Things I regret buying for video

I can be a sucker when it comes to video equipment. The new product sounds like its going to bridge the gap between me and the next big opportunity. Many times video equipment can be over promising, taking your money and leaving you with useless junk.

1. Camera packages with accessories – they’re flashy and it seems easier to just buy everything all at once but instead it comes with a lot of useless accessories

2. Camera stabilizer – I found they are uncomfortable and not so fast to set up to use. I didn’t notice a difference with my camera stabilization enough to use it.

3. Portable Jib – The cheap plastic it’s made out of couldn’t take the weight of my camera even with counterweights.

4. Difficult lighting set up – the difficult soft boxes to put together made me permanently leave them up which took up a lot of room.

5. Cheap plastic lenses – your photos will never look sharp and professional until you invest in a glass lens.

6. Difficult to use Stock Library – having to download third-party apps and constantly login didn’t make it worth using the stock library.

7. Cheap headphones – being able to hear your audio clearly will help your videos be more professional. I’ve wasted money on cheap headphones and was sick of having audio problems so I invested in a good pair of headphones

Before you buy any more video / photography equipment, be sure to avoid the cheap path, it’s often said, “The poor man pays twice.”

A new phase of life.

So I’ve been in this stage where I really have no idea what to do, Jesus and Spiderman’s uncle both agree when they said, “To much is given, much is required.” It’s true, lots of work is required.


Everyday, put in time

When our landlords approved Gus and I to be the next renters, we were in shock we were really going to have a place of our own. Four years ago I said yes to a movie invite and now I’m signing papers to rent a place with this boy! Its been a fun/growing experience dating Gus and now here we are given this empty house to make it our home. I do admit, I freaked out.. what did I do!? I was fine at my parent’s house.. I know, I know, they can’t take care of me forever, its time to grow up! I was overwhelmed with the challenge, I’ve never been good at house chores, I can lead a team but put a pan and stove in front of me and I’m clueless. I do appreciate living in 2016, I can youtube how to clean a stove and get advice from someone across the country.

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My new neighbors keep asking me if we’ve moved in yet. Its been a month and we’re still moving in. It’s been a big job making our new place feel like home with nothing. Every lunch break I’ve been adding more to the place, and its starting to feel more like our home, even with our two chairs and a lamp.

There’s no time to be afraid or pretend

At work, every creative meeting since 2007 someone has suggested, “Lets rent a projector.. what about a LED screen, -how much would that cost us??? This year the same thing was asked but instead I approached the question with some faith instead of with impossibility.  I’m going to keep looking until I find a deal. I called lots of places, and asked friends who know of others who have gotten a screen at their church. I managed to track down a guy who helped Hillsong LA get their LED screen.

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The day the insulation was completed we had service, which meant, the video department needed to put content on those screens – but what?? We all had a million questions and no one to ask them but each other. I remember looking at the screens and wondering what am I gonna do with these? At one point I asked one of our interns what should we put on the side panels? I was disparate for ideas! She gave a simple answer which ended up being a great idea, place welcome graphics.  Adding LED screens to a church service can be a fine line of distraction and entertainment. We weren’t sure how the church would react to it, after all, LED screen is a very modern addition to the church experience.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThere was lots to work out; size for the graphics, transitions between each part of service, motion graphics that wouldn’t make people feel sick, how large the font should be – there was no other way of figuring this out but to go live. We couldn’t wait to be told what to do, we just had to figure it out. We didn’t have time to be afraid or to pretend like we had the answers, the whole team was learning this together.


Pray and working together

With both of these large challenges I realized early on during the process I was given a big job for me to do on my own. I needed God’s wisdom, courage, and brain power to tackle the exciting new phases I was crossing into in my personal life and professional life.

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No one in the video department had any experience with LED screens. We had to learn new  software, hardware and new equipment. We had to work closely with the audio, lights, and worship department. Together, we’ve been helping each other and to this day, we are still trying out new formats and smoothing production.

When it comes to doing house stuff, I remind myself of the success I’ve had at work and how God has helped me. If I can figure out how to work an LED wall, I can put up curtains and take out the trash. Although I must admit, I had to ask my dad for help with the curtains. haha. I don’t mind asking for help, just ask the video team. Its when we work together are we strong and great!

One thing is for sure, God helps with every challenge and makes us able.

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.