Lessons from a baby

I’ve always been a person who tries to learn lessons from life around me. It’s probably years of Sunday school classes and trying to find the lesson in the Bible stories.

I just started feeding my daughter, Portland solid foods. It’s been fun seeing her facial reactions to different vegetables and fruit. Her first reaction is usually unsure if she likes the new taste, by the second bite she is smiling big and wants more fast. She often tries to grab the spoon and put more in her mouth by herself. She once was so excited, she grabbed the small cup I was feeding her from and tried to eat it. I laughed and said, “You can’t eat the whole thing at once!” When I said it, I stopped and laughed to myself, so that’s what I’m trying to do! When it comes to all the new dreams and ideas I’m having, I’m trying to do everything at once. For the past month, I’ve been enjoying being a mom full time and being creative on the side whenever I get the chance. I started writing more here and making YouTube videos weekly. As I’m pouring my extra time into these areas I’m waiting like… ok when is this going to pay off? In other words, I’m trying to eat the cup just like my little girl. It doesn’t work that way, it’s one small bite at a time.

From the moment I learned how to do graphic design all the way to graduating as an editor, I’ve intern and got hired to help other people build their vision. I didn’t mind, since at 22 I didn’t really have one myself. It’s easier to help others build theirs. When it comes to my dreams, I’m often changing my mind on how to go about it, or ask the question; is it worth the risk? Rediscovering my creativity and refining new dreams has become a process in which I am learning new things about myself.

I guess if anything, my daughter is teaching me to enjoy the experience of life.

Thank you to those who enjoy my post and liking them, I hope you are also learning with me new things about life and are encouraged.

Getting Things Done

IMG_2178Getting Things Done by David Allen has been on my reading list for years. From the moment I heard about it, I knew it was a book I needed to read but never got around to it. Now as a director of a department, I owed it to my team to learn how to get things done and to remain stress free.

“You need to set up systems and tricks that get you to think about your projects and situation more frequently, more easily, and in more depth.”

Within just a few weeks of reading the book, I’ve been able to reach some pretty big goals of mine. There were so many times when I was about to give up on a step to a big project but knew if I kept going, I’d have the joy of marking it off my list. Getting Things Done helped break down the to-do list into simple questions: Can I do this in less than two minutes? What’s the next action?

“No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step towards the solution. Do something.” George F. Nordenholt

It also allowed me to share what I learned with my team. When David Allen recommended creating physical file folders, at first I thought it was old-fashion but as I put his advice to practice, I noticed how ready I was to answer questions, give information, and easily switch gears from project to project. The goal is to free up your mind to do more proactive and creative thinking, to think less about what you need to do and to think more about the things you need to do.

A vision without a task is but a dream, a task without a vision is drudgery, a vision and a task is the hope of the world.” From a church in Sussex, England 1730

Discovering when my energy level was at its highest and lowest has helped me tattle the projects more affectedly. Mornings for me is when my brain is the most active, so that’s when its best to learn something new, work with numbers, or brainstorm. Using every minute of the day to keep getting things done, whether its reaching a goal, making your deadlines at work or making time to spend with the people you love, it all can be done by taking the time to learn how to plan and prepare.

“People are always blaming their circumstance for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them” George Bernard Shaw

Stop worrying about what you need to do, and create a to-do list – everyday. 🙂

 

Creativity is easy.. Or is it?

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I’ve been making a living from my creativity for twelve years, I passed most of my classes in high school because of it. I owe most of personality to my creativity.
But when it comes to my work ethic, I owe it to my desire to do the will of God. I owe it my parents examples who still come home tired and worn out. Hard work is apart of my faith and life. So what to do when my gift becomes work? Should I say I’m not creative because it’s requiring more than I’m use to? Maybe the gift has left?
Fear not, I’ve learned creativity is asking you to dig deeper and to try something new. One of the biggest contribution to having a healthy flow is the right amount of rest. Too much rest can make you lazy not enough rest can make you anxious.
My brain works better when I’m using it. (Duh). Reading books and reading articles ask my brain to work and exercise. When I’m spending too much time watching TV or on entertainment I notice it hinders my creative flow. When you do something that doesn’t require your imagination your imagination isn’t being challenged.
Creativity can be hard work. It requires you to sacrifice your time, attention and focus. It requires you to go read a book and to complete it. It requires you to think. We live in a time when we can download an app to think for us. I may not come home physically tired like my parents but I come home mentally tired. The new generation of hard work is using your mind. You can’t afford to waste it on things that don’t matter anymore.
If you’re planning on making a dollar off your creativity, you’re going to have to learn how to think….and people, employees or customers will pay for that.
If I wrote a self help book it would be called, “My zombie days are over!” 🙂

Podcast Guest on The Way We Tell

920!x300!_8803817I met filmmaker, Jesse Koepke on twitter a few years ago. Since then we’ve kept in touch talking about our faith, storytelling,  videos, and encouraging each other about working in post as editors. He recently asked if I’d like to be a guest on his new podcast The Way We Tell, a podcast about storytelling.

Hear about how I started making videos and what it’s like being a media director at church.

You can listen here at: The Way We Tell and subscribe to this new podcast on iTunes.

Toughen Thy Skin

Being creative requires one to be experimental when trying to produce something new. Coming up with new ideas isn’t always easy, and there’s never a guaranteed it will work. Last month I was working on a project that seemed to be missing one element. As I drove home I noticed a billboard that sparked an idea. The following day I tried to gather a young couple to film but no one seemed to be around. When I saw an older couple enjoying their lunch at work. I asked them if I could film them for a few moments. They didn’t really want to but I insisted.

When I completed the project I looked at it and was happy everything worked out. The next week, I received a mix of reactions. Some people liked it, other didn’t. I even heard some “hated it”. Which I admit, did hurt my creative feelings.

I took the stab like a grown up and deleted the file. I had one of my new editors give it a go, and create something new. That week, I had to start a new project that would once again require risk, time, imagination, and heart. I realized I couldn’t let the experience of the previous video stop me from being creative.

I was nervous about the next project I had to work on. Everything I was doing wasn’t working. I had over 5 drafts, and still kept refining it. I asked advice from others what they thought when I was stuck. I took notes and made adjustments. When I delivered the final product, everyone loved it.

I saw the value of being open and asking others what they thought of a project. Their feed back help me work out the issues I was stuck on. Being able to do this required me to ask the hard question and allow myself to be open to whatever their comments would be.

Maybe your last project only received 4 views or maybe it wasn’t as good as you hoped. Don’t let it stop you from trying again.

What helps you when you feel stuck on a project?

 

10 things I learned from Interning at The WB

When I was in college we were encouraged to find a place to intern. We we’re told this was our ticket in the door. My first interview for an internship felt more like a job interview which made me hope it would offer to pay me in the future. The new employee wanted me to start right away.

When I arrived at the place I was a little disappointed as the office building was old and run down. They say not to judge a book by its cover but I was judging this place, from the empty parking lot, to the smell of the hallways. I asked myself, “Is this where I want to work?”
When the employer was two hours late, I finally was let into their office space. He had me start on logo designs right away. During the day I over heard conversations of the owners marriage problems, and slow business issues. I went home with a dead end feeling, since I was working for free and the internship wasn’t what I expected. The second day I showed up, the owners was no where to be found. They told me where to get the key and to keep working on those logos. This internship was a dead end. I figured if the owners didn’t want to be there, neither do I. I left the office that night and wrote a note that I was thankful for the opportunity but it’s not going to work out.

1. Be honest with yourself. Allowing yourself to be honest will help you discover what you like by seeing what you don’t like.

2. Work for a place that you find interesting and values you as a person. Doing research before on the place and job will give you a better idea on what to expect.

3. Be a good listener to your surroundings. Are the people around you happy? Do those who work there enjoy their job?

4. If you have a feeling the internship isn’t what you want to do, say something sooner and respectfully. Be careful not to burn a bridge that you might cross in the future. Letting the place of business know you are leaving instead of just disappearing shows courage and respect.

When I told my college councilor the internship didn’t work out she pulled me aside. “This just came in the morning and I think you’ll like it but you have to get your information to me today.” When I looked at the letter head I saw the Warner Brothers logo. I ran to my desk and filled out the application. Later that week I got a call, the interview would be in Burbank.

At the interview I realized they were looking for a team mate who would fit in with them. She didn’t seem to care about what school I went to, she wanted to see how well I would fit in with the team. The team was full of laid back thirty something creatives that were extremely different from one another. Everyone seemed friendly and excited to be working there. If I got this internship I would be driving an hour everyday to work not to mention morning traffic.

When I learned I got the internship I was so excited and getting paid for my time there was a big plus. I couldn’t wait to start working as a graphic designer. It was there that I learned how much work goes into a career. I had no life for the next six month. I was either in the office helping everyone out or on the 101 freeway trying to get home. Overall, the experience working at Warner Brothers was amazing. I knew it was God’s favor on my life because getting a job at a big production place like Warner Brothers is nearly impossible. I was excited when they asked if I wanted to extend my internship five more months.

It was neat to eat lunch on the lot where the cast of ER would be walking around in their scrubs. I was able to watch episodes of their newest shows before the season even came out. I was assisting and helping the office by doing the small office task for them as well as have creative freedom to solve problems on my own.

The more I worked in graphics, the more I saw I really wanted to learn how to edit videos. I knew if I was offered a job, it would be hard to go to school for editing. This was before learning how to edit was so accessible. There was still so much I wanted to do before I settled down with a full time job.

When the creative director asked what I wanted to do after interning, I told her I was going back to school. They threw me a good bye party and said to give them a call when I was done with school. Having such a great internship experience made me thankful I was honest with myself about the first one I had.

5. Figure out your goals and where you want your career to go during the internship. This is the best time to discover what is it you really want to do, what field of specialty would you like to work in. What you enjoy most.

6. Try to be helpful with everyone in the office. Develop new skills that you can brag about on your resume or that can land you a job.

7. Don’t complain. Be grateful for whatever task they give you. The better the attitude the more responsibilities they will give you. I did a coffee run once, and enjoyed the walk to Starbucks.

8. Make a good impression on everyone you meet. Be sure to remember names and shake hands with those you are introduce to. Having confidences goes a long way.

9. If its a non paid internship, make sure you are getting your pay though experience. Make it worth your time and effort. What you put into it, that is what you will get out of it.

10. Act like you belong there, as if you are a full time employee. Take your internship seriously, take advantage of the opportunities it might bring. 

Interning at The WB at the start of my career let me know God had my career in His hands. He was leading me I never thought was possible. People doubted I could make a living off being creative, but I knew being creative is what I was born to do.

The Editor Counselor

When I meet new people usually I am the first editor they ever met. I often have to clarify I am a video editor and not an editor for writers. I find it fascinating that years later they have become video editors too. Because I am the first they ever met working in the profession, I often receive calls in the middle of the night with emergency editing issues. I’ve even met new editors here on my blog through email with not just technical questions but about becoming an editor.

The conversation usually end up going deeper than editing. We talk about freelancing, self confidences and how to deal with current work situations. My heart goes out to them when I hear about their client who is paying them very little. When working freelance we have to use our best judgement but even more important we have to learn how to talk business with confidence. Over the years dealing with all types of people for all different types of projects, I’ve gotten better at making deals where everyone leaves happy.

Communication upfront is KEY! Making the price clear, how payments will be made, due date, final format and vision. So many problems come up when things aren’t clear.

Know your worth – Before you are caught off guard with someone asking you how much you charge, know their expectations. Ask questions about the person’s budget to see what you can give them for what they want to pay. Work out the amount of hours something takes and add some padding. Usually a project will take longer than you think. Under bidding is the worse, so try to over estimate how long it will take. Ask if you can talk at a later time when you have a better idea on what you might charge.

When Free is okay – There is a time and place to do free work. Its usually when you are still a “student”. You should no longer be free after two years of editing. There is always a ton of free work out there! Its the paid jobs that you want. Once someone has you for free, they will tell their friends and family you are happy to do work for them for nothing. Watch your editing reputation. I often hear people say, “She’s good but expensive”. If you want your project done well and on time, I am your girl and yes it will cost you.

Put it in writing! – I once heard, if its not in writing it didn’t happen. Write contracts to cover your back. Send invoices with details of what the clients are paying for and receiving. Include text about extra cost for revisions, etc. Keep in mind of duplicating, dvd’s, and even hard drive space. It all depends how big your project will be.

Make sure they have money – If you have a feeling a client doesn’t have much money, don’t risk doing business with them. I once did a job where I over heard a conversation that things were tight. I should have asked if the project was something they could afford. I completed the project and never got paid. The client said he wasn’t happy with it and not willing to do revisions to fix things. I didn’t have anything in writing, I was too shy to talk business and I wasted my time and effort.

Beware of the difficult cheap client – There will always be that client that is very picky and cheap. Do business with them at your risk but know this person will try to get the most out of you for very little money in return. If you pick up that the client is going to be difficult, over bid the job to turn them off. If they are willing to pay, well then maybe it will be worth it after all.

Deal with the issues and move on – If you are freelancing your client may want more and more. If you failed on your end to communicate extra cost of additions, take the bullet, make the change and fix the issues and move on. Don’t bother fighting it. If the client isn’t happy at the end, they’re not gonna wanna pay you.

Test your final product – If its a DVD, see if it plays on your player. Watch your final product. Don’t be lazy to fix your audio or jump cuts. Have someone else read your text to check your spelling.

Try to remain a good relationship with your client – You want them to refer you to others and hire you for more work in the future. The customer isn’t always right but let them think they are. Make them happy.

No matter what you’ll always have some freelance issue. If you learn how to do the business part well then you can focus on the creative part of the project.

Freelancing is differently a skill. What have you learned over the years?

The Project Work Flow

I received an email from a reader after I wrote the post, “Making a Video – Do it fast!!” He asked if I could talk about my video workflow in greater detail. What caught his attention was a statement I made at the end. I said the video I made took two 8 hour working days.

In my freelance days, I use to spend up to a month on one video. Since working at church with a high demand of request for videos, two days is the minimum length for a 30 to 1 minute video.

At church the demand of quantity is greater than quality. But that doesn’t mean the quality of the production is poor. There are elements in video production that can not be compromise such as un-fixable white balance, bad exposer, focus and horrible audio. All those things can cause hours trying to fix, and there are even times that its easier to just re film.

When I say quantity is more important than quality, that really means, we don’t have a lot of time to spend on graphics for one promo. We can have an average of six videos every week that are due that weekend. The demand is high to complete videos fast.

We achieve every due date by time manage every hour. Here is a snap shot of a week on the calendar.

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You have to estimate each task. Such as, “I’m giving myself an hour to write up the script and record a voice over.” Arrange your lunch when an item has to render, export or upload. You have to be smart on using every hour given to you. If you are a freelancer with no boss pushing you, beware of spending too much time on a project.

I found the most time consuming element on a video are the graphics. I wait until the end to do that. Then I am able to see how much time I am allowed to create something. Our graphics are usually simple and basic but for special events we try to spend more time on creating something amazing.

Here is a practical break down –

My workflow —

1 hr- Create the script.

15 m- Book the filming.

30 m- Film: ask a volunteer who you trained to set up filming. Give them an hour.

30 m- Log and Capture: multitask by answering emails or look for music.

30 m- Find music: We have a hard drive called, “Sonic Pro”, that is full of stock music that allows us to change the track length.

1 hr- Normalize Audio levels: Normalize your audio on dialog so it can be louder than your music underneath.

1-3 hr- Edit: Depending on what it is, interviews may take longer – save time by having a volunteer add and name markers that will help you scan through your footage.

1-3 hr- Overlay footage: If you logged and captured well, this won’t take to much time. No “Untitled” footage is allowed. We keep overlay footage very organized by event name and date on a network that we can access to copy over to our hard drive. Example: “ConnectGroups_031413”

1-2 hr- Color Grading: I have saved presets in After Effects for each camera we own. Even depending on our studio backgrounds. I adjust colors depending on the person skin color and the way the lighting was set up.

No more than 3 hrs- Graphics: All depending on how much time we have until its due and the importance of the project. We use logos and colors that the graphic design dept. created for that event. I like to export this separate from the footage color grade just in case changes have to be made. Export lower thirds with an alpha channel so next time the video is used, you can change out the details.

2 hr- Render: Create a folder where all your renders will go. Place them on the project. Make changes if animation doesn’t work, etc.

30m- Export: Export a .mov, create an mp4.

30m- Upload and send for Approval: I upload to vimeo, sometimes I add a password -avoid letters and use numbers just in case the person you send it to has their caps lock on.

4 hrs- Changes made: Don’t get upset when you are told to make changes, it is apart of the editing life, set out a day for changes but try to send them another verison for final approval within 4 hours.

1.5 hrs- Approval: Once the video is approved, export to final format and deliver the video by letting who ever know that its completed and ready for show time.

There are times when a video can be made in a shorter amount of time given. The next time you work on a past project, your editing time should cut in half. The video I did that took two days, I saved time by having good audio, markers on the interviews, no changes were needed, and the submitter walked by and gave me approval instead of uploading and emailing a link.

Hope this helps those who work in video land. Feel free to share any tips you’ve develop over time in your work place.

One more thing, if you’re faster than your computer, maybe it’s time to upgrade.

Making a Video – Do it fast!!

You don’t have to be sloppy in order to edit fast, in fact, if done right, editing faster will force you be organized and even create better work. In order to speed up how fast you make a video, you gotta have a game plan. You have to know what to do next in order to keep your work pace going. Avoid the opportunities to get distracted, avoid repeating task, and avoid making mistakes that will take hours to fix.

Pre-production

Pre-production might as well be called “the fountain”. You must know what you’re going to do before you start. You can create thumbnails but they can be time consuming. What you need is a script of the timeline, this gives you an idea of the beginning, middle and end. Working out the details will help you in post. What questions are ask, who is in front of the camera, your audio, your white balance, and everything that goes into giving yourself or your editor good material to work with.

Audio – Audio can take forever to fix, so start off right with the best audio possible!!!!!

Post-production

When I am starting a new project I first, save my blank editing project right away, label all my bens, and gather all my footage placing them in a project folder with everything labeled. Misplacement and mislabeling can cause lots of wasted time, naming items will save hours and headache. I like labeling my items by date and subject.

(example: 061413_Blogpost)

Next, review your interview footage and label markers with titles. This way, you can scan and grab the parts that you want. Delete clips from your bens that are unusable. This will save time from thinking it can be used. (Example: Shots of the camera persons feet walking around.)

Audio- Pick your soundtrack before you edit, this will help set the tone, pace and style.

If your audio needs to be fixed, do it before you start cutting. If its an interview, you can lay your footage on the timeline, send to soundtrack pro, normalize and save.

My workflow —

-Script

-Book the filming

-Film

-Capture

-Find soundtrack music

-Fix Audio levels

-Edit

-Overlay footage

-Color Grading

-Graphics

-Render

-Export

-Upload

-Approve with some changes

-Changes made

-Approve!!!

Being a Church Editor

Ten years ago there was no such thing as a church editor. Churches around the world used old fashion overhead projectors and an awkward church greeter to deliver upcoming events.

A lot has changed since then. Technology has transformed our world dramatically. We entered in to the digital age not knowing how much it would impact our culture. Video has become another language that we speak to connect with each other. As a church editor, I use the visual tool to connect with a new generation, the unchurched and those who walk in our building as a stranger.

The video department’s goal is to connect the senior pastors vision to every member, in my case, more than 24,000 people. We also communicate what is taking place on campus in order to help build lives, restores homes, help the helpless, fed the hungry, and make a large church feel like a small church. It’s our job to tell the story.

My senior pastor once told me, “You’re going to change the world from that desk.” With that encouragement I know I can lead a team that will fulfill the major task that we, the church editors, have. We are the modern day scribes. We record, capture, edit and share the miracles that God is doing in the lives of the people.

Working for a church is no clocking in and out job. Your mind must always be taking notes. You have to know the heart beat of the church in order to create a video that tells others what it’s saying. You must learn the culture of the people who sit in those seats every week. I am part of a unique and powerful church that is placed in the middle of a bankrupt city, there is no copying formulas. To this day, I’m still learning my church’s heritage and mission.

The best way to get started at your church, is to show your willingness and faithfulness. Volunteer your time to create, learn and pour into your church. Talk with a pastor to see if you can do an internship to start making videos for youth, or for the adult church. If you are new at editing, this process may take a while to produce anything worth showing. But don’t give up, you’ll get better and smarter. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am now on my own, that was God walking me though the journey and Him leading me.

One warning when you are editing for free of any kind. If you find you are doing it more than 30 hours a week, and for more than 6 months, and feel your skill level is payable, then maybe talk with your supervisor about a possibility of a paid position. When volunteering anywhere, there is never a guaranteed for a job, but Ive seen how faithfulness, and showing good working ethics can create great opportunities.

A church Editor is no easy job, you must develop your skill level and also your heart. Hearing from God is needed in order to create something that will impact those who see your work. The good news is that He is strong in your weakness. He helps you through the journey.

Making your Shots Matter

I think we can all admit that no one is born with awesome camera skills. Most of my wisdom comes from times where I’ve failed horribly. I made a list for my team and would like to share it with all of you who are into production. Hope you can apply this knowledge to make every shot you film matter.

First things first –

Exposure – Before you take off and start shooting, you will need to pay attention to your exposure on your camera. You will notice there are two names, this is because the DSLR and Pro cameras use different terms. You will have to learn how to adjust your exposure to give you the right exposure to archive a shot that can be seen and also allow you to control the look and feel you want.

Iso / Gain – This will add noise to your footage but also will allow more light into your camera. I avoid high iso and high gain. If you are aren’t careful it can make your footage look like mud.

Aperture / Iris – You can control the look of your shots with a low aperture number. This also allows more light.  On a pro camera a low iris will make your shots really dark, so you will have to adjust your other settings to accommodate a low Iris number. For those who are new, a low aperture number will make the background blurry. Avoid changing your aperture while filming.
-a low aperture affects the focus, if you are filming with a DSLR and having trouble focusing, bring up that aperture and adjust your settings.

Shutter Speed – I adjust my shutter speed the most when it comes to getting my exposure. The goal is to keep this number 30, to give you a smooth film look but sometimes in order to get the exposure you want, you have to use a higher number. A shutter speed of 30 brings in a lot of light.

ND filter – A pro camera will have this on the side by the lens. You can turn this on when you are outside. You can buy a filter to put on a DSLR camera. This is like putting on sunglasses for your camera. One thing to remember, when filming inside make sure this is OFF!

White Balance – Your footage should never look blue or orange. It should look like what you are filming. You can leave the stylish tone to your editor to pick. Once you have your exposure correct, white balance on something white. Check your filming often to make sure the white balance doesn’t look strange. On the DLSR, it gives you presets of white balance, you can pick the best one that looks right for that moment. Sometimes putting on the sun preset looks better than a cloudy day preset even if its cloudy. Use your good judgement.

Remember, your exposure affects the amount of light that is going into the camera.

Exterior shooting – It took me years to finally realize how to film with the sun as my light source. I seemed to always return with footage I hated.

Lighting with the Sun – Look for a nice shaded away. Place the sun behind you, and in front of the subject. Avoid filming at noon because of harsh sunlight. You will find it will create shadows on the face, and even leave your talent making ugly faces trying to avoid the sun.

Sunrise or Sunset – Place it behind your subject to capture a glow on their shoulders.

Avoid a background that blows out your image. You don’t want the background to compete with the subject.

Interior shooting – If you don’t have a light on your camera, then you will be at the mercy of your camera settings to allow light into your shot.
– No ND filter
– low shutter speed
– low aperture
– high iso / gain (avoid gain due to lots of noise but sometimes you gotta use it)
– correct white balance

Movement – Adding movement to your shots is not only camera movement but also what is happening inside the frame.

Stabilizer – Always try to use a tripod, a monopod, or slider for your shots. If you are going handheld, you must know how to stand correct to avoid shaky shots. Make your body a human tripod. Place your feet apart form each other, bend your knees a little and tuck your shooting arm close to your body.

Point A to B – Start your shooting at one item then move to another. This will require knowing what you are going. If I am filming a kid playing pool, I would make point A the pool and point B the person playing.

Panning shot – Take a deep breath, point your foot to the direction you are headed towards.

Location – If you are filming a shot and it’s just not working, move your location to find a new perspective and angel.

Hold – If you are out shooting and find a beautiful shot, hold the shot for 30 seconds. This will give the editor time to pick which moment to pick from and how long we wants it on screen. Let the shot come alive, give it time for the subject to smile, laugh, think, wonder, move, embrace another person. etc.

Camera person – Don’t get nervous if the person you are filming looks at you, just hold your position. If you are allowed to be there, then don’t worry about being seen.

Interacting – Saying hi to people you are filming can help them feel more comfortable with being filmed. Interaction shots are great, having them smile or wave at the camera, if they are having fun ask them to do it again for the camera.

Avoid tunnel vision – Avoid moving your camera looking for what to capture, stick your head out instead and move to what is interesting. Your camera movement to one item to another can be called a reset. Those reset shots can be used.

Pull focus – Attempt to find layers of action to film, focus on one item then move it to another thats in the distance. Attempt this three times to give the editor the best pull focus shot.

Tilt zooms – Give your editor an option to add some fun energetic shots of tilt zooms.

What to look for – It all depends what you are shooting and who you are shooting for. For an event I look for people having fun, smiles, laughing, talking with friends, anything of action, people engaging in the event, people listening if its a church event, the main speakers, avoid shots of too many babies or kids if its not a children’s event. Also avoid capturing people bending down. I don’t know why but it seems to happen a lot. haha.
If you are filming an interview always make sure to get some cutaways to cover up those jump cuts.

Terms
– Wide shots – head to toe
– Medium wide – knees and waist
– Medium shots – waist up
– Close ups – Chest up
– extreme close up – cutting off parts of the face

Questions to Answer when shooting –
Who – Shots of the person or people
Where – Shots of the location
What is happening – What action is taking place

Always review your footage and see what you can do better next time. If you took the time to read this, your footage the next time you shoot is going to look so good! 🙂 Feel free to add to the list.

Thoughts

Sometimes the hardest thing is to express feelings out loud. As we grow into adults, we learn how to keep things to our self. In our room, where we lay our head to sleep each night, we discover this is the place where thoughts are emptied. But sometimes, when conclusions can’t be found, those  heavy thoughts can start to follow us into our day.

Once in a while, life blesses us with a person who fully understands and who can be trusted. They seem to complete the unfinished thoughts perfectly with no judgements attached. Like a cold summer pool, expressing things that are haunting us can take sometime to get use to. Sharing some of your deepest thoughts with someone can remind us that life isn’t so scary after all. It’s a place with many worries but sharing them means you aren’t carrying the load all alone anymore.

Its Cool to be a Nerd

Growing up in the late eights I remember movies that displayed nerds with glasses, suspenders, and only a little good looking. The mainstream nerd has changed since then. Today, they are honored like geniuses.

Now is the best time to be nerd.

Last month when I was in search for a new book, I came across this book cover of a girl awkwardly standing against a wall. Mindy Kaling. I laughed at the sight and the title, Is Everyone Hanging Out with Out Me? I related, connected and bought the book.

I must have read it in a weekend. I found it funny and enjoyed her personality. She shared about her failures, success, her struggles, and current battles. What I enjoyed most, she was her self from the beginning to end of the book. She was smart, funny, pretty, thoughtful, and even a little naïve. She was a real girl. She worked hard to make her dreams happen, created a theater play with her best friends and then was asked to write for The Office. I thought it was interesting she played a dumb girl on the show, (which I enjoyed her exaggerated version of a girl). Now she stars and is a writer on her own show, playing a doctor.

It got me thinking, now is the best time for girls to let themselves be smart. In fact, its cool. My cousin wrote on Facebook about meeting girls in college, “The popular girls have kids while the nerd girls are single and successful.” So much could be said about that but maybe the truth is it took some time for the pretty girls to realize they were more than looks. And the same could go for the brains, it may take sometime to realize they are pretty as well.

I remember in high school I thought being smart was something you are born with. It wasn’t until recently that I realized knowledge can be obtained. Our DNA doesn’t have to determine our destiny, God has given us the ability to develop as humans. Everyone is born helpless, but we grow each day learning something new. A lie that my culture believes is, “I’m dumb, its too late to learn.” I see that lie being used as an excuses. With so much information available to us, there is no excuses. Instead of saying, “I wonder”, now we can say, “Let me Google that.”

No matter how dumb one thinks they are, if they want to learn, then work towards it. Read, study, work hard, learn how to use your brain.

Now is the best time to be a nerd. I give you permission to say, “I am smart.” Work your brain this year, learn something new and start making better decisions for your life.

smart
adjective
1 informal he’s the smart one: clever, bright, intelligent, sharp-witted, quick-witted, shrewd, astute, able; perceptive, percipient; informal brainy, savvy, quick on the uptake. ANTONYMS stupid.

*And remember even smart people make mistakes. haha. The trick is to learn from them.

Command D + Me

When I started editing for church the only thing I was worried about was me and my deadline. I’d often joke that I needed to clone myself. I remember working with other young editors and seeing them make mistakes while thinking, “they’ll learn.”

A lot has changed since then especially the way I work. I train others as if tomorrow I will not be there. I’ve learned that training other people will not only benefit me or them, but the team. I use to be hesitant to teach my job to others in fear of losing it but it took me years to learn, that is what suppose to happen. When I step out of my old position, I am able to move to a new level.

I now see each individual that is interested in learning production as an extra set of hands. Though it may seem easier to work alone, there are times when more than one person is necessary. The time it takes to teach another person will be time given ten times over in the future. In the video office, I want to create a culture of command D’ing. I am now training others to train others..  I love adding to the team, I enjoy witnessing a new comer give me a perfect shot.

When we teach others, it re-teach us and sharpen our skills.

On that occasion I have to critique, I then explain to them the ‘why’. The next time they are faced with a similar problem, they are able to find a solution on their own.

Though I wanted to command D+ me something better took place.. new artist and storytellers were born. And when its time to say good-bye to them. I can stand as a proud parent knowing that God is at work in their life and I was just a set of helping hands.

As you grow in skill and knowledge, also grow in number. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. Command Dimage*.

*command D is a short cut in After Effects that duplicates a layer.

Blog: What I Always Wanted

When I was in Paris I couldn’t help but fall in love with their little cars. In fact, I was surprise when I read the make of their cars, I thought, “What! Why doesn’t Nissan sale these in America?”

I began to notice little cars everywhere I went!

Back in 2007 my parents went with me to pick out a car. As always they talked me in to buying a car I didn’t really like. It was a black Nissan Maxima, the kind car a man drives. Though it was nice, I began to hate driving. I mean hate it. When I would introduce my car to someone they would say, “This is yours?”

I began to have car problems. I kept hearing two voices, “Pay it off, be debt free!” and “Pay off a car you really love.” So Saturday morning I got ready and went to the car dealership. I went in saw what I wanted, test drove it and in two hours I bought my dream car.

The point of my story isn’t to brag, its to tell you – Go after what you REALLY want. Don’t just do something because EVERYONE is telling you to do it. At the end of the day I was the one who had to drive that big man car for seven years and pay 8% interest. Finally, its out of my sight and everyday I smile when I start up my Mini Coop.

Now I love driving, I enjoy my mornings going to work, and everyone I introduce my car to they say, “This car is totally you.” Yes, I’m going to have to work harder to pay it off but now its worth it to me.

Blog: Advice to a College Grad

(Bianca, the third from the left)

I met Brooke, Briana and Bianca at church when I was 11. Bianca was only 5 years old, Briana 7 and Brooke 9. Its funny to even think we stayed friends since there is a large age gap. I remember Brooke fighting with the two youngest, “She is my friend!” Little did we know we would all grow up together.

Bianca asked me a great question when we were hanging out at the cabin this weekend, “What advice can you give me, a 22 year old? What do you know now at 29?”

Bianca just graduated from a college in Los Angeles, and yet the question still haunts her, “What is it that I want to do?”

Your gift is your guide – When I was 18 I was going through a dark time. I was in the mist of figuring out who I was. I began to draw in the old software Paint and soon creativity became my best friend. I went to college wanting to be a graphic designer but came out a video editor.

Stay Focused on what you want – When I graduated I began to hear of stories of classmates not being able to find a job in their field. I told myself I would never give up, I will get paid to be creative. I had so many random editing jobs, I was discovering what I wanted to do by learning what I hated doing. For the first 5 years after high school, I had a new job every year. No job is forever. Make each job matter. Build your experience, learn what type of work you want to do and go towards that.

Stay Humble, Work hard – When I first graduated college, I came out with great pride. I knew my value and worth. But the real world could careless, I was just another email. I had to prove myself. I volunteered, interned and just kept showing up.

Trust in God, not your ability – After applying for hundreds of jobs you can only do so much. Can you believe that my first job in the creative field was at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank! I knew that was GOD. He opened a door that prove to me, “I can really do all things.” He was opening the right doors for me, something I couldn’t do.

Ask God for guidance – Everyone and everybody will start asking those annoying questions that you have been asking yourself. The solution – Let God be your guide. Even those who don’t know Him can hear from God. “Listen to your heart.” He knows you best, and knows what type of job you’ll love. And yes, it may be hard to find a job these days but from my memory, it’s always been hard to find a job you REALLY want.

The Lord says,
    “I will instruct you.
    I will teach you the way that you should go.
    I will advise you as my eyes watch over you.” – Psalm 32:8

Ask yourself the deep questions – At the end of the day, its not even about a job, its about your life purpose. What do you want to pour your life into? This is why no matter how great the job or pay is, if you find no purpose behind it, it will drain you.

Working together – It would be dumb to do nothing and expect things to happen. “Faith without works is dead.” Looking back at my early 20’s, I can see that God was working things out as I was working hard to develop my skill. Each conflict was for my good, it was sharping me. Now my twenties make perfect sense. He has brought me to my dream job. The cool thing is that He is always putting new dreams in my heart so I know even where I am at now, won’t be forever. And though I have no idea what the future holds, I know its Him who holds it.

Live your Destiny Now –  He takes our heart on a journey in order to reach the right destination through out life. We want to go from a to z but need to reach each letters at the right time.

If I could talk to my 22 year old self, I would say, “Don’t worry, God is at work.”

VBlog: Live Healthy

The best place to get advice about a subject is from someone who is living the life style. Christina is a friend of mine from church, her Facebook post have been so motivating to me, I asked her to do a video about health. “Teach me how to live healthy, I have no idea where to start!”

I know if I have this request, others may too. Here is a 10-mintue video on the basics.

@:12- The Start
@:32- Shopping Smarter
@1:11- Breakfast
@2:10- Set goals
@2:28- Working Out
@3:22- Equipment
@5:21- Eating Out
@6:12- Grocery Shopping
@8:30- Resources

Bio: Christina is a stay-a-home mom who is passionate about living healthy.

Credits: Music by Ratatat

VBlog: When Film School Isn’t an Option

I received an email today with a few questions about what to do when you wanna go to film school but can’t afford it. Yes, I know this question too well since I asked myself it a few times. I’m on the journey as well so I answer this question from my personal experience.

Resources:

Hillsong Youtube Channel

Hillsong College – media program

Blink of an Eye & The Art of Editing Film by Walter Murch

Imagine How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer

Also check out: Rebel without a Crew by Robert Rodriguez

Audio Interview with a Cinematographer

One of the cool things about twitter is when I get to meet someone I follow in person. I asked Cinematographer Julia Swain if she would like to meet up for an interview. I was excited when she was more than willing.
We had a cup of coffee and talked about what we are passionate about: creativity and movie making.

A big thank you to Julia for taking the time to chat with me. You can see more of her work at www.juliaswain.com and be sure to add her on twitter. 🙂

Audio: Editing and Ministry

Audio advice about editing and ministry. This could also apply for working at a company and not just a church.

Here is the 2011 year end video I did at The Rock. I wanted to give more than just number, I wanted to tell the story.