Saturday, April 30, 2011

Speaking the Language of Actors

What a great find. This article about working with actors is some great information and was exactly what I need as I head into production on my first film next month. The site itself is great, too. It is run by tv director Peter Marshall (21 Jumpstreet, Black Stallion, etc.) and has lots of good helpful stuff for indie filmmakers. Take the time to check it out and let me know what you think about the article.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My Personal FCP Plug-In Favorites

I was talking on the phone with a colleague in Florida this morning and he said he would like to see a post about which plug-ins/resources I use on a daily basis. My workflow is certainly not the most organized and I do tend to get stuck in a rut many times, so I will not claim to have found the best tools out there, these are simply the ones I have and use often.

• Color corrector 3-way. This is not a plug-in, but is worth a mention since I use it all day long for quick color temp, brightness and contrast adjustment to clips.
Lyric Shadow-Highlight is a great quick fix for bringing out detail in shadows and fixing blown-out highlights.
• Transitions from Too Much Too Soon, Eureka, and Stibs (cannot find a working link currently) are great.
Digital Heaven has Grid and Guides plug-ins for centering and aligning elements and text onscreen.
Primatte Keyer is a simple but powerful way to pull keys since FCP is woefully lacking in this area.
• Face Light is included with FCP, but I did not really start using it until a couple of years ago. Now, I use it often to highlight one or more areas in a shot that need attention. It is a very handy tool to have on-hand. is an easy way to find the perfect cut of music. It has a strange way of interacting with Final Cut, but is called a plug-in. You can download "audition" versions of any cut of music and wait until the video is approved by the client before actually paying for it.
Magic Bullet Quick Looks is an easy way to give each project it's own feel. One click and your video is color graded.
• Final Cut Compressor/Limiter. Again, this is a part of Final Cut, but deserves a mention since it is a critical part of my workflow. Every project gets audio compression applied to the entire audio track before the final export.

You will notice that most of these are free plug-ins. There are some great packages of effects and transitions available out there for purchase, but I have managed to get by with the free ones for many years. The occasional addition of specialized effects from places like CrumplePop, Drop Zones, etc. have spiced up my projects from time to time, but the ones I have listed above are my go-to plugins for sure. We will see which of these are still supported once FCP X is released. Any great plug-ins that you use which I have overlooked?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Are You On YouTube? has a helpful video about using YouTube as a marketing tool. Maybe you are in the same boat I am, where you just cannot bring yourself to accept that YouTube is "the biggest platform" as stated in this video. It can certainly yield tremendous results, but only if you treat it with the importance it deserves. Viewing it as something you do "on the side" does not work, it takes a lot of work and the right strategies to make it successful.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Filmmaking Is More Than Amazing Shots

Kendall Miller at FreshDV posted a great article about calling yourself a film-maker. It has generated a ton of comments both in support of and against what he has to say. You will find the article to be interesting and thought-provoking.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Estimated Time: About 19 weeks

So, are you saying that with the faster processing and background rendering in Final Cut Pro X, that I would be able to hear the audio portion of my TV program by the end of the summer? Awesome! By the way, I am not rendering Avatar here. This actual screen grab is a common thing that happens when FCP tries to estimate how long a render will take. (This particular render actually took less than a minute.) Do I want this fixed? No. It makes me feel good to know that someone working for Apple is even more pessimistic than I am.

The One-Day Edit!

Here is a video that was put together for the final night of the Baptist Friends conference last week. On Wednesday and Thursday, we shot footage and loaded it into the computer. Then on Friday, I worked non-stop to edit it by that evening. With God's help, I made it (with not a moment to spare) and it was well-received. Here are a few observations.

We had no time for color correction, so with the exception of maybe six or eight clips that needed to be brighter to be seen, this is all straight out of the camera. Most shots are from the Canon 7D using an f2.8 70-200mm lens and recording at 24p. You will notice the shots that are from a camcorder at 30p. Color and feel are completely different--and certainly inferior (in my humble opinion). Those shots were also captured using a monopod, so they are not stable like the ones I shot on a tripod. The only reason we plugged those in at all was because they covered events or angles that I was not able to get myself. Also, because the edit was very sparse on the b-roll with about two hours to go, I started grabbing anything that worked and just plugging it in.

I was actually pretty happy with how it turned out. The story flows well, which is the most important thing, and the overall feel of the piece is good. The one shot of mine that I hate is the very grainy shot of the two girls talking about seeing old friends. They turned the auditorium lights out while we were in the middle of the interview, but what she said was critical to the piece, so I used it with a ton of gain and kept it as short as possible. My favorite shot is probably the one you see above. The sun was setting just right as I ran to my truck to get something. I quickly set up a shot behind a statue of a lion and loved how the lens flare turned the entire shot to a golden hue. One thing to know on the edit is that the lady at the end who says she "learned to have greater faith at the conference" is missionary Margaret Stringer. I thought it was powerful that a woman who had spent her life living with a tribe of cannibals that had never seen a white person would have "learned to have faith" in God at the conference--must have been a pretty good one!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back To Civilization

I just got back from the better part of a week at a boys camp in Horseshoe Beach, Florida. There was no phone service and I was unable to get on the Internet, so this is my first post in a while. I had a great time at the camp and shot a good bit of footage while I was there. This montage video will give you a good idea of what the camp is all about. Be sure to select the HD option for viewing rather than watching it in this small window. Double-clicking on the play button will take you to YouTube.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Free Stock Footage - San Diego Sunset

This is a sequence of free stock footage shots that were taken at sunset on the beach in San Diego, California.

Shots of waves and sunsets seem to come in handy in a variety of projects, so these will be good clips to add to your collection. Tell someone else about my site if you download these. All of my clips are royalty-free and yours to use in any project.

Download Clip #1

Download Clip #2

Monday, April 4, 2011

Using Facebook For Your Business

Lance Cummins over at has quite a few really helpful blog posts about using social media to your advantage. I learned a few things about setting up a page for my business by watching this short tutorial video. Take a look at what he offers to small businesses while you are on the site. Great stuff at amazing rates!

Share Your Audio Mixes Using SoundCloud

Check out this great online application called SoundCloud that allows you to upload audio files (like you would to YouTube) and then share them on any of the social sites or on your blog or website. It is a great way to do client reviews of mixes or to create an audio blog. Church sermons too! The display shows up as a waveform with a pause/play button and a way for listeners to give feedback as they listen.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Media Workshops in Knoxville, TN

I am hosting a series of workshop sessions on April 12th-15th at the Baptist Friends Int'l Conference in Knoxville, TN. I will cover a number of topics that will be helpful for churches:

• Your Church & the Local Media
• 10 Ways to Make Your Website More Effective
• Creating Great Church Video
• Broadcasting Your Church Services
• Connecting With People Using the Internet
• Stepping Into the Sound Booth: An Intro to Audio

I have also asked my friend Greg Howlett, an Internet marketing guru (or so he tells me), to teach a couple of these sessions. If you can make it for the conference, we will look forward to working with you to improve your church's opportunities for ministry.