Friday, 27 August 2010

Cause/Relationship






I have been very busy over the last 2 weeks or so working on this project. Here are a few more screengrabs....I'm not going to talk to much on the technicalities behind its production [will do so at a later stage]...but here is my heart behind its concept and creation - aside from it being used for an event called HGHF - a great outreach tool.


For a long time I have been thinking about why God wants us here on the earth - post salvation. Why, if we can never lose our salvation, does Satan still try to rob from us [with sickness, death, discouragement etc] - when the outcome of our lives - our destiny, is already determined and set in place?

Why does Satan even bother when we are set for Heaven? What is it that he is trying to do, if he cannot steal our salvation? [The question of 'can you lose your salvation' - is not discussed here - but I believe once you've seen and tasted [for real] the goodness of God - its impossible to deny or forgo His Grace]

I think the answer to both these questions lie in the fact that God has us here on the earth for the purpose of living lives with the intentionality, actually the pro activity of loving the lost unto salvation. And it is for this very reason that Satan comes against us - in order to render us ineffective - to stop or halt the growth of the Kingdom.

Over the last few months I have watched how 'religion'- largely Christian and Muslim have done despicable things in the name of a 'cause'...

I mean look at this - http://blogs.sacbee.com/photos/2010/08/nyc-mosque-protests.html

But as 'the Redeemed' we don't merely live for a 'cause' - we don't sell out to an organization - we are not merely warriors. But we are a bride, a family, a household and much more.

Its hard holding these truths in tension sometimes. For instance what do you do with the verse 'From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it. - Matthew 11vs12

Do you take it it in a literal sense? - e.g. Christians protesting against gay marriage, or against the Mosque in NYC etc] ...by the way I'm not supportive of the Mosque either but I don't know whether the love of Christ was evident in those protests.
Or is it a movement in the hearts of man, away from passivity and towards action - loving people with a love that Christ had for people. A love that is forceful - intentional, violent and real. But how can love be forceful or violent?.... In the same way that Jesus loved people. He went to the cross - he did the extreme - he died in violent love, and rose in violent love. I read this about a week ago [http://www.barr-family.com/godsword/crucmed.htm] and felt what I think was God's heart for the unloved, the broken and unsaved....

We have to live relationally and not cause-based.

I saw this trailer and also wondered whether most Christians work themselves into 'Preach the Gospel' frenzy and totally forget about Jesus and the way He loves people.
http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/independent/holywars/

Jesus didn't raise his fists, throw a protest or anything the like. His way was love. He loved Zacchues, the tax collector, and spent time in his home. He loved the woman at the well who had the countless husbands, and told her about 'true worship'... His way was love.

The only time we really see Jesus angry was when the people were dishonoring his Father's house [the temple] - He did what any person would do if someone trashed their dad's house. I know I would

I am praying for Christ's love to rule in this heart - but the only way that it can be real is to go back to the Cross, time and time again.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Audio

Recording Score from Salomon on Vimeo.



Here is a little inside view of what goes on in the audio department [my studio at home] on some of the church videos. This is for a new project.

Sorry the sound is not great but my external sound recorder failed on me and I was not going to do it again.

The song has progressed way further from this

For the curious, I use:

Pro Tools for editing
FM8 for sounds
Massive for sounds
Absynth 4 for sounds
Miroslav Philharmonik for strings and horns
Stylus RMX for the percussion and beats

Password is welloflife

later

Monday, 16 August 2010

Grading Stills









I write this not because I think I'm pro - but because people have wanted to know how I go about grading still. Glenn Stewart from Mindscape films and Rob Chiu are true masters of the craft. If you haven't heard of them - check them out here.

Rob Chiu: http://flickr.com/photos/theronin/ and http://vimeo.com/robchiu/videos
Glenn Stewart: http://vimeo.com/mindscape/videos, www.kozu.tv

Process: [I use Lightroom 3 - would love to know how to fully use photoshop for grading photos]


1. Compensate the white balance by adjusting the color temperatures at the top right of the Lightroom interface
2. Adjust Global Exposure
3. Adjust the saturation - bring it down usually - adjust the fill light and all that jazz
4. Adjust the contrast, black levels etc.
5. Do localized corrections

These are the two important elements that largely determines the feel of the photo for me:
6: Adjusting the split-toning sliders
7: Adjusting the tone curve.

The 2 above mentioned elements are extremely powerful for creating color 'Looks'

To go 'BlockBuster': I usually have desaturated images, very contrasted, blue shadows[by using split toning - but keeping the balance value all the way to the right - meaning more of the highlights get affected than the shadows], highlights yellowish and the tone curve normal

To go 'Vintage': I have the same basic settings as above except the contrast is low, the shadows are purple or brownish - the highlights must be yellow or greenish. And the Tone Curve should have the lowest point raised to about a 1/5th of the way up from the lowest left hand corner [its default]

That's basically it.

I don't know how to use half the buttons in Lightroom - like sharpening and some of the other ones. Should I be concerned with them?! Glenn...Rob?!

Here are a few screenshots to show you what I mean

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Red Letters - The grading process






I'll write my second blog in two days - a 1st I think.

Sidenote:

Yesterday I started reading my sister's blog - this story in particular broke my heart - http://leandil.blogspot.com/2010/07/to-continue-hospital-story.html?spref=tw

Testimonies of God's goodness - especially when its your sister's story, builds my faith in a way I've never experienced before.

All that to say - read it - especially if you know here.


............
Details on pics above:

1. Final AE session
2. MBL grade screenshot
3. Ungraded screenshot
4. Ungraded screenshot
5. Ungraded screenshot

By the way - I chose look #2 from one of the previous posts


I am writing this because there are quite a few people who have asked me about color correction on this piece and on some of the other pieces. Here's how I typically go about it.

I'd usually jump into after effects before almost anything else [before music, before edit etc]...i'd play around with a clip from the film I'm going to work on and get a few grades going as tests - usually i'd create and save about 3 to 4 presets.

Then i'll do the music
The the edit
Then back into after effects to do the grade and balancing of shots
Then final grade plus tweaking


Let me here define - " balancing of shots'

Typically i'd have 4 adjustment layers at the top of my AE session - all with their respective grades - only one at a time - sometimes I'll change the opacity of one of the other ones to come thru slightly but this hardly happens.

Underneath I would have all the clips - broken down into their various layers. Some clips just don't match - either they differ because the one is way darker or lighter than the other, but often there is a tonal difference, that goes beyond just too light, too dark. It often has to do with the 'brightness of the shadows' and cannot be corrected with just an exposure adjustment. You need to adjust GAMMA as well. I would usually add an 'Exposure' affect on the layer of the footage that I want to balance and work the exposure control along with the GAMMA control to adjust each shot in line with the rest of the footage.

This I find has helped tremendously!

If I wanted gradients in the sky - or vignettes then I would add them onto the individual footage using a blank Magic Bullet Looks 'Canvas' with just a grad or vignette added.

So I usually color correct a video as a whole and balance the shots underneath the final look [one of the top four layers in my After Effects Session] - best to do this in After Effects as you can work in Layers

The best way to get the best grade and look for whatever you are working on is to control the colors on the shoot. Think wardrobe - set design...all that jazz.

I'd love to post my MBL preset for the film here - but don't think its possible

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Color/Music/The Real






Here is a little snapshot of something that I am working on at the moment - it might look familiar - but that is because it is supposed to. If what you saw was a 'teaser' - which was 'Save the Lost' - what is coming would be a 'taster' - sort of.

I am not so much in two minds about this video's grade [as I was about the last video I did] - because I really wanted to seep the colors out of the picture and make it really bleak - so it almost has a black and white vibe except for primarily 2 other colors - blue and yellow - I guess Book of Eli inspired concept here - naturally blue and yellow just worked.

Stu Maschwitz from Pro Lost [www.prolost.com] writes in many of his articles on the use of restricted color palettes in color correction. Its amazing that when you do this - especially on very specific pieces [short pieces] - to see the out-coming results. I guess opinions vary, but I've been analyzing so many films over the last little while and its SO clear that wardrobe artists, set designers, directors and color correctors all play a massive role in restricting the color so that it doesn't take away from the subject.

Think of a few films - I'll name a few and give what I think their primary colors are. Black is not considered a color - but i'll consider it here. Colors are in order of shadows, midtones, and highlights. Where midtones don't seem to have a specifc color i've left it out.

1. Matrix - Black, Green, Yellowish at times
2. Man on Fire - Teal, Blue, Yellow [very saturated]
3. Bourne Ultimatum - Blue, some yellow,
4. Spirit - Black, Red, White
5. Eagle Eye - Black/Blue, Yellow
6. Taking Pelham 123 - Green/Brown, Orange
7. The Informant - Brown, Yellow
8. Munich - Brown, Yellow
9. Dark Night - Black, Blue, Creamish
10. Lord of the Rings Trilogy - Black-Brown, Blue and Creamish

You might not agree with me here!

If you look at these movies again - see how much of the 'look' of the film exists in these restricted color palettes.

- Blockbuster films are often Blue/Teal in the shadows and Yellow/creamish in the highlights.
- And vintage films are often Reddish/Purplish/Brownish in the shadows and quite a strong yellow cast in the mid-tones and highlights.

Its amazing how uninspiring a raw untreated photo is at times, purely because often you have a million colors vying for your attention.

I don't know why I got onto the subject of color correction - excuse me. I think I just love color - the same way I love music. Their such similar subjects actually - They are emotion-inducers! We speak of them using the same words - 'bright', 'dark', 'warm', 'rich' 'clipping', 'distorting' - It has the ability to open people's ears and hearts and make them more receptive to the Message. As strange as it might sound - color, along music and all the other art forms is another tool in a believer's arsenal.

Color is OBVIOUSLY not our greatest weapon - as Gary Oldman says in the 'Book of Eli' when his minions question him saying 'but its just a book sir, why are you SO upset?' he then replies - 'It is not just a book, it is a WEAPON!' - The word of God - a double-edged sword - is the greatest weapon at our disposal!

I am not a particular fan of the 'nice' , 'the Christianese' things that so many people are used to and they are often ineffective if not detrimental to seeing people come to know Jesus, because they make people switch off immediately. There is a flip-side to this which I will discuss later on. But imagine having the most amazing words for a song - its so good it could literally blow people's minds. However, as soon as you open your mouth to sing - the sounds of cats dying in the trash canister - the sound of your voice - pulls a downer. And you wonder why people are not impacted, not stirred.

If it doesn't make them switch off - it might get them highly annoyed!

I love the Book of Eli because it was 'real' and 'dark' but communicated SO clearly the Hope that the Word of God brings to humanity - PROFOUND

I love the Passion of the Christ - because it showed the death of Jesus as it was - violent and brutal - think about that the next time you wonder about whether or not God loves you. The medical account of Jesus' death is possibly even more brutal -http://www.barr-family.com/godsword/crucmed.htm. But it breaks me every time I read it..

I like GOOD stories - stories that grips my heart - often they are 'dark'/cinematic - but they always have hope.
We got stories like that to tell - stacks of them - every testimony essentially - 'for once I was dead but now I am alive.'
This is how I would like to tell stories.

'I like things dark - I like things cinematic' - Rob Chiu

...............

I just read a very good article from the Wall Street Journal on the 'state of Christianity' amongst younger people in America
- apparently 70 percent of young people aged between 18-22 are leaving the church. They are fed up with the perfect little Christian huddles and tech- savvy presentations [the flip-side as mentioned above] that 'Evangelical-America' has grown accustomed to. Young people are looking for the 'real' - they don't like the mega-church mindset, but are looking for something way more PERSONAL.

Reference - http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704111704575355311122648100.html

Its a very 'now' conversation that we are having as a Lifegroup [small group] and a conversation a group of young people who were dreaming together just prior to a conference called Urban Renewal in LA, had about the future of the church - a conversation I was privileged to be a part of. The question was thrown out - 'What is it that the world - largely the younger generation - is looking for? What have they become enamored with and what are they hungry for?

A simple, unified - 'the real' was the answer

The truth is you might have people come to church because the worship is great and the video stuff might be cool, or maybe even the preaching is spectacular. But people will stay because of relationship, more so than any other thing I reckon - People will stay when they fall in love with Jesus and when they are loved by God's people - Its something me and my wife are learning and growing in. Its something that I reckon is at the core of God's heart.

Let me here explain where I see my gift fit into the body of Christ - its not limited by my definition, but certainly is described - in part - by it.

When it comes to videos/photography - and for my wife painting/fashion/costume design - we use our gifts to stir within people [often the unsaved] questions that would lead them to think about what they call 'truth' and 'reality'. I think even for Christians this is an important question to ask yourself. I believe in Jesus, because I KNOW Him - not because my parents do or because I was brainwashed by a Christian community - but I have seen and tasted the goodness - the constant provision - the healing of his Mighty hand - and I have MANY testimonies.

If we can get the world asking the right questions and lead them to the right answer - Jesus - the word made flesh - then I feel like we're impacting the Kingdom of God. This is my preaching platform... for now!

Sorry I've rambled ... 'color', 'music', 'the real' .... random thoughts I know - but you are all clever... you'll get it.

S

PS - my little pretty one - you can come home now thanks!