Creating and Editing Videos

The first time I heard the word foundation was when I read the story of the house that was build on the sand. When the storm came, the house was washed away. The house that was built on the rock, when the storm came, it was unmoved. The beauty about the writings from the bible, the words written long ago can teach you just about anything.

As I was teaching my intern how to create and complete a video, I started to share about how important the foundation of creating a video is. Learning how to edit a video isn’t just learning about the software, the computer, or the other tools. Its more than tricks and tips. Its creating a foundation to build your creation on.

3. The Design

The most consuming element in creating a new video is the design. Playing with fonts, images, and video footage to make it attractive and yet make sense. Making those creative decisions can be time consuming, giving yourself space to step away and return to see what you think about your own creation, noticing your first responds, “Ugh!” or “Mmm..” Being creative takes courage to go against the rules you know, even if it is to try it out. There have been times where I spent hours on a design, have only two hours left in the day to work on this project, and make the big decisions to abounded my previous work to try the new idea I have. Usually my new idea takes less time to create, and I’m done by the end of the day. The first idea just wasn’t working and yes I might have used up time but it wasn’t wasted. I knew what didn’t work, and it lead to me what did work.

2. The Vision

Most times, when a project fails, it can be traced back to the lack of brainstorming. You will be surprise how much time you will save if you take the time to think and ask yourself questions. What is the point of this project? Who will be watching this? What do I want people to do after viewing this? What is the purpose? What do I want to say? How do I want to say it? There is pressure to create when you sit in front of a computer. When you open up After Effects and create a new comp, its looking at you waiting for you to move. When I am stuck, and lack vision, I get out paper and draw or write words. I create a map for my creativity to follow. Just in case I began to go off trail, I can return to my points of the story and get back on track. If the vision comes from someone or something else, its up to you to do the research.

1. Your humanity 

The easy way to create something is to copy someone else. Sometimes this works especially when you have 3 hours to create something. But as an artist, we all know we hate being put in those situations. We want to make something that moves people, that communicates our heart and passion. We want to put something out there we can be proud of. The foundation to creating videos is you. Your unique personality, your perspective, your heart, your style. Just like God breathed into man, breath into your creation. Though your day to day projects might not require your heart, put a little in it anyway.

You are the foundation.

Get Up or Give Up

It’s so easy to live in a small world on cruse control. We see and talk to the same people, the routine of life makes everyday easy.  The moment there is a challenge, it can feel like the world is ending.

Today, I met up with the girls who volunteer with the video department. I lie to myself and say I plan it for them, but every time I leave our meet ups, I am encouraged by hearing their journey. Many of them are new to church, and hearing the battles they faced remind me that whatever I am going through, it too will have a purpose greater than myself.

I am encouraged to keep pressing forward by the transformation and growth I see in them.

When I was a teenager, I knew my purpose was to impact my generation for God. I have always been a small girl with a big dream. Hearing about the fight others faced, helps me see I can’t give up the fight of faith. Just this morning I felt so exhausted a part of me wondered why am I trying so hard? Why not just give up?

Giving up the fight and pulling the covers over my head is the easy thing to do. Getting up and doing something about it, is a lot harder. This morning I cast my worries to Him, I prayed for the people who are in my life, team, and world. We all have battles to face in our life, no matter how put together we think we are, the differences from failure and success is the decision to get up or give up.

The vision God has placed on your heart, when challenges appear, you can overcome them because in our weakness, He is made strong.

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.

Team Player to Team Leader

(photo: 2005 a volunteer editor at Hillsong Church, hiding in the basement editing.)

For years I have enjoyed sitting silently behind my computer editing, trying not to bring attention to myself. I like being flawlessly invisible because people only notice the video when there is a mistake.

When I started as an editor at The Rock Church I was invited in to a meeting. I remember sitting there listening to future plans. At one point everyone looked at me as my pastor asked, “Are you willing to take the video department one day?” I sat there thinking, Do you really think I can? I answered him and said, “I think so.”

Now that I am living it, I see a new area in my life being challenged. There are times when the, “one man band” mentality kicks in and I want to do everything myself. I am learning how to invest my time to teach others and allow them to take on the responsibility. When I see them catch on and run with it, I stand back and admire the growth in which I just saw. Its great knowing I am helping build into the lives of others.

The past few weeks I have analyzed other leaders at my church. How they act, talk, and deal with volunteers. Almost like an actor would study a character he is about to become. Our youth pastor said something great to me after we had a meeting with the video department’s first official intern. He said, “How much you put in to this new intern will determine what you get out of him.” As I take the time to teach our intern new skills it allows me to pay attention to other areas. It’s like growing an extra set of hands.

I once saw the manager of Farmer Boys mopping. It was an odd sight, as the manager was in his suit and tie cleaning up, I thought, “Doesn’t he have other important things to do? Shouldn’t he give that to someone who is new at the job?” Seeing that made me take a look at how I was leading.

As the team grows, so does our individual capacity. My goal is to lead by empowering others. Back in 2008 my pastors and leaders saw potential in me, and now its my turn to see it in others.

Video: Know the Culture

Marketing says know your audience, as a mega church media director I say, know the culture.

The mistake I made in the past was looking too much at videos made by other churches. It took me years to realized what type of church I was apart of. It was only then was I able to create genuine projects that reflected the life of my church. The Rock is an inner city type church, a melting pot of different cultures, age groups and personalities. I had to connect my heart to what God was doing at the Rock. What works great in the OC may not work great for people in the IE.

When creating media, it starts with your heart and perspective. No matter the size of your church, if you are their editor, stop and see what is taking place in front of you.

Ask yourself what kinda culture your city is? What is the heart of your Pastors and leaders? The voice of the editor is important. You set up the details for guest who walk in to the building for the first time.

Become the eyes and ears of what God is doing. Don’t tell them, show them.


Here is a countdown I created to play before church. Though its on while everyone is walking around, getting to their seats, I wanted to show guest and those who’ve been coming to The Rock for years, what God is doing. We are moving and alive who cares about the people who live in our city.

I wanted to show the heart of what we believe in.
Helping people.

Blog: Coffee and Great Company

One of my favorite things to do is drink coffee and have a great conversation. Sometimes I have one that is so inspiring I wish I would have recorded it for all to hear. We began to talk about the church and creativity. I shared that it was the Puritan church that shut down the theaters in London in the 16th century, stopping all future play writers and the possibility of more geniuses to develop. When I read this in the current book I am reading, I was disappointed, “It is the church that should be birthing the most creative art, music, movies and books.” I started to share how far along we have come.  Creativity has allowed people like me, who aren’t pastors to have a voice. How powerful that is and how much God wants to use that. As we got deeper in to the conversation I knew this is what Imagine, How Creativity Works was talking about. People meeting in coffee shops and talking about ideas, ideas that will lead to insight which can lead to solutions. Maybe it was the relaxing atmosphere or the great company that allowed this conversation to take place. Either way, it got me thinking about my place on the earth.

My Last Day at The Rock


I had no idea what I was stepping in to. I applied for the job only because I had no where else to go. I questioned God often, “Why am I back here in San Bernardino? There is nothing good here!” I saw it as a place of broken dreams.
He soon began to open my eyes and made His way to my heart. The ironic thing was that I hated my city but my new church loved it. I couldn’t understand why.
When I moved in to the video department God began to show me why He brought me back. I was at The Rock to learn, to work, and to observe.
I started to see it was people that my church loved. And I was one of them.

My church is indeed a light in dark city. I see it as a place of hope, a place that restores the broken and saves the lost.
I thought I was there to make videos but as always, God had a bigger plan.
Tomorrow will be my last day and its going to be sad. I will miss the little details about my day, walking in the break room making jokes with my co-workers, having surprise creative meetings in the lady’s room.
Pastor Deborah, who is the most courageous woman I know, wrote me a letter that melted my heart. To think, she believes in me. That alone makes me tear.


If you are a creative person, you know how often people look at your strange. If you are a dreamer, then you really get that look. You are the outcast, you are the odd ball.. but here at The Rock.. they looked at me with belief in their eyes and with confidence. Their look reminded me that, “All things are possible.”
I want to share with you the card that Pastor Deborah gave me.

The card it’s self is a list.

Ten simple things to remember:

1. Love is why you are here.

2. The most important day is today.

3. If you always do your best, you will have no regret.

4. In spite of your best effort, some things are out of your control.

5. Things always look better tomorrow.

6. Sometimes a wrong turn will bring you to exactly the right place.

7. Sometimes when you think the answer is “no”, it’s “not yet.”

8. True friends share your joys, see the best in you, and support you through your challenges.

9. God and your parents and we, will always love you.

10. For all your accomplishments, nothing will bring you more happiness than the love you find.

And it’s so true.

Though I am moving forward in my career, the love that I found here at The Rock is what I will remember most. It was a job that gave me room to grow, had confidence in my creativity, taught me patience, taught me leadership, management, taught me how to communicate to people. It taught me everything I couldn’t have learned at a school or in a book but it was experience.

Though the road for me up ahead is unclear, I can trust in God because when I thought I was on the shelf and that I wasn’t being used anymore. God placed me at The Rock and gave me a purpose. And I know once again God will place me in a good place. Where I can once again grow more, impact more, teach more, and do more.

So I encourage everyone, no matter where you are at, it’s not forever, so appreciate it while it last.

The Rock Church and World Outreach Center is located in San Bernardino, Ca with over 24,000 members and fed over half a million people in 2011. Last year, over 12,000 people dedicated their life to Christ at The Rock.

A Video Critique

The best part of having a blog is meeting people. I love getting email from dreamers, editors, visionaries and artist. Mandy emailed me with a few questions about editing. The cool thing is that she took my advice and reworked her video. Her second version looked like a whole different event.

After watching her first version, I emailed her back with a few tips:

The thing to learn is your equipment, the better you know what it does the better your footage will be. Remember focus is important on your shots and try to keep your motion smooth if you are going handheld and moving one place to another.
Know what you want to focus on in your framing.
Also don’t be shy about getting in to people’s faces and asking them to smile. What is happening on stage is just half of what is taking place, the crowd’s reaction will make great cut-aways when you are going to the next shot. You are making your viewer a part of the experiences.
Use the higher number of lens (70-200mm) on a tripod to get some close-ups.
As for sound, if you are filming for a church or venue, see if the sound guy can give you a copy of the mix they are recording, sometimes you can get the clean mix and then sync it up later.
The length of a video is everything. Keep the rhythm and story flowing. Captivate the viewer. You need what is called “a ramp”: For your recap video you can build up to the concert, people saying, “I can’t wait…” “I’m excited…”, then transition to the stage, the crowd going crazy, you can add a clip of someone saying something inspiring, pick up the pace at the end either with the soundtrack or editing to end with a bang. The over all point: People’s lives are being changed, they are connecting with God.
As the editor you are taking the viewer on the same journey that would have happened if they were there in the crowd. The excitement, the experience and the impact.
Your video is full of great footage but now make it in to a story that will change lives!

Here are a few questions she asked me:

1. Do you create a timeline/storyboard for every project you do..or is it more experimenting with clips and seeing what comes of it?

I create a timeline for videos that require me to hit certain points. It keeps the video on track. I create scripts when important information has to be given and a story board for animation. If you are the only one working on the video then its your job to be very strategic. Know the purpose of the project. Close your eyes and play the video in your mind.

2. Do you choose the song first and work around it, or do you work out some footage, then choose a song?

Sometimes a song inspires a video and you know exactly what you want. Most of the time finding the right soundtrack can take time. Music is powerful. It carries emotions and feelings, knowing what vibe you want to give will help bring out your vision.
Before I start editing I like to find the type of song I want, if I am getting a song created then I show the composer what I am looking for. When the track is finished I swap the soundtrack and re-edit the sequence to match better.

3. Is there such a thing as recording too much footage? or the more the better?

Yes and no. Too much footage can waste time looking through it, but not having enough can leave the editor in need of more. The key is quality. You can have hours of footage but if there isn’t one single shot that could be used then its useless. As an editor I prefer to shoot my footage only because I know what I want. But if someone else is shooting then I have a conversation with them and tell them what I want. I also remind them to hold their shots three seconds before and after. Having a shot list is handy. Sometimes the hype of shooting can cause a person to forget what they need to get. I like to mark things off as I go. Then once I have everything, I shot random stuff or give the footage to the editor or capture it.

4. If you don’t have footage you need, how do you work around it?

If I don’t have footage that I need then I look for stock footage, photos, film something abstract or plan to create some motion graphics.

5. I saw in an interview where you said that when you worked with Hillsong Australia…if there was one uninteresting shot, you had to start all over again. Is that a good rule of thumb?..to start over from scratch if the video’s not working?

When I was at Hillsong they taught me the value of a frame. Each frame matters, each frame is with full intent, nothing is random. If a video isn’t working then starting over helps but it probably just needs to be re-worked. There are some videos where I have different version. The great thing about editing digital is that you can try out many things but beware of wasting time or over working a project.

Well that was a video critique. Know that more than anything be yourself, edit, have fun, learn, ask questions, if you make mistakes, learn from them, and stay humble. One thing I do know is that I don’t know everything. 🙂

Audio: Thoughts Behind the Music

I asked my cousin Isaiah to do an interview with me. I wasn’t sure what we were going to talk about but I knew it was going to be something interesting. To my surprise we ended up talking about music. So many times we hear of success stories from the finish line, but what about the beginning days, the days where love is the fuel. I hope you are inspired as you listen to, “Thoughts Behind the Music.”

 

Check out more of Isaiah’s music on myspace.com and add him on twitter.

Photos: Summer Camp

This weekend I went to summer camp.
As a photographer I am hired to be a spectator. I stand back, see a moment and document it. Little did I know what I was getting in to. One of my twitter friends asked if I would shoot Cottonwood’s youth camp. The last time I went to summer camp was when I was seventeen. I remember that week impacting my life dramatically. It was there, I made up my mind that I would serve God no matter what happened in my life. Since then my summer camp friends and I have chosen very different paths and I’ve become a busy adult.

This weekend I heard a new generation cry out to God.

There would be times when I would take a photo of a group of friends and think to myself, “They have no idea how beautiful they are.” The hope of life was seen in their eyes. You may think I’m being over dramatic but I haven’t hung around teenagers since I was one.

As I was in line for dinner I suddenly remembered my youth days. The hope, the dreams, the mystery, the excitement. I closed my eyes and took it in. I could hear young girls behind me talking about their day, laughing and joking with one another.

After I got my food I was suddenly in high school again, “Which table should I sit at?” I laughed to myself at this thought. I saw some of the young production guys (where I am always welcomed) and ate with them. We laughed and talked about video ideas.

My friend had arranged a special room for me.. or so I thought. I ended up sleeping in one of the cabins with some of the girls. They were up talking all night. haha.. I soon found myself at Summer Camp. I was eating, sleeping, getting dressed, and worshiping with these kids. My photos began to change.. and I was now apart of summer camp. No longer was I a spectator.

In the evening we had a worship service. I was snapping photos but then.. I couldn’t help but.. I turned on my video. The sound of young kids worshiping their Creator could be heard for miles..

At one point I put my camera down, closed my eyes and sang with them. The message that was preached talked about stop comparing ourselves with everyone. As a creative person, I do this all day. He said, “Walk the road God has graced you with.”

Anyone who goes to summer camp is never the same. God has their full attention and He never fails to speak in to their lives. I hope when they see these photos they are reminded what God did in their hearts..they would remember the prayers they prayed. Cottonwood’s youth is pretty awesome. It was great to be apart of the family for a few days. I know I came back impacted.

The Best Yet

The creative meetings for Easter started in March at church. As I looked for video examples to show the worship pastor I came across this beautiful credit intro on vimeo. It was modern and the style of music would be different for an Easter video. I showed it to the creative meeting and waited for their responds. After the video played I added, “Lets tell what happened at the Cross in a poetry spoken word form with abstract images displaying God’s powerful nature.” The creative team and pastor gave me thumbs up to try it.

Beth, who also edits with me arranged a guy from church to re-create the music and Erica, who is a song writer, to write a poem. When I finally got to creating the video, I sat at my desk not knowing how I was going to make this video. After Effects can be complex and I knew it was going to take some focus and time. Each 4 seconds was taking me 4 hours to create. I prayed and asked God for help.

When the video was complete, I showed the worship pastor and he was a little unsure how it was going to fit in. There was a chance it wasn’t going to get played. The day before Easter weekend it was time for the head pastor of The Rock, Pastor Jim to watch it. We set up the main auditorium so he could get the full effect. After it played I walked in the auditorium and sat down.

Pastor Jim looked at me and said, “I went a pastors conferences and someone had written a letter to that pastor saying they were going to leave the church because of the music and they said ‘God is not in that type of music’, the letter was written in the 1800’s about Amazing Grace. I was hoping we would have something alternative, lets play it.” I went back to my desk thinking about what my pastor told me.

I am part of an amazing generation. It’s true what God spoke to my heart when I was 18 years old, “you were born for such a time as this.”(Esther 4:14). I love how the church is embracing creativity and using it to bring God’s glory to a new generation. I know  God has given me a gift and I’m so glad the church allows me to use it to play a role in reaching lives.

Spanish Version Here

Christmas and the Music Wall

This Christmas I was asked to create a video that told the story of Jesus in a different and modern way. The goal was to make the birth of Jesus relatable to the 21st century person. My pastor gave the team this scripture to work from, “He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” John 1:27. From there all the creative departments went and created their media.
I created the opening video. Every video editor knows how important it is to find the perfect song. My sixth attempt was with a track from “Moving Mountains – The Earth and the Sky”. I found that it enhance the images on screens and made the words easy to follow.


On rehearsal night my pastor expressed to me that she loved the video but had a hard time connecting with the music. I then went back to the editing timeline to see if any of the songs she suggested would work. I discovered I had connected with my first song so much that it was hard to imagine the images that were laid down to anything else. I had hit a music wall.
The last song that was suggested to us was August Rush. I expressed that I didn’t mind the video being changed, whatever it took for the message to be presented how my Pastor saw fit.
As a video editor, someone who puts their heart and soul in to a project, I have learnt its ok to let go and allow someone else to take over. Pride is not an issue and its nothing personal. My boss who used to video edit said he would give it a go. Here is the second version that was aired at the Girls Night Out event where more than 3,000 women showed up. Sitting in the back and watching this opening video, I was very proud of our team effort.  It was neat to see this new personality the video had.

So which ever version you prefer, the goal was accomplished and the story was told.

Merry Christmas.

Going back in Time

Today I went back in time. To a place I haven’t visited since I was eight years old.

I came home today and asked where my parents were going. They told me an old pastor friend died and tonight was his funeral. From my memory this man had always been old. He was my friend’s grandfather. The thought of him passing never crossed my mind though. He was a person who always was. He was a pastor from the church my family used to go to in the 90’s. I had my childhood at this place, and it was where I learned about God.

When I step in to the building I began to recognize the decorations. The cross that hug in the middle of the altar with a purple robe around it. The banners declaring, “He is the King of Kings.” Even the pulpit that I used to draw over and over as a child in church. The room was full of chatter, everyone who had ever called that church home was there. My fellow classmates where now grown adults with small children hanging on them.

My parents and I said our condolences to the family and made our way to the back to find a seat. As we passed rows and rows of people, I began to recognize faces I hadn’t seen since I was a child. Some people looked the same and others had aged dramatically. As service started, they began to singing old christian songs I hadn’t heard since I was a small kid. They had no graphics for the words but then again they had sung these songs for twenty years, even I knew all the songs by heart.

The pastor’s granddaughter and I used to play “church” when we were little girls.  We would wear my mom’s dresses and sing all the church songs. There was this one time when my friend’s grandfather preached and said, “It’s time we stop playing church.” We looked at each other and said, “Oh no, we can’t play church anymore!” I laugh now, knowing that he meant to no longer pretend to be a christian. haha..

Since this funeral was on their normal church service, they took up an offering. Their tithing envelope was exactly the same. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I even told my dad, “Look!” He then said, “Theirs the 10%”, and pointed to the cut out pieces of the coin. Here was my dad, teaching me the principal of tithing, as if I were once again eight years old looking at the picture. I asked for an envelope so I could keep it as a memento.

Oh what memories a funeral can bring back. How amazing one’s life can impact a crowd.

Today, I went back in time and visited my childhood church family. It was great seeing everyone again. I wish we were all still together.  But life happens, and everyone’s journey changes through time. Even though today everyone there said good bye to a great pastor, I really said my goodbye when I was eight. For me, that was the last time I saw him.

Even though we don’t know when someone is going to die, the same could be said about not knowing when someone we love might exit our lives forever. I find both are painful.

Here is a great song to leave you with: Autumn Leaves

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Inspiring Artist/Editors

Nick Khoo

Senior editor at Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia. He is my mentor and he is very talented. I say he belongs in Los Angeles, but instead he has devoted himself to the vision of the global church.

WillBeRain Artist

I came across this great artist on youtube and since then became great friends with her. She is very talented with great imagery videos and amazing drawings.

Julia Pott

The moment I saw Julia’s artwork I contacted her asking if she would design my first tattoo. She is great to work with and her drawings are amazing. She also has some awesome animation films. I love her style and work!

Nirrimi

I have found this young photographer from New Zealand to be inspiring and encouraging. Her work is breath taking, original and creative. She is only 17 but far ahead of her peers. I enjoy her personal work more than her personal shots.

Thinkintl.tv

Sean Cannell and Jeff Moors have put together thinkintl.tv/ . They gathers resources to bring hope, spark creativity, and empower ministries, churches, and organizations around the world.

The Complete Photographer by Tom Ang

A great book to learn the art of photography. The book gives great insight, ideas, tips, and piratical advice on how to take stunning images.

An Idea

One morning when I was driving to work I was thinking about what my Pastor had said on Sunday morning about how our church only had 7% of it’s 21,000 members who tithe. I then had an idea given to me by the Holy Spirit. I thought what a cool idea it was and went on. I later thought about it again and said, “Monica, don’t be lazy just get it done.” As the video editor at the Rock Church I have been given a platform, which is to create videos for the weekend. My boss has given me creative licenses to create and has allowed me to take ownership. I had no reason what so ever to not do this project that God had put in my heart to do. I then asked around and found some stories to share. I wanted to create real stories that were honest and stories that people who had never gave to a church could relate to. It’s more than just giving 10% but it’s being a part of something larger, a movement that helps and changes lives.

I’ve been hearing great feed back from people, and I know that many where encouraged by them. The power of not being lazy, the power of taking ownership of your job aka “platform” is amazing, and what it difference it makes.

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