Highlight Reel: Super Art Fight All Killer No Filler

Let me start by saying I truly believe this project is cursed. Super Art Fight (SAF) published this today from an event on March 12, that they contacted me about in December/January-ish. This project is the first time I have experienced (or even heard of!) Premiere Pro corrupting every single file on import. This is also the first time I’ve had an external hard drive die (after I re-loaded all of the corrupted files, of course), was forced to upgrade OS in the middle of editing and then switch to an all new machine while still in the middle of editing. I expect challenges and mistakes to take place during production, but I really thought I had post-production on lock until this bad boy came along. Live and learn, as they say.

I dragged my feet on agreeing to the project because I knew I couldn’t do it alone. Eventually my favorite Priscilla Thomas agreed to love and support me in my time of need. We began our friendship in Audio/Video class, after all. Priscilla drove up for the weekend with extra gear, snacks, and a exactly the right attitude to keep me going. Not to mention she busted her butt to overnight me footage that was lost when the files originally corrupted on import. I couldn’t have done the shoot without her, and she said it was the easiest shoot she’d ever done. Ha! Sometimes emotional/moral support is all you really need.

This project is also a beautiful lesson in trust and communication. SAF and I have a good working relationship and I consider them much more of a partner/collaborator than a client. They did a show at my wedding, after all. So we had a situation where I think we trusted each other too much. This happened in pre-production where phrases like “like last time” were used but never really explained only to have me slightly confusion and a little panic-y when production began and we had to have the “well what did you mean by that” conversation. Trust, but verify, folks. Trust and verify.

Same situation in post-production, where they said they wanted a highlight reel to help advertise/show off who and what they are. I had never edited a highlight reel before, so I took the entire event in chronological order and edited my favorite parts together. If I watched it the video on YouTube, it probably would have convinced me to see a show in person. But what they actually wanted was a high-energy, fast-paced reel that showed potential venues/hosts the jam-packed, epically happy audience and the frenetic energy of the artists and they didn’t care about chronology. This stumped me.

This is also when my MacBook Pro died. I brought it back to life and my external drive died. I actually drove to a Best Buy for the first time in years, in tears and 10 minutes before closing just for a new hard drive. I ordered a brand new iMac and had plenty of time to think. My husband set up our spare room as an office for me and I began to post-it note up my favorite moments, along with those (I finally asked that) SAF specifically mentioned.

Help help I created a work area without adequate post-it space!! #editorproblems #storyboard #videographerlife

A photo posted by Heather Haynes (@haynesha) on

I stared at the post-it notes, moved them around, and remember how much I loved storyboarding on blank walls during grad school. I watched commercials for concerts and sports highlight reels and began to cut in a way that made me uncomfortable but that I was pretty sure was correct.

I delivered a new draft and after a month of busy schedules received a response that basically said: “Can we add an explosion at the end?”

The lesson here: always ask questions, always be willing to adapt and push yourself, and work with whom/what you love.

Smart Phone Nature Photography

When a friend asked Matthew and I (as well as another biologist friend of ours) to help with the Earth Day Celebration she was putting together at the Benjamin Banneker Historical Park, we were all about it.

Matthew created a poster and pulled samples of local invasive plants, our other friend put together an experiment for kids to extract DNA from strawberries, and I prepped a walk & talk on smartphone nature photography.

Here, in my professional opinion, are the basic tips for an average person who wants to make beautiful visual memories while surrounded by nature:

  • Find the Light – Where does your eye naturally go? Most people prefer soft, warm colors. Avoid harsh light and shadows when possible.
  • Think – Why this picture? Focus on the most important part of the image. Minimize distractions that may also be in-frame.
  • Change the Perspective –Where is the most interesting point of view? Try high and low angles and walk around the subject. Avoid digital zoom.
  • Steady the Shot –If a tripod isn’t available, place the camera on something solid or hold it against your body.
  • Befriend the Camera –Know your tools! Learn tips, tricks, and shortcuts for your particular camera and be ready when the moment strikes.

And here’s a Pinnable/downloadable version:
Smart-Phone-Nature-Photography

The gallery in this post are some of the nature photographs I’ve taken throughout the years. Notice that just following the rules doesn’t automatically make a photograph visually pleasing; the subject matter needs to be interesting, too!

Vintage Comics

Matthew and I have spent quite a lot of our free time lately with friends at the Nerdporium. When the owner wanted to start posting items online I got excited and quickly took over the @nerdporium Instagram. The valuable things, however, I brought carefully into my light box to show off their true beauty.

Thor 327 - First Appearance of Beta Ray Bill

 

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen

 

First Doctor Strange

Marvel's Civil War #1

Wedding in a Box

Or, my wedding in a light box. I’m not one for knick-knacks or trinkets or anything in that attracts dust, so throughout the wedding process I looked for items that were reusable, disposable, or that could simply be cut altogether. So when the guests left and the dust settled the items that we were left with were(/are) extremely valuable to us.

The ridiculous owl vases are now planters in our front yard, all of our lanterns were donated to other people’s wedding decor, and I wear my shoes at least once a week. But there are still things, items that I would typically call crap except that instead of being inexplicably valuable to someone else, they’re sentimentally valuable to me. So I did what I know how to do, I put everything precious in my light box with the respect it deserves.

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Welcome bag for hotel guests — bag from Etsy, card design by me, cookie by a friend.

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My bridal accessories — handmade necklace and earrings, promise ring with engagement ring and wedding ring, in a glasses bag found at Michael’s.

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Garlands hand-cut by my husband and sewed by my two best girls.

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Set list!

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All the set lists.

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My mom crocheted infinity scarves for each of the bridesmaids.

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RSVP cards.

That Time We Got Married

Hi friends! We hope you’ve been well in the month since our wedding celebration. We have certainly been busy and tired! In case the memories have started to fade, our phenomenal photographer Matt Miller posted a preview of our photos on his blog today. Enjoy!

facebook preview
See Matt’s blog post / gallery over at WeAreDiamondEyes.com

And seriously — a HUGE thank you to friends old and new for making the day so perfect: Super Art Fight, Jukebox the Ghost, Kommie Pig, GrrChe, and of course Matt Miller!

Animation Time

Ok, let’s talk about After Effects. The AE class at Ohio was unfortunately a joke so I skipped trying to learn the program in school and jumped straight to Lynda.com instead. With experience in Premiere, Photoshop and Illustrator, the jump to After Effects wasn’t too difficult. (I will take this opportunity to complain about ‘G’ being for pen tool. If I had a dollar for every time I hit ‘P’ and was confused at my lack of pen tool, I’d be a much richer lady today.)

The actual need for an animation arose at work from a completely new product. It’s quite simple once you understand how it works, but explaining the mechanics succinctly turned to be quite complicated. As the product was developed we learned more about how it truly worked, and as I learned how to use After Effects I was able to provide more options for how to explain the product. We scrapped and restarted this animation more times than I can count, and in the end a customer said to me that he was able to watch this animation once and then explain the product to the rest of his team. Goal: achieved.

A Journey in Calorimetry

One of my favorite things to say when creating stories is that the one thing all humans have in common is that they’re all humans. As people, we easily become interested and invested in other people. One of our initiatives at work is to showcase our field team as the rock stars of our company. Team members who see customers every day are essentially the front lines and faces of our organization, so when I have the chance to leverage the knowledge and personality of one of those valuable colleagues, I take it.

In this case, Dom had the idea to share some calorimetry data. Instead of “pretty-ing up” his presentations and putting them through the marketing ringer, I recorded him presenting and explaining the data to the viewer. Perhaps most importantly, I was afforded the time to pick his brain and truly start to understand the subject at hand (calorimetry, right, I had never heard of it either.)

If you are more interested in calorimetry or chemical process safety, I helped put together this Process Safety application page with the above videos and some further content.

The Super Art Fight Online Invitational!

Since we filmed in March I’ve been teasing about the Super Art Fight web show in all of it’s glory. You’ve seen the Black Cat Promos and put up with my Facebook and Instagram posts. And now, all four episodes have been released. :D

I’d love to go through my process on these but to be totally fair to my fantastic SAF collaborators, this was one of the easiest projects I’ve done. Part of that came from the amazing atmosphere they helped create — we treated each other truly as collaborators, worked up a sweat and laughed until our sides hurt. Typically when I rush home from shooting to watch my footage, it’s out of fear that nothing worked out. With SAF, I couldn’t stop laughing.

Obviously no shoot is perfect and we ran into some issues. The Wheel of Death didn’t always cooperate. The first bout of the day was complete and utter crap as I got a handle on how to shoot such an event, and it took me a couple of hours to work up the courage to ask those two artists if they wouldn’t mind doing a new bout. For once “It’s not you, it’s me,” was 100% true. That’s when I learned how much time and preparation go in to each bout, how they sketch and plan and really think in a way that comes across to the audience as effortless.

Overall, this really was a simple shoot. We set up the canvas, lights, audio, and main camera once and never moved them. Everyone from SAF truly showed up and gave their all for every single take.

Hosts Marty & Ross filming the "What is Super Art Fight" intro.

Hosts Marty & Ross filming the “What is Super Art Fight” introduction.

During bouts I hand-held a second camera to get close-ups of the action from varying angles. Camtasia was set up on the Wheel of Death computer to capture the all-important spins. Once everything was synced on the timeline, I used the Wheel of Death screencaps when needed, Camera II whenever possible and Camera I everywhere else. Done and Done.

The narration you here in the final videos was recorded by Ross & Marty after the fact. They watched my rough cuts (on mute, obviously) and narrated what I showed in real time. It worked like a charm, from my perspective at least. I cut that audio in with the original Wheel of Death chants and placed music from their regular DJ The Megadrives like I knew what I was doing.

It may not have felt so simple were I not still laughing at our antics on subsequent drafts.

This is the timeline for El Russo Rojo's Promo. One camera, one mic. Keep it simple.

This is the timeline for El Russo Rojo’s Promo. One camera, one mic. Content is king.

Before I let you watch the final videos, there’s something you need to know. The killer graphics on these guys (and the previous promos) were done by El Russo Rojo. The man is magic. I can open up After Effects and click around until things happen, but this guy knows what’s up. Fake news ticker, explosions, WWE-style match-up graphics, it’s all amazing. This was the first time I had ever worked with a post-production graphics artist so I must admit it totally blew my mind. If I had known the videos were going straight to him I would have made some changes on export, given extra heads/tails frames, or offered up my Premiere files for better integration. But that is neither here nor there, just a little guilt picked up along the way, some thoughts for Web Show Round Two.

Please do enjoy. If you and SAF are ever in the same area, you should see them live. Seriously. Once two members of a tag-team handed out pizza. Once there was even a short-lived attempt at crowd-surfing. There is always hilarity. (I suppose this is where I plug their upcoming show at Baltimore’s Ottobar on September 20th.)

Vote on the results for the next month at SuperArtFight.com!

The greatest compliment a collaborator can give is to collaborate again, and we’re filming round two of this thing come winter. Don’t know about you, but I’m excited.

EasyMax for Chemists

As a videographer and photographer, I wear many hats. Sometimes I operate as a one-man-band, putting together everything in a piece from start to finish. More often now I come in right at the end, being handed all of the assets and instructed to execute a specific vision. This piece was in a middle ground for me; one I’m not wholly comfortable with yet.

This video was shot and edited solely by me, and the set was mostly dressed by me, with plenty of help from the most knowledgeable friends. However the overall vision and script were in someone else’s hands, and I merely executed their needs. The piece carries a lot of weight for me because I literally shed blood, sweat, and tears to put it together under a tight timeline and ever-changing vision. We published in early May and only now can I think about the experience without becoming emotional.

In the end, there were no real thanks or acknowledgement of efforts from any side, as I think we were relieved to finish this project and move on to a new one. That situation frustrates me, and I should work to change it, since I don’t truly know how anyone else felt about their role in bringing this idea to life.

For my part, I love video editing. I LOVE editing. Shooting is great, though I lose patience while shooting more quickly than I used to. Editing is it for me, matching angles and motion, mixing audio, finding exactly the right clip to match your needs; I love it. There’s nothing more rewarding to me than the epiphany of finding the path forward from a jumbled timeline. That AH-HA moment of “This is where the footage is trying to lead me!” If I can get that one beautiful moment, the whole process is worth it.

Super Art Fight!

Matthew and I have been fans of Baltimore-based Super Art Fight for quite some time. While I attended Ohio University I often timed my trips home to Super Art Fight shows at the Ottobar. It’s a fabulous mix of art, nerd references, ridiculous costumes and yelling. Basically it’s everything I love all in one.

In December 2012, when Super Art Fight put out a call for Video Production teams, I sent them a tiny e-mail about my love for web video and their show and general happiness. In December 2013, they replied asking if I was still game. I was. One very warm Saturday in March several Super Art Fight-ers, myself, and our significant others crammed into an office in DC and did what we do best. They art-fought and I filmed. It was glorious.

The end result of that day is four episodes of a web show that have yet to be published, and several promos for a then-upcoming show in May. My original plan was to wait until the web show had aired to share these with you, but I’m so in love with the motion graphics they added to the promos that I really can’t contain myself any longer.

Baron Von Sexyful Sets His Sights on The Black Cat!:

The Commando and The Dudeler To Bring The Ruckus:

Mekonga Has A Lot To Say

El Russo Rojo, Looking For Love AND Victory

…and my absolute-absolute favorite,

Red Erin is OUT FOR BLOOD (we think):

I believe we are filming again this summer, so rest assured those web episodes are coming, and they will be epic.