First off, if you haven't seen the video, check it out below:
Start With a Goal
Now, I know some folks who do good work in video. But whether it be due to distance or a number of other factors, it seemed like the approach to do this with the most wiggle room would be in-house. But that was going to require a LOT of learning, both for myself AND for my crew. Sure, I had made good-looking video pieces before, but I spent months diving into to technical stuff I didn't even know existed to try to up my game. Flat camera profiles, color grading, lighting setups, new software and hardware. It was like putting myself through school, often just trying to figure out what questions to ask.
I turned to Missy and Austin, both members of my tech crew, and said "Do you want to help me do this?" So we started meeting regularly for training sessions. I was teaching Missy to be a camera operator, which includes a lot more than point and shoot. It was about how to expose properly for skin-tones in a flat profile, shooting handheld vs. shoulder vs. glide track. Different types of lenses. Employing artistic framing. Austin became a focus puller. It was about setting marks and hitting the timing, using measurements as much as eyeballing the monitor, all while coordinating with Missy's movements. All things told, the learning and training process took something like a year.
Ultimately, that worked out really well for the video. Missy and Austin did most of the shooting (obviously of the performance shots), with me taking the reigns for family profile shots as well as object close-ups.
When I finally settled on The Roses being my first video, I knew I had to plan. I started with storyboarding, which really kind of began with me sitting and imagining the video and then putting it on paper. Originally, the video was supposed to have 2-3 sets, performance venues mixed with this "Soul Set" that was supposed to be inside of my head. Ultimately though, once we had filmed on the Soul Set, I realized that it didn't need anything else: there was already a ton there to work with, and having a bunch of exposition in my first video before the music even started may not have been the right move.
There was also the design of the set: it needed to be romantic, without being cheesy. Heartfelt without being forced. When I pictured lots of candles and roses in my head it looked great, but when I said it out loud, I knew it could have been perceived a lot of different ways. I talked with Missy a lot about not only the shape of the set, but what items would be in it. This wasn't just a question of what would look good and be relevant, but also what we could actually move.
I also knew I had to plan for everything: when could everyone be available (the family, the crew, me, and the people needed to move the setpieces), the screen rental. And I had to plan around weather: what if there was wind? When would there be the least chance for humidity and bugs? Each of these questions led to something new being added to a list, whether it was a shopping list or a to-do list. I even made an announcement at church that I was taking donations for white pillar candles. My basic equation was, "IF I'm going to do THIS, then HOW is it going to get done, and WHAT is needed for that?" This included makeup, which I have had very little experience with, so as you'll see in the behind the scenes video, I got Lauren and Missy (two real, live, actual girls) to consult with me on the matter. They aren't huge makeup wearers, but they know enough to help out a guy making a video. Thanks to them and the internet I now know more about the difference between a matte powder and a liquid foundation. I even have my own set of application sponges like a grown-up.
Ah, the Memories
This meant going through MANY hours of footage. And it was a multi-step process.
We have a pretty big amount of videotaped family footage. My mom was a great documentarian. There's everything from Baby Sam, to Grandma's 50th birthday party, to high school jazz band concerts. The family already wanted me to transfer these tapes to DVD, but getting them ready for the video required strategically choosing which tapes to convert first, then copying the DVDs to a hard drive in order to edit them. After that, it was combing through all the footage to find the right moments. I needed a general reel of stuff to go behind my performance, but then 4 other reels that were specific to each member of the family that would be featured. Then each of those reels needed to be looped and put on discs so that they could be cued up and projected during shooting. it came down to the wire, but it got done.
Go-Time. Launch. Zero Hour.
First I had to head out to Monroe to meet with Kevin Marietta of Temporary Technology to pick up the projection screen. I thank God for this connection. I sometimes do side work for Kevin's company, which mostly consists is moving gear to events of all sizes, setting it up, running the event, and tearing it down. Were you there when King's Island did a media event announcing their newest roller coaster? That was us......but that's another blog. Anyway, because of that connection and experience, I know how to rig up one of these giant screens. But even more importantly, Kevin was gracious enough to give me a great deal on rental as one of his employees. Still, once I had paid for the rental I wanted to make it count.
Next was meeting with Jeff Martin (thanks Jeff!) who helped me move all the furniture and other items from my house to the back of our church where we were filming.
The afternoon was about presetting as much indoors as we could, as well as doing some final camera tests. Next was a quick break, building the set, then hair and makeup.
I had a shot list put together, knowing certain things might change. The original plan was for the shoot to take two days. We were going to get as much as we could on day 1, tear down, then set back up the next day. But once I was in it, I was in it, and I REALLY didn't want to have to tear down and set back up, trying to make it look exactly the same.
The wind fought us a first, blowing curtains up, setpieces down, and candles out. Never mind the fact that the screen was practically a giant sail. But as the hour grew later and the night got colder, the wind did what it was told do and quit.
Long story short, there were quite a few people there as filming got started, but by the time 3am rolled around, it was just Missy and I left pushing through the last shots (Austin stayed pretty late, but needed to get home). I'm thankful to the gracious neighbors who didn't call the cops about lights and music outside at 2am.
All things considered, it was about a 16 hour day, give or take.
The lights had to be disassembled, the screen folded up and ready to move, and all the gear reorganized. It was a task, but it was better than having to do all that PLUS set up and shoot that day. I started uploading the footage while I cleaned up, and I was happy with what I saw.
0's and 1's
Suffice it to say that I learned a lot, and it's knowledge that nobody can take away from me now. I suspect in the long run, it will only benefit me, whether I'm the guy editing or not.
A Finishing Touch
We're in Germany, and I'm about 5 or 6 years old. I'm going on about the things I want to do with my future. I was a talkative kid to the point of being rude sometimes, but I was also determined and enthusiastic. And in the middle of it, I said the following which was caught on tape:
"Mommy, Papaw, Mamaw, when I grow up I'm going to let you see every concert, every preaching stage, and every video I make."
I already knew. It sort of stunned the family the first time I showed them the music video. It was so long ago that they had forgotten about that particular instance. They said I prophesied my own future. I agree.