Thursday, September 25, 2008

ATF Amherst - Behind the Scenes Photos


I'm sitting in the Mullin's Center this morning at UMass.

I really enjoy this venue and this event.

It means FALL and it means the start of the tour.

This year... we're going to subject the audience to 5... count 'em 5 video screens. (Yes it does feel a little like Spinal Tap: "... but these go up to 11!!"

You know the old saying: Less is More

Uh-uh... it's now officially: More is More!!!

That said... we are building something for the Saturday night portion of our event that I'm praying will be amazing and memorable.

On the final night of the event we will be taking the audience on a visceral experience of Jesus' final moments. We have created... based on a script written by Chad Arnold... a 5-Screen multimedia version of the crucifixion and the moments leading up to it.

Our graphics guru, Greg Williams, has designed this 30 min multi-screen "movie" in After Effects using original sketches, live action, and graphic design. And... it's been crafted to an audio bed that was mixed prior to one visual frame being created.

In about 5 hours... we get to run the presentation in the arena... with actors (yes, there is a live drama part of the presentation as well) for the very first time. I'm pretty excited about it!

We've all seen many a "passion" or "Easter presentation" at church over the years. Many of them are well intentioned and do present the story. But, rarely are these videos or dramatic presentations memorable.

It is my prayer that what our team has built will transcend the informational and enter the realm of the experiential... in a deeply searing way.

The Garden of Gesthemene, Golgotha, Pilot's court, the Tomb... all appear across the 5-Screens in larger than life fashion with music, SFX, and actors who have given performances that have effected me even in their raw untreated form.

The audience tallies it's vote this Saturday.

For my part... it's been in the backroom long enough... I can't to see what all of you think.

Thanks to all of the team who are pouring it out to make this unique presentation come to life!

See you on the road...

Friday, September 19, 2008


Some people punch a time clock.
Some people live according to a regimented daily calendar.

I knew a long time ago... that WASN'T going to be me.

I am PROJECT driven.

The program goes on the air tomorrow night at 9pm.
The story hits at 11:07p
We're LIVE in 5 mins.
The Film must be ready for duplication tomorrow.

I really thrive in a project driven lifestyle.

Twists. Turns. Surprises. Flexibility.
No day is ever the same.

This next week... there WILL be the launch of our new nation-wide tour.
Lot's of things we can't see right now will take place.
New challenges will emerge every day.
It will be a thrill (or a chill) but it will not be boring. I can tell you that for sure.
When the doors open... the event WILL begin.

And... I really like working with the team who is putting this all together.
Collaborating with Chad Arnold always results in good things... Sam Hasz and the ATF Team (including friend Rex Albers) are pouring in their all... and the CCM Team has been in high-gear for weeks and weeks. (Everyone is doing a great job... Special shout outs though to: Beth Powell, Andrew Hummel, Bertha Vera [girl... you are coming into your own!!!], Simon Stutts, Greg Williams, AARON VANDENBROUCKE!, Jason White, Eric Mackintosh, Jared Haskell, Kirk Fletcher, Michael Gallardo, Brandon Eckhardt, Katherine Haller [your fingerprints are all over this event!], Liz Saffold, Emily Kelly, Nicole McKeen, Selah Starhsen, Alex Haynes, Nathan Hammer, Tom Duval, Idalia Saravia, Camille Cole, Jonathan Villanueva, Adam Overfelt, Ari Burt, Cody Greely, Gwen Vehlow [scary voice!], Ben Figuerido, Randy Lilly, Sam Lathrop, Kel, Alex Persels, Tabby Russell, Alex Clark [Behind the scenes "do all things" man!]... and casting, wardrobe workhorse: Caitlin Holt. [Apologies to anyone not named here... full credits to roll at another time. Just wanted you to know how much I appreciate you]

The process, community, team-work effort in a unified effort to tell great stories that honor the living God is an amazing experience!

Keep it up team!!

It's almost time for EVERYONE to see what we've been working on for the past several months!!

Project (if you call launching a major tour a "project") Driven Life beats 9-5 Life any day of the week!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Final Rehearsals

Going through the Sat Night Session right now.

I'm praying and believing that this session will be UNREAL!!!

The focus will be on us as believers carrying the Cross.

For 30 mins or better... the attendees will be experiencing the crucifixion through a 30 min presentation of live action mixed with animation. The way it's playing out on screen is breathtaking. Even in it's rough form... our team has created scenes that are rocking me emotionally.

I can't wait for this whole presentation to come to life in a week.

Praying for God to make this whole effort something that will be riveting and life changing.

I'm already so proud of our team.
This is life nothing we've ever done.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"It's Wednesday... I need a Video for this Sunday!!"

Ok... You've just left Wednesday night service and the Sr. Pastor cornered you, made small talk, then said: "I've got this great idea for the coolest video... that I need...THIS WEEKEND!!!"

Who said deadlines and the budget two-step were things only Hollywood Types had to deal with??!!

Impossible demands... unrestrained vision... brilliant ideas... a decent computer loaded with Final Cut Studio... a production team made up of lay people and usually at least 1 teen who shows incredible promise, and little to no time... now those are the tools of today's Ministry Media Miracle-worker.

The last minute video request is not unique.
We may not look forward to these 11th hour white-knucklers... but we know they're coming.

There are some ways to set yourself up for a WIN when face to face with this "opportunity for blessing."

My best advice is to THINK SIMPLE and remember that PEOPLE CARE ABOUT PEOPLE.

Step 1 -- Resist the urge to be Speilberg. If you are making a deadline barn-burner... odds are you are not making the next special effects laden action adventure flick. Keep it simple. (Make it look good... through good lighting and great photographic composition... NOTE: Almost nothing is more annoying than a video that looks like it was thrown together or was shot by Uncle Fred. These types of videos are what I refer to as Christian Cheeseball.)

Step 2 -- Good Stories Rule! Churches are home to some of the best untold stories. They're called: Testimonies! Almost everyone can remember these stories when they hear them. The really good ones stick with you. You never forget them. THEY ARE STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE THAT CONNECT WITH THE HEARTS & MINDS OF OTHER PEOPLE.

Good testimonies work.
They matter to the people who hear them.
They provoke response.
And, they are sitting in your church... right now.

So... in a pinch. Consider putting together a meaningful and on-point testimony. (And try to lead your Sr. Pastor that direction once you can relate the story to him in a very exciting and compelling way... verbally)

But, don't settle for JUST recording the testimony.
There's little impact in taping someone telling their story in past tense.

Here's what you need:
-- A great story-teller. (Find someone who can vividly describe their experiences and emotions) The trick here will be to find someone who can "walk and chew gum" on camera who speaks into the topic of your last minute production. But... be encouraged! The odds are if you don't know the right person, someone YOU know is likely to know someone that is walking around with right story just waiting to be brought to life.

-- Story Telling Elements. Add to the mandatory interview other items: Photos, Home Video, Music, Journals, etc... that become the critical pieces to making someone's life come alive on the screen. (Always ask people you interview for these items at the time you interview them.)

-- Finally.. if you're working with others (staff & crew)... you need to get them to buy into your vision. Bring them with you.

You WILL need to shoot & edit your piece... But, if you start with a GREAT story and someone who can articulate it... you have the possibility of a quick turn-around deeply impacting piece.

Get to know the stories of people in your church, by getting to KNOW them. God knows, :), when you'll need to ask someone if you can bring their story to life.

Don't let those last minute requests suck the wind out of you!

Find the right story about someone who will makes the point you need this coming Sunday!!

Producing a Nation-Wide Arena Tour

This time of year is exciting.

We are 9 days away from the debut of the Acquire the Fire Tour.

In the Center for Creative Media world... we are in throws of delivering hundreds of assets that will make up all of the media side of ATF.

We are making several short-films at one time.
Composing music.
Creating mass quantities of Motion Graphics.
Building Sound Effects (SFX)
Editing around the clock.
Shooting night and day.

And you know what... this is what we live to do!!

It is our calling.

We're about to enter the REAL world and leave the theoretical one.
This is where the good ideas become awesome live moments.
The audience gives its instant feedback.
Clearly the product of our teamwork and collaboration becomes a hit or a miss.

First stop, Amherst, Mass!!

Can't wait.... time to get on the road.

UNHINDERED (the most amazing break-through worship band out there) will be engaging 1000's in unbelievable worship. If you haven't experienced these guys you need to get to an ATF near you and plug in. Check them out at or get free downloads of their music at

KUTLESS is the headlining band at the first event. (One of these days I'm going to have to blog about being stuck in Jamaica with these guys during a hurricane!)

And... we'll be bringing a new technology we've never had before: BLUETOOTH content distribution to individual attendees! We will be sending Ringtones, Pictures and Movie to anyone with a Bluetooth capable phone. Letting people take home some of the event with them is something we're very excited about. (CCM is developing the content for this and entrepreneuring the use of this technology.)

So here we come!!
Lift the curtain.
Roll the new film & videos.
And bring on the lives we know God will change through the course of one weekend.

Check out the tour schedule for ATF.
And find out when we're coming near you.

Let the events begin...