When planning “Sounds of The Cross” we set out to create scenes that depicted the events leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. We needed shots that felt realistic, without having to plan something at the scale (and price) of a Hollywood-style recreation. All along, we had planned for the sound design to really carry the project, and to let the visuals simply act as support.
What this led us to was a simplified “found-footage” style (think Cloverfield, Chronicle, etc), in the sense that the camera is not necessarily filming the action – rather, it just happened to be left somewhere, recording whatever happened in front of it. This way, we didn’t even need to hire actors – all the hands and feet you see in the video are Igniter Media crew. I’d like to take a minute to explain how we accomplished a few of our shots.
Oh, I lied. One of the hands in the video is not from the Igniter Media crew. We hired Will Frary, of The Grapevine Blacksmith Shop to create our Roman nails. He had big, weathered hands that were perfect for the shot – so we just had him throw the nails on the ground and pick them up, only a few minutes after he had finished making them.
Here is a short video documenting the process Will took to create the nails:
Ok back to behind the scenes.
The scene that gets asked about most is the earthquake scene. To achieve our shaking ground, we piled a bunch of rocks and dirt onto a 4×8 sheet of plywood that was placed unsteadily atop a few large rocks. Next we set the camera up right next to it, used a bed sheet to block the sunlight (because it was supposed to be a dark sky), and had one person bang and accelerate their fists on the edge of the sheet. Voila! Earthquake!
The last shot in the film, where the rock is rolled away from the tomb was quite simple as well. The rocks in the shot were only about 15 inches across, and we placed two of them next to each other, aiming the camera almost directly into the 6pm sun so that light would streak across the tomb floor and wall. Rolling the rock very slowly forward, while shooting in slow motion, helped to give the rock a weighty feel.
My personal favorite was the shot of Golgotha in the distance, with the three crosses on top of it. Since we weren’t about to build 3 full-size crosses, we instead used a technique called “Forced Perspective”.
As Wikipedia states: “Forced Perspective is a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is.” This is exactly what we did with the crosses. Our team went out and purchased 3 crucifixes that were about 8 inches long. Then when we were out shooting, we found a pile of rocks, added some dirt, and placed the crosses in the dirt on top. We pulled up any plants that were growing on the mound, so that we didn’t have “gigantic” blades of grass, and then we put the camera very low, so that anything on the horizon would not throw off the illusion we were trying to create. Any tree, shrub, or even hill in the distance could ruin the perspective. Finally, to hide the fact that the crosses weren’t real, we backlit them with the sun so that they would be silhouetted, and then focused on a rock in the foreground so that the lack of realistic detail of the crucifix’s wouldn’t be apparent.
Originally we had planned for this scene to be where the soldiers are casting lots for Jesus’ garments, which is why there is a cloth in the foreground later on in the following video. In the editing room we decided this was too busy, so we began the cloth was removed. Finally, we did a sky replacement with a stormy-clouds shot that we got a few days later.
As soon as Phil walks behind the mound, it becomes apparent what size the crosses actually are. Giant Phil!
All of this, as well as a little creativity with tiki torches, spray-painted chains, fake blood, and many different linens from the local fabric store made for one of the most interesting and fun shoots I’ve ever been a part of. I also think an entire blog post could probably be written about pre-production and prop design. We are blessed with some talented and hard working people here at RT/Igniter. It was a large team effort going out and finding the necessary elements that would be filmed, as well as the creation of things like the THE KING OF THE JEWS sign. That, combined with many hours of foley/sound design, and meeting a Messianic Jewish Rabbi to record Aramaic voices for us, it certainly made for a project that took us on a journey.
It was an honor to try to recreate this event, and while we feel that we will never be able to fully do it justice, we are very happy with the way it turned out.
Sometimes our projects benefit from outside help. We love getting to work with talented folks and had that opportunity with our latest video.
We just released A Four Fold Blessing and it included some amazing photography from Mo Sadjadpour and Hoyoung Lee.
Mo Sadjadpour of mosadjadpour.com shared a number of photos with us, including images like this one.
This image from the tornadoes in Moore, OK was shared by Hoyoung Lee of sohostory.com.
We are grateful for these artists and the other talented folks we have had the opportunity work with.
When Jeff McIntosh came out with his new ebook, “The Worship Media Handbook,” we were eager to take a look. Jeff began dabbling in church media production in 2004 which ignited a passion that culminated in the creation of Church Motion Graphics (CMG).
“The Worship Media Handbook” is a 101 page ebook on how not to get noticed, and for all the right reasons. Jeff says, ”It is better to have no worship background on your screen than to force a visual that distracts or competes for attention.” He spends the entirety of the resource reminding us that the point is to use design in a way that keeps an audience focused on the message. His heart to be relevant and engaging is clear, but it never supersedes an overarching desire to point to Christ.
This resource is a practical compilation of no-frills tips and tricks. It assumes a very basic understanding of design and church jargon with terms like gutters, IMAG, etc., but not enough to be over the head of a new reader. Anyone from any background can benefit from the quick read, and the intentional imagery helps illustrate the many lists of dos and don’ts.
Each main section points back to making sure the message rises above the design. In the Composing section, “readability trumps style.” The Editing section reminds us that “small fixes make big differences.” And in the third and final section, Presenting, the balance between excitement and message promoting is key. Throughout, we’re reminded to be consistent in all details, large and small.
Jeff’s helpful guides are flexible. He doesn’t make assumptions that everyone has the same set up, same audience, or even same skill level or experience. A few examples of these helpful guides are: a template for design standards, color meaning definitions, and various checklists. We especially appreciate the list of “unoriginal” fonts and their alternatives.
Additionally, we often hear from customers who are confused about (or infringing on) copyrights and licensing. Jeff included a brief, but informative look at this topic.
Stephen Proctor‘s forward jumpstarts the handbook with heartfelt insight into why we use art and technology. A segment on mulitscreens by Luke McElroy, and an entire “Voices From the Industry” section shares the perspective of many folks who work in visual worship every day. These sections further prove that Jeff has no purpose in this handbook but to point you back to Christ and to help you point others to Him through the use of visual media.
As you browse through our Stills & Motions and Mini Movies, and then work to apply them to your service, it may serve you well to purchase this resource and share it with your team. You can find it here.
He may not be competing yet, but we won’t be at all surprised to see him there in a few years. Way to go, Cody!
See our “Cody’s Story,” here:
While we are solidly in February at this point, we thought it would still be worthwhile to look back at some of the highlights that made 2013 a great year for Igniter.
A Whole New Igniter
In February 2013, not only did we launch a whole new website, we moved from a pay-per-video model of business to a membership model. Many of our customers had been asking for membership, and while this was a difficult decision in a lot of ways, we decided that a membership relationship would empower us to serve our customers in a new way.
Our Responsibility to Our Members
One of the burdens we carried into this new era was an increased self-awareness of the quantity of media we were releasing. And this summer, when we felt we weren’t living up to the standard we had set for ourselves (because of our Echo Conference), we extended all our members’ terms by one full month. Despite that lull during the summer, we were still able to put out 17 mini movies (with 21 alternate versions–most only available on IgniterMedia.com)–one of the best years we’ve had so far.
Time for Celebration
If you were on our site during the last part of the year, you already know that we celebrated our 10th year of producing media for the Church this year! We took some time to celebrate that and look back at where we’ve been and who has been a part of our story so far.
Some of the most important people in that story are you guys. You are the ones that have valued our work, and supported us in it. And for that, we’re extremely grateful.