Get Popping.

Here’s my article from Christian Video Magazine’s Jan. 2011 issue- www.christianvideomag.com.  Since it’s release, “Daddy Calls Mommy” was selected to be a finalist!  Here’s the article:

I told you last month about a big step in my pursuit to make better quality videos that glorify God.  That step was enrolling in Lights Film School, an online institution in which one can do the work at their own pace.  Though I am currently a student at Lights, I also registered somewhere else to help spur me on towards more professional looking films.  This place is www.poptent.net.

Poptent is a place where creators can see assignments from major brands and create commercials for their products per their specifications.  Then the brand will select among all of the entries and buy the best ones to actually use in their ad campaigns.  One might ask, why even try a contest like this, it’s such a long shot to win some money; it’s a complete waste of time.  No, it’s not a waste at all.  It is experience, and well worth it.

I’ve currently completed 3 videos for poptent and the jury’s still out on them.  I’m awaiting the verdict on who will be chosen among all of the excellent competitors.  Like I said, I don’t expect to be chosen, but that would be very nice if I had such a stroke of luck!  In the last two especially, I’ve learned a lot about checking through my work flow list of to dos.  Since I’m a one man crew and using some new equipment, I’m in charge of sound and filming and directing and producing and set design and at times acting and of course editing.  That’s a bunch of details to have to keep track of.  Even in a 30 second spot, the execution becomes quite an ordeal.  That’s precisely why I see value in popping onto this scene.

You might say, “Greg, you mentioned you wanted to make films that glorify God.  How can a Trident commercial do that?”  Well, you’d be right.  While there’s no real redeeming value in a gum ad, the flexing of the creative muscle and learning what comes with pulling off something I would want to have in my poptent portfolio will be worth the sweat involved because it will make my films that glorify God better.  There is so much amazing talent on poptent.  I feel out of my league.  That’s a good feeling, because it stretches me to create something with excellence and a level of production value.

The church needs the quality that the secular world gets.  The church has that redeeming value that the world needs.  At the same time, the message should not be so in your face.  A bit of tact and creativity is needed to speak the visual language of our day.  I encourage you to get your feet wet a little in the creative crowd that is poptent.net, and have fun with it.

My first submission to poptent was a Spanish submission.  I figured that would give me an edge or at least narrow the playing field a little.  I learned that this is literally an international contest, and high stakes!

Here is the link: http://www.poptent.net/media/26170.  On this one, they actually provided some footage we were able to download and use if we wanted.  On this longer piece I created several After Effects animated segments, but then filmed some parts as well.  I learned that with my new Canon 7D, some extra attention to audio is needed.  Even with the Rode Videomic on the 7D my interviewee didn’t sound so good, so for Christmas I ordered the Zoom H1 to record audio separately.  (Watch this short little video on sound and HDSLRs from vimeo video school- http://vimeo.com/videoschool/lesson/16/recording-sound-for-dslrs). On the last shot, I still wasn’t very familiar with the 7D, so I used my Panasonic DVC30 for that bit.

For the next one, my Zoom H1 had arrived and I was more confident on the 7D.  So I set up to do a Triaminic spot.  This link is in English, by the way: http://www.poptent.net/media/25676.  This one needed to be 30 seconds long, or short I should say.  Trying to cut the concept down to that amount of time is a chore.  However, it can be done.  I had planned more that simply could not make it into the edit.  I had to keep it moving during that time frame, but really cut things down.  It was good practice in a principle they taught in the screenwriting module at Lights Film School of arrive late and leave early.  I also learned how sensitive the Zoom H1 is.  I positioned it out of the frame of the shot but under a ceiling fan that was on.  Though the fan was on the lowest setting, I could hear wind created from it occasionally and didn’t realize it until later.  This “handy recorder” came in when I had to overdub the “buy” line my audio got messed up badly by the fan at that moment.  Well, the worst thing on this one was making my baby cry!

Finally, we get to my latest entry.  Here’s where I got to practice over the shoulder shots and depth of field and even some focus pulls.  This one was fun to make!: http://www.poptent.net/media/38410.  I thought, if I get a buddy to act as the Landlord I can focus on directing and sound, etc.  I can wear headphone and make sure that the audio is clear.  I even remembered to turn the fan off.  But on some of my best takes, I forgot to hit record on the Zoom H1!  I was hearing its output levels, but was not recording.  You live and learn.  I ran out of time to get the same level of performance before we had to leave, so I ended up using some good audio clips and some I had to clean up the on camera audio, which is not so desirable.  All in all, I’m gaining more confidence on some tricky new equipment so that when an important project comes along, I’ll be ready to go on it!

How about you?  Poptent.net’s a great place to practice your craft.  So, get popping!

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  1. March 30, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    Well, the Spanish spot recieved an Honorable Mention. No prize other than a virtual medal. Oh well!

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