This was one of those weeks I really enjoyed the work of video filming and editing. Some insight into this process is, I feel, rather necessary.
A couple of weeks ago, I sorted through some music that Aaron and I had come up with for possible use in the videos this summer. In the old days, we would simply just grab whatever songs we happened to like that week, but that left us open to not knowing what music we would use. It’s hard to choose what songs should go with what age groups, but I decided that “Take Over Me” by Sanctus Real and “Tell Me” by Charmaine needed to come together for this week. Knowing the music ahead of time allows me to film with better purpose. I know what kind of shots I am looking for and can start formulating when and where to get them.
So I began the filming, and the shots starting falling into place. One of my favorite things to film is the fireworks on July 4th. Something about seeing them through the camera simply blows my mind. Special Events gave me plenty of entertaining footage to enjoy. And when a camper got the opportunity to put a pie in Aaron’s face? Had to be there for that one. But then there were the moments I was really hoping for. I found once again that it is important to have my camera with me everywhere I go, lest I miss a golden opportunity. Plenty came up this week. I was at the Snack Shack when I spotted a girl all by herself at a picnic table, reading the Scriptures. I found staff and CIT’s all over the place, spending time with these children. Most rewarding of all came on the last night. I had just finished filming cabin devotions and was walking back to the office when I saw John and Eric on the Brothers porch with some campers. From a distance, I filmed as they shared the good news of salvation. Jesus Christ saved them that night, and I felt like I had just been given a huge treasure of a film clip.
People sometimes wonder what goes into editing a summer video. I use Final Cut Pro, and have found after beginning to learn it 2 years ago that it has greatly improved not only the quality of the videos, but also the efficiency with which I make them. The editing process really begins on Wednesday. While I already had the songs picked out, I now needed to map out what the video would look like. The music dictates the video. I have held that belief from day one back in 2002. So I listen to the songs to get a feel for the timing – how long will each shot last, how many shots will I need to use for each section, etc. I also start formulating as I hear certain guitar riffs, downbeats, and movements what parts of the video need a little more creativity in the areas of transition or effect, such as an old film filter or a strobe. Once I have that established, I match the sections (Dining Hall, Swimming Pool, Special Events, etc.) with the verses, choruses, and bridges of the songs where I feel they best fit.
Having established the blueprint as it were, I can then begin editing the video. This also begins on Wednesday and runs through Thursday night, sometimes late. It is where both the real work and the real joy comes in. Each clip takes a little bit of care as I try to sync it with the music and the timing. It is rare that I take the section of a clip I like and drop it in and it works. I either have to shorten or lengthen it while trying to keep the highlight of the clip itself. After putting a section together, I watch back through it to see if it is flowing well. A few more changes are made and then it is on to the next section. This process holds true through the whole video, but it takes different forms. The first song is all about the fun of camp, essentially making it look like the place to which you want to come. These clips demand energy and speed more often than not. But the second song is mainly about what happens at camp that is of eternal value. These demand more attention to the spiritual moments. I have found that editing these sections brings tears as I see a loving and caring staff minister and several campers soak up the teachings of God’s Word.
On Friday, I begin the polishing. Sleeping through a night and viewing it again the next day will reveal blemishes I didn’t notice before. I also put together the titles, captions, and transitions for the video. The transitions sometimes cover up parts of a clip I really want to be seen, and thus I have to readjust those clips further. Upon finishing, I watch it a couple more times to see if it is satisfactory. A few minutes of rendering later, I have a video ready for viewing.
My biggest concern when presenting it is not whether everyone will like it. It is whether they will see the same things in this video that I saw as I filmed it. Will they see how much fun that activity was? Will they see the passion this staff has for the campers? Will they grasp the desire these campers have to study God’s Word, to pray, to know Him and love Him? Without words to tell them, can the parents see that their kids are doing more than just writing on sticks and tossing them into the fire? Do they realize the grace and goodness of Jesus Christ that has been poured out on their children? Unless that message gets across, I have only made a good video. My goal is much higher – I want God to look good, and editing videos is the ability He has entrusted to me to accomplish that feat.
I am not a creative person. I love music deeply but could never hope to write it or perform it. I enjoy the stories people like Lewis and Tolkien have shared, but I simply don’t have the imagination to make my own. I enjoy the ability so many people have to make others laugh with their wit, but my wit isn’t nearly as sharp or humorous. But I have a simple ability to capture moments at camp and turn them into a story and a song all their own. And in that, I see myself made in the image of the Creator. He took the rib from Adam and with craftsmanship and tender love, He made a beautiful woman and gave her life. Adam took that beauty into his arms and treasured her for hundreds of years. Though I could never create something so precious, sweet, and wonderful, my prayer is that the videos I create will have a beauty that others can treasure for years to come – the beauty of the wonderful work of God in children’s hearts at New Life Camp.