I was in the Blue Ridge Mountains this week at the Gideon Film Conference, a LifeWay-sponsored shindig designed to help Christian authors learn more about getting their stories turned into films. It was a fun event where I got to tell my story, meet lots of authors, and even give a presentation on a certain kids mini-network that will be launching (we hope) sometime soon. The response to the JellyTelly presentation was really, really positive, with much excitement about pitching in and helping out.
This coming week I'm speaking at the Willow Creek Childrens' Ministry Conference in Barrington, IL, where I'll be speaking in a general session as well as giving a seminar about kids media in general and JellyTelly specifically. (Some of the characters from JellyTelly will be showing up in between the general sessions to entertain the 4000 or so children's ministry workers. Should be fun!)
The next step after I give the JellyTelly presentation at Willow Creek will be for us to develop a version of that presentation that you all can watch online and actually see what JellyTelly will be like.
In the meantime, I'm still trying to raise the rest of our launch funding. We're getting closer… ever closer… but still not quite there yet. Pray that I can finish this up so we can stop spending our time looking for money and get back to making fun stuff that can minister to kids.
We're meeting lots of folks that want to help with the programming, which is really awesome. Again, if you or a team from your church is headed out on a short-term missions trip this summer, see if someone can shoot some video for us. Someone asked if they can shoot stuff for us while they're working at a summer camp this year, and the answer is 'yes', with the caveat that getting releases to use what you shoot will be tricky at a camp, since parents have to sign the releases for their kids and, typically, parents aren't there when you're shooting.
But if you shoot video at a summer camp (and just about every camp has a video crew these days), here are some ideas that might be workable…
- Shoot kids one-on-one delivering their favorite joke or showing their special talent. We could use these for little comic breaks between mini-shows.
- For something a bit more serious, answering a simple question about God. ("How big is God?" "How do you know God loves you?" "How can you show God's love to others?" That sort of thing.)
The advantage of shooting kids one-on-one like this is that if a few kids give you some really great stuff, you can get their addresses and contact their parents to get releases signed to use the material. Shooting 20 kids jumping around and screaming would make a nightmare situation of tracking down the parents of each of the kids. (Whenever you see scenes in reality shows on TV with people off to the sides whose faces have been digitally "blurred," it's because the producers couldn't get a signed release, and therefore can't show that person's face. We want to avoid "blurry" kids walking through our shots.)
In general, if you're shooting your own stuff and you aren't a "professional videographer," here are a few tips:
- Shoot outside. Even cheap video cameras tend to look pretty good outside, because there is lots of light and it's usually broad and fairly even. Shooting inside really requires special lighting and a higher-quality camera to achieve useable results. When at all possible, shoot your interviews outside. The best results come from shooting outside on overcast days, or, if it's sunny, in the shade. Shooting interviews in direct sunlight makes for too much contrast and, usually, very squinty people. Shoot outside, but look for shade.
- Use a tripod. Small camcorders jostle around very easily, and that jostling usually screams out "I'm using a cheap camera! These are home movies!" Even a $50 tripod will hold a small camcorder very still, and your footage will look much better. If you need to shoot handheld because you're following someone around or shooting around a group activity, NEVER USE THE ZOOM. Zooming in magnifies camera shakes, rendering your footage generally unuseable. If you're shooting handheld and you need to get closer to the action, WALK CLOSER TO THE ACTION. DO NOT ZOOM IN.
- Use an external microphone when possible. Almost every camcorder has a small jack for an external mic. If at all possible, use it. If you need to interview someone using the built-in mic on your camcorder, get as close to your subject as possible. Built-in mics are generally lousy for interviewing, and will pick-up background and side noise as easily as they pick-up your interviewee.
- Use a camcorder that records to mini-DV tape or HDV tape. No Super8, no VHS. That footage really isn't very useable. And camcorders that record to DVDs are putting a lot of compression on your video that makes it harder to use for broadcast. Mini-DV or HDV tape is the best acquisition method for the sort of stuff we're talking about.
Now, if you're a professional videographer, you're saying "Duh, Phil. You think we don't know that?" This advice is really for folks who have never shot more than a home movie, and may be attempting to shoot something for JellyTelly. A little knowledge goes a long way.
By the way, we've had a few people send in show ideas for JellyTelly. We're very open to show submissions, but you need to be able to deliver the show itself, not just the idea. Down the road a year or two we might be able to take outside show ideas and produce them internally, but right now we have our hands more than full with our own in-house productions as we gear up for the launch of JellyTelly. If you have a show idea – and you can actually produce that show – we want to talk to you. If you have a story idea you'd like us to produce, well, we're not quite there yet. Someday, God-willing, we'll have a great team with excess production capacity – or a great network of production companies eager to take your pitch. But JellyTelly phase 1 is geared more toward small groups of friends, college kids, church video teams or small production companies that can both develop the idea, and deliver a finished show.
If you're one of those, we'd like to talk.
Hi. WOW I’m comment number 1
Hi. WOW I’m comment number 2.
Anyway, what exactly do you mean by producing it ourselves? You mean like create it and send it to you for distribution for your JT thing?
Well, I just might see if I can do some of this one on one kid filming…. jokes, questions about God. Tho I will have to get the equipment from somewhere. You don’t mind Aussie accents do you?
Hi!!! I was one of the wide eyed very excited ones hearing and seeing the new jelly telly pitch. Im sooo excited God gave me ideas for years that I didn’t know what i could do with it until that moment and i am so excited just to have the chance to get it out there. No i can’t put together a well produced whole chartoon or show but I can produce a 4 min one Lord willing and just do my best and trust God with the results. Praying for you and Jelly Telly and everything that it can be.
Thanks for the lesson on video recording! Very helpful for me- a totally, non-tech Children’s Deacon who relies on others to do this part of our ministry. Now I’ll have a vocabulary to communicate with them!
I will be among the 4,000 at WillowCreek who will be entertained by Jelly Telly characters- I feel special! In addition to the the gagillion resources I plan to take advantage of while I’m there, I can now look forward to JT stuff, too.
Yay, Chicago, here I come 🙂
Comment number 5! WOOT!
Sounds interesting. I wonder if I can’t get something on some of the mission work I do. Problem is that I only go for short trips and my schedule is pretty busy during that space of time. Still might drag a camera along and see what comes of it. Bought a nice one recently and hanv’t gotten around to using it. Thats the oddness of things .. when I was younger I had all this time but no equipment. Now I have some equipment but no time. Sometimes feel as if my younger self is yelling at the older self “you own THAT and you havne’t made anything with it yet? What is wrong with you!”
Hi I was one of the wided eyed people beaming in your class at the Gideon Conference. Thank you for coming by the way I know it was small compared to your 4,000 next. Im so excited about Jelly Telly and I will be praying for you and it and everything you need to make it happen. I was beaming because I’ve had the ideas I think are from God for kids that wasn’t for a book but for a little show and now I know what to do with it. Lord willing you guys will love it to but even if you don’t you gave me the encouragment to just do it, it doesn’t have to be a huge production I could never do to be entertaining and send a message. Im also so excited about Jelly Telly because Ive dreamed about something like it for years and want to be apart of it in any way possible. Again Thanks!!!
I’m sure those tips will prove to be essential…Can’t wait to get a first look!
Hey terenia and trinkiedink! I was there at the Gideon conference too! Isn’t the JellyTelly stuff just the most awesome stuff you’ve ever seen? Oh my gosh, it is Totally Sweet!
Hey, everyone involved in the JellyTelly Prayer Team — don’t forget that tomorrow is Tuesday, our day to pray specifically for Jellyfish Labs and this new venture. Pray that they will find favor with the correct people, so the funding will be completed. Also pray that God will keep adverse things from happening, so each member of the Jellyfish team can stay focused and not be pulled away by unnecessary distractions.
God bless all of you at Jellyfish Labs! We love you guys!
Thanks for reminding me, Cookie Lady. I almost forgot about Jelly Telly Tuesdays! I second The Cooke Lady when she says we love you guys… I also forgot to ask: How do we submit video? God bless!
Let us also pray for the programming, that those out there taking interviews or pursuing shorts/shows to submit will do as unto the Lord.
I will say some prayers tomorrow (Tuesday). I will not be at willow creek, but I live only 10 minutes from it! I hope that this proves a fuitful time for Jelly Telly.
Hey cookie lady im exactuly Terenia to i just didn’t think that one went through because i wasn’t a registered or what ever. Thanks for letting me know tuesday is prayer day and speacily for just what to pray for. You wouldn’t be the one that got me a chair cause i was late was you?
Hey trinkiedink! Nope, I didn’t get the chair, though I do remember the one or two times someone came in after the rest of us. I was sitting almost right in front of the door, on the back row. There was an empty chair next to my right at one point, but one of the late arrivals took it. The other late arrival that I remember went to sit on the front row right in front of me. Wait… did someone go to another room to get you a chair? I seem to remember something like that happening…
Yes, Charla, good item for prayer. Thanks for mentioning that!
Phil — completely, totally love the ideas.
but Please, Please, Please bring back full RSS feeds
Someone above said that their younger self yells at their older self for having resources but not using them. MAN. I’m so in touch with that feeling. It’s not that I’m not trying to use them, I am. But, I suddenly have so much technology at my disposal but so VERY little time to use it. Nevertheless, excuses aside, I think Jelly Telly will give us all a good reason to dig deep into our creative wells and draw out some fresh water. We’ll have to make time, I guess. I’ve got a God-inspired concept. The skills to produce it and the technology to make it world-class. Now, Lord… the TIME.
I tell ya, if I could bottle time and sell it. WHEW. (Phil wouldn’t need to look for financial backing, let me just say that.)
Hi Phil. It was really great to hear you at the Gideon Conference, and as others have said, the sample you showed of Jelly Telly were awesome! My kids were so jealous that my wife and I got to meet you. My family and I are really hoping to produce some shows for Jelly Telly, and we’re working on some show ideas right now, some with puppets and possibly some with Flash (or AfterEffects) animation, similar to what you showed at the conference. We’ve had some ideas in the works for a while, but I have not been able to come up with a good plan for distribution. Thank you so much for doing this – we are all praying for wisdom for you, and for the funding you need. May God bless you richly!
What a delight to listen to you again! I was at the Conspire conference this week – AND in 2005. Thank you so much for letting God use your tough times to minister to so many of us. I was definitely touched and your humility is an amazing vehicle for God’s BIG IDEAS!