Here at Highlands, we have loved using this program called DaVinci Resolve to color correct all of our footage! It is a very high quality program that is used to color major motion pictures as well as commercial spots and lots of other things. They offer a free version that we used for while and does pretty much everything you need. I did a screen capture of me coloring a shot in one of our weekly news videos. Enjoy!
We have been asked a lot recently about where and how we choose music for Highlands News, so I wanted to write a blog post about it! One of the biggest resources for background music for our news has been Hillsong. We play their music all time time in church services, and it also feels really great in the background of our news! On their website, you can buy instrumental versions for most every album they have. Buy the "MP3 Trax" version, and it comes with instrumentals. Here's a couple that we pull from:
I've also really loved using two songs off of Taylor Swift's album, Red. There's a legit instrumental version here.
Also, if there's a song that you really think would work well in your news, chances are there is a decent karaoke version on iTunes. Type in the name of the song you are looking for and put the word "karaoke" on the end of your search and start previewing away! We have done this a couple of times with good results.
For more info about music for video, check out this blog post.
Hope this helps you and your church! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below!
Every year we do a series called "At The Movies." And it's huge and epic and crazy and everyone loves it and lots of other churches do it and it's just really fun. That being said we thought we would give away some of the shots we used to make the opener. Specifically the projector and its sfx. We got a 16mm Eiki projector that looks like its from the 70s, brought it in the studio, and shot some nice broll of it. Hazed it up, and used a sock with baby powder in it to create those particles. Just smack it a few times before a shot, the sock that is...not the projector.
We took the Broll of that projector and cut it up with reverse shots of actual movies being projected on the wall (2013) or in an actual movie theater (2014). We can't give those to you for obvious reasons, but basically what we did was get a bunch of clips from famous movies, put a lot of noise on them to look old and then projected them using a much more modern and HD projector. Then we took a slider and some handheld shots of them. In 2013 we shot it in our little studio and to get the feel that it was in a theater we just grabbed a few office chairs because their silhouettes are close enough. Then in 2014 we actually got into a local theater and that was awesome too.
Take a look at the openers below and download the footage below that. It's a bit big(1.6gb) but its 15 decently long clips. And if you use it then send us a link!
You don't need to credit us with these shots, but please don't sell them anywhere. Also if you do use them somewhere we would love to see it! Feel free to post a link of your work in the comments below.
Sometimes the shot you want has "stuff" in the way. Maybe you're setting up a testimony and in order to get good boom mic placement you have to sacrifice your wide shot. Or maybe your arms get a little tired and you drop the boom pole into the shot. Or maybe there is a bright "EXIT" sign in the back of the room. There are tons of reasons why your shot could become cluttered and ultimately unusable. But there is a simple fix to all of this and all it requires is a little forethought and a few minutes in After Effects. Take a look at some examples below, sorry they aren't color corrected.
As you can see we took a lot out of those images, we removed anything and everything that was distracting to the eye and that didn't add to the overall beauty of the shot. And since the room is a very large room that is hard to haze we even added in some fake light rays.
Its easier than you'd imagine.
1. Plan your shot accordingly.
When you're setting up your shot make sure nothing you're planning on taking out is "touching" your talent. Don't let an exit sign creep out from behind their head and don't let a chimera or light stand be behind them in your lens. If it's in a corner of the shot or over their head then you're good! Trust me you don't want to find yourself rotoscoping their every move later. You will kick yourself during the edit. But if your subject is one who moves around a lot you may find yourself doing it anyway.
2. Get a clean plate and don't touch the camera!
Either before your subject gets into the shot or after you've gotten everything, you need to get a clean shot of the scene without the subject and without the gear. DO NOT TOUCH the camera between filming your subject and getting the plate, even the slightest movement could mess up your shot and hurt you in post. However, if you do shift it a little don't freak out cause you'll still be able to fix it in post but it'll just take longer and be more frustrating. You'll need to get at least 15 seconds if not a minute or two of the clean plate. You need video and not a photo because you want the natural noise of the camera so that it doesn't look jarring on your screen. You're basically going to just duplicate the plate and spread it out over the length of your edit. The plate has nothing in it, its just your scene. No gear, no people.
3. Drop both of them in AE and get to work!
So with the above example it is incredibly easy to fix this in AE. Just drop that clean slate on top and add a simple mask with a little feather. You might also have to play with the brightness because you probably did have lights on in the first shot.
But, what if your shot is a little more complicated and your slate has an exit sign or a sound booth in it like this:
It's still easy to fix, but you have to spend a little more time on it. There is two different tools to use here. One is the Clone stamp tool, similar to Photoshop's, and the other is replicating part of your scene. What is nice about this is that you don't actually need a clean plate of the scene you can just duplicate your current one. However, I would still get one just in case.
Duplicate your footage, and then double click its layer in the timeline panel. You should then be in the "Layer View" which is the second tab of your Preview Window in AE. Make sure your playhead is at the very first frame when you do this.
From here grab your clone tool, the little stamp in your tools, and play with the brush size until you get exactly what you need. Then alt-click on the part of the footage you want to sample. Release the alt key and then start brushing. Its a good idea to sample several different areas around the area you're removing so that you can get a good mix of the correct colors and it wont look like a smudge on the footage.
Once you're done click back over to your composition panel, the first tab in the Preview Window, and then ram preview to make sure it looks correct.
Different than the clone tool but achieves the same result. Duplicate your footage, and then draw a mask around an area in your footage that is similar to the area you're trying to correct.
For this example we are wanting to cover the sound booth with a panel that matches the other sound panels on the wall. You can see we actually used another panel and just shifted the position to cover the sound booth. Draw a mask around the area you want to sample and then drag it over and align it. The perspective may be off a bit but you can fix that with a warp or by making the layer 3d and rotating it on the x or y axis. We actually used several other parts of the scene to cover these ugly blemishes. Sometimes it will look great on the first try and others it will take some serious tweaking. The only effects that might be helpful here is "Hue/Saturation" to shift the hue slightly, "Tint" to force the color to match that which it is replacing, and then "Brightness/Contrast" to adjust any changes in light between the two samples.
4. Hit Render and celebrate
That's it! You're done! Now, while it renders, go celebrate!
Hopefully this short and easy tutorial will help you when you've come into a jam and need to remove that pesky boom pole that keeps dropping in or when you are planning out your shots for an interview style video. One more thing, if you are needing to do this on a moving shot there is a solution. It involves camera tracking and attaching the composite layers (Clone tool and replications) to the track or some other more complicated methods. Here is an old tutorial that still works and here is another tutorial that looks very promising. We'd love to see your work if you end up using this method so feel free to post links below and ask questions!
Its almost here! Our annual Grow conference is nearly here and we want to give you all a preview of what we will be covering and hear from you all personally!
What is Grow?
Grow is our annual leadership intensive. It consists of general sessions and dozens of breakout labs that focus on specific ministry areas. The labs are designed to help provide hands-on training, as well as give attendees practical insights into how ministry happens at Church of the Highlands. Labs are designed with intentionality to allow both the training needed to understand the systems, structures and key components that make up a ministry area as well as ample time for question and answer. It is our goal to ensure that every attendee leaves resourced and with every question answered.
How can I go?
Well this years sessions are already completely sold out! But, if you missed us this time around, you will be able to register for next years conference beginning in August!
I'm coming! What can I expect?
If you're coming then get ready to have an awesome time and hopefully learn a lot in the process. We will be doing several creative labs ranging from utilizing social media, to the creative process, to creating videos for a church experience, and maybe even some unplanned breakouts during lunches or breaks. Also, you'll want to follow us on Twitter and Instagram so we can communicate to you during the conference. We will tweet about where you can find us during lunch and maybe even a Periscope broadcast or two.
What are we going to talk about in labs?
A lot of times we get really basic questions like what camera should I buy, what software should I use, etc. While there is nothing wrong with those questions we don't want to spend everyone's lab time answering them. Thats why we have this blog. You can see what gear we use, and recommend for a tight budget. You can see what software we use. You can see how we do our news, or how we set up interviews. There are so many answers to questions you might have, right here on the blog. And if you cant find something or you just want to chat then shoot us an email. Also, if you just really want to discuss the newest gear and tech or how your church is transitioning from Hi8 then try and connect with us before or after the labs. We are down with tech talk but we don't want to bog down the lab discussing what new camera or plugin we like. So basically what I am saying is that we want the labs to go deeper than the basic questions. We are gonna address why we do what we do, how we do it here at Highlands, how our practices can apply to your church and bunch of tips and tricks we've learned along the way. We also are going to open up the floor for your questions and our hard drives for your requests. You will be able to ask us how to write jokes for a sunday video, how we set up a dolly shot for a testimony, what brand of cereal we prefer and so much more. You will also be able to ask us for just about anything we've ever made, (most of which is already on the Grow Resource site), from recent years. We try not to give away stuff that is outdated and out of touch with the current creative landscape of the church or that has a bunch of our people in it. But, we will gladly hand over anything and everything we can, if we can find it haha.
We want both. If there is something you'd like to see us teach, some process you want to know, or you just want to see the behind the scenes of some video; then please ask us! Like now! Drop us a comment below or a tweet or chat us on AIM. Ok, don't chat us on AIM, we don't remember our password. But do contact us and let us know what you want to see in the labs. We do this conference for you guys so we want to make sure to answer everything you guys could ask! So for real, tell us what you want to see at Grow and we will try to make it happen.
One more thing, if there is a post you'd like to see on this blog or if we are talking about something at grow and you'd like to be able to reference it later via the blog then let us know and we will make a post about it!
The conference where we turn boys into men, and men into more manly men. Testosterone abounds. Here are all the videos we produced for Catalyst 2015. You're guaranteed to feel more manly after watching.
At Highlands, we believe giving service attendees a break from the traditional on-stage announcement of upcoming events is a welcome change to the Sunday routine! We have found that an upbeat and energetic announcement video will keep people engaged and from playing on their phones after praise and worship. Over the years we have found that there are a few key elements to making the most of an audience’s attention span through effective script writing and shootingRead More
Sometimes the most complicated part about learning to edit video is knowing what settings to use while exporting. What codec should I use? What container? Bitrate? Frame rate? In this post, I'm going to cover how we export video to play in our church services on Sunday mornings.Read More
We are on the last leg of a crazy busy season here at highlands. We went from At The Movies, straight into Christmas services, 21 Days of Prayer, and Financial Freedom conference, then into two new series, the Dream Team party and then Ignite. We've got Catalyst and Easter coming up but we have a few weeks to catch our breath and collect our ideas before we crack down and start the grind again. While this season is busy we love it! We get to make some of our best content during these fast paced and high pressure times.Read More
Sometimes after we’ve filmed a video we realize we’ve missed something or we need one more shot to really tell the story. And sometimes that’s after a huge shoot with lots of moving pieces and scheduling, like horses, armor and a crazy location. So you cant really just pack everything up and head back out to shoot. Sometimes you have to fake a shot and sometimes all you have to use is construction paper.Read More
Interviewing people is an art form, and it's a continual learning process. Everyone is different, and when you interview one person, they may react to a set of questions differently than another person would. All this to say that the "rules of interviewing people" is a constantly changing list and i'm sure amendments could be added every time you interview someone new. That being said, here are a few rules that we follow that has helped us out throughout the process of capturing and telling someone's story.Read More
As we've written about many times here, audio recording is just as important, if not MORE important than the video you're capturing for your productions. A bad sounding interview is very disconnecting to the viewer, while audio that's recorded well will make your video productions much more professional.Read More
Some of our favorite video projects are the ones we get to create for our big events. Often we'll create a handful of videos that will play during each session of a conference. It can be a real challenge to continue to come up with fresh ideas for events that repeat each year -- so occasionally, we'll take the Hollywood approach and create the sequel!Read More
Storytelling is the heart of what we do on the video team. Storytelling is used in testimonies, highlight videos and creative promos. Here are a few tips on storytelling from Pixar's own, Emma Coats.Read More
Every once in a while, we get to pull out the green screen and put it to use. It's an effective way to put your talent in a place you don't have access to, or to give you a generic look for a church news shoot.Read More
There are a few things that you can do to ensure that what you've been editing plays back looking great in a manageable file size for your playback computer. We're going to show you how we do it in Final Cut Pro, but the settings and principals should be similar in most editing programs.Read More
For interview and testimony videos, we like to use a two camera setup with a traditional 3-point lighting rig. In this post I will go over how and where we place our cameras, lights and microphone. Wherever we shoot, we use this system, and it works for just about every condition.Read More