How To produce a Quick-Turn Highlight Video

You’ve got 24 hours to shoot and edit a video to show people what happened at an event. What do you do?

It could happen in any business, but this tight deadline, quick-turn video project pops up in church media quite a bit. There’s an event during the weekend, and you need to show the congregation what happened on Sunday. Or maybe you’re at a conference, and you want to show the highlights from the last few days in the last session? How can you do it, and do it well?

Pre production is the key to success. Just like any video you produce, taking the time to work the pre production process will make your video better. In this case, it’s crucial to your success. You won’t have a lot of time during the event, so you need to do as much as you can before the event starts. Pick music, decide on a style and look for the video. Gather the gear you need, double check your camera settings. Scout the location, find out if you can set up anything early, if needed. Pick an interview location. Gather/build your graphics. Check the schedule, is there anything you have to capture? Try to schedule interviews early in the event. Plan your time. Know what you want the final video to be, and get ready to create that video. This is the time to be creative.

Shoot what you need. Don’t shoot twelve hours of footage. You know what you need to finish the video, shoot those pieces. Make sure you have enough, but don’t shoot 5 minutes of the same repetitive action. Capture the basic wide angles to show the viewer what’s happening, maybe a couple of interesting angles, and then focus on faces. People want to see people. There is a reason people call these “happy face” videos.

Edit during the event. Once you’ve captured the start of the event, and hopefully any main interviews you need for the video, break away and lay down the base for the final project. Take half an hour or more to cut down the basic foundation for the video. If you have footage of someone thanking those who participated, lay that down on the timeline over the music you’ve already selected. Leave space for any special shots. That should give you a rough idea of the length of the video, and what you need to shoot next. You’ve seen the footage you already have, now go back out and shoot the rest of what you need. Depending on how long the event is, you may want to dump footage and sort it a few times.

You do not have time to catalog every clip. Place the clips logically on your timeline, and when you are assembling the final edit, pull from those blocks of clips. I recently shot a quick-turn project that had an interview, a special event, and two locations. I wanted to show the entire process of the event, and let people see the work being done. My time line had chunks of clips from each location, and each event. Plus I had set up a time-lapse to show the start of the event. I didn’t log every clip, I just scanned them to see what I had and dropped them onto the timeline.

Finalize the edit. By the time the event is over you should have a basic outline of the final video. Drop in the rest of the clips. Focus on tight action and faces. Keep things moving quickly. Once the basic edit is down, drop in the graphics and do any color correction. Hopefully, since you double checked your camera settings, you won’t need to adjust much. Do a quick audio mix, and get ready to render and export. Do not try to reinvent the project at this point. Work the original plan.

This will not be your finest work. But the audience will love it. If you need to, later you can go back in and do a more thorough edit, correction and mix.

What if you need to turn something in under an hour? Don’t panic. It can be done, within limitations.

One year for a Christmas production I shot video interviews of attendees waiting for the presentation to start, then edited and showed those clips to the same crowd before the event began. Crazy, but do able. First, you have to build a template. (It’s also a good idea to have a completed video from a previous presentation on stand by, just in case of catastrophe. I captured one of cast members for the first night, and then kept the one from each previous presentation loaded, just in case.) I shot for 30 minutes and then imported footage and cut for 15 minutes. I edited and rendered on the same computer we were using to play the video back. You need to really watch your levels when recording because there’s no time for fixing anything. Drop the clip into the template, render and be ready for playback. I sometimes cheated and kept the funnier or sweeter moments from previous nights in the current video, but I always used some clips of people from that same presentation.

Crazy quick-turns can be done, but you must plan ahead. these will never match the quality of projects you have lots of time on, but occasionally, it’s worth it to show something quickly.

Things I Have learned From Being Robbed

IMG_6311Sometime last week while we were out of town our house was burgled. Broken into and we were robbed.

The police think there is a group of young people who, for the past couple of Summers, approach houses through the backyard. They try to look suspicious and pound on the doors to get anyone who is home to react. If someone is home, they run away. If not, they break into the home stealing TVs, DVD players, video game systems, and jewelry. They think these people hit our house while we were away.

After a long day of driving we arrived home, walked in and immediately saw broken glass and missing electronics. We left the house and called the cops. The criminals apparently figured out we were not home, grabbed a paver stone and threw it through the kitchen window with enough force to sail across the room and dent my refrigerator door. They opened that window, and left a ton of fingerprints as they climbed in. They stole 2 TVs, a video game system and some jewelry.

The next day I discovered that they had dropped my 50″ TV when they were trying to get away. It was broken and leaning against the back of our fence. We think they may have been spooked, because they also dropped some jewelry in the living room. And they left a lot of valuable things behind.

I’ve never had a house broken into before. Cars: twice before, but never any place I lived. It’s a new experience, and I’m learning some new things. I’m sure I will learn more as time goes on.

Target: I never imagined a 40 year old home in an aging middle class neighborhood would be the target of a break in. We are not rich. We don’t have a lot of expensive stuff. If I was going to take the chance of spending several years in jail, I would pick a better house. The officer told me that all kinds of houses are targets. He thought our house was pretty nice (we worked hard to make it that way), and was not surprised that we were targeted. And I guess, if criminal were smart they wouldn’t break into houses anyway.

Alarm: We didn’t have one. The first thing the officer said was that we should have an alarm. The house has the remnants of a system, but it’s not functional. We chose not to spend the money to get a new one. Living next to a walking trail with a private backyard- features we like, but features which contributed to the break in of our home- that may not have been the best decision. Especially now that alarms systems can purchased for cheap, installed wirelessly. Incidentally, my insurance policy offers very little discount for having an alarm.

Insurance: The second call I made was to my insurance company. You know, when they talk about deductibles for your homeowners they normally talk about catastrophic losses. Having a deductible that is 1% of your homes value (inflated value, don’t get me started on insurance companies’ habit of overvaluing homes replacement cost in order to charge higher premiums.) doesn’t seem like a big deal if you lose your entire home. But the deductible still applies to even small thefts. We don’t have several thousand dollars laying around, and that’s what it would take to cover the deductible. But the amount stolen is barely going to be higher than the deductible. And when I asked if a claim would affect my rates, the answer was “it depends.” That, of course, is a qualified yes. I spoke to my agent and adjusted my policy. But that doesn’t help us for this robbery.

Pictures: Take pictures of anything that is sentimental to you. Anything you might want the police or a pawn shop to identify. Without a picture, most pawn shop or gold/silver places can’t help you find your lost jewelry. Take pictures or write down the serial numbers on your electronics. Pictures might also help with the claims process for insurance, etc.

Safety: I never felt unsafe in my home before. I never worried about home invasion, or break ins. That happened to other people, not us. Even when my cars were broken into (long time ago, different state), I wasn’t worried about my family’s safety. My house was my castle.

This evoked a different emotional response. I don’t like laying in bed and wondering if the noise I just heard is normal, or someone up to no good. I don’t own a gun. I grew up with guns, and feel that it is every citizen’s right to own one and protect themselves, if need be. For the first time in my adult life, I’m serious considering getting one. This crew apparently targets homes that are empty, but what if someone else picks our home? I’ve heard all the arguments for and against gun ownership. But this is a decision we have to make for ourselves. And if we do get one, we will train our entire household in safety.

Meanwhile, I’m looking for low cost ways to make our home less inviting for criminals. Lights are one way. Crooks don’t like to hang out in illuminated places. I did not leave the outside lights on the back of our house on while we were out of town. I do now. I changed out the bulbs to fluorescents so we would save some money over incandescent bulbs, and will be adding dusk to dawn sensors as we can afford them. I thought about motions sensing lights, but that brings some installation costs. Also seriously considering adding some wildlife cameras, like what people use for deer scouting. They are not expensive and take pictures when they sense movement. Or just actual video cameras as a part of a security system.

Forgiveness: It’s hard. I’ve had people hurt me or my family before, but this is a bit different. It’s a very personal invasion, it robs us of our security. We’ve already been having conversations with our kids about forgiveness, and what makes us different from the criminals(answer- only Jesus. We are all sinners.) We have been praying for them… not that God would bring his wrath upon them, although that is tempting. Instead we have been praying that something would impact their life in such a way that they turn around and stop making these choices. If that means they get caught and that starts a change in their life, then I’m good with that. But sometimes I just want some kind of vengeance. I confess I took a bit of joy in the fact that by damaging my TV, they pretty much broke the only thing worth any real money. They might have scored a couple hundred dollars from this theft.

Yeah, forgiveness is hard. I’m working on it. My wife shared something on Facebook about this. I will quote part of it here:

A couple weeks ago, Jeffrey had put a sticky-note bible verse on the mirror of the kids bathroom (when they had all been fighting a lot) and it was still there, but with renewed meaning: I Peter 3:9 – Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 

We read this together and then Gracie went to her room and came out with Romans 12:17 (similar verse) and stuck it on the mirror next to Jeffrey’s. Then Jenny reminded us of the story of Joseph and how, after his dad Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers were afraid Joseph would seek revenge for the whole selling him into slavery thing. Joseph’s response: You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.

The experience has given us all a real-life personal example of God’s sovereignty: in a fallen world, He is always in control, taking what’s intended for harm and turning it to good. 
It’s also given us all a real-life personal example of sanctification-in-process: God uses each day, each experience (even the hard ones) to bring about change, transforming us daily because (again), in his sovereignty, He reigns over all, and takes captive what is ugly and makes it beautiful. And finally, while it’s sad to lose some stuff and have your feeling of security shaken, it’s also sad to be separated from God, so we prayed (and will continue to pray) for the ones who came into our house.