“Special Music” DVD Produced

I have been working on a small video project of my own.  Although my film production experience (aside from acting) is limited to home videos, I decided to “take the plunge” and develop a special music compilation for my church.  Every year around Thanksgiving, the church holds a “Craft Fair,” where members sell quilts, baskets and other home-made items as a fund raiser for the church.  Well, I don’t know the first thing how to fashion such down-home products, but something prodded me to give this a try.As with any other church, Advent Lutheran in Orange Park is blessed with many members with musical talents.  At first, I had hoped to provide a “musical calendar” with selections from each of the liturgical seasons throughout the year.  Since I just started in June, this meant obtaining third-party footage of prior performances.  Well, converting the performances captured on VHS video tapes presented a greater challenge than I was willing to accept, so I decided to only use the videos shot on MiniDV from June forward.

I was concerned that I would not have enough footage to provide for a complete product.  Fortunately, a talent exhibition was scheduled for late in the year.  This is the second year Advent Lutheran has held “Heritage Day,” a festival to celebrate our ancestry and culture.  At this event were pianists, singers, and even a bagpipe player!  This helped immensely.  I used two cameras, but discovered after-the-fact that one camera had either a bad microphone or bad recording heads, as the audio was completely unusable.  I salvaged what video I could, and layered audio from elsewhere to complete the project.

The same camera that had the audio problem also “gave up the ghost” during this project.  While capturing the video to my computer for editing, the camera lost power, and would not turn on, whether I used the battery or A/C power.  This also prevented me from ejecting the MiniDV tape that had the most recent material.  I’m sure it’s a fuse hard-wired to the camera’s motherboard, but diagnosing and fixing are two different things.

I had no time to wait for a professional technician to troubleshoot the issue, so I channelled MacGyver and did a little old-school slice and splice:  I cut the tape and forced the cartridge from the housing of the dead camera, then applied good ol’ Scotch tape to the back of the MiniDV where it was cut.  I manually tightened the tape and inserted it into the good camera.  With all fingers crossed, I was able to import the remaining video.  That was a one-shot deal though; that MiniDV has been retired.I spent the next week editing all the performances.  After listening to the music for such a long time, I thought to myself that some people might appreciate an audio CD of the performances, so I created MP3’s of each song.  To give the final product a professional look, I contacted several local reproduction companies that could create copies of the final DVD and Audio CD, but the prices were so expensive, there would be very little money made on this project to be an effective fund raiser.

I thought my hopes were dashed and all this work was in vain, until I discovered a company in Pennsylvania that had unbelievable prices.  I spoke to an account representative at the Christian-based reproduction company Kingdom.com (read “Kingdom Come”) to verify they could provide everything I needed.  One small hurdle was added:  Since the company is based in Pennsylvania, shipping time of the master, proof and final product meant I was suddenly out of time.

I worked long, LONG nights to finish the product, burn the master, watch and listen to it in its entirety for quality control, and finally overnight it to the production company.  The clock was ticking.  Although I could just “take orders” of the DVD/CD at my church’s Craft Fair, I was determined to have a final product I could hand to anyone who wanted one.  Then I got the call that truly tested my patience:  Kingdom.com’s reproduction machines couldn’t read my masters!

I’ll chalk this up to inexperience, for sure.  Like I said, this was a new venture for me, and evidently just burning a video on your computer like you do for DVDs created for personal viewing is not the same thing as creating a “master.”  (I never said I went to school for movie production, you know.)  Completely out of time, I asked the account representative to ship me the cases and the blank disks, and for the last several days, I have been burning them one…at…a…time.

I hope this all works out.  The absolutely crazy thing is…I’m actually thinking of diving in and doing another.  The Advent season is upon us, and what better follow-up to this project, than to have a second video for next year’s Craft Fair featuring music of the Advent season at Advent church?  At least this time, I’ll have much more time, this learning experience behind me, and just maybe I can properly create a reproducable master so somebody else can take the final steps!

Anyway, here is a condensed look at the project titled simply, “Special Music by Advent Lutheran Church” :

http://media.putfile.com/Advent-Special-MusicOnce the video is converted to Flash, I will embed it in this post.

Scott J. Smith
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