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.

The Big Question – Book: Punch Fear in the Face

We all have that one big question everyone seems to ask. It changes in life. First it starts as an innocent, “What are you going be when you grow upl?” But then, it can turn into what feels like judgment through the years, “What are YOU going to do?” Most of the time, we too are asking ourselves the same question.

Which college?
Do you have a job?
What career?
What about marriage?
And kids?

And the list can go on. I’ve learned instead of saying empty unsure ideas, I am honest, I’ll tell those who are wondering, (usually those who aren’t in my inner circle), “I’m not sure.” You’ll get a look like, “What do you mean you don’t know!”
People don’t see those sleepless nights when we are down because we can’t find a job we love, or unable to enjoy the current season we are in because we are too consumed with the next.
I realized asking myself honest questions, help me eliminate everyone’s voices for what I should do. Also I stopped comparing my life to those around me, which might be hard with social media. If I listened to what everyone told me to do, I’d have lots of kids, be in heavy debt, and have regrets that I didn’t go to school to learn editing and travel around the world. To me, those things where important before I got married and have children, which coming from a Mexican background was told that was my only destiny.

What DO YOU REALLY wanna do?

Discover the goal, work hard, and don’t give in to what is easy.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6

Book to read: I just completed Start: Punch Fear in the Face by Jon Acuff. Super practical and encouraging. It help me see even though I had reached some goals, I still had some I was afraid to admit. This book will sent you on the path worth running.

 

7 Questions with Filmmaker Glenn Stewart

I met Glenn back in 2005 when I lived in Australia. I remember hearing rumors about a kid who was amazing at editing and animating in After Effects. When I first met him, he would have nothing to do with a lowly college student like my self, 🙂 but he soon warmed up to me and we became great friends.

I’ve always considered him one of my mentors on creating beautiful videos and films. If you haven’t seen Glenn Stewart’s work, I’d encourage you to follow him on vimeo and check out Mindscape Films. He is always producing amazing stuff.

I asked if I could officially interview him about his latest project and short film, The Red Valentine. He was kind enough to take the time to answer 7 of my questions.

Here is The Red Valentine trailer before you read on –

1. How did the project The Red Valentine come about?
– I’d made a few short films in the past, but it had been a few years since the last one and I really just wanted to jump back into that whole filmmaking world again. I find filmmaking incredibly cathartic, stressful, but releasing. So with that impetus, it was just about finding the right story.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 7.21.44 PM

2. What made you passionate about the story?
– I’d been toying with a few stories and this one came about when I read a short article about an unsolved murder that had happened in Australia in the 1940s. This story isn’t based on that event, but the events, circumstances, theories and setting surrounding that really intrigued me. Period isn’t done too often or done well, and short films I find to be largely esoteric and vague and I just wanted to tell a very clear cut story.

3. What did this film teach you about storytelling?
– I guess one of the big things that sort of wove its way in over the course of writing it was setup and payoff. I really made a concerted effort in the later stage of writing to really make sure each little twist and turn was justified early in the story either through a character’s action or dialogue. Also, developing and defining tone was another important thing.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 7.21.56 PM

4. What challenges did you face going into production and how did you over come them?
– Or biggest challenge going into production was just time. We had a ridiculously tight schedule to shoot what was a relatively sprawling production over multiple locations. One night we were shooting on a beach, and it was cold, raining at points and because of that, filming was going very slowly but we had a LOT of script to cover. The biggest thing in that moment was really working out you truly will need in the final film and what you can do without. Can you combine shots? Cut shots completely? Pick up shots at a later date (which we did end up doing in a kids sandbox later on).

5. What type characteristics did you look for when gathering your production crew?
– I just like people who are egoless, hard working and are good at what they do. I love collaborating with teams and this experience only strengthened that resolve.

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 7.23.04 PM

6. Did you edit the film, why or why not?
– I edited the film, mainly because given the complexity of the story and the various stories within it, it was just going to be easier for me to do that than relay what I wanted to someone else. As a result, the edit came together pretty quickly although there were definitely some interesting editing problems to solve along the way, mainly from that one hellish shooting night on the beach.

7. What important lessons did you learn during the process of making this film?
– Collaborate. Be detailed. Take advice but also be firm in your convictions. And always have fun.

——

Thank you to Glenn, for taking the time to answer these questions. I wish him the best of luck on his film, it looks beautiful. The Red Valentine will be available online to share with the world sometime in the future -I can’t wait to see it. Be sure to keep up with Glenn on his twitter.

Screenshots curiosity of www.mindscapefilms.com

Q&A: My Interview with You

The past few years I’ve blogged to an audience of two. I would mainly create posts for my high school best friend. She would text me asking me when I was going to write something new. I began to write about everything I was in to; Photography, editing, film making, books, traveling, God. Soon other friends and co-workers were reading, they would stop me in the halls and want to talk about what I wrote last night.
This alarmed me, “Who else is reading?” My first reaction was to close up but I knew it was honesty that was drawing more readers.
I started to receive emails from young girls who wanted to become film makers, guys who wanted me to check out their videos to critique, people who were searching for hope, others who just wanted to be inspired.. Two blog readers became one thousand. 

I often wonder about you. I wonder who you are, how did you find me but most of all I wonder about your creative journey.



I’ve learned that sharing where you come from can help others. So here is my interview with you –
What is your hometown like?

What are you most passionate about?

What inspires you?

What subject can you talk hours about?

What is your dream job?

If you could travel anywhere, where would it be?

What was your first positive creative experience?

What do you blog about?

What is your message to the world?

music

I look forward to hearing from you 🙂

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. 🙂

7 Questions with an Assistant Film Editor

I’ve been looking to connect with a female film editor for years. After all its my dream job to edit a film.
Kim is an Assistant Film Editor and on her newest project she is an Apprentice Editor.
When she sent me back the answers, I was blown away at her insight. She gave me  a lot to think about.

-Thank you so much Kim for taking the time to answer my seven questions.

Here we go:

Kim Huston, Assistant Film Editor

1. What responsibilities does an Assistant Film Editor have?

In my experience the Assistant Editor on a feature film is very much the Editor’s right-hand-man. The Editor relies on the Assistant to keep them up to date and prepared for the work ahead.When you give them the dailies for that day, the Editor assumes everything is accounted for and error free because it isn’t their responsibility to check. Check for errors or inconsistencies, or sync issues in dailies, then organize in the most sensible fashion, and keep everything consistent in your method. Your main goal as an Assistant Editor is to make life easier for the Editor.
The AE is also the one in contact with production for receiving footage, and paperwork, and whatever else they need to send. So keeping up to date with them is important. They get caught up in their busy day and sometimes forget to send things and it’s easy to lose track of what came in and what didn’t. The paperwork upkeep is necessary for the Editor to properly work as well. It will slow them down if new footage has come in, but the current line pages and facing pages aren’t there to accompany.
DVDs and digital files get requested all the time by the Director, Producers, distributors and marketing, Mixers and VFX houses, etc etc.  So the Assistant Editor makes all of those happen as well.
It’s a lot of providing and appeasing, while always having your Editor’s back and working as a team to make things work. It’s an interesting, but fun relationship to have with someone. It’s like being on a capture the flag team of 2! Strategize and work together!

2. What have you found to be the best training in becoming a film editor?

The best training I’ve found for becoming a Film Editor is to do TONS of projects on your own, so you learn the craft and aren’t bogged down by technology. Watch a lot of movies! You should know your craft and what other people are doing. And read theory books, especially by Walter Murch. He has such a smart and eye opening (haha, Walter Murch book reference joke) way of explaining his choices and methods of editing.
I’d say film school doesn’t help a whole lot, but that’s probably not true of the top schools on the two coasts as compared to mine in the midwest. Going to school with teachers who are actively working in the business, who have connections and offer you jobs is SUCH an advantage. The other part about doing, watching and reading ensures you’re good enough to accept the job offers from your great school connections.

3. Have you ever had to work on a project you were uncomfortable with?

No, I haven’t worked on anything that I was uncomfortable with. Some things I wouldn’t personally watch or enjoy, yes. Nothing offensive.

4. What makes a good editor?

I think a good Editor can define a project, but knows they’re working on someone else’s baby and doesn’t overshadow. A good Editor will know what “style” the project calls for and it’s not about showing off. A good Editor can drive the story, and should. A good Editor adds to the story instead of takes away, covers up, or pulls back the curtain to reveal every cut.

5. What are film makers and directors looking for when choosing an editor?

In a perfect and professional scenario, Directors will look for a person who 1, they can get along with and is a team player and  2, will successfully pull off their vision. I think they look for a creative partner in crime.

6. Sometimes on credits next to the editor I see A.C.E. What does it stand for? 

The A.C.E. stands for American Cinema Editors. It’s not a union, but more of an honorary cool kids table.
(There is a different union) I call it the “cool kids table” not to be flippant, but because it’s where you want to be, and you have to prove yourself to get there, and then you get to show off your fancy new suffix. It seems a bit coveted. The rules of admittance sound a little like those of an ivy league school. But I fully admit to aspiring to be able to join one day! It’s all about getting to sit with the awesome people at lunch.

7. What advice would you give to a FCP video editor who would like to transition in to film? (me haha)

Well there are plenty of films cut on Final Cut. I’d say learn Avid too. You wouldn’t want to NOT get work because of the program you use, so know them all! Otherwise, my advice is meet people specifically working in features. I’ve learned… very slowly… that it’s ALL about who you know and just a piece of paper with your qualifications gets you nearly nowhere.

— so good, Kim you are awesome… 🙂

Connect with Kim:
Website
Twitter

The Vague Interview

How do you know something is dead?

When there is no longer any breath.

Do you remember the beginning?

The beginning was the best part.

What was the worst?

The ending. It meant the story was over, nothing more to be told.

Your favorite part?

The memories. Life has a funny way of making life out of dead things.

What do you remember most?

The silences. More was told when nothing was being said.

If you had to put it all in a song what would it be?

There wasn’t many songs, but November says it well.

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