I love this kind of thing.
Today I created a new folder on my desktop:
In the United States Postal Service, the Dead Letter Office is where undeliverable mail goes. For R.E.M. The Dead Letter Office was an album of B-Sides and rarities. On my desktop, The Dead Letter Office is where never-to-be-seen projects go to die.
My job at Crossroads is largely creative communication - take our given topic for the week and brainstorm about some funny, unusual, interesting way to supplement what our teachers are talking about. I create a lot of videos to this end.
This week we’re talking about relationships and how important it is to own your part of a problem. My idea was to do a Sesame Street style human/puppet interaction. As a kid we learn a lot about relationships from puppets - so maybe it would be funny to create a Sesame Street style video, aimed at an adult audience; surly puppets, adult reactions, that kind of thing.
So, I wrote a script, shot it, and started editing.
Somewhere around the first rough cut it became obvious that it just didn’t work.
The script was okay. The acting by my buddy Caleb was spot on. The pacing worked okay, I think. There was something when you put it all together, though, that just didn’t work. I showed it to someone else. They were very polite and positive about the piece - but agreed that something in it just didn’t hang together right.
So, we pulled it.
It was hard at first because I kept wondering - could I keep tweaking this thing until it got to where it needed to be? Maybe. But maybe not, and then you end up showing something that isn’t very good and doesn’t do the job it’s supposed to do - and let me tell you, having something you made bomb in front of 2,000 people is not a fun way to spend your morning.
So, in the folder it goes. I’m not sure why I’m keeping it. Partly, I think, because it was a lot of work and I just don’t want to delete it yet. Partly because I want to look at it some more and figure out how I could have made it work. And partly because a folder full of never to be seen projects is a good reminder that everybody sucks sometimes. The way you stop sucking is by continuing to do the work. The more you work, the better you get.
As a closing note, beside all the work I put into it, I really hate putting it down because it contained a scene where a puppet throws a bunch of action figures in a blender, and I really really liked filming that.
I’ve posted this bit of advice from Ira Glass before - but seeing it done up in kinetic typography made me want to put it up again. These are great words for anyone who works in a creative field and is trying to do good work.
I was excited to see this morning that part 4 of Everything is a Remix was up. Maybe it’s been out for a while and I just missed it - either way, if you are in any way involved in the act of creating, whether it’s music, film, software, or whatever - you need to watch these videos. Make the time! If you aren’t a creator, they are still entertaining and insightful, so I recommend them to just about anyone.
I’ve had my Canon DSLR for almost a year now and I’m embarrassed to say how little I still know about how to use it properly.
So much of what I do is run and gun stuff; interviews, B roll, etc. The kind of stuff that doesn’t always lend itself to sitting down and really creating a look in-camera. That’s how I’m rationalizing how bad some of my stuff has looked lately, anyway…
Today, though, between other projects, I was able to sit down and spend some time with my camera. Specifically, I took it outside (in preparation for a project I’m shooting for our Christmas Eve service at Crossroads) and really focused on shooting in sunlight.
The first thing I did was put a polarizer on the lens. From there, I spent some time on white balance and setting my ISO and shutter speed properly. All of this time spent tinkering in the camera was also helped along by downloading and installing Technicolor’s Cinestyle color preset, so that when I did start shooting, I’d end up with a nice flat image that would give me a lot of latitude for color grading.
Here’s a shot I took of my friend Tim:
Totally flat. Now, here it is after I’ve gone in and done some color grading:
The look of the second picture is pretty close to what I’ll be going for in my Christmas Eve project (and yes, it’s purposefully dark and un-Christmasy. You’ll just have to trust me on this one). Starting with a really solid, flat image gave me tons of room when it came to grading.
Nothing groundbreaking happened today and I definitely didn’t do anything I shouldn’t always do when starting a project - but when you finally do take the time to take steps towards doing something right, it feels good. So I’m putting this here to remind me; the next time I hit record without taking the time to properly set up a shot, I’m ultimately undermining what I’m trying to do.