Global Advance Promo

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.

Watch the video on Vimeo:

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May 27, 2010. Sound, Video. Leave a comment.

Free Sound Seminar in Dallas Area

If you’re in the Dallas area and are looking for improving your sound mixing chops Sennheiser is hosting a 2 day seminar this week. You can check out the details here. It’s Wed (9/2/09) and Thurs (9/3/09) from 8:00 to 5:30 each day at Chase Oaks Church in Plano. Coffee & Bagels in the morning and a real lunch. Best of all I have some free tickets. If you’d like to go leave a comment or send me a message via Twitter and I’ll get you the tickets.

August 31, 2009. Personal Growth, Sound. Leave a comment.

Monitor Wars

Maybe monitor wars is a bit extreme. But if you’ve ever been responsible for the FOH (Front of House) mix, you know the battle between the volume produced on stage impacts the quality and the volume of the mix in the house.

I’m not a musician. I’ve tried picking up various instruments but it just doesn’t click in my mind. My brother on the other hand plays several by ear. I think he got all the musical talent in the family.

I said that to say I don’t fully understand what a musician needs in their monitors for them to do their best. From who I’ve talked to the majority see monitors for the band to stay on time and on key. They don’t need to replicate the house mix. They need the best mix for them to stay on time and in key so they can give their best performance.

I haven’t had to fight the monitors war much at Grace Outreach Center. This is because before I came (9+ years ago) they were using a TDM Monitoring system from Harry Boling. Harry was a long time volunteer who ran FOH for us. It was 16 channels that were split at our patch bay. They ran over coax cable to the mix stations. We’ve also had electric drums. (My thoughts on electric vs. acoustic drums).

Eventually the system started to wear down and a little over 4 years ago we installed an Aviom system (my thoughts on the Avioms).

After that transition we had a worship leader who liked the Aviom but couldn’t get used to IEMs (In Ear Monitors). He felt too cut off and because of our speaker placement there is no good locations to get a crowd mic without picking up a lot of the FOH mix. This ended up putting a delay effect into the Aviom. Really goofy. I know there are some better IEM solutions now. Sensaphonics Active IEMS come to mind but they are around $2k for the setup + your wireless if I remember right. And there is someone out there but I can’t remember who it is but they have IEM that you can control how much isolation you have via “plugs”. The plugs give you different steps of isolation. I think they were around $750 + your wireless.

So for that worship leader we tried a “hotspot” monitor from Galaxy Audio. There is now kind way to say it. It sounded like crap. But the volume was much lower than a typical wedge because the monitor gave a more focused throw pattern and was closer to his ears. The next step was to improve the audio quality we tried a studio monitor. We ended up with a Yamaha MSP3. Not the greatest monitor in the world but it’s a small footprint and gave the volume we needed. Everyone was happy.

Well in 2008 we brought on a new worship leader. There was a communication break down and I didn’t know when he was going to be playing. So I improvised when he was going to play. I typically found out about 5 minutes before rehearsal. So I grabbed what I had available and that was a powered Mackie speaker out of our portable rig and ran it as a monitor. He loved it because it was freaking loud!

He eventually wanted to move to an Aviom setup that fed the Mackie. Problem was there would be times where his monitor would be louder than the house and drowning out the FOH mix during quiet times.

So it was time for a fix. He doesn’t want to go to IEM. The budget is tight. So the idea came up to move from the powered Mackie to the Yamaha studio monitor. From the soundbooth, with just his monitor we would measure around 86dB C weighted. This impacted the FOH mix and everyone on stage complained they couldn’t hear their monitors. Then other monitors get turned up now the house has to get turned up and the cycle continues. We switched to the Yamaha Monitor and now his volume was reading around 70dB C Scale from the sound booth.

Now the other vocalists and choir can hear their monitors. The FOH mix is quieter and cleaner. And overall it’s a win.

I know using a studio monitor may not be a typical solution for stage volume so I wanted to share the solution we came up with.

January 23, 2009. Tags: , , . Sound. 4 comments.

Creative|Ideas is Moving

I started this blog as an experiment and for personal growth. Hopefully a few others have benefited as much as I have from it. But I’m making some changes:

– I’m moving my blog from being hosted on wordpress to it’s own domain. This gives me some creative freedom (the design has been pathetic for awhile of my blog). It also give me some extensionability I’ve been looking for. Finally it gives me the ability to learn how to design and tweak the wordpress engine.

-My blog is no longer going to be known as Creative|Ideas but is being rebranded as CreativeChurchMedia.net. If you look at what I’ve been writing about is mostly falls under church media and hopefully it helps you to be more creative.

So please jump over to CreativeChurchMedia.net. If you’re subscribed via RSS please subscribe to the new feed: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/CreativeChurchMedia. It’s a work in progress but all new content is going to be published at http://creativechurchmedia.net/ instead of here.

January 21, 2009. Blogroll, Books, Graphic Design, Links, Marketing, Music, Personal Growth, Random, Sound, Tech Stuff, Uncategorized, Video, Web Development. Leave a comment.

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.

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.

Quicktime Tip

Here’s a quick tip I figured out this week. Most of the videos I do I create in After Effects. I then need to score the audio. I like using Sound Track Pro for this. I think the bundled sound fx are great plus the toolset is efficient for lining up sound cues to specific points of action.

But I’ve always been a little confused with what to do afterwards. I have a .mov file from AE that’s huge and I have my audio file from SoundTrackPro. But how do I merge them?

If I ran it back trough AE I’m either going to have to wait for the render time and/or I’m creating another huge video file. In the past I’d dump them into Final Cut Pro and have FCP render out a reference movie so the file size was much smaller. But FCP doesn’t like my “Church Def” formats and FCP is going to create a bunch of folders just to do this one small task.

Now you may already have known this but QuickTime Pro can knock this simple step out. Here’s how:

1) Open the audio file and movie file in QT
2) With the audio file selected select all (cmd+A or Edit/Select All) then copy it (cmd+C or Edit/Copy)
3) Select the movie file and add the audio file to the movie file (Edit/Add To Selection & Scale)
4) Save your movie file

Tada! That’s it. Wish I would have known that a while ago. And if you already knew it, why didn’t you share it?

October 3, 2008. Tags: , , . Sound, Tech Stuff, Video. Leave a comment.

Drums In The Church (again)

We’re still using the electric kit I’ve talked about here. I think they’ve set a timeframe to move to acoustic drums for Memorial Day 2009! I don’t know why such a long time frame but it is progress.

After talking to several of the musicians over the last few weeks I’ve become a fan of the acoustic kit. Here’s why: We’ve had several service where the worship set almost went from good to rockin! But something kept it back. It’s like there has an invisible barrier preventing us from getting to the rock level. My first thought was that it was the musical arrangement of the songs. But as I was talking with the musos they all pointed to the electric drums.

I defended the electric drums at first until they made this point. Electric drums lack the dynamics to build the energy level of a song. They only have about 3 levels they can play at (not playing, sorta soft and loud) but with an acoustic kit they have a dozen or so levels the drummer can play at. This is really the backbone of the musical swells in a song to get it from foot taping to rocking.

So after that and critically listening to some live worship CDs I like I have to admit, they’re right. So I’ve begun my therapy to move from electric to acoustic. Hi, my name is Dave and I like acoustic drums.

September 4, 2008. Tags: , , . Sound. 9 comments.

What’s It Worth?

Working in a creative technical position I have to spec out solutions for various audio/video/lighting projects. One thing that I’ve learned is the difference in price does not give you the exact same proportional improvement. There is a point of diminishing returns for the extra cost vs. the improved performance/ features/ reliability/ durability/ etc…

A $5,000 Rolex does basically the same thing as a $10 Casio, they keep fairly accurate time. One illustration I’ve found helpful is asking if this were a car we were buying what model would we be looking at? Do we need a cheap economy car (the smallest and cheapest Kia)? Do we want a reliable car (Like an Accord or Camry)? Or do we want something that has all the bells and whistles (Cadillac)? My bosses can’t always appreciate the difference between a Mackie analog console and our Yamaha M7CL but they understand the car analogy.

But working in a church we often have a limited budget and we are to be good steward of our resources. So how do I make good recommendations when spec’ing equipment for the church?

1) I’ve learned that if the piece of gear is going to be used on a regular basis, lets try to buy it once. Let’s think through all the possible scenarios this will be used for during the year. Will it meet those needs? If not would it make more sense to buy a product that will or rent gear for those few times it won’t.

Is this piece durable and will it hold up under regular use. The youth pastor spoke in our main service a few months ago and I used our DPA 4066 headset on him. He had had problems with a Countryman e6 staying in place but the DPA gave him a great fit and he sounded great. But he was shocked when I told him it was a $650 headset! Yes it’s probably the most expensive headset mic out there but for us the spoken word is important. And the quality (durability and sonic quality) is worth the price over a cheaper version (at the time the e6 was not available in a double ear set. He balked at the price and asked for an alternative. I found an Avalex headset for something like $250. I read a few decent reviews and pitched it to the youth pastor. It was in a price point he was comfortable. I told him I didn’t have any experience with the mic and for the price they are leaving something out. Well The connector that connects the mic to the bodypack has been stripped out 2 times. It could be them mishandling it, which they deny. The cable is replaceable but they’ve bought 2 of them in 3 months at $69. At this rate they’ll be at the cost of a DPA by next year.

If the piece of gear is not going to be used on a regular basis than I’m fine cutting corners. Or portable rig has been pieced together from left over gear from other rooms and you know what I’m fine having a old small mackie mixer because it does what we need it to 90% of the time. The other 10% I rent gear. It’s finding the balance.

– In our church we have multiple service going on at the same time. So for me I’ve started spec’ing similar gear for each room. If a presentation switcher is needed you get a Kramer VP719 or 724 depending on your needs. Everyone has the same CD players and CD recorders. I’ve even started spec’ing the same sound board if it meets their needs (currently the Mackie Onyx 24-4) board for several rooms. They use Easy Worhsip or ProPresenter just depends if they want a PC or Mac workflow. It makes training easier because if someone knows how one system works they can work the others.

– Know the weakest link in the chain. If you put a sports cars on bad bald tires guess what it’s not going to perform at it’s best. I try to keep the equipment at a constant level through the signal flow. This includes the talent in front, the operators behind the equipment and the acoustics of the room. In our sanctuary we had put in a nice sound system, we had good musicians and operators, decent acoustic and a good keyboard. But when we swapped out the 10 year old $25 DI with a nice DI the high end of the keys just popped out in the mix. Besides the speaker cable the DI was the cheapest part of the chain and the cheapest to upgrade. At the same time we don’t over do it. A Shure KSM9 handheld mic can sound great with a great singer. But I don’t need to put the backup singers in the youth band on a $700 handheld mic. It’s finding the balance.

I feel like this post has been a mental dump. I’ve been asked to come up with some solutions and then to reevaluate them with a lower budget. So I’m working through this process myself on a couple of projects. Looking for the best bang for the buck solution. But want to make sure it’s going to work for us and last. Or at least make sure my boss is aware we may need to replace said gear in 2 years when it breaks.

August 7, 2008. Random, Sound, Tech Stuff, Video. Leave a comment.

Rechargeable Batteries and Wireless Mics

With the economy struggling in our nation, those struggles will impact the church. Luckily living in Dallas our economy is stronger than most of the economies in the nation. But as a church we are looking for ways to maximize our budget even more.

So I’ve started looking in to rechargeable batteries for our wireless mics. We spend about $2k a year in batteries for our mics just in the sanctuary. That’s not counting any of the other rooms where services are going on.

At one time rechargeable batteries gave pathetic performance in a wireless mic. But technology changes and I’m hearing some good things about a couple of brands.

Mike Sessler on his blog talked about the initial transitionand a 2 year update. He’s been using the Ansmann rechargeables from Horizon Battery. He said the 250mah 9v powers his Shure ULXP mics (same we have) for 4 hours.

From a different angle I talked to Gordon Moore of Lectrosonics and also Shure’s tech support and they both recomend iPowerUs.com. iPower offers a 500mah 9v battery. That should get the usage in our Shure ULXP handhelds up around 6+ hours. That should cover us for practice and services on any day.

Our practice has been to leave the transmitters on from practice straight through service (we use the power lock feature to ensure once they’re on the stay on). But if needed the Shure’s are easy enough to be powered down when not in use.

I’m going to order some of the iPower units to do some test and see if it’s viable for us. I’ll post updates as the come.

Anyone else using rechargeable’s in their wireless? What were your results like?

July 31, 2008. Tags: , , , . Sound, Tech Stuff. 4 comments.

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