‘I Believe’ – A Christian Collaboration Video

This video is the culmination of a vision I’ve had for a long time to bring together a group of Christian film-makers and make an inspirational piece about who God is.

It began last year in a video training session for some of the youth in my church and I showed them the excellent YHWH produced by Dan Stevers. I’ve long admired the work of Dan and recently he’s been collaborating with other artists to make videos that are very creative. This gave me an idea to do the same with our team.

The Poem

Around a year ago I heard a poem that really got my imagination going. It was based on something that was written in German by Lothar Zenetti, then translated and added to by a friend called Fred. This is the poem.

I believe in God, and I believe
That He is an artist, an inventor
His boundless ideas show Him to be original forever
Wonderful, varied and worthy of admiration.
The endless universe, the order of the stars
Are all inside his plan. He thinks up clouds
And the blushing of the dawn
He calls mountains into being
And will you look at this tree: every twig, every leaf
Is His invention and in the same way He forms
Lizards, warthogs and butterflies.
He is not made in the image in my head
Does not correspond to my concepts and definitions
The person I picture would never have made such a world full of wonders
Nor even more than a single type of person
Off the conveyor belt they would all march with a standard size head
And the same type of nose.
There would be no riotous hotchpotch of porters and poets, waiters and beauty queens,
Of estate agents, street musicians,
Of grandmas and rock fans and lollipop ladies.
There must be something of all that in Him.
I believe He is a shepherd, a lover, a Father and Mother
And He is a game of hopscotch too.
He is enchanter and beguiler, a massive Cheshire cat smiler
The big mystery is His name and He is entirely other
High above all that is and right at the outset
He is the breath and the beginning of everything
And His pulse is felt in all that is.
He creates our longing’s conclusion
He appears in the storm and the thunder
He lives in the cloud, in the word and the silence.
He scatters His hope among the stricken
In the hearts of lovers He is right there in the middle of the world
And glory be to His wonderful name.

I got Fred to email it to me, and then when I was thinking of what to base the Christian collaboration video on this came to mind, so I found the email and set to work.

The Audio

Recording William

Recording William reading the poem

The backing music and voice-over was vital to the video, as this was what the team would be working from. I enlisted the help of William, who has an incredible voice that I could listen to all day, and then found a suitable backing track on MusicBed to license.

Chris bringing the voiceover and soundtrack together

Chris bringing the voiceover and soundtrack together

Choosing Sections

I put the poem in a Google Doc and then split it into 10 sections, asking everyone to own one of the sections. Once people had decided I chopped up the audio into these 10 sections and sent them their specific track. They would each work on their own section and only be aware of the whole piece when it would be shown at one of our national Church meetings.

Bringing The Poem To Life

There weren’t any rules on what to film or create, just a few technical constraints to make sure things like frames per second and pixel sizes matched up.

Josh filming in the middle of a field at night-time

Josh filming in the middle of a field at night-time

Aidan using Cinema4D for the conveyor belt section

Aidan using Cinema4D for the conveyor belt section

John capturing some stunning scenes in Malaysia

John capturing some stunning scenes in Malaysia

David getting to grips with Maya animation software

David getting to grips with Maya animation software

Esme bringing to life her hand drawn characters

Esme working on her hand drawn characters

James (that's me) filming a family scene as dusk approaches

James (that’s me) filming a family scene as dusk approaches

Different Styles

Once everyone had sent me their sections it was noticeable how different they all were and how much hard work had gone into them with a mix of styles and ways to capture images. There was footage from DSLR cameras, camcorders, GoPros, computer generated graphics and hand drawn illustrations.

Esme put a lot of work into creating each character

Esme put a lot of work into creating each character

Filming William for the intro and end sequences using a digital camera

Filming William for the intro and end sequences using a digital camera

Editing and Sound Design

With having lots of different styles and content I put a lot of effort into making sure they all blended well together. It would have been easy to do a fade to black between every section but I wanted there to be continuity across the whole video, so there was various adjustments to the colouring, adding motion blur, wipes, and zooms between clips.

As much time went into the sound design as into the edit – especially with the animation scenes as the sound really brings it to life. And for the ending I did a late night timelapse of the stars on a very cold night, so I could overlay the video title in the edit.

A late night timelapse of the stars to end the video

The stars with a plane passing overhead

Conclusion

Introducing the Christian collaboration video team - Aidan, David, Esme, Charis, Naomi, John, George, Sam, Josh

Introducing the crew – Aidan, David, Esme, Charis, Naomi, John, George, Sam, Josh

This project has been a real success – it’s helped young people express their passion for God, and working in a team is always enjoyable. It feels like we’re on a journey together to explore creativity and our own interpretations of who God is and what He means to us.

Here’s to the next one.

Light & Dark Atmospheres – Joy’s Art Project

This week Joy Jindu shows us her recently completed art exam piece and describes the research she undertook for the project.


For my art exam project, after much indecisiveness and much consideration I chose to explore the way in which the contrast between light and dark can create atmosphere.

The second definition of atmosphere according The Oxford Dictionary is:

“the pervading tone or mood of a place, situation, or creative work.”

The first being,

“The envelope of gases surrounding the earth or another planet”

The Starry Night by van Gogh

The Starry Night by van Gogh

I could have done a project on space and gases but the photography aspect may have been tricky however…I had a look at a number painters for inspiration, the ones that most influenced my final piece were Van Gogh, Turner and Afremov. Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night was the first that came to my mind when I decided on the topic “Atmosphere”. Interestingly enough in Physics whilst learning about space and stars other mind-boggling things of the Universe I came across the extraordinary “Star-trails” of photographer Lincoln Harrison; these incredible photographs are the result of 15 hour-long exposures. The end photos somewhat resemble the slightly obscure spiralling patterns in the night sky of Van Gogh’s painting.

Whilst researching the art form of Chiaroscuro (the use of strong contrast between light and dark in art) I looked at the work of Caravaggio whose work often explored and exploited the dichotomy of ‘highlights & shadows and how they complement each other. Whilst looking at the use of light in art it only seemed right to look at Turner, “The Painter of Light” himself.

The Final Piece

The picture that I chose to paint during the 10 hours I had for my exam was of a photograph that I had taken of a street light outside of Liberty London. The idea of having a street light was inspired by number of paintings by Leonid Afremov that include streetlights projecting light onto their surroundings. The canvas that I painted this on was A1 (so about 80x60cm). It was slightly ambitious to set out fill such a large canvas in only 10. Admittedly after the second day getting the all the bricks and window frames in line with the correct perspective, without them converging got slight tedious; Instead of painting all the lines in, I made the oil paint very turpsy and instead dripped the paint down when gave quite a nice effect where the paint appears to have eroded but left enough to show where the bricks and window panes are.

Final-Piece-Painting-

Painting a childhood home – Vineyard Farmhouse artwork

Vineyard Farmhouse, watercolour painting

Vineyard Farmhouse

This is a painting of a house. Yup, call me Einstein for pointing that out. But there’s a bit more to it than that. This was the house that I first lived in, and holds many memories that I’ll never forget (all being well).

The original photo – where I tried to look as inconspicuous as possible when photographing it

A few months ago I was chatting to my Dad about living there, and he spoke about when he had M.E. so severe it left him bed-ridden for many years. This normally would have been problematic for me as a young child growing up, but as we lived in Christian community there were people around who helped out. One of these was a chap called Mike, and as my Dad continued his story it became clear that Mike helped out a lot in those difficult years, despite him being busy with work and church commitments. I can remember times of playing football with him (he was rubbish), and once broke his thumb with a thunderbolt from 30 yards (or more likely a 3 yard miss-hit).

So to say thank you for putting up with the little brat that was me, and to acknowledge he has had a big part to play in my life I decided to paint for him the house where we lived, Vineyard Farmhouse.

Hmm

Starting the painting, and getting stuck on shadows

The location of Vineyard meant that the sun would never shine where I wanted it to, resulting in a flat looking picture as shadows convey depth. So I used a bit of artistic license and changed where the sun was shining. This was fine till I started painting telegraph poles and simply couldn’t work out how the shadows would run on the roofs of houses, or how the porch shadow would fall on the stone.
Helpfully I live in a Christian community house with some very talented people, and one of these was a 3D modelling guru called Aidan. I asked him if he could re-create the photo in a 3D environment so we could play around with the sun position to see what looked best.
3D model from photo angle
An hour later using a combination of the original photo, Google maps, Streetview, and Sketchup, he had created a model where I could test a few sun angles and choose which one looked best.

The 3D model in Sketchup with detail from Google Maps, Streetview and the original photo.

The 3D model in Sketchup with detail from Google Maps, Streetview and the original photo.

The chosen sun angle with shadow from the porch, window bays, and the left side of the building in shade.

The chosen sun angle with shadow from the telegraph poles, porch, window bays, and the left side of the building in shade.

Once the shadows were worked out I cracked on with it. There was a few things I learnt – painting grass is a mission, and I still hate windows (no offence to Bill Gates). The whole thing was done in about 6 weeks, which is fairly rapid by my usual standards.

On location and nearing completion

The artists den (all my stuff dumped on a dining table)

Around this time my Dad was getting married so for a gift I scanned the final painting in, had it edited to look like a railway carriage print (something he’s obsessed about), and then framed it as they were many years ago.

The carriage print version of Vineyard that I gave to my Dad

The carriage print version of Vineyard Farmhouse

The actual painting was then superbly framed (thanks to Joz at Good Timber) and mounted (thanks to the Framing Centre) and given to Mike.