For any of you who have dabbled in animation, you know that figuring out how to animate a story while worrying about the physical time to work on the computer, numbers of employees working on the project, render times, etc. is more an art than a science. Creativity, tinkering, experimenting and thinking outside the box is essential. We discovered this early on. We have limited resources, limited time and a limited number of employees (not a good trifecta by any means) yet we still want to produce a high quality 2.5D product. We want our animated characters to not have to be modeled in Maya (a 3D animation program) but still give the impression that they were created as three dimensional characters for the screen.
(To tackle the project we decided on a combination of a program called MOHO (formerly Anime Studio Pro) and Maya. Maya would be used to create the 3D environment and MOHO would be used to create the 2.5D characters that were drawn in 2D but would look 3D.)
Sounded good, but we soon discovered what we thought would be relatively smooth (not easy…smooth) turned out to be anything but. We brought our characters into Maya once they were created and we discovered that our render time for 5 minutes was going to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 days or so and would cost over $5000. Obviously, this wasn’t going to work for us 🙂 So, the our very creative animators set out to find a resolution to the problem and, at this present time, I think we have found a creative idea. We won’t know for sure until we are ready to render, but it looks very promising. In the meantime, the rigging of the characters continues and within a week the animation process will begin! I can’t wait!
For those of us in leadership positions of any kind, this is a great statement on Servant Leadership…
“Yet when we are in charge of people, we are called to be their servant. We must treat others with respect, care for their human needs and seek what is best for them, even as we seek the best for the organization in which we are a leader.” Theologyofwork.org
Seek the best for those we lead as we also seek the best for the organization we represent. A challenging, but worthy goal.
Three of our team were sitting in our office brainstorming several weeks back, trying to come up with an engaging trailer that would introduce our new Christmas curriculum that will be coming this year. As you know, we are in the process of building our production company and this would be our first offering to the public, so we wanted it to be great.
But what should it be about? What should it say? Should it be a trailer at all? Should it be an introduction to the family who will be starring in our first several series? Should it be a story that has merit on it’s own, while still showcasing our storytelling and animation for future products? We considered the pros and cons for many different ideas and we finally decided to roll the dice on a project that would bring in no money, but would hopefully be able to be used to challenge and encourage people to do something better in their lives. A project that we would be proud to show potential donors and allow them to see what we are all about – telling engaging stories through animation that will impact families and kids in a positive way.
Keep an eye out for “Rainy Day”, an animated short on family togetherness. Coming Soon!
Stepping out in faith was the biggest step of faith in my life. Leaving the security of 25 years of ministry, a great salary and my vested retirement and stepping out with no foreseeable income and 8 months of money in the bank, took much prayer and counsel. But when you know that you know that GOD is calling you to take the step, it’s impossible to do anything else. Taking that step was exciting and terrifying. I know that we should not have fear when GOD calls us to do something, but I think it is impossible for even the most spiritually mature not to feel a twinge of fear when making monumental decisions that have no humanly known certain outcome. But there was also excitement and peace that can only be found through Christ over the Christmas holidays. It was a joy of what GOD was going to do in the future and all that could be accomplished with ISeeIt! Productions. It was like a gift from GOD under the tree.
When January rolled around the reality of the magnitude of what GOD had called us to hit pretty hard. Who were we to think we could accomplish such grand things as one day producing a full length animated feature film? Who were we to think that we can figure out a way to produce curriculum with no financial or material support in sight? I can’t lie, there were many anxious early mornings spent in prayer and time in His word. What followed was a roller coaster of a ride with the highs of knowing we are in the center of GOD’s will and the struggling lows of doubts that creep in saying, “this can’t be done.”
But one thing I do know, GOD is capable of ALL things and this journey He has placed us on will be seen through to His fruition. I am at complete peace with the fact that every day I’m not 100% sure what needs to be done. But, through daily prayer and seeking Him, I am assured that GOD knows and He will lead us. You see, this is HIS adventure, not mine. The skills He gave me are HIS skills, not mine. The opportunities presented are HIS opportunities, not mine. I am but a conduit for Him to work through. All I can do is make myself available and work on the things that He presents to me. This brings me great comfort and relieves my anxiety. I am not in control. This is GOD’s adventure to do what He wants. And, whatever that turns out to be, I will be blessed because He chose me to be a part of it. What a ride it will be!
Back in October I was approached by a volunteer at Fellowship that I had known for a long time. J.W. had developed a company in Zimbabwe that outsourced university educated, English speaking employees for up to 75% off current staffing costs. Positions such as Marketing, Social Media, Accounting, Video Production and many others could be found. J.W. approached me because he wanted to know whether churches and other non-profits would be interested in it. Knowing church finances and staffing budgets very well, I thought the idea would go over in a big way. Then I thought about what GOD had been developing in my heart over the past 8 months – the dream of ISeeIt! Productions and how a door needed to be opened to find animators and artists we could afford (something I couldn’t see happening any time soon). I asked J.W. what he thought and he said he would post some job opportunities. Within a week he presented me with three people to interview. Immediately, seeing their work and knowing what someone of their caliber would cost me here in the U.S., I jumped on hiring all three (even though we didn’t have the money to do it…more on that in a later post). This was going to be a huge benefit to me, but also a huge benefit to my 3 new employees as they left a culture where 80% of all people are unemployed. Now, four months later we are a several weeks from releasing our first 4-5 minute short film on Family Togetherness. As I look back on that encounter with J.W. I see how our great GOD is always setting things in motion behind the scenes that we are not even aware of and at just the right time He brings them to us.
Nothing can capture and keep attention like a good story. I remember hearing Pilgrim’s Progress as it was read to us, a chapter at a time, in Sunday School. A few years later I was thrilled as I read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Both stories impacted me because they allowed me to enter into another land, a wondrous place much different from my own.
Because of books like that, as well as the impact of movies on my life, I have developed a passion for telling stories. There is nothing quite as thrilling as telling a story and watching your audience fully lean in to hear what is coming next.
I was given an opportunity to share stories when I produced a curriculum line called Elevate and Elevate Jr. while working for Fellowship Church. Now, with ISeeIt! Productions, we plan to continue that legacy through curriculum, short film and hopefully one day feature film. There are so many great stories out there ready to be told and I am thrilled to be a part of helping them come to life.
Recently, David Wakerley said that I failed him. Well David, I only have one thing to say to you…you’re right, and I’m sorry.
David is the awesome Kid’s Pastor at Hillsong Church and is the creative director of Hillsong Kids. He has a blog well worth reading at DavidWakerley.com. For the last several months, David has been reviewing children’s music designed for Christian kids and I would highly recommend looking at his blog for the latest in such resources.
David and I have had multiple conversations over the years, the most recent being at a CPC conference in San Diego. Unfortunately, in our conversations, the children’s music that we produce here at FC Kids never came up. So, as he was scouring the Internet, he just happened to stumble across our kid’s worship music and was hurt that I had kept it from him. 🙂 Obviously, his ribbing me about not telling him about our music was done in jest, and he went on to give our children’s music a very kind review. For that I say a big thank you.
So, to make sure our children’s music is not a secret, if any of you are looking for creative kids music that can be downloaded as MP3’s and as music videos to use in your children’s ministry you can find them at ElevateAtChurch.com/Music. In fact, we have a free music video download for Easter – to download Hosanna, enter the code EASTER at checkout before Good Friday.
Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes video that I took when on the set of Elevate’s Altitude Jr. series video shoot this week. Many of you have asked me “Where does Elevate shoot it’s videos?” My answer: “Right here at Fellowship Church”. In this video, you can tell our sets are printed and contain a few added 3D elements. You can also see the teleprompter for “Switch”, the puppet (“Bivvy”, the human girl character, memorized her lines, the puppet on the other hand…well, he can be very demanding.) You can also see the number of cameras we use and the directors table, with our director for this Jr. series, Sam Johnson.
This shoot has been a lot of fun and we can’t wait to share Altitude with you and the kids in your ministry! Check out our ElevateAtChurch Facebook page for more behind-the-scenes pictures and updates of this upcoming series!
More changes in our preschool ministry! This time, the renovation took place in the south lobby of the Fellowship Church, Grapevine Campus. A small wooden stage and blank walls were pulled back and ripped out to transform it into Wonder & Palette’s Imagination Theater!
Imagination Theatre, the fifteen minute skit portion of our children’s worship experience, has been a part of Fellowship Church for about 10 years. While we have used Imagination Theater different times over the years, the format of our Elevate Jr. curriculum has once again helped it become an important teaching tool for our 3, 4 & 5 year olds
Using an adapted portion of the Elevate Jr. Large Group Script (which you can find in the latest Elevate Jr. series, starting with Elevate Peak 4) a teacher and puppet bring the Bible Story to life and the kids get to worship together as a large group. Each group of kids rotates in and out of the classroom to travel down to Imagination Theater. The children are greeted by a fun song, written by our children’s pastor Ryan McMackin, and by a lead volunteer as the teacher. Once all the kids are seated ‘criss-cross applesauce’, the teacher goes over the rules.
Rule #1: No talking while the teacher or puppet are talking
Rule #2: Stay seated
Rule #3: No poking your friend or neighbor (otherwise known as “no touchy-touchy”)
Rule #4: Have FUN!
The kids love to shout the rules, and it helps any new children know what to expect.
Once that part is finished, one of the many Elevate puppets are introduced. Here are a few of them:
Fernando Fezzik Pixie
These fun polyester-cotton blend friends help sing the song, say the Main Point and teach the Bible lesson to the children. It usually begins with the puppet NOT understanding the lesson, and then coming to the realization of what God wants them to do right after they hear the Bible Story.
From here, the kids get to go back to their classrooms and continue learning more about the lesson for the day. It is important to note that with Imagination Theater each child will have heard the Bible Story twice. For preschoolers, repetition is important.
The new set design of Wonder & Palette’s Imagination Theater helps keep the children’s attention even more focused with the bright colors and fun decor. The volunteers enjoy having a “door” to come out of, and the puppeteers enjoy having an extra ‘window’ to pop in and out. In all, the remodel was a success. Now if only we can keep Fezzik from eating the fake flowers every weekend…
One of my hobbies is to dabble in sculpting. I find my creative thoughts come easier when I am using my hands to make something. Some things are small (Winnie the Pooh, Lumiere and Cogsworth) and some are large (the mountain in our CCC building)…