Friday, October 31, 2008

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 6

And now...

Another clip of what will actually be shown on air!

A peek into what went into making the short films that appear on the screens on the tour!

CCM delivered well over 100 elements for ATF this year.
Everything from Worship Backgrounds that play on 5 screens... to Message Support gfx crafted in 3D and 2D (also across 5 screens)... to an Event gfx package... to videos that play during the breaks... to videos that play in the workshops... AND short films and parodies that play during the event.

One of our standouts was produced by one of the great production teams we have at CCM... it's called THE LETTER.

Check out this clip that shows a portion of the message from Sat AM and THE LETTER

Check back tomorrow for the wrap up of The Chronicles of Hamilton!!

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 5

In 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

And... "we're ON"

All the rehearsals were over.
Everyone was in their places. (Many of them bundled up, standing over the ice of a hockey rink)

It was TIME.

Hundreds of hours of preparation in post.
Thousands of hours of practice and honing of skills at camera, audio... and many other skills.

It was TIME for it to come together!

Everyone had a job to do.

The grips assigned to the Hand Held cameras.
The assists assigned to the Dolly camera.
The production assistants assigned to tying up any loose ends.
The production manager making sure everything was working in concert.

It was TIME for the thousands in Copps Coliseum to be reached.
BUT... it was also time for MILLIONS to be reached outside of the building and Canada!

7pm on Friday Night.
The open rolled...

To understand the full Center for Creative Media experience at a moment like this is to realize that there is no classroom that could ever replace REALLY DOING THIS!!

You can explain what a P.A. does. You can read about what an A.D. does. You can be quizzed about Grips and Gaffers. But to really get it... You have to do it!!

Oh yeah... student projects usually don't come loaded with thousands of people in a live audience, the pressure of delivering when the director is calling the shots through a headset WHEN MILLIONS ARE ACTUALLY GOING TO SEE WHAT YOU'RE DOING, with the requirement that what you are producing actually meets broadcast technical spec, or with an actual broadcast credit complete with actual work that you PERSONALLY did.

No one would ever staff the broadcast of a live event with a bunch of "green-horns." That would be crazy!! But that is exactly what CCM does... and through God... IT WORKS!! Remember... some of the "staff" that worked this event just came to CCM last August. And today... they are carrying major responsibility and bringing their art to the WORLD!

One of the moments that the entire team can now say they have done is: the production of a multi-cam live concert... From camera shots to audio mix.

Check out this excerpt from worship being led by UNHINDERED

STAY TUNED: In the next post... see Center for Creative Media's latest Short Film "The Letter" (Scene: War complete with special efx and explosions)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 4

So much for travel to Hamilton and getting settled in at Copps Coliseum...

It was finally time to get to work!

To pull off the broadcast of the event... we would need a TV truck capable doing all we required. Here was the set-up:

We had 6 cameras (+ another 6 floaters) covering all the angles we would need.
1 Hand Held on stage right
1 Jib in audience stage right
1 Dolly Camera behind the first seat break
2 Stationary Cameras at Front of House
1 Camera in the upper loge for Host Live shots and Event Wide Shots

The floaters were assigned to get audience shots and "perspective (audience and stage in the same shot) shots" to added in editing later in Multi-Cam Grouping mode.

1 Director
1 Technical Director
1 Asst. Director
1 GFX Operator
Video 1&2
Audio 1&2
1 EVS Operator
1 Tape Op
2 Tape Managers (also doing electronic video record)
2 PA's
1 Floor Manager

2 Field Producers
2 ENG Audio Ops

We also did our own FULL audio mix (96 channels) of the entire event.

CCMers manned key roles... many of them never having done live television before in their lives. (AND... they did a GREAT job!!)

The hours leading up to the event were filled with practice, check and re-checks of the gear, team meetings explaining what needed to be done, and PRAYER!

Keep in mind... we had 15 to 16 hours of event to cover. A marathon to be sure.

Here's a peek behind the scenes of the event from CCM's perspective:

And... Dolly Cam operator Wesley Trost shows us his rig:


Preview clips of the event!! Not seen before!
(Event is schedule to air on GodTV in Dec. Dates TBD)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stayed Tuned for MORE Hamilton

Check in tomorrow for behind the scenes footage of the ATF production team and a look at the dolly camera we used during broadcast in Hamilton!

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 3

After a long bus ride... CCM arrives at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, Ontario.

Any good production person makes sure they get to know their surroundings and the specific areas where they will have to work.

1st stop: Where to EAT!!

A huge blessing of putting on the Acquire the Fire tour is that we are served by people who are as passionate about empowering this generation as we are. And, at just about every event we are blown away by people who serve us by FEEDING us.

That blessing is even bigger after spending hours (days!) on a bus.

Check out what CCMer Caleb Lennie (a Canadian I might add) says about finally arriving in Hamilton.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 2

The journey and the bonding continue as the team crosses North of the Border

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Chronicles of HAMILTON - PT 1

The Hamilton, Ontario ATF was absolutely outstanding!
Truly an amazing heart changing weekend!

To really understand things from the PRODUCTION TEAM point of view is to understand the whole experience was a several day excursion for the CCM Team.

A team of 42 people on site worked to bring the event to a broadcast ready state.
CCMers manned all 12 of the cameras (including the Jib and the Dolly), all of the field audio, made all of the GFX, produced all of the event videos & short films, managed all of the tape use & labeling, digital video capture, blue tooth content distribution, and produced interviews with Jeremy Camp, Everyday Sunday, Manna Fest, and Unhindered.

Over the next couple of days... I'll be posting portions of the experience so all of you can feel and see what CCMers actually do. (Many of the videos come from CCMer Ben Fig... a 1st year August Intern... you'll experience things through his eyes.)

So... let's start at the beginning of trip... on a bus.

The team climbed on board in the parking of the CCM Studios and headed north.

Here was their take on things on Night #1

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rockin' Canada!!!

Well, it's Hamilton ATF Week!!

This tour stop is definitely one of the rowdiest... kickin' stops on the tour... for sure!!

Those Canadians are LOUD... INTENSE... and READY for an amazing weekend!
I'm pretty sure when "Oh Canada" is sung it may be louder than Jeremy Camp's most rockin' song.

The CCM team is on an intense mission this week... prep the entire event for Broadcast on GodTV (Channel 365 on DirectTV)

It's going to be one exciting week for CCM.
At team of about 45 will be headed north of the border beginning on Tues AM.
The bus pulls out of CCM for a journey that will take the better part of 2 days.
After rolling down the road past the truck stops in the USA... the sleeper will cruise past Tim Horton's and Swiss Chalet on the Canadian side of the border. Eventually CCM will arrive at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.

Thurs AM will find ATF loading in, and CCM running cables and prepping rigs for a total of 12 cameras. We'll also be loading in prepared Graphics and Videos made especially for the broadcast. The whole operation will be run out of a truck that normally does live coverage of major concerts and sporting events. (So, we'll be right in their wheelhouse.)

By the time the event kicks off on Friday night @ 7p Eastern... a team of 45 folks (that's only the broadcast team) will be in place! CCMers will be running the cameras (including Jib and Dolly), manning Live-Shot Inserts, Interviewing band members from Unhindered, Everyday Sunday, Nevertheless... and maybe even Jeremy Camp (confirmation pending), Capturing interviews all over the arena, and working the other areas like: Video, Video-Tape, Audio, Chyron, Production Assistants and Floor Manager.

Keep checking back Thurs, Fri & Sat... I'll post photos and videos giving you a view into what we'll be doing.

Oh yeah... throw a jacket on for us... the event will be held in an arena that a Hockey Team calls home. Meaning we're actually on tiles laid over ice. CHILLY!! (It's ok... nothing a few cups of Tim Horton's can't cure...EH?)

Here we come Canada!!!

Macbook Pro 17" Users Beware

Every Apple product I've every used has been top notch.

Professionally... Personally... Apple is THE way to go.

Unfortunately I've run across a very odd circumstance...

For the past 3.5 to 4 years I've been using a Macbook Pro 17".
I had one for two years... and thing ran like beast. Really a great machine.

Last Fall I got a new Macbook and things were going pretty well til about 2 months ago.
My Screen went black.
The fan stopped working... and when the machine went to sleep... it didn't really go to sleep... resulting in a firey hot Macbook!
The drive would spin.
Occasionally the computer would re-boot giving the friendly Mac chime.
I tried connecting my Macbook with my cinema display... NOTHING.

So I took it to an approved repair place.
Diagnosis: Bad Logic Board.
Solution: Replacement under warranty.

All my data remained because there was no problem with the hard-drive. (Whew!)

Ok... things were looking good.
The machine was working through the launch of the tour just fine... which was a good thing because I had hundreds of videos to view and approve!

Then last Thurs... WHAM... same situation.
I thought: There is no way the logic board blew again.
But... the symptoms were exactly the same.

This time a trip to the Genius Bar was in order.
The GENIUS quickly surmised... LOGIC BOARD.

Now here's the deal:
Apparently NVIDIA announced within the last month that there was a problem with the GFX card on some of the 17" Macbooks. (Turns out that announcement came about 2 weeks after my last Logic Board was replaced).

The GENIUS told me that specifically the 3000 series was affected. (Guess you can tell that by the serial #... not sure of the specifics on that however)

So if you are a 17" Macbook owner... and you experience the same symptoms above... a trip to the Apple emergency room will be in order.

Still waiting to see if Logic Board replacement #2 will do the job. Actually, more like praying it will!

From what a friend who used to be a GENIUS (can you be a former Genius???) tells me if it blows a 3rd time... NEW Macbook coming my way.

Man... New would be good... but the hassle would be not so good.

I'll keep you updated...

Forge on Mac users!!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


My wife and I had the ultimate experience going to the movie FIREPROOF.

It was a very intimate and EXCLUSIVE time for us... as we watched Sherwood Pictures latest release. We were the only two people in the 70mm Dolby HUGE theater. (Of course we went on a Monday evening @ 10pm in Tyler, Texas... probably had something to do with the empty seats.)

The debate over this movie in artistic circles populated by Christian professionals is very interesting. Lot's of good conversation and points being made.

Here is some of what I've found:

Rotten Tomatoes is presently giving the movie a SPLAT at 46%.
ROTTEN REVIEWS coming from: The L.A. Times, L.A. Weekly, Boston Globe, and Entertainment Weekly.
POSITIVE REVIEWS coming from: The NY Times, Daily Variety, and Christianity Today

Definitely not a total THUMBS DOWN by reviewers (across secular and Christian lines).

The Christian community has mostly embraced FIREPROOF to the tune of somewhere around $13.7 mil in just 8 days. That breaks through the seemingly insurmountable $10mil ceiling (for Christian/Faith-based movies)... maybe for good.

Focus on the Family's PLUGGED IN ONLINE give this insight on FIREPROOF:


The church congregation in Georgia that faced down giants has turned its attention away from football and toward firemen in the save-your-marriage-or-die-trying film Fireproof...

...Writer/director Alex Kendrick and his writer/producer brother, Stephen, aren't under any illusions that this small-budget movie will turn Hollywood on its head. Stephen told Plugged In Online, "When people butcher our films on Rotten Tomatoes and say, 'This isn't Oscar-winning material,' we say, 'We know!' We're just people who are working with what we have at a small church in Georgia. It's truly a loaves and fishes story."

What they do want is for their earnest project to turn your marriage upside down.

You might notice that some of the lines in Fireproof feel a little wooden. And you might notice that the script indulges more dialogue (most of it spiritual) than you're used to hearing in movies about firemen. But the honest truth is that you don't really care by the time the credits roll, because you're too busy feeling your own feelings and thinking your own thoughts about your own relationships. This is the kind of movie that succeeds, sometimes despite itself, because it does a superlative job of digging into serious issues that so deeply affect so many of us every day.

The first time I saw this film I was alone in a cramped and cold projection booth, scribbling notes as fast as my fingers would fly. The second time, though, I was with my bride of 14 years, and I was in no mood to write a movie review. All I wanted to do was hold her hand. And when the last scene faded from the screen, I could do nothing less than turn to her and whisper, "If you ever wanted to leave me, I would try to make it so hard for you! I would do everything he just did and so much more to keep you by my side." She breathed in response, "I would never leave you." I spent the rest of the day thanking God that I was so fortunate as to never have to doubt her.

Others who are right now in the middle of ugly emotions driven by marital neglect, apathy and want, will surely be compelled by Fireproof to skip such emotional promises and tender bonding and instead break out the survival gear right away, putting into practice some of the principles they've just seen brought to life. That, I believe, would make the Kendrick brothers far happier than any golden statue ever could. It'd make our Savior happier, too.

Full review of FIREPROOF available at Plugged in Online

On the flip side... some in the Christian community are voicing artistic concerns:

From // Warren Cole Smith

Full disclosure: I saw only the first 20 minutes of Fireproof. If this causes you to dismiss my assessment of the movie as a cinematic disaster, then you can stop reading right now. I will say in my defense, however, that in those 20 minutes I saw enough bad acting, heard enough bad dialogue, was assaulted by enough amateur lighting set-ups, and was distracted by enough bad directing to give me full confidence in my thinking.

I realize, of course, that for many of my evangelical brethren, it takes more than bad acting, bad dialogue, bad directing, etc., to make a bad movie. It also takes bad intentions, and even I admit that the amateur Fireproof team intended to make a good movie.

And because they made a bad movie doesn’t make them bad people. Neither does it mean they eventually will not make a good one. Director and writer Alex Kendrick plans to make a film every two years, and he is clearly learning a few things about movie making. Fireproof, which stars one “pro” actor, Kirk Cameron, is much better than his previous effort, Facing The Giants, which was an improvement over his first film, Flywheel. Who knows? Kendrick and his brother Stephen, his co-writer and producer of the first two films, are both young. If they keep making this much progress, perhaps the next movie—or the one after that—will be the one they and those who have stuck by them can be proud of.

Let’s be plain: The Kendricks’ movies are apprentice efforts, and there’s nothing wrong with that—all great artists and craftsmen go through an apprentice stage. But for an apprentice to graduate into true mastery, someone must give him honest feedback, and it appears no one in the evangelical community is willing to do that. Some of the most prominent movie reviewers in the Christian world acknowledged the film’s shortcomings but said—inexplicably—that they didn’t matter. Among rank-and-file Christians, any criticism of the movie is met with vitriol, such as the hate I was met with on an online discussion group. You would have thought I had nominated Osama bin Laden for the Nobel Peace Prize.

We do the Kendrick brothers no favors when we grant them a “pass” based on good intentions. I learned this lesson as a writer many years ago. I am not the greatest writer in the world, but (I assure you) I am much better than I was last year, and I am much, much better than I was a decade ago. I improved because of tough feedback from teachers, mentors, and—sometimes—critics...

...If we truly want to encourage the Kendricks, let’s say: “Congratulations. Making a movie, even a bad one, is no easy task. This one is an honorable ‘next step’ in the process, but is it really your best?”

If the Kendrick brothers have any artistic integrity at all, they will not be discouraged by such feedback, and—in the end—they might one day make that great Christian movie we all have longed to see.

Full article by Warren Cole Smith (including comments to his thoughts) available at

At this point in time... I'll say this: FIREPROOF would not and should not be made by all film makers. It is the Kendrick's movie. We each need to make the movies we are passionate about and believe in. We need to tell the stories we are compelled to portray.

My conclusion:
I believe to the bottom of my soul that movies made with stories, characters and values that appeal to the Christian audience have a place in the commercially competitive marketplace. Just ask Spike Lee... Fireproof beat out his latest release "Miracle at St. Anna" head to head on their box-office opening weekend... in fact, Fireproof has out-grossed St. Anna out-right.

May God use each one of the storytellers He has CALLED to tell the tales He has laid on each heart.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


The TOUR is finally launched.

ATF is in St. Louis this weekend. City #3.

It's been a whirlwind of a past 6 weeks.

I love what I do. I really do.

But... A breather has definitely been in order.

RE-Entry into "regular" life began last weekend.

Took the family to a lake house.

We all had such a good time.









It was so AWESOME.

The 4-Wheeling was probably my favorite part. (other than sleeping)
Dodging cows and wild boar.
I know... I know... it was a VERY Texan/Southern way of spending the weekend.
So be it.
(BTW... pass the BBQ!)

To everyone in CCM: I AM PROUD OF YOU!!!

You have done, and continue to do an AMAZING job!

I'm blessed to work with some very talented and skilled people. Pros who will be impacting the world of film and television for decades to come... for sure.

Next up:
TELEVISING the Hamilton ATF.
We normally go live for that event... but this year we will be taping the event "AS LIVE" for broadcast on God-TV in December. (Schedule conflicts are bumping us a few weeks later)

There will be about 40 people in the crew bringing the event to the viewing audience. (30 CCMers and about 10 other pros scattered in the mix)

The Hamilton event is always amazing!!!
A real rockin' and rolling crowd!

As soon as we have a definite air-date... I'll post so you can all see the event.

As for CCMers... Get ready folks... in 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1....