My hosting situation for RobertHeadrick.com is changing, so I’ve added a redirect that will send visitors here instead. Will hopefully be redesigning the blog soon to incorporate the content that was on my website, as well as updating everything since I haven’t touched either of these places in…. oh dear, I don’t even want to know!
For the past week I’ve been working on a kinetic typography music video in After Effects. My client is the Australian band Masketta Fall, who found me on Freelancer.com and hired me to create a secondary track for their debut EP release, which happened early this morning at around 2:00am (that’s 7:00pm over in the Land Down Under).
With the exception of the crown graphic that shows up in the chorus, the video was 100% created using After Effects. I did use one free third-party plugin, called Sure Target. It’s built by the incomparable Andrew Kramer and allows After Effects animators to have quick, easy control over 3D cameras. It was incredibly helpful in a project like this where I needed to design fast-paced camera moves with a couple of complicated sequences, and I didn’t have a lot of time to do it (I had to animate this video in about a week and a half while working a full-time job during the day).
Enjoy! (This video is also available on YouTube)
Friday evening marked the end of the craziest week I’ve had since starting at JBU earlier in the summer. The craziness began with the summer media announcement, marking the official completion of the Keeping Faith capital campaign. Now we’ve finally pulled off the Keeping Faith Celebration of Gratitude dinner, bringing to completion the biggest project I’ve ever worked on and leaving us all with a very solid sense of accomplishment and the feeling of having a huge weight lifted off our shoulders. I spent almost 75 hours at JBU last week finalizing the 10 video clips that would play during the dinner, making up a total of about 20 minutes of edited content. That may not sound like a lot to some people, but in terms of edited video, particularly in this stylized format that’s 100% “sound byte” and b-roll focused, that constitutes a truckload of production time. The videos had to be planned; the interviews had to be shot; the interviews had to be edited; b-roll had to be collected and organized; in some cases new b-roll had to be shot and then organized; once organized, b-roll had to be edited; music had to be found; changes were made, interviews were re-shot. And once all of that work was finally done, I wasn’t really even close to being finished. With the edited content approved, I got to start in with audio clean-up (fixing hums and buzzes in noisy interviews, trimming off the three frames at the end of a comment where the speaker starts to take a breath for a new sentence that I didn’t include in the video, etc etc), then color correction, then titling. The titling was a process all by itself; since Final Cut Pro 7 has a rather limited title generator, I did all of the lower thirds and intros in After Effects.
The event itself went extremely well. I was running on very little sleep the entire time, so I was a bit of a zombie overall, but I managed to push through the (thankfully) few responsibilities I had beyond handing over the finished videos. We covered the entire event with three cameras recording as well as being live-directed for a feed that was projected onto two screens at the front of the room. That was my first experience shooting an event live, with a director in my headset telling me when to frame up a new shot, when I was live on the screen, when I needed to pull focus to keep the image sharp, etc. Our team worked very well together, and we even managed to improvise a couple of unplanned shots when a speaker went off-script or videos played in an order we weren’t anticipating.
Like all huge projects, I’ve learned countless things that are going to help me improve whatever I end up working on next. Throughout the course of shooting the Keeping Faith interviews, I was discovering better ways to ask questions and more efficient methods to light an interview in a confined space or with a boring background. I have a better idea of who knows what around JBU and how I should go about finding out information and scheduling things and working to make things happen. I stumbled upon and looked up various keyboard shortcuts and workflow practices to solve efficiency problems to make the editing process as smooth as possible. I ran into rendering and memory errors that had to be solved at 2:00am with a deadline approaching. There are still some things I could have done better, as there will always be. But that sense of extreme accomplishment is still there, where I know that I’ve done the best that I could do and that I’m more fully prepared for whatever comes next.
Here’s a bird’s-eye look at all of the edited timelines for the videos that were shown at the event:
I just got finished with a frustrating, humbling, and rather amusing experience. We recently bought a used ’98 Toyota Corolla. It’s old enough and used enough that a couple of the door handles have snapped off and have to be opened from the outside. A quick Google search turned up all sorts of blog posts and articles about how simple it is to replace those yourself. So, figuring it would be a fun, simple project that would expand my experiences, I jumped on Amazon, paid $35 for a set of replacement handles, and waited eagerly for them to show up. They did, and I proceeded to track down what looked like a pretty simple set of instructions for how to do the replacement, and went out to do it.
Now, I’m a big “follow the instructions” kind of guy. I’m telling you this now because it’s going to be important in just a bit. I’m the guy that really enjoys getting furniture from Ikea because they have great instructions. You just go step-by-step, always knowing that you’re on the right track, always being able to easily figure out what you need to do next, and after a bit of work, you’re done and you’ve got a cool piece of furniture to show for it. So I took these door handle replacement instructions, read them through once or twice to make sure there wasn’t some major hint I would need to remember part of the way through, and got started.
The first few steps all revolve around removing the door panel from the door. Remember, I’m an instruction guy, so I don’t question these things, I just do it. I very carefully removed all the right screws, unsnapped all the right things, and finally got to the point where I was able to lift the panel off. This is where things started getting complicated. The instructions I had suggested propping the door on your leg to avoid severing the wires that connect it to the door (power locks, windows, etc). Check. Then hooking a little rod into the new door handle through the panel. Check. Then fitting everything into place and snapping the panel back on … no check! The stupid thing would NOT go back on. Things were making disturbing snapping noises, pieces were falling off, things wouldn’t go into place… just a mess! And all the while, these wires are sitting here straining every time I drop the panel out of frustration, and threatening to break off if I’m not careful.
With one free hand, I grab my phone and call my wife so she can come out and hold the door while I fix a couple things that had fallen off and try to get everything back into place. Her first question: “Why did you have to take the panel off?” This is where I start to feel like a goober. What was my answer? Well, the only answer that made any sense: “Because the instructions said to take it off.” We fiddle and fiddle and have absolutely no success in getting it to work. To ease the frustration, we decide to try the other three doors and see if we can at least get those done, then come back to this trouble door.
Wife: “Let’s try to do these ones without taking the panel off, because that doesn’t look like it’s working at all.”
Me: “But the instructions said that’s the first thing you need to do!”
Wife: “Well, that doesn’t really seem to be working out for you, does it?”
She then proceeds to go all mechanic-savvy on me and quite deftly replaces a door handle in a matter of minutes, with me standing by looking like a doofus while I hand her tools and hold the door open for her. After that, two more doors, done and done. We finally managed to get the panel somewhat back into place on the first one that I had botched, though it looks like a couple pieces are somehow missing, and it still wobbles and makes odd noises when you’re opening and closing it.
So there was my Sunday afternoon experience. Learning that my wife is better at figuring out D.I.Y projects than I am. And that just because some goober posts instructions on the internet doesn’t mean he actually knows what he’s talking about. Bit of advice to anyone wanting to replace door handles on a ’98-’02 model Corolla: don’t remove the whole freaking door panel. Totally unnecessary*. Skipping this step will not only make the replacement easier, it’ll save you from the experience of having to watch as your wife says, “No dear, this is how it’s done.”
*If you happened to read through the article where I had gotten my original instructions from and discovered the folks in the comments section who mentioned the fact that removing the door panel is unnecessary, good for you. I found those comments too… afterwards. When I went back to the blog to post my comment saying, “Hey, taking off the door panel isn’t necessary.” I felt like a goober again.
Here’s a quick run-down of a recent shoot we did. Nothing particularly mind-blowing or interesting about our setup, but I thought it might be fun to post about some of the work I do for people who read this and are curious, along with some of the gear we use. The shoot was a “sound byte” interview for a highlight video I’m producing. I call it that because it’s not really an interview in the sense of going in-depth about any particular topic or trying to profile a person’s life or career or an event; our final product is very overview-ish, and so the comments we’re capturing are intended to be short snippets, almost like commercials but without actually being scripted or “planned.” I like the natural sound of someone responding to a question or talking point in their own words.
Our lighting setup was thrown together on the fly. We knew we would be shooting in this person’s office, but didn’t know how much room there would be or how the chairs would be set up when we got there. Using an Arri kit, we were able to set up a 650-watt key with a soft box by the office door at about a 45-degree angle. A 150-watt provided some fill from the opposite corner, with two scrims to cut down the brightness since it had to be placed closer than normal to the subject. The lighting on her face looked great with these two, but the position of the key meant there was a deep, dark shadow being cast by her chair that we couldn’t get rid of. We finally managed to get a 300-watt pointing directly at a filing cabinet and reflecting back just enough light to kill the offending shadow and create an even look.
Our camera was the Canon 7D with the kit lens, which happens to have a recording limit of about 12 minutes per clip. After that it simply shuts off and you have to hit record again to start a new shot. This hadn’t mattered at all yet since most of our “interviews” were maxing out at about 7 or 8 minutes since our final product is so specific as far as what we need people to talk about. This particular interviewee, however, had gotten locked into a tangent and looked like she would be talking for a while. While what she was saying was interesting, it didn’t really have any bearing on what I would ultimately be using her clips for. I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of what she was saying though, since it sounded like something that would lead to some pretty poignant sound bytes once she started wrapping up her comments, but I knew we were about to reach that 12-minute mark. However, because I knew that what she was saying at the moment the camera shut off would not be used in this particular video, I decided on the fly to just let her keep talking as I casually reached behind me and hit “record” again. I was fortunate to have a smart guy working the audio (recording on the Zoom H4n), who had also realized that the camera would be shutting off soon and was able to look over in my direction and clue me in to exactly when we had reached the end of the shot.
She did eventually wrap up her comments, and delivered some fantastic sound bytes that were well worth the wait, and definitely well worth my decision not to interrupt her by calling “cut!”, restarting everything, slating the take, clapping for a sync point, etc. All of that definitely would have derailed her train of thought and we wouldn’t have gotten the excellent snippets that come from someone carefully working through an idea and gathering her thoughts over a period of 10 or 15 minutes and then coming to a solid conclusion at the end. What we did then was to simply clap again at the very end, before the camera and sound were turned off, to create a second sync point for the second video clip. The audio recorded the whole way through, thanks again to my very smart audio guy, which means that even in the extremely unlikely situation that I decide I want to use what she said while the camera was turned off for a few moments, I’ve at least got her voice. And because of the second clap at the very end, it was very easy to sync up audio for both shots without having to read lips or compare waveforms for the second clip.
Set up, interview, and tear-down, including time for the lights to cool, was about 45 minutes. The interview looks and sounds great, we got the sound bytes we needed, and all of us had a good time doing it. And maybe this post was interesting for you. It might have just been to satisfy my subconscious desire to brag about how much fun I have with my job. Just maybe.
DaySpring runs a brand called (in)courage, which is an online community of women focused on blogging, relationships, connections, photos, etc. They recently made a big announcement (one that they’d been counting down to every day for a month!), and I was asked to animate the video that went along with it. There were a few unique challenges, at least for me. The main one being that I’m about as far removed from the (in)courage demographic as you can get! That’s a good challenge to have, though, because it stretches my creativity and forces me to think about aesthetics that I wouldn’t normally find particularly appealing or think of as necessary elements in a design scheme. It also carried the same challenge that all of my DaySpring jobs do, which is that my client can’t sit in the room with me and discuss changes face-to-face and in real-time. I do all of my animating and editing in the evenings, since I work a day job. This means that I wind up with a stack of emails on my desk, covered in my own scribblings and annotations and sketches.
Not a bad way to work, though. Another element of stretching my creativity and forcing me to try and read between the lines and discover what the client actually wants as opposed to what their comments on the latest version of the video seem to say. This is just a natural by-product of having people from different disciplines collaborating on a project – someone (my DaySpring client) with very little animation or video editing experience trying to put into words their perception of what they want it to look like, which I then need translate into the realm of what’s actually possible in the animation I’m working on. Quite a few things sound right on paper when you put them in words, but then once you start making that happen visually, you find yourself scratching your head and wondering why it doesn’t look like you wanted it to look, even though it’s exactly as you described it.
The whole experience was good though. The work was fun and challenging, the end product was good, and from what I hear the launch was (and still is) a success. Here’s the finished video for you to take a look at:
In completely unrelated news, WordPress is recommending the following tags to me: “restless leg syndrome” and “Washington D.C.” Not really sure what that’s all about, but it amused me, so I thought I’d share it with you.
I’m writing this blog post on my iPhone. I’m doing this for a couple of reasons. Several, actually. I wanted to write something. However, I didn’t feel like going into the other room and booting up the desktop. I thought about using the laptop that’s in here, but realized I’d have to know my login info (which is all saved on the desktop), and didn’t feel like figuring that out. Then I wondered what I might write about anyway, and discovered that if I just start a post on my phone, I’ve already got a topic that’ll carry me for at least a paragraph or two.
Technology is crazy. I’m not that old, and even I can remember the days when my parents mused about this newfangled thing called “e-mail” and how we would never have to worry about learning how to use it because we lived in Africa and it would never be a big thing anyway. I remember when a Gigabyte was quite a respectable amount of storage space, and a 1GB flash drive meant you were really tech-savvy (and had some cash on hand). When 512MB of RAM meant you had a high-end gaming computer.
Now my phone can play games that my dad’s old computer would have had trouble with. Not only has email become completely ubiquitous, it’s already being supplanted in some ways by social media! I can’t even remember the last time I used email as a social tool – I only use it for work. For socializing online (a topic in and of itself), I use one of half a dozen social networking tools that would have completely blown my mind just 10 years ago.
I can feel this post going in several directions now, but I’m going to cut it short (attention span is another topic that could stand by itself). Partly because I need to leave for work in a few minutes, and partly because I’m getting really tired of typing on this little screen.
Well, I don’t know that this has developed into any sort of particularly interesting or informative post, but I think I’m okay with that. More of an experiment for me anyway. I’ve been wanting to do a post from my phone for a while just to see what it’s like.
Cheerio. Go spend the rest of your day on something more edifying and useful now.
10 years ago today, planes crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York. We were living in Tanzania at the time, on the outskirts of Arusha. It was quite the developed town for being in a poor African country, but things like television and the internet were still just things I knew about more than experienced for myself. The only reason we found out about the attacks on the same day they happened was somewhat by chance. Another family on our compound had purchased a satellite dish for their anniversary, and had been having trouble getting it to work. They finally succeeded, and the very first image to appear on the screen was that of the second plane slamming into a tower. He rushed over to our house immediately to tell my dad. I remember hearing them talk in low voices, and caught something about “the towers are in flames.” I had no idea what they were talking about, and wouldn’t find out until the next morning. Mom and dad explained it over breakfast, to prepare us for people talking about it at school.
I’m sure ours wasn’t quite the same school experience as it might have been in America. We attended a private British International school run by a group of staff that were almost unanimously anti-American in at least some form or fashion. The same went for the students. So while we talked about the attacks, there was very little of the united grieving and camaraderie that would have existed in an American institution. I was never much of a patriot as a kid, nor would I really ever use that term for myself today – it’s hard to feel patriotic when America is essentially an amusement park, a place you save up to visit every few years and get to have fancy food, play with gadgets and technology you don’t usually have access to, see some friends you never get to see… It’s not a place that gets lodged into your heart or a place that you can care about without thinking about it. Imagine someone attacking Six Flags – you grieve for the people, you share the anger and sadness and confusion of their families, but it doesn’t hit home for you. Now, the sheer magnitude of 9/11 would eventually start to reveal itself to my brain as I got a little older, but this was in conjunction with the pain itself fading from the public consciousness with the slow but inevitable passage of time.”We will never forget” kept it from disappearing entirely, but again, to a kid growing up thousands of miles away from it all, things have a hard time hitting home emotionally.
Maybe I’ll never be able to understand the 9/11 experience from a truly “American” perspective, because that’s something I’ve never really had. My heart grieves for the families, though. It weighs heavily on me that such an atrocious act can be committed by human beings. Time does not heal all wounds – it just scars them so that you can continue with life. I’m thankful that I worship a God who gives me hope when events like these threaten to take it from me.
Hey everyone! It’s been a long time. That’s entirely my fault. I’ve been trying to convince myself that I had reasons I wasn’t updating the blog. That I was too busy, or not enough was going on, or nobody reads it anyway, or whatever else I could conjure up to keep myself from having to sit down and actually write something.
Tons of things have happened since my last update, at which time I had interviewed for a job and was freelancing out of my parents’ spare bedroom while Cheri was away in Israel on her choir tour. The biggest deal is that I got the job I was interviewing for! I’m now a full-time Media Producer at John Brown University, which was where I got my bachelor’s degree. The position is relatively new there. Over the past year, they’ve had an independent film producer contracted for a year who was working to establish the framework for a media production workflow in the communications department. Now that the groundwork has been laid, he’s off working on his new film, and I’m stepping in to take over full-time. I’ll be working on anything from faculty profile videos to event highlights to marketing campaigns. At the end of this, I’ll post a link to one of the videos I’ve edited since starting at JBU. I’m still freelancing for DaySpring in addition to working at JBU. Recently I was able to work on an internal promo video for a new product line, a video for the 40th anniversary celebrations, and a marketing piece for one of their products related to an upcoming movie release.
We’re also in a new apartment. As soon as I accepted the position at JBU, we started visiting places in Siloam Springs and settled on a complex called Spring Valley Apartments. It’s right across the street from the Siloam Springs Walmart, and just around the corner from the Aldi. And because Siloam Springs is so small, it’s close enough to JBU that I could bike to work when I wanted. And I did, several times, until the average temperature started hitting three figures. That’s on hold now.
Drusilla is new. Drusilla is our cat, adopted from the Siloam Springs Animal Shelter. She was about seven or eight weeks old when we adopted her (don’t tell that to our landlords), so we’ve been able to watch her go through an enormous growth spurt already. She’s very feisty and likes to nibble on your hands if you let her. Which you shouldn’t, because she very quickly goes from nibbling to outright biting! She has a box that she plays with and likes to crawl inside. She also has a stuffed bear that she fights with. And yes, she’s named after the vampire on Buffy. We recently finished watching through all seven seasons. Our new show now is Stargate: SG-1.
I put a poll in there just now. Because I can. You don’t have to answer it if you don’t want to. Only if you actually care about me. Don’t worry, I won’t judge.
Cheri has an immigration interview in Fort Smith tomorrow morning! We’re super excited about that. This will hopefully be the last big step towards getting her green card. Basically she just has to be able to prove that we’re actually married and actually love each other and that this whole thing isn’t just a sham to sneak her into the States to work and steal all of our money. She’s already staked out a couple places in Siloam that she’d like to work at if there are positions available, so we’re ready to have the green card over and done with so we can move on.
And that’s the low-down on life in the Headrick household. We’re getting ready to go on the Headrick family camping trip next week, which will be awesome and fun and relaxing.
And lastly, here’s a link to a video on the JBU website that I edited from footage shot by my predecessor: http://www.jbu.edu/video/?video_id=4232
I’m realizing that my blog doesn’t seem to get that much attention from me. Maybe I’m just not the blogging type? I have been really busy lately, but that’s everyone’s excuse for everything, so I refuse to lean on that. Anyways, just wanted to write up a brief update on life as well as post a recent animation that I finished up.
My beautiful wife graduated from Moody Bible Institute last weekend, as most of you who read this probably already knew. She finished a degree in sacred music, and is currently on her final choir tour in Israel. The day after her graduation, I loaded up our lives into my parents’ minivan and a U-haul trailer, and we made our way back down to Arkansas.
In a way it feels like I’m coming home. I haven’t spent much time in the States, relatively speaking. But of the time I’ve spent here, the vast majority of it has been in Arkansas. In Siloam Springs, to be specific. So it’s nice to get back to a part of the country that I’m a little more familiar with, to people that I know and have missed over the past year, and to a pace of life that’s a little more manageable than in downtown Chicago. I’m also looking forward to finding employment that better suits my degree and my skill set. Recently I’ve been doing freelance work for Dayspring, which I’ll continue doing on a more regular basis now that I’m here and no longer spending eight hours a day behind a desk in Chicago. I’ve also interviewed now with two different organizations in the area, so a lot of my time in the near future will be spent following up with those to see what pans out.
And just so that you won’t feel like I took up a chunk of your day just to bore you with a bunch of words, here’s an animation. This is the most recent project that I’ve completed for Dayspring. I’ve been taking printed cards that are available on their website and designing animations in After Effects that can then be used as video e-cards. It’s a fun process, as I get to use the work of talented designers as a starting point to inspire my own creativity.