Saying “Thank You” – A Christian Music Video

I’ve recently finished making a Christian music video to a song called “Thank You”. This is different from usual in that the singer would like to stay anonymous and keep the attention on the song itself. She is aware of the feedback it has generated and thrilled it is reaching many people for Jesus.
I and others had to put a lot of planning into making it as it was the first performance music video we’d done and care needed to be taken to ensure we looked after individuals. I first heard the song being played during the Winning Festival in August 2014:

I was struck then by how genuine the song came across, and thought it would be great to turn it into a video as it would communicate to everyone, especially young people.

Many months later Chris (the Jesus Fellowship sound engineer) recorded and mixed the song in the music studio, with the decision to play it on piano rather than guitar:

Hearing the song on piano immediately made me think of the song being sung with a piano on The Deco stage with some spot lights on her. After a bit more thinking I had the image of a projector in the auditorium showing sequences above her head. Before we started filming I worked through any issues with senior Church leaders, safeguarding, and pastoral covering.

There were two videos to make – the video projected over the singer’s head and the final performance video. We shot the first video in an afternoon and had various angles of her writing the song in her book, singing to the camera, and outdoor shots. This was quickly edited and then we were ready to film the performance.

Using VLC Remote Control to playback the track and projector sequence

Using VLC Remote Control to play the track and projector sequence

JC Projector

Filming at The Deco with the laptop playing the music and video, out of sight next to the projector

I had drafted a rough storyboard for the shots at The Deco and had lighting cues ready for Tim to follow behind the lighting desk. As I wanted the video to retain the simple nature of the song I didn’t want to overcomplicate filming with lots of extravagant shots, so I mainly used a tripod and then a couple of slider shots close to the piano. It’s important that the visual direction is in keeping with the song and its message. We filmed the song around 20 times covering many different angles – something I’m used to when I make videos for my video production company – Upbeat Image.

I used a Sony A7s camera to film it (thanks Viv) with 21mm and 50mm lenses. With a 2.35:1 aspect ratio you must have a wide field of view to get everything in. Recording profile: 25fps 50mbs S-log2.

When it came to editing there were three ways to do it:

  1. Go through all the footage and mark the best bits, then cut the best bits together
  2. Have all 20 recordings displayed in the timeline
  3. Go through the footage cut by cut and choose each one that fits

I used the last method and that seemed to work well, though the second method would have saved time as the audio would have been synced first.

Editing in Adobe Premiere - a neat timeline and using a plugin called Film Convert to stylise the look of it.

Editing in Adobe Premiere – a neat timeline and using a plugin called Film Convert to stylise the look

Once I had completed the first edit and colour grade I sent it to a few friends to see what they thought and invited feedback:

The feedback was helpful to see what didn’t quite flow and what needed changing. There were four or five sections that needed more work – it’s a mission being told your work isn’t quite right but it makes for a much better piece in the end. I’d recently gone to an event called Film Northants and met a guy called Denis (yep that’s spelt correctly) and his suggestion was to completely change the colour grading.

Denis's colour grading idea showing much less saturation resulting in more mood and feel

Denis’ colour grading idea showing much less saturation resulting in more mood and feel

Once I’d made the changes I then showed it at a video training day I was running and opened it up for more feedback. It was the second time we were together and another great day.

The real reason for the video and audio training days - pizza!

The real reason for the video and audio training days – pizza!

Once all the comments were in, changes made, and the video was approved by the song author I posted it online and the feedback has been very positive. One comment which really stood out has to be:

“In my faithlessness, that’s the most moved by a Christian song I’ve been in a long time.”

May it reach many more people like that who need Jesus.

Video production by Upbeat Image. Audio engineering by Chris Hunt at Pigsty Studios. Lighting by Tim Gregory.

Jesus Is The Great Leveller

Not that long ago I was inspired to write a song about how every faction or division that touches on meaningless in the perspective of eternity has been cancelled out by Jesus.  Whether those being barriers between the rich and the poor, the strong and the weak, the old and the young or pretty much anything that causes hostility, division and unnecessary human mess. Isaiah prophesied  a great event in which he stated “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low” (Isaiah 40:4). This was then quoted by John the Baptist, preparing the way for Jesus, fulfilling the prophesy of Isaiah, in which Jesus brought salvation to humanity and created a flat plain for all at the foot of the cross.

The song takes us through various places in life people are at, identifying contrasts in the short and long straws people have been dealt. The chorus reveals that this doesn’t actually matter and all happen to be straws of a similar short length in comparison to being a part of a new society where justice reigns all because of Jesus Christ, the son of God.

Musically, this song was based on two piano riffs created over a year ago that were used for the verses and the chorus with the bridge riff added as the song was written. The vocals were written to sit on top of the piano riffs to carry the lead melody throughout the verses and the bridge. The chorus was made to increase the energy revealing the answer, Jesus as the great leveller for all the different places people are at in life.

The song was recorded, mixed and mastered at the central studio of the church as a part of a project for a compilation of songs created by youth from around the church. It’s turned out to be a nice mix that was very well done!

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Oooooh look – a squirrel!!!

Some people find seem to find it simple to focus on God, they have quiet times and go on pray walks. When the list with 1 hour slots for a 24 hour prayer session goes up on the board you can guarantee you’ll find their name on there and probably for 2 slots in row at 4am in the morning, then they come back with beautiful tales of God’s awesomeness and the sun rise…….blaa de bla de blah!….well erm I’m not one of them!

Everything seems out to distract you

Hard as you might find it to believe (well maybe not if you read this blog enough) but I find God pretty hard to remember. In fact to be honest what with work, setting up for meetings, having meetings, packing up from meetings, DIY and sleeping I’m bad enough at remembering my family and friends who I can see let alone remembering someone who I can’t see and lets face it I rarely see much physical evidence of in this world.

Now I know faith is the evidence of things not seen and all that shenanigans. I’ve heard that since I was little boy and could understand that drawing on walls was not cool (sorry mum), but that doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. In today’s world we are more focussed than ever on immediate stimulation we are fed it from every angle, you wouldn’t believe how hard it is to get my daughter away from the telly to do some drawing instead or go on the trampoline.

Life is pretty hectic everyone wants your attention, the Tassimo machine makes “fresh” coffee so you don’t have to wait, Facebook and Twitter allow you interact with friends (or worse your family) without ever leaving your computer and actually speak them, the problem is that God has neither Facebook or Twitter and from what I can tell checks his email even less frequently than my wife!

God longs for a relationship and that takes time if like me (if I’m honest) you try to dip in and out of your relationship with God when you’ve got time then it doesn’t work, so like me you end up hoping the 24 hour prayer hours are all filled up by the time you get round to looking at the list because you don’t really want to sit there what feels like yourself for an hour.

Where does all this lead me? I think I’m coming to the conclusion that yes it can be hard to find time to meet with God when unlike everything else that surrounds you he’s not instantly there and on tap (well it doesn’t seem like it for me anyway), and it can be frustrating when unlike the physical world we are surrounded by he’s not really something you can touch or smell or audibly hear, but that’s an excuse rather a note to say we’ve gotta work at this one cos actually there isn’t anyone who understands us more than the person that made us.

If we are ready to put in the effort we’ll learn to hear and recognise the voice of the Shepherd and then who know maybe one day suddenly you’ll find that you’re one of those “people” on prayer walks, and lets face it we’re all pretty jealous of those people we just don’t want to admit it. We can all experience spiritual life but like any other kind of life you have plant the seeds, water and care for them for it to grow.

This months track is an expression of this battle we face on a daily basis