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.”

Why I created a Youtube Channel

When I decided to stop daydreaming about what I would do if I had a youtube channel, it was hard to bring clarity on the reason why. We hear of the possibility of money and fame, but that can’t be my motivation, just thinking of that sucks my creativity.  I needed a deeper reason…

Discover your Road Map

I crave change but when it happens I soon lose confidence in the driver seat, not sure where I’m going but I know I have to keep on moving. As a natural born editor, I move things around over and over again. Not to make things perfect, but to have harmony with each other. He is made perfect in my weakness, has been echoing in my heart since I became a wife. Work was easy when I was married to it, it had all my heart and time. Now that life has changed, I am having to step back and revisit how I do things.

I can’t do everything and be everywhere at work, but I can develop a team that can.

I recently added a few new talented guys to the video team. Each of them have a unique voice and personality that I’m excited to help develop. Together, I want to create work that speaks hope, love, joy and most of all Jesus. First, everyone must fight the battle of learning the technical things of editing. Videos are only fun when you’re brainstorming, and going live – in between takes hard work and thought.

As I’m translating thirteen years of experience I make sure to be clear and honest – what you are doing today, isn’t the destination but a road map. Use this time to figure out what you like to do, what you enjoy doing, what comes natural, what you can spend hours on and pay attention to that. Find ways and opportunities to use your gifting and it will lead you to your purpose. There is no doubt in my mind I was born to edit, film, create, inspire, develop others, grow in knowledge. But I didn’t know that when I was 21, or 25.. it didn’t come with age, it came at different points in life. A random Tuesday you will be thinking and get this great idea, as you are running to make it happen, you will decided “this is it.”

There is purpose in the every day things we do.

Ten years go by fast, I am already thinking about being forty… and I have no idea what I want to do or be then.. but I know the foundation of my twenty has built me up to have a successful journey. Healthy thing grow, I know one day when my video team develop, God will move them into something new. We are now all a part of each other’s road map.

 

Finding the right camera for you

Trying to figure out the right camera to buy can be challenging. The endless research can be overwhelming. So I offer you my love story with my cameras.

The first question I’d ask you is why do you want a camera? Once you share your passion and excitement then’ll I’ll crush it by asking how much money do you have to buy it?

The point is to get the soul purpose of your desire. You might be selling yourself short if you answer about your budget first. I saved up for my DSLR for 6 months and paid for it cash. I had learn having debt for equipment can be dangerous, you can get too excited and waste money on gear you don’t need. 

Why do you want a camera? I wanna have fun taking photos – Any camera can do.

Find any camera and play with its effects. Look at thrift stores or eBay. I recommend an old film camera, you’ll fall in love with photography!

I think the most fun I had with a camera was my Diana 35mm film camera I got at Urban Outfitters. It was first stressful learning how it worked because its suppose to be “easy”, which made things complicated. Once I figured out how to use the camera, I had fun trying out different effects it offered. 

I wanna start learning photography. – Film cameras

You won’t like this answer – I know you wanna run out and buy an expensive camera. I recommend buying a 35mm camera with a detachable lens to teach you the fundamentals. Test the shutter to see if it works before you buy. You will bond with this camera and people will call you strange. Little kids will ask to look behind the camera wondering where their photo is. But you will learn how to frame up, expose, and capture a moment. Every exposer will cost you – $2 for each shot (development and film.) You will feel the mistakes in your wallet but you’ll also learn how to use the camera without a computer thinking for you. The photos you take will surprise you, and show you what kind of photographer you wanna be. Because those will be the picture you take most.

I want a camera to take with me while I travel. -a digital point in shoot

We all have this romantic image in our head of walking down the streets of Italy pointing and shooting our camera capturing people in the market place, beautiful architecture and of course our self in front of landmarks. But the reality is, you will leave your heavy camera in the hotel and settle for your camera phone – this my friend, you will regret. Sure you got 50 likes on FB but the day will come when you want to print the photo and there you will see the truth of how bad camera phone pictures are- they suck. The good news, because of iPhone technology advancing, they are getting better but until then, I recommend a point and shoot that cost more than $200, anything cheaper will have low pixels. I found the Nikon CoolPic 300 produces great photos! I bought it for the manual settings. Although I hardly use it because it takes too much time to set, instead I use the auto settings.

When traveling you are going place to place so fast, you only have time to frame up. Plus this camera is easy for other people to use when you ask a stranger to snap a photo of you. Its very rich in color, wide in frame and great at night.

I want to start filming/shooting professionally. – Canon or Panasonic with audio inputs

If you are starting a photography and video production business or if you are hired to film, the poplar DSLRs is what you are looking for. The quality is great without having to spend so much on a camera. The audio is bad which you’ll need a secondary recorder for that. But if you are getting B-roll type footage or plan on creating wedding montages that don’t need audio, then this camera is best to use. You will have to invest stabilizers but they aren’t too much. You do have the choice of buying a cheaper DSLR for $700 which is great for filming because they have the flip screens or go pro $2000 which would be ideal for photography. Look up tech details to see what best fits for you. I would recommend if you are starting out to start with the cheaper camera until business kicks in. The last thing you want to do is put all your money into something that you later find out you don’t really enjoy or find that the area you live in doesn’t have a market for it. Keep in mind its the LENS that really affects the quality, that is where you will need to invites your money in.

When it comes to filming you’ll want to record audio. Make sure there is an input to plug a mic in.

As you can see, you don’t just have to pick one camera. If you love photography, you’ll love cameras, and each one is different. I go thought many different phase just using one type of camera. When I get bored of my work, I search for a new camera that can spark up some fresh creativity inside me. You don’t have to spend thousand of dollars either, sometimes the right camera ends up finding you.

Rediscovering VHS

Sometimes when things are too easy, we fail to do it. We take living in the modern day world for granted. Just because we can Facebook message a best friend from 10 years ago, doesn’t mean we will. But if I discovered her address in one of my old journals, I would be filled with joy just to see her name again. I would then, go on an adventure to find the perfect stationary and write her a letter. (Yes, I’ve actually done this.)

How many bloggers out there who haven’t written a post in weeks? ME! How many photographers out there who haven’t picked up their camera in months? ME! I still enjoy taking photos, and I do miss writing, but I know I can do it tomorrow.  Usually when this happens to me, I need a new medium to fall in love with again. I need to rediscover the beauty and curiosity I once had.

Today my 8 year old self leaped for joy when I saw this beauty at the thrift store – a VHS RCA video camera! I’ve envied the father’s at birthday parties would bring their video cameras out to film. I would sit there not singing Happy Birthday, but day dreaming of all the movies I could be making if I had one. Now more than twenty years later, here I am given the chance to relive the dream of, “Let’s make a movie!” 

The joy of rediscovering. mmm Now time to create.

California Road Trip – Santa Barbara

The first thing I did when I got settled in to Santa Barbara was Google, “local crime in Santa Barbara.” The place felt peaceful and perfect which left me uneasy. Everyone in town seem to be wealthy and not afraid to walk around late at night. The only thing I read was reports of thief, so I was sure to hide anything expensive. Of course I was being silly, most people who live here are working professionals who have money to buy thing and not steal them. haha.

Since Gus had to work, I walked around downtown and discovered all the action while he was away. The best part of travel is the adventure of discovery. Downtown had a local tram that was super cheap to use. I did notice the architectural of the local buildings was very similar to the Santa Barbara mission which was beautiful.

It was nice walking around alone, I was able to spot some things I would have missed if I was with someone. Although by the end of the night, I was bored and couldn’t wait for Gus to return. So much for being an independent woman!

I’ve always wanted to see the famous missions in California myself. It was a great excuse to take my time to travel up north.

Here is Gus’ cut of Santa Barbara – keep in mind, road trips can make one go crazy. haha

Writing Television Sitcoms!

IMG_5657One night I got caught in one of those youtube traps; clicking from video to video and not knowing how I got to one place to another. I came across an old web series of these two girls in New York called, Broad City. It was different and as a video director — do able! I enjoyed their interview with Amy Poehler about writing a sitcom.

If you were to see my Netflix Instant Queue, you would see nothing but sitcom’s being watched. Its a dying art that I cheer to come back! Give me can laughter, bright lights and punch lines! Maybe I’m just a child from the 90’s who grew up on this stuff or maybe I have a natural liking. Either way, I started to think about episode I would create.

My first amazon search gave me Evan S. Smith, Writing Television Sitcoms. This book is amazing! It was like going behind the scenes and sitting at the writers table. Of course that first thing I picture was 30 Rock.

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For a few weeks I listened to my friend’s jokes and pin pointing why it was so funny which made it difficult to find anything funny. When writing tweets, I started to think about how I was setting up my thought.

“‘displacement’ of an audience’s train of thought; as in, the setup for a joke causes to have certain expectations, but the punchline yanks the rug out by providing a very different, incongruous payoff. The result? Tension is discharged and the audience laughs.”

“On another level, all humor incorporates some elements of surprise within its structure. When we create a funny scene or joke, we try to reel the audience in with a realistic setup, then hit them with a surprise twist at the end.”

“…an unfortunate truth of the sitcom world is that “three-quarters of all writing is rewriting.”..It’s not uncommon for the staff of a show to rewrite a script five or more times.”

I started to see how I could use this new found knowledge in other areas of my work. Learning how many times a script is re-written before they go in production help me at work prepare to share drafts with other. Feed back is gold! I’ve always been the artist that would say, “Don’t look, its not done!” When I started to ask my co-workers to view my work and tell me what they think I would get very insightful help. Usually they would pin point what wasn’t working. Also allowing my clients to see the drafts before the deadline to get some feed back.

The biggest revolution was when I was reading the chapter about the premise driven comedy, which to me, means the story, (the- what happens question).

When You Can’t Find the Right Punchline, Here’s a tip: When you can’t find the right punchline, go back and check the setup. Once, I agonized over a joke through several drafts of a script, spending hours trying to replace a single weak punchline. A producer who was passing by my office tossed off a casual suggestion – “Change the setup?” Hmm. I went back, tweaked the joke’s premise, and suddenly – half a dozen great punchlines popped into my head. Problem solved.”

I started to edit my videos differently after I read this. How important the setup was! Especially when it came to testimonials. You build up the story and the best part of what happens becomes more powerful.

Half the book was about the writing and the other about the business. I forced myself to read the details about the business but I’m glad I did. It gave me a better idea about the piratical part of writing in as a career.

As for my web series, now I have no excuses. Time to write. But first, I must watch a few more sitcoms for research!

 

 

Random or a Master Plan

DSCN6279Its summer time and I haven’t blog in a few weeks. Life at work has been busy and this week I’ve been on vacation. I usually would take this opportunity to travel overseas but I am suffering from the student loan crises of my generation. Of course I am working hard to overcome but its requiring sacrifice that has left me discouraged. I ran away to central California for a small time out. The interesting thing is I’m learning a lot about life here. I’m on my own, renting a room and have too much free time that I found myself eating dinner at the local park. No one should ever stay in an apartment for too long. Too easy to lose your mind

rs_560x415-130405113849-1024.Office.mh.040513The past few weeks I’ve been in a Netflix coma completing The Office. I have been a fan from the start, and nine years later watching the last season made me realize why I enjoyed it so much. I find it funny because I totally relate to adults trying to figure life out. Doubting their journey, doubting their decisions, fearing the unknown, staying with the familiar. The Office captures American Culture from the 2000’s perfectly. The recession, the dreams and reality of adulthood. I imagine the writers behind these shows struggling with the same things their characters did. Who knew it would end with such a profound thought.
“It all seems so arbitrary, I applied for a job at this company because they were hiring I took a desk in the back because it was empty, but no matter how you get there or where you end up human beings have this miraculous gift to make that place home.”
Cred, The Office.

Before my trip I was asking myself a question:
Is life random or is there a master design plan? My common sense brain says random but when I look back at my life, its as if it was designed. At those moment of feeling lost, I know I can trust in Him with my journey and when I’m 80 years old looking back, I can share my life story as a beautiful tail, and transform every challenge into the victory that changed my destiny.

As an editor by nature, I am learning its okay to not have everything figured out, some how the story always comes together by stepping back to reflect and paying attention to the small details.

There’s a lot of beautiful in ordinary things. – Pam, The Office 

Eye on LA – Disneyland!

When I lived in Australia I use to brag about being from California. The first thing people would ask me was if I lived near Disneyland. When I said yes I would invite them to come visit. To my surprise many have taken me on that offer, even 10 years later!

Peita’s life time dream as a little girl was to visit Disneyland. Because I’ve been a million times, seeing Disneyland through fresh eyes is so much fun. Gus filmed and edited our adventure at Disneyland.

Audio Interview: Documentry Filmmaker, Tony Poon

I recently worked on a freelance project for a friend who lives in Hong Kong. Tony started his own film production company a few years ago and since then has worked with many non-profits around the world. He invited me to assistant with subtitles and color grade his latest documentary and to cut the trailer together.

We just completed the project and I asked him for an interview to discuss the different things he learned and to give some insight on being a freelance filmmaker.

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The Secret to Great Work

It wasn’t until recently I discovered the secret to great work. The answer might surprise you. For me, it clicked a few weeks ago when I tweeted how it took me seven versions to get a video just right. An editor, who does amazing work, responded how it normally takes them doubled that.
It was then I realized the secret: refining.

For so many years I created videos making three or four miner adjustments, which were actually fixes, thinking it was as good as the project can get. Not knowing, I was limiting my creativity. It’s true, there comes a point when you must abandon your project but that can become an excuses. What would happen if I change my attitude and start to ask myself questions about my work?

How can I make this project better even when it looks like I have a final product?
What can I do to get it just right?

As artist, we can get offended if we don’t get the project just right on the first, second, third or 20th attempt. You mean we aren’t creative geniuses? I’m pretty sure William Shakespeare didn’t write Romeo and Juliet on the first try. There was editing, adjusting, fixing, refining.

Another editor once twitted, “The first cut is like a fat lady falling down the stairs”. That visual gives us comfort, it tells us creatives, we aren’t the only one who’s first attempt is a mess. As you ask for feedback from friends, colleagues and yourself, you will see your work improve.

It takes great effort to achieve great work.

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?

 

Interview: Harold M., New York Freelancer

It’s always cool to meet other editors around the world, even more exciting to see them succeed. I met Harold a few years ago when he left a comment on my blog. Since then I watched his instagram feed fill up with awesome jobs. I couldn’t help but notice and wonder how he got to where he was. When I asked him for an interview he said, “Me? I’m just an editor.” And of course I went into a “we change the world” speech. haha I asked him if he could answer 7 questions.

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1. How did you become an editor?
 
It was definitively not something I planned, but now that I think of it, it wasn’t a surprising choice.  My Dad has worked all of his adult life in television stations back in my native Dominican Republic, and me and my brothers basically grew up roaming around where ever he worked.  First he was a camera man, and for the better part of the last 25 years, he’s in the control room during live broadcasts.  Pretty much I had always been attracted to the idea of working in a TV station, but it wasn’t until my third editing class using Final Cut Pro (First one was cutting 16mm, and the second one was using tape to tape) where I saw it as something attainable.  I took an Avid class in my senior year of college, and was lucky enough to land a gig cutting 15 second promos at a station called Metro TV in NYC in the early 2000’s.  I guess becoming an Editor wasn’t a crazy achievement, but keeping at it has really been the challenge.
 
 
2. What kinda projects do you work on?
 

I do mostly short form programming: Magazine style shows, Field packages, and lately, News.  It’s been a really weird few years trying to figure out what kind of programming I like doing, and in between reality tv, scripted dramas and news programming, I have felt in love with doing small feature pieces for a few of my current employers.  I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to jump from one genre to another from project to project…but for the better part of the last few years, I have been doing news/short documentary type of projects.

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3. How did you land your current editor position?

I don’t have a position, or a 9-5 job if that’s what you are asking.  I freelance for a few networks (ABC, CBS, and FUSE right now) and production houses in New York City…and pretty much, for the better part of the last few years, I have been working non-stop.  The current nature of the industry, at least in New York, calls for people to freelance as staff positions are really scarce.  I’ve managed to get my name in the roster in a few places and have kept busy that way.  It’s fun, in the sense that from one week to the next I could be in one place, and then another.  I have learned about myself that I don’t really like a fixed structure when it comes to my professional life, and I have somehow managed to keep things interesting at least in the sense of working for several people.

4. Can you share some editing tricks that you’ve mastered along the way?

I really don’t know of any tricks I could share that haven’t been shared yet somewhere in the internet yet.  One thing, though, and I guess I might be the only editor I know who’s really crazy about this: I collect presets for effects on Avid.  I have bins, and bins of effects that I have either created, or “borrowed” from places I have worked on.  It’s very rare that I start an effect from scratch these days, but rather I would start with a preset and go from there.  It has really helped in terms of me being a faster editor in certain situations, but it mostly controls my obsessive compulsive disorder to leak into other parts of my life – as I am always organizing such bins, and tweaking effects with ideas that pop in my head.

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5. What type of dedication does it take to complete a successful project?

Lots of focus is the answer.  I’ve been in situations where I am the guy cutting a 30 second promo and have over 4 hours of footage, and the director is right there next to me trying to work in as many shots as possible, and literally screaming when I tell him I don’t want certain shot, and he makes me work it in because it took over 20 minutes to get that setup just right on the field.  I’ve also been the editor putting a piece on a plane that crashed just an hour before the 6pm broadcast, and we have to make that piece go on air, because that’s the news, and people need to know – and 15 minutes before air, there’s no script, let alone all the elements which are still being fed by our nearest affiliate.  Then magically, at 6pm, your piece is done and you are playing it to broadcast straight from your Avid, because there was no time to send it to the server, and you can’t recall how you did it.  So, I guess lots of focus is the answer, whatever the occasion…a little bit of sense of humor also helps too.

6. What have you learned from working with others on important jobs?

I’ve learned to get along with people mostly 🙂 – I heard somewhere, that editors are sly politicians and I have taken that to the heart.  I also heard that we editors are just like bartenders, and also implement that train of thought in the way I handle myself at work.  As far as important jobs…I see every job as important; Being freelance in a city where just about everybody is an editor demands that I do the best I can – or at least try! – every single time.

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7. What have you learned about life from peoples editing stories?

That there’s so much going on outside the edit room.  I’ve worked crazy hours for the past few years, full months at a time without a day off recently, and work has sort of become my window to the world.  Sometimes it’s really crazy what I am watching while I am working on it, and sometimes it’s really beautiful.  I really love what I do, and I don’t see it as work…hence working 7 days a week doesn’t bother me.  I am slowly, but surely, trying to get out there a little more and trying to take a crack at what most people call a normal life…but like everything I’ve done so far in my life, it’s a slow process.

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Pictures provided from his instragram.

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Its so cool to read that with hard work and lots of sacrifice, opportunities open up. Thank you to Harold for taking the time to write up the responds!

—- You can see all Harold’s work on site. www.hrldm.info

In 2015 we actually met up!! Had so much fun talking about editing, moving making and life.

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.

Editing Someone’s Story

When I have to edit someone’s story I have to ask myself what point do I want to land on. Like any story, it can go anywhere. As I book the person to interview, I have to know my objective. In a strange way, what do I want this person to say, but still allowing room for twist and turns I may not be aware of.

The key is asking questions that will lead you to your point. At church we wanted to talk about one of the classes we have available for special needs as well as show the impact it had on the family. Everything in her story sounded equality important, but as the editor, I had to pick which parts where going to lead me to the objective. I had to eliminate points that were repeated, if she describe the hard times, I no longer needed anymore clips that describe that. If I focused too much on one area it may lead me away from the point of the video.

Telling someones story in less than 3 minutes, is an art. It takes practice, but most of all it about preparing before hand that will make the interview successful. Wording those hard questions just right will make your story 100x better. It will also help the subject feel comfortable enough to open up. When you know what you are doing, they will be able to relax and open up. The last thing you want is someone closed up when you’re trying to share their story.

Here is Maggie’s story.

Making a Video

Thank goodness we don’t live in the early 1900’s, other wise creating anything visual would be difficult. Making videos are easier than ever but you will still face some big obstacles. You won’t know how to make a video until you try, more than anything, you learn by doing and each video is different, with different challenges. You will get better after each one. The mistakes you learn in video #1, you will apply to video #2.

As I am teaching new people who are highly interested in creating videos at work, I often don’t know where to start, there is so much to learn.

Here are a few areas you should try to grow in.

-Graphic design
-Story telling
-Communication
-Marketing
-Editing Software
-Codec’s, Formats, Compression
-Files Organization
-How to work a Camera, tripod, etc.
-Lighting
-The history of the technology of TV, history of film

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The list looks a little like a school curriculum and if you can go to school to learn how to work in post-production, go. But like many of my co-workers, they learned by interning at church. Internships are great, if they allow you to be apart of the projects. Regardless on how you learn, you learn by investing time, focus, passion, and heart.

Here are some tips on how to create a video.

1. Know what kind of video you are making. (Commercial, comical, drama, short film, documentary, music, etc.)
2. Know what you want to say. (This product is the best, come to this awesome event, look how fun this event is, here is our history, etc)
3. Look to see how others have done it, and see how you can make it different.
4. Create the Script, know what needs to be said and what text has to be on screen.
5. Create story boards or thumb nails for animations. Layout your Graphic Design.
6. Gather your gear, and people who can help out with filming. Audio person is key if you need good audio.
7. Film – make sure your shots are steady and help tell the story. Watch your white balance, focus, whats in frame, exposure.
8. Edit – Capture your footage, (Make sure you know where your files are going; be organized!) know what format your will be editing in (h.264 or NTSC), what aspect ratio, widescreen or box TV screen (16×9 or 4×3),create your cut, lay down the story, put music to it. Have someone look at it to see if it makes sense. Ask for their input, even if they don’t know about videos.
9. Export your cut into a graphic software (After Effects), follow your animation thumbnails, if the animation doesn’t work out, try something else. Check out http://www.videocopilot.net/ for after effects tutorials. Avoid fancy fonts or colors that maybe hard to read.
10. Import back in to your editing software, fix any audio. Export.
11. Convert your file in to the correct format: .mp4 for web, .mov for DVD or to load up somewhere else.

Being organize will help you out so much in the end, never “Untitled” anything or save on the desktop! Some twitter friends gave a great suggestions to name the file with the date and what it is. At work we all do this now. Put the date on our file that it has to be played. ( 030913 Intro)

Hope this helps, feel free to ask questions if you have any.

11 Years of Editing and Still in Love

It’s hard to believe its been 11 years since I made my first video. It was 2002 and mini dv was king, Youtube hadn’t been invented and the word, “social media” didn’t exist. My instructor in college was a hippie with large glasses. I remember him teaching us the history of television, and how NTSC and PAL came about. He taught it with such passion, I was at the edge of my seat. He ended his lector by saying, open up Final Cut 4.0.

When I opened up the program I instantly fell in love. I wanted to know all about it. I thought, “This is how they make movies.” I was young and naïve, and dreamt of one day making music videos for MTV. I had no idea what the future would hold for video and my career as an editor. I just knew, I was born to do this. I felt at home creating and piecing clips together. I was the first to arrive and the last to leave class. At lunch the boys and I would talk about our favorite movies and why we loved them. It wasn’t until the second term that I noticed I was the only girl. This made me feel even more special knowing that I wasn’t following the crowd but for the first I was doing what I wanted do.

Its been a long journey since then. I don’t think anyone in my college class stayed with the art. Reality hit and many couldn’t find a job, some got bored of it, and others just gave up. But for me I had no plan B. And I knew if I gave up editing I would have to give up a piece of myself. At age 19 I discovered editing was my language to the world. It is my voice.

There was a period where I was bored of it. In 2010, I went to photography. I edited to make money, but photography was my mistress. I would go shooting on the weekend and even introduce myself as a photographer. The more I shot the less I would talk about editing. And then one day, I looked at my book shelf and found a book given to me by a friend.

In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch

As I began to read this book by famous film editor Walter Murch he talked about the art form with such love and affection. I was drawn into his words and related to everything he was saying. He began to elaborate on what it is to be an editor. Reading this book brought me back to my passion. I looked him up on youtube, watched every video, read all his books. I was learning so much from him, it was bring me back to the glory days. After I read another powerful book called Story by Robert Mckee. This enlighten me even more!

People were noticed the difference in my work. The videos were coming alive. The love was back.

I saw that it was when I stopped learning and challenging myself that I got bored. I thought photography was a new career but it ended up leading me back to the core: story telling. Being an editor is in my DNA.

Once you find something you love and are good at, run with it. It will lead you to your destiny. I know I still haven’t arrived, I am and will always be a student. Challenging myself weekly, pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Reading books on the art, talking about it and connecting with others who love it too.

Who knew video was going to be so popular in 2013? Now just about anyone can be an editor but its those who never stop learning and never give up who will still be in love with it ten years from now.

What I’ve learned from Filming Weddings

Filming a wedding isn’t just picking up a camera and pressing record. There is an art behind it that most people fail to understand. When I am hired as the photographer usually the person doing the filming is someone’s relative.  When it comes to those special moments they can be found hanging out with friends having a good time while the camera is somewhere on the table. You get what you pay for. Free is free but a wedding should be captured be professionals. Photographers and Filmers. We have invested greatly in our craft as artist.

The past few years I’ve filmed over ten weddings. Not one of them was the same. Each wedding has its challenges; lighting, venue, stress levels, camera malfunctions, weather. I learn something new each time, and usually add an item on my gear list.

I’ve probably learned the most while second shooting for a friend in the OC.

First, have the right gear – 2 16gb memory cards, two batteries with chargers, mono-pod or steady rig, a clean lens, mic/audio recorder. Ice packs if shooting outside in the heat. An LED light for evening shooting with your camera. You can also rent lens if you have an HD SLR.

Communicate with your other filmers what the purpose of their camera is. (Close up & details, wide shooter, bride or groom, location for speeches, location for ceremony, ceremony audio.)

Find the perfect spot to film the ceremony and stay put. Record all the way through. Move quickly to the next spot of the ceremony, such as the unity candles.

Every wedding is different, figure out the personality of the bride and shoot that style. (Fun, exciting, moody, deep, friendly, social,..)

Everyone will be stress, with so many details it will be hard to film, “moments.” A photographer only needs 3 seconds to capture what looks like the best moment of the couple’s life, but a filmer- we need more. Its okay to make up “fake moments”. Sometimes I’ll whisper to the bride’s mom, “can you go give your daughter some advice before she walks down the aisle.” For a brief period of time, the bride and her mom forget about the cameras and have a real moment no photographer can capture but only a filmer. 20 years later when the bride watches the video, she will finally understand her mother’s advice.

Most people get nervese around a camera, most people act different in front of a camera, those are the shots you won’t use in the editing room, you will use the shot of the groom and his groom’s men laughing.

Be the director that is invisible. Let no one see you seeing them and if they do see you pretend that you don’t see them, even though you are pointing a camera straight at them. Keep on filming. They will return to their conversation, laugh – there is your shot. Now you can go.

Pretend you are filming something else, but really filming what the wedding party is doing. Keep your camera rolling when everyone thinks no one is watching.

Be at eye level with who you are filming. (I’m short.)

Don’t adjust your aperture setting while filming, shutter speed if anything. Its okay to film in program mode. But when you are being artsy and have time, go on manuel. Limit the use of high ISO.

Have your mic on at all times.

You want to capture emotions, anything else is boring.

Make peace with the wedding photographer. Introduce yourself and say hello. You can steal all their set up shots during the wedding pictures. If they aren’t giving you anything interesting, speak up and direct the couple to do something.

Don’t depend on the photographer for giving you great lighting. Usually they have a flash. For sunsets our cameras will make anything in front of the sun silhouette or blow out the background, film it artistically. After the photographer is done with that set up, adjust your couple to get the shot you want with light that works best for your camera.

Shoot quality not quantity.

Keep your shots steady, wait to stop recording three seconds after the moment is captured.

Know your key moments – first kiss, cutting of the cake, speeches, first dance, etc. If these things don’t happen its okay but it never hurts to suggest to the groom, “ask her to dance.”

Above all else, film the wedding like it was your own. Full of significance and beauty.