Stuff, Video. Leave a comment.