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Adobe Premiere Pro - 2015

Premiere Pro features a new color workspace featuring the Lumetri Color Panel, which allows editors to manipulate color and light in new and innovative ways, at any point in the editing process, without leaving the application. Combining new color technology based on SpeedGrade with familiar Lightroom-style controls, applying simple looks and manipulating parameters to achieve the perfect aesthetic has never been easier, and you’ll see beautiful results in just a click or two. You can take it further with curves and hue/saturation controls, and the new Lumetri 3-way color corrector. And if you want to do more, you can use Direct Link to take your project into SpeedGrade for additional refinements.

Unsightly jump-cuts in talking head interview footage might just be a thing of the past with the addition of Morph Cut, which uses face tracking, frame interpolation, and some Adobe magic to create seamless transitions that previously would have seemed impossible.

The introduction of CC Libraries to Premiere Pro (shown in After Effects in the link) allows you to access and use looks and graphics wherever you are. Use the amazing Project Candy mobile technology to capture the look of a location or picture, jump into Premiere Pro’s Libraries panel and see the look sync’ed via Creative Cloud, and just drag it to a clip to apply. You can easily share looks and graphics from Photoshop and elsewhere between projects, team members, and across other Adobe applications for seamless access and collaboration.

An improved workflow to bring your video projects that you created on your phone from Premiere Clip, Adobe’s editing app for iOS devices, means you’re only two clicks from bringing your project into Premiere Pro to use professional editing tools.

You can now easily toggle between new task-oriented workspaces, optimized for the task at hand (whether it be editing, color work, and more), using the new workspace switcher.

As you’ve come to expect from Premiere Pro, you can work at any resolution without needing to transcode, and a host of newly supported native formats, including new support for Canon XF-AVC, and Panasonic 4K_HS, streamlining your path to getting creative.

And the features don’t stop there. Editors who work with Closed Captions will now be able to burn them into video on export, and a number of editing refinements like the new composite preview during trim, simpler keyboard-based numerical input, Source Settings now showing as Master Clip Effects, and improved AAF exports help you focus on simply making beautiful content. You’ll also find audio routing is easier thanks to improved audio routing UI, and an improved Audition workflow featuring Dynamic Link means moving between Premiere Pro and Audition is easier and faster than ever. Users of Windows-based touch devices will benefit from the first steps being taken towards a more touch-friendly editing experience, allowing editors to perform tasks like moving clips in the timeline and scrubbing the play-head by directly touching the screen. And editors who work with third-party I/O devices will experience significant Mercury Transmit performance enhancements.

One final piece of Adobe magic allows you to alter the duration of an export by up to 10% in either direction while maintaining quality. Time Tuner lets you target the precise duration of your required output without needing to perform time-consuming micro editing, by automatically adding or removing frames in areas of low activity, providing results of the highest possible quality for broadcast and elsewhere.
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MWCFA - Online Academy

This year, the Online Academy is focused on two things: business and storytelling. Business, because you have to know how to run a successful business in order to be able to make a living at filmmaking on your own. And storytelling because in everything you do – whether it’s screenwriting, cinematography, or lighting – you’re working to tell a story, and that story needs to told well.


John-Clay & Sarah

Well...there has been a long bout of silence on the blog, and I have a very good reason!

The Short Story

My family has known the Ferraro family for several years, and I got to spend time with them while working on the Serve India Ministries project last year. Sarah and I worked together a lot that week and helped each other on some other projects for several months after. Behind the scenes there was much praying and council being sought. In March of 2015 I started talking to her dad about taking the relationship further, and on April 8th she agreed to begin a courtship with me.

We spent a lot of time talking and also visited both families, and on May 9th I proposed...and she said, "Yes!" We are both very excited and are praising the Lord for His blessings in our lives.

More of the story and wedding details will be coming, along with the wedding website.


Beyond the Mask - IN THEATERS JUNE 5TH

Beyond The Mask is now showing in theaters! Gather the troops (or at least your family and friends), find a theater, and enjoy this rollicking adventure! CLICK HERE


Video Background Music

Background music can do wonderful things for your video. It can help create emotion, drive the pace and flow, and even hide pesky audio edits. But counter to what you may believe, the most successful background music is the music that you didn't even know was there.


If the volume is too high, the music will overpower the spoken narrative of your video. This… is no good. If background music is too low, it can paradoxically draw attention to itself by making the viewer strain to hear it. The goal of background music to invisibly assist your video, not create a distraction.

Mixing the music volume in your video takes practice, and there's no exact formula for what level the music should be relative to the voice. It's all about training your ears to feel when the music is sitting just right in the mix.

To start your training, play around with this interactive volume video and try to listen for when the volume sits right in the mix...



Lighting on the Fly

Keeping things simple and minimalist not only lowers the barrier to entry to making a video; it also makes our video style more accessible to a wider audience.

This minimalist philosophy has a major influence on how I choose to light videos. We've dubbed this minimal, flexible technique "Lighting on the Fly".

When I'm setting up lighting for a video at Wistia, I follow 4 terrifically simple rules:

  1. Make the shot (and the people in the shot) look pretty.
  2. Kill any and all shadows on faces.
  3. Don't intimidate the person on-camera.
  4. Use the most convenient lighting option (it's often best).

Join me on a journey through space and time as we hack lighting and turn the world of traditional "3-point lighting" upside down!



6 Ways to Stream Christian Films

DVDs are slowly phasing out and more content is being accessed online. If you are looking for ways to watch Christian films on the web, here are 5 website you should consider.

1. Christian Cinema

Christian Cinema has over 500 films to stream and also offers a DVD Subscription plan.

Pricing model: "Video-on-demand" and averages $3.99/movie.

2. Pure Flix

PureFlix offers over 2,000 films to choose from!

Pricing: 1) Annual Plan starting at $7.99/month or annual plan.
Also offers FREE month trial and the website includes a "Favorites" option to track movies you want to watch.

3. Good News Media Ministries

Good News Media Ministries is new on the scene and the film selection is growing!
If you are looking for great content for your family, this is one to look at.

Pricing: 1) Annual Plan starting at $17/month or 2) Pay-per-view $4/movie.

4. gMovies

gMovies library includes hundreds of classic titles as well as plenty of new releases.

Pricing: Starts at $4.99/month.
Enter code: FREETRIAL55 for a 2 Week FREE Trial.

5. Netflix

Netflix has a smaller selection of Christian films, but they do have some.

Pricing: Starts at $7.99/month.

6. Amazon

Amazon also has a decent selection of Faith-based content.

Pricing: 1) Some are FREE with AmazonPRIME 2) Pay-per-view averages $3.99/movie.

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If you have a favorite way to stream Christian films that isn't mentioned,
please let me know in the comments!


Pond5 - Public Domain Project

Pond5, the world’s leading online marketplace for royalty-free video footage, announced today the launch of the Pond5 Public Domain Project, the first library of free public domain content designed specifically for media makers. The initial collection includes 10,000 video clips, 65,000 photos, thousands of sound recordings, and hundreds of 3D models.

“For years, all of this amazing public domain content has been locked up and inaccessible to the average media maker,” said Pond5 cofounder and CEO Tom Bennett. “They deserve better. Our Public Domain Project empowers media makers to take advantage of this incredibly rich library that’s rightfully theirs.”

The collection includes 5,000 never-before-seen video clips, digitized directly from the National Archives outside of Washington D.C. Other video highlights include George Meliés’ 1902 film A Trip to the Moon, along with footage from the 1952 Helsinki Olympic games, the World Wars, NASA rocket launches, and the International Space Station. Speeches from historical figures like Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy can be heard in the collection’s recordings, along with full performances from composers like Beethoven and Chopin.

Designed especially for media creators, the library’s enriched, standardized metadata allows users to easily search for content via aesthetic and technical qualities. In addition, footage sequences have been broken down into individual shots, saving video editors countless hours of work. Everything is instantly shareable and embeddable in social media and throughout the Web.

Check it out!
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Wait Till It's Free

This is a feature length documentary directed by Colin Gunn. I'm super excited to say that I had the privilage to be the Editor and Colorist for the project!

During the filming I also helped with a couple interviews and directed some scenes at the diner.

Here's the movie trailer, check it out!


'Wait Till It's Free' is an entertaining and provocative look at the current healthcare crisis. Coming at the healthcare issue from a non-partisan but none-the-less conservative and Christian outlook, this film takes a hard and honest look at the way we do health care in America. The film looks at every relevant aspect of modern medicine, from the escalating cost of health insurance to the move towards universal government healthcare. The film asks what kind of alternatives there are to families caught between expensive insurance based coverage and the "free" government solutions. The film explores the alternatives for individuals, churches, and families and offers moving and enlightening stories about those that have chosen to follow innovative and independent approaches to healthcare.

Yekra Player

Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films.

Wait Till It's Free

“Wait Till It’s Free” is an entertaining and provocative look at the current healthcare crisis. This film takes a hard and honest look at the way we do healthcare in America by looking at every relevant aspect of modern medicine, from the escalating cost of health insurance to the move towards universal government healthcare. The film asks what kind of alternatives there are for families caught between expensive insurance-based coverage and the “Free” government solutions. The film explores the alternatives for individuals, churches, and families, and offers moving and enlightening stories about those that have chosen to follow innovative and independent approaches to healthcare. We journeyed to Washington, D.C. and across the Atlantic to Glasgow, Paris, and Brussels to bring you extraordinary information you won’t find anywhere else. Along the way, we met authorities like Dr. Ron Paul (former U.S. Congressman), and John Mackey (CEO of Whole Foods), as well as British experts Theodore Dalrymple (journalist and retired physician) and MEP Daniel Hannan (a British representative to the European Union). We engage a host of other experts from both sides of the gurney, meeting patients suffering the burdens of socialized medicine and doctors isolated from their patients by crippling regulation. This film goes miles beneath the surface of ObamaCare to expose the 100-year progression of socialized medicine in America. Traveling to my home country of Scotland, I ferret out the eerie truth about waiting lines, death panels, and total disregard for human life in Great Britain’s socialized healthcare system.

 DVDs are also availabe at the movie website:


Craft vs Tools

If you want to stand out in the filmmaking crowd, focus on the evolution of your CRAFT – not the TOOLS.

(Source Article)

Many of you may have noticed how somewhat “quiet” this blog has been this year.   I thought I would share some of the reasons why, because I think that they have far reaching implications far beyond this little blog…

The simple excuse is that I broke my arm this January, and that I couldn’t write for several months.    I also changed my media consumption habits (both as a result of the injury, as well as to general social media trends) to newer, more immediate and often shorter form ways of communicating, such as Twitter, Instagram or Storehouse.   I read fewer blogs today and spend more time on my iPhone – as statistically many of us are doing.  

But the real reason is in fact more tied to my evolution as a director since the Canon 5D MKII came out in 2008, as well as to the general changes in the filmmaking landscape overall.   

Side note:  Can you believe it’s been 6 years since that terrible little cologne commercial Reverie came out – shot with the first 1080p DSLR?!?

On a base level, this blog was born out of talking about TECHNOLOGY.   Gadgets, new cameras, lenses, software and MoVIs!   

I, like many others, was pulled into the DSLR movement by a magical force called ACCESS.  

The DSLRs were affordable, lightweight, and produced amazing quality imagery.  These tools for better and for worse (depending on where you stood and now stand) leveled the playing field, at least in terms of access to the high TECHNICAL IMAGE QUALITY creation TOOLS.  (Notice that I’m not talking about the quality of the CONTENT or STORY the technology produces.)

Directing any and all MOTION content has always come down to one’s ability to tell a STORY adeptly.   That hasn’t changed since the first cave drawings and never will.    You need to know what makes a good story, how to tell it best, and what tools to use.  They don’t (yet) sell you that in a box, that can be delivered by drone to your doorstep.

Over the past decade or so, we’ve witnessed a revolution in terms of the technical quality of the imagery the average camera produces.     Just as importantly, the tools the average person has access to today, are exponentially better than those that a high end professional had access to less than a decade ago: and at a fraction of the price.

On a technical level at least, I can take a significantly better looking image with my iPhone today, than I could with a $22K digital camera in 1999.     A teenager can share an image so much more easily with millions of people, for free, and do so so much more quickly, then I could as a photojournalist at The New York Times less than a decade ago… and that’s amazing, and at times of course: scary.

Both the QUALITY and COST have been evened out within our business:  and historically that’s relatively rare.

The question we now must all ask ourselves as creative professionals is:  how do we survive within this new landscape? (especially in one that is moving so fast!)

One of the main reasons I’ve been less vocal on this blog in fact, is that I’ve been trying to figure this all out for myself.   How do I stay ahead of the ball that is crushing so many established agencies, productions companies, and directors/artists?   How do we stay ahead of the curve?   What is the "secret" to success going forward when everything changes so quickly?     

We have become a culture of instant gratification:  we know what we want, and we want it NOW…  The average attention span has waned significantly as well.   Simply put:  we want fast solutions to big problems and are willing to pay to get it.   So what is the best thing we can BUY to become great filmmakers?  What is the best CAMERA and LENS I can buy NOW so many of us ask?   

Well then answer has been around for awhile.  It’s nothing new:   it’s  call SKILL and KNOWLEDGE OF (and respect of) CRAFT.    

Am I an idealist?  SURE – but I also think I’m quite grounded in reality.   And I think that as the cameras become ubiquitous, as everyone gravitates towards the same tools, the playing field will truly become leveled, and ironically we’ll discover that only our true differentiator in time will become the author’s understanding of how they can best put those tools into use.  That is what will ultimately set us apart from one another.    The exponentially increasing camera technology will indeed its own worst enemy.

Therefore, the more I think of the changes that happen within this crazy field, the more I see that CRAFT will natural find its way back in the driver’s seat sooner rather than later.       And that should be comforting to some.  

The business and distribution models, and how those will evolve,  is still a bit more up in the air for now. That’s for another blog post… 

If EVERYONE has ACCESS to the same technology, and can produce high quality imagery affordably, the only thing we can’t “buy” off a shelf, is the knowledge of how to use this incredible technology to better tell stories.  We can purchase educational material, but it still takes time as well as a healthy dose of trial and error to master anything worth mastering.  

Many of us have witnessed this explosion of high tech tools we can apply to storytelling: from time lapse, HDR, Hyperlapse, high resolutions and dynamic ranges, stabilization platforms and software.   Just as quickly: many of us have come to realize how DIFFICULT THE ART OF TELLING STORIES can be.

Personally I am working on making my first film.  I am not stressing about any technical aspect of the film, the funding of it, nor the distribution of the final film.  I am however keenly focused on finding the best story to tell, and making sure that I very carefully focus on HOW I will eventually tell it, once I do find it.

The irony in all of this, is that digital can be said to have diminished the perceived value of CRAFT or of a CRAFTSPERSON since we began this decade.

For example:  why hire a Director of Photography to expertly judge how the light and lens will expose a scene on celluloid film, when you can use a digital camera and see for yourself immediately and interactively on a monitor?   Keep in mind that when we were shooting film, the Director of Photography on set was likely one of the few people who knew how what you were seeing with your naked eye would actually look once processed on the film and projected…  and that meant that we were more willing to let her/him to their job without interference…

In fact, why hire anyone to do anything when you can do it yourself?    That’s a valid question:  unless you realize that maybe you can’t…  Maybe it was much more than that in the first place.   Perhaps you realize that you were also hiring that Director of Photography for his or her expert knowledge of how to lens a frame, or how to move the camera let alone light the scene… for the valuable experience they brought to bear to your project.

As many of us have witnessed over the past decade, we’ve enter the age of the “one person band” or the “PREDITOR” (Producer – Director – Editor all in one.)  

The only thing that keeps me up at night these days, is that we seem to have entered the age of “Good Enough.”  

These days it seems that there are far too many clients who are willing to settle for good enough, especially if it’s significantly less expensive than “excellence” or “groundbreaking…”  This is in part due to the reality that we’re all bombarded by SO MUCH CONTENT, for a much shorter period of time now.    Clients now need to create a dozen shorter pieces that will run for a few weeks or month each (perhaps concurrently,) as opposed to one that will run for a year or more.   That changes things of course… and you DO wonder:  is "Good Enough,"  good enough?

We are in a decade where shortcuts are all too popular… ironically these ‘shortcuts’ got us here in the first place if you look back at what caused the banking / stock market crash that thrust us into the past few years of smaller budgets and a more conservative approach to risk taking… but I digress. 

The point is that I think, or more accurately I hope, that we’re going to turn the corner over the next few years – and ironically come full circle.

The biggest change we will see, in my opinion, is that people will start to focus less on HOW we move the camera for example, and more on the WHY we move the camera in the first place.    Just because you can do a one shot wonder on a MoVI on a shot that last 40+ minutes, doesn’t mean you should, nor that it is necessarily to effectively tell a story for example. 

Personally, I’ve undergone a big transformation myself as I evolved into directing bigger and more complex projects myself:  I realized that I could rely on other people to figure out the technical solutions to my creative ideas…  but that as a director no one could help me if I myself did not have a clear creative idea or vision to communicate to them in the first place…  

I’ve also been busier as a result and naturally have had less time to write as often on this blog.  But I think that’s expected.   Once I move forward with a film, this blog will come back to life – at least that’s been my plan all along.

I also realized that a director’s role was to master the art of WHY certain techniques or tools could elevate the way a story was told, and not to worry as much about HOW to put these techniques into effect practically (although that never hurts to know of course.)

There are of course many different types of filmmakers out there: some that work alone, others that work with large teams, and everyone in between.  As we move forward we will continue to see a natural erosion of the range of tools and gadgets that both the small and big budget filmmakers have access to.  

Technology is the ultimate equalizer.

Yet, at least until they can teach a camera or piece of software what type of move is best, the cadence of a scene, or type of direction that is given to an actor… that knowledge will become more and more important as the technical barriers continue to disappear.

And that’s why any artist / filmmaker going forward should focus less and less on technical specs, and more and more on craft.

The HOW will become more ubiquitous, and many will have access to almost the exact same tools ultimately – but the understanding of WHY we need those same tools to augment our storytelling is something we can’t yet buy.

Of course this new millennium is young…  We might yet see an algorithm built into a GoPro some day that suggests to the user whether to take two stops forward or backwards when they frame up  a shot… but I have to say that I’m optimistic that while business models, distribution models, and camera models continue to evolve:   There will always be an appetite out there for a skilled storyteller.  And won’t EVERYBODY be using the same algorithm anyway? Well at least at first… then do we "ugrade" to the better AI? 

That is of course as long as we all have the discipline to exit this age of “good enough.”   As the economy hopefully continues to improve,  I trust that by definition we will gravitate back towards greater risk taking, and better products.   Brands and companies need to go back to leading and taking more risk on every level, and in this case creatively.  

In fact I think it’s already started. Have you noticed the increase in television quality over the past 2+ years and the quality of films this year and next?

Oh, and expect this blog to remain more active!   Just expect me to write more about the CRAFT going forward, and less about the TOOLS I use going forward.   

(Shameless plug, if you want to learn more about the CRAFT of directing, check out this material that I put together this year available to purchase & download, based on my favorite directors of all time and my favorite 100 films and how they use motion to better tell their stories.)
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