Christian Video速 Magazine
July 2011 VOL. 4, NO. 7
Use The Backlight, Luke! by RICHARD MARTZ
9 Video Producer of the Month Jon Barnes
10 Greg’s Toolkit
by GREGORY FISH
12 Article Cover Story 5
Christian Pirates? by ROBERT KRAMER
Vertical Hold Productions by STEVE HEWITT
X-Men: The First Class - Choices and Differences by MARTIN BAGGS
This Changes Everything by RYAN GEESAMAN
Christian Video® Magazine
from the desk of the editor
by STEVE HEWITT
I Love VideoBlocks.com In the 23 years I have been publishing Christian magazines, I have always been perplexed when working with the Christian/church community. We seem to always have some of the hardest, most judgmental people in our community, and many who are quick to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Companies such as VideoBlocks. com have been our sponsors. Frankly, if it wasn’t for such sponsorship Christian Video Magazine (in its third year of being published) wouldn’t be able to continue its ministry. So, while I have a large stack of emails from people who have expressed thanks for the way the information in our magazine has blessed them, I have a short stack of readers who do more than just complain. When VideoBlocks.com sent out their last eblast to our readership list, it went to around 65,000 people. We know from talking to them that many loved the opportunity to go to their site and check out their free trial offer. Two readers sent follow up emails to me stating that they somehow missed the fact that IF they didn’t cancel, their credit cards would be charged. They thought I should know that, in their opinion, the site was shady for charging their accounts. And, I heard from around five that told me they would never trust me, personally, ever again. They have heard people state that if a site EVER asks you for a credit card for a trial of their services, they are criminals, no exception. This is distressing to me, because I know the story behind VideoBlocks. com. I know they tried to “trust” people with their free trial. I know they tried this within the “Christian” community. And, I know how that community took advantage of them, forcing them to try a different business model, one that many other reputable companies use without the uproar of complaints that I received. So, I discussed this problem with the owner of VideoBlocks.com, and he shared with me their response to those that complained to them and made such accusations. I thought I would simply provide it here, exactly as we received it, so you can see for yourself WHY they have little choice in providing their offer in the manner that they do. I support them, and know that thousands of churches are using their service and loving it! Not only do they tell me this, but I have received emails from churches stating the same. Of course, their videos aren’t for everyone. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and some people simply don’t continue to use their services because they don’t have a use for their video loops. But many love what they do, and I appreciate the fact that they are willing to advertise through Christian Video, allowing us to continue to provide this publication to 65,000 churches and readers for free. Here is the email from the owner of VideoBlocks.com. Steve, good chatting with you as always. Here is an email I send to people who are upset, and these #s are all accurate FYI--the amount of bandwidth we push is astronomical: I’m the owner of VideoBlocks.com, and I want to start by apologizing for the trouble and confusion we caused regarding our trial offer. We in no way meant
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Christian Video Magazine is published monthly by Christian Video Magazine, Inc. Editor-in-Chief Steve Hewitt – email@example.com Contributing Editors George Temple Gregory Fish Stewart H. Redwine Mark Carroll Jay M. Delp Martin Baggs Robert Kramer Ryan Geesaman Copy Editor Gina Hewitt
Corporate Home Office Mailing Address: PO Box 319 Belton, MO 64012 Phone: (816) 331-5252 Fax: 800-456-1868 Copyright 2011 by Christian Video Magazine, Inc. All Rights Reserved Written materials submitted to Christian Video Magazine become the property of Christian Video Magazine, Inc., upon receipt and may not necessarily be returned. Christian Video Magazine reserves the right to make any changes to materials submitted for publication that are deemed necessary for editorial purposes. The content of this publication is the sole property of Christian Video Magazine. Copy or distribution of articles or content can be done so on an individual basis. Multiple copies or distribution may not be done without the express permission of Christian Video Magazine. Views expressed in the articles and reviews printed within are not necessarily the views of the editor, publisher, or employees of Christian Video Magazine, or Christian Video Magazine, Inc.
to mislead anyone, and didn’t realize until we read your email that our ad might be causing confusion. So thank you very much for speaking up, because otherwise we would have thought everything was going well (we had over 1,000 people sign up last week, and over 12 terabytes worth of clips downloaded (yep, 12,000,000 MB in one week!). We have been running Video Blocks for almost two years now, and we pride ourselves on providing the highest quality customer support possible, specifically because we don’t want to be like one of those shady websites you might have experienced in the past. To keep customers happy, we make it as straight forward and easy as possible to cancel trials and subscriptions: Users can cancel at any time on the website, or they can call our support line which accepts cancellations 24/7. Because of this, we have received very few chargebacks, no BBB complaints, etc. since launching the website. Over 15,000 people have signed up for a trial since we launched, and 75% of those people simply downloaded clips for free and cancelled without ever being charged. And that is perfectly okay with us, because our trial truly is free. When we first released the site we tried offering a free trial with no cc required; unfortunately, this blew up in our face very quickly. People would simply use new email addresses to create new trial accounts each time their 7 day trial ended. The sad part was that this dishonest behavior was the rule, not the exception. Our bandwidth bill for one week alone reached over $2,600 (over 12 terabytes worth of data was downloaded, and we are hosting our content with a CDN at $0.22/gig transit), yet only 5 people actually paid for subscriptions. The rest simply continued creating fake accounts. So we spent $2,000+ on bandwidth (plus a lot more in royalties to our footage providers), and brought in $245 in revenue. It simply didn’t work. So we faced the option of either shutting down the business all together, raising our prices dramatically, putting our content on a cheap web server that would offer terrible download speeds, or using the approach that Netflix, Amazon (for their Prime membership) and most other websites use: free trial with credit card required. So we decided to test the Netflix approach for three months to see if it worked. They have millions of happy users, so we figured they were onto something. Instead of speculating, we literally copied Netflix’s trial signup pages verbatim--same color scheme, same 2 page approach (first page asks for name and password info, second asks
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for credit card). We even copied Netflix’s page layout and full disclosure language on the credit card entry page, placing the language on the left column and directly under the submit button. (You can see what I mean right on the home page of Netflix--right side, the trial page 1 signup, put in some info and you will see page 2 looks exactly like ours). We started the new trial approach at the end of October, and sure enough, Netflix/Amazon was right on. Fake accounts and fraud decreased, overall signups went way down, which took our bandwidth bill WAY down, but at the end of the day the people who actually liked our site stayed on as members. As I mentioned earlier, 75% of people cancel before their trial ends, which we are fine with. But the remaining 25% end up staying active members for an average of 3 months or more (and this average is going up as we get further from our September trial change). My main point with all of this is to again say, I am very sorry that our ad came off as fraudulent and I really want to make sure we fix our marketing going forward to avoid this kind of confusion in the future. We are not out to mislead anyone because we want Video Blocks to become a well regarded company in the community. Sorry for the long winded email--I am very passionate about our company and want to make sure we do everything possible to keep customers and potential customers happy. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please let me know. So, I hope you will agree. The business model that VideoBlocks.com uses is valid. If you wish to take them up on their free trial, do so. Yes, you have to give a credit card number. If they didn’t require one, people would massively take advantage of the trial and abuse their service by just signing up over and over again. If you don’t wish to try their trial because you don’t want to give out your credit card number, no problem, but don’t condemn or make assumptions or accusations based upon the way they have decided to offer their trial. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest! Together We Serve Him, Steve Hewitt Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover Story by STEVE HEWITT
Vertical Hold Productions
ver the last several months I have noticed one name coming up often while viewing videos on SermonSpice, that of Vertical Hold Productions. I thought we might all be interested in learning a little about the ministry and what they offer. They have a wide variety of offerings from videos for sermon illustrations, videos for Christian meetings (Sunday School, etc.) and looping backgrounds and countdowns. I hope you will learn more about what they have to offer from my interview with Lon Waitman. Lon, I’ve been looking at your videos on Sermonspice, and I have to say that you have an amazing variety. Really something for everyone – standard sermon videos, 3D animation, pieces for children, youth, adults, Evangelical, Charismatic, dramatic, funny! How did you end up creating such a diverse body of work?
How did you get into creating videos?
Hahaha! Well, really, my work reflects my rather diverse background as a Christian. Over the years, I’ve been involved in prison ministry, street evangelism, foreign missions, local church ministry, preaching, teaching, homeless ministry, youth ministry, young adult discipleship, children’s ministry, intercession, and spiritual warfare, etc, etc. And I’ve worked with numerous denominations and organizations. And if you take this crazy mixture of ministry experiences and add to it my background as an actor, director and writer, you get the eclectic stew that is Vertical Hold Productions.
The name of your production company is Vertical Hold Productions. An interesting name. Where did it come from?
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Basically, God started talking to me about reaching the culture, and that live theatre, which I used to be into, was not a good way to do this since very few people go to live theatre – instead they watch movies, TV, Youtube, etc.
Well, actually, it came from a dream I had. In the dream, I have a projector and when I turn it on, it projects the name “Vertical Hold” onto a screen – which is ironic, since my work is now purchased by churches and projected onto screens with a projector. And the name has other meanings as well. Of course, it’s literally the name of the little knob on the back of old school TV sets, which was meant to help July 2011
By STEVE HEWITT
people get a clearer, less distorted image – which is part of what the work of the Church should be in the world – to help the world get a clearer, less distorted understanding of God. And also, vertical hold is a play on words, referring to how God reaches down vertically from Heaven and takes hold of us as we reach out to Him. Very interesting! Concerning your work, what have been some of your biggest frustrations? Also, what have been some of your greatest rewards? Oh, I guess the greatest frustration is dealing with my own “flesh”, as the Apostle Paul referred to it. Generally, my heart’s desire is to follow God and love Him and bless the Church and reach out to the lost. But periodically, my heart strays and I begin to think more about the bottom line of sales and promoting my work. Also, I can be very competitive and start to see other producers as competitors rather than as brothers and sisters. And I know this grieves God’s heart. I guess my greatest reward is when I truly hear from God and create something that I know He wanted me to create. This dialogue and relationship with the Holy Spirit is the most exciting and gratifying aspect of my work. And of course it’s also a great blessing when I find out that my videos have impacted people for good in some way. Currently, one of my vids (called WHO CARES?) is being used in various places around the world. It’s won a couple film festival awards and has recently been translated into Arabic by a major youth ministry in the Middle East and is being used there to encourage young Christians to reach out to the lost people around them, in that very charged Islamic world. This is so exciting to me!
guage and it’s also occasionally broadcast in India. And it is being shown elsewhere as well. It’s a very powerful video based on a vision God gave William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, and it’s a truly gripping challenge to the Church to reach out to the lost. When I say powerful, I don’t mean that I have done an awesome job of production – what I mean is that the original vision that Booth got from God is so powerful that it resonates with many people who view it. And it’s also available on Sermonspice, but it’s name there is EVANGELISM, not WHO CARES. When you do a search using the word “evangelism”, it’s the very first video listed. Is that your favorite video that you’ve created? Well, it’s certainly one of my favorites. But I have others too. One is called EASTER on Sermonspice, but was originally called RECEDING HARE LINE – it’s an Easter piece about Jesus vs the Easter Bunny and his gangsta bunnies. Pretty funny in my opinion, with a good message. And another one called TWAS THE DAY AFTER NEW YEAR’S, an animated piece about a hung-over party dude who comes to faith in Jesus. It’s also pretty humorous, with what I think is a unique way of presenting the Gospel – well, unique as far as Christian animation is concerned…heh heh. If you would like to check out the variety of videos that Vertical Hold Productions has available, visit them on SermonSpice.com at http://www.sermonspice.com/producers/profile/479
It has also been translated into an Indonesian lan-
Christian Video® Magazine
by Richard Martz
Use The Backlight, Luke!
fter 30 years in the film and video production business, I’m sometimes surprised how little the people working in production know about lighting design. It seems some colleges and universities allow their graduates to leave without even a semblance of knowledge of how to light a simple interview. And this is not surprising. Most journalism schools are rightly more concerned with content than technique. And in the sometimes-insular environment of a church staff, sound people and other non-lighting people are often called on to fill the role of the director of photography to produce a video.
When introduced to the world of video production it quickly becomes obvious that videos look better with lighting. But often, ad hoc production personnel approach this as if they are lighting a room instead of lighting people. As they progress in this art it becomes apparent that lighting in front of the talent is more pleasing. Later they may add a fill light to wipe out the harshness produced by a key light alone. But their pictures still look flat. And the reason may elude them for years. In Christian video efforts, the spoken word is fundamental to communicating our faith. So we find ourselves shooting people speaking in one form or another for teaching, testimonies, prayer, sermons and a host of other applications. One common mistake I often see is with scenes that are shot without any backlight whatsoever. I can understand someone who does this for an “effect”. But when I see this technique used on everything they are shooting, week in and week out, I begin to wonder if they actually understand lighting design. And this isn’t just with small churches that have limited budgets and limited staff. Some of the largest churches I work with regularly produce video that is lacking good lighting fundamentals. In stage lighting and in lighting for video and mo-
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tion pictures, backlight (also called hair light or rim light) serves an important function. The backlight gives dimension to a scene. Without backlighting the subjects will appear to blend in with the background and will begin to take on all the interest of mural in a Chinese restaurant. Backlight benefits your scene by appearing to pull the subject out of the background and psycho-visually moving them into the foreground. The attention of the viewer is then focused like a laser beam straight to the backlit subject. Often Lighting Directors will remove backlight from objects in a room (like chairs and tables) so they don’t compete for attention with the talent who is nearly always backlit. They purposely allow the background to appear flat so the subject can be punched out using the benefit of backlight. Soap Operas have used this technique for years. And since those programs are nearly all produced in studios where they have lots of lighting fixtures and controls, nearly every scene has perfect backlighting. People sometimes ask me what ratio I use for backlight to foreground lighting. This is a difficult question and defies a simple answer. It all depends on the distance to the subject and the beam candlepower of the fixtures you are using. Most people haven’t a clue
by Richard Martz
what the beam candlepower ratings on their fixtures might be. And manufacturers don’t always publish that information. Beam candlepower is not just a matter of computing the wattage. The efficiency of the reflector in the fixture and the lens must be considered as well. And there is a complicated formula for determining how much light these fixtures will deliver to a subject: Foot candles = fixture beam candlepower divided by the square of the distance in feet from the fixture to the subject. For those of you who are already perspiring and reaching for your calculator and a distometer, there is a simple way to apply good lighting principles without having to repeat your high school algebra class. First, position your subject twice as far from the background as she is from the key light. If you are using a 600 watt key light, use a fixture that is about half that power for your backlight: in this case, 300 watts. Everything should look great. If you need to adjust the amount of backlight and you don’t have a dimmer, go to your local hardware store and purchase a small quantity of inexpensive rolled aluminum replacement window screen. To cut down the amount of light, use wooden spring clothespins and attach a layer of screen in front of your light. More layers will cut that light down further until it is just right. And using that method will maintain your color temperature of your lights - unlike using a dimmer. Have you ever wondered why manufacturers include one low wattage fixture in their lighting kits? For backlighting, of course! I regularly take a four-light ARRI Softbank II Kit with me for lighting interviews. It contains one 1KW Chimera, two 650-watt Fresnel lights and one 300-watt Fresnel that I almost always use for backlight. But I learned long ago that carrying an 80 pound lighting kit like this on an airplane is impractical at
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best. My flight-portable lighting kit contains: four Lowell Tota lights with umbrellas for the key and fill lights. The key and fill lights have 500-watt lamps while the fixtures I use for the backlight and for the set light use 250 watt lamps. I also carry a variety of lamps of different wattages (250-750 watts) to give myself options in the field. So, use the backlight and you too can be a hero kind of like Luke Skywalker. Ok, not precisely like that. But your scenes will look better and the talent will project into the lens with much more power and interest than with foreground lighting alone. Richard Martz is an award-winning video producer in Atlanta Georgia. He is married with 4 children, two of whom work in creative arts. He enjoys backpacking, kayaking, and furniture design and construction. He plays guitar on the worship team at his church. Some of his past clients include Atlanta Braves, Billy Graham Evangelical Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DIY Network, Emory Alliance Credit Union, Emory University School of Medicine, Habitat for Humanity, HGTV Network, Mission to the World, North American Mission Board, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Salvation Army, John Maxwell, Samaritan’s Purse, The National Christian Foundation, The White House, Turner Broadcasting, US Justice Department, US Security Associates, Verizon, Walk Thru The Bible and many others. Richard Martz www.magicmartz.com
Video Producer of the Month
Selected from profiles of registered members at ChristianVideoMag.com
the Pumthuggee Underground
From Jon’s Bio What is the Pumthuggee Underground? It is the digital army collaboration station of Jon Barnes and his legion of ultra digital ninja warriors. Jon Barnes is an author, artist, writer, businessman, musician, producer
and thinker. Jon loves cars, movies, music, art, creating digital content, thinks Jesus is awesome and is considering becoming his own country. The Pumthuggee Underground is a group of dedicated artists, visionaries and creative people dedicated to creating an artistic and purposeful future. My time in youth group in high school was very important to me and I felt like working with teens in the future was something I wanted to do. After graduating I spent the following 6 years as youth pastor at my church leading middle school, high school and college student ministries. The strange part was that even though I wasn’t a career “artist” I was still pushing the creative envelope, launching art projects, teaching, learning, using technology, the web, photo, video, everything. I felt like I was doing what I was
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meant to do- be creative, think like an artist and communicate my passion. Just in the last year or two I experienced another shift, this time to pursue my art and design as CEO of my own company. I finished my work at church and am now running my own design and consulting business creating websites, graphics, video content and more. I feel like each stage of my life makes sense now looking back and each period of my life was valuable for helping me become the person I am today. I’m still in touch with the friends I made in art school 10 years ago, as well as people from high school and even middle school. If I can give any advice to students just starting out into their college years it would be this: Learn all you can from each stage of life and each person you meet. It doesn’t matter if it fits into some kind of “plan” you have in your head or not. Be aggressive, soak up everything and challenge yourself with what doesn’t come naturally to you. If life takes an unexpected turn or if it’s not what you planned, don’t worry, it will make sense later when you look back.” Each month we will feature a different video producer, picked from those that have registered at our online community (www.christianvideomag.com) and filled out their profile, providing us a picture and a bio and any other links or information to help others learn about their ministry!
Greg’s Toolkit by GREGORY FISH
ay 22nd, I led worship for a special youth service at our church. Before the music started, we opened up the service with one of my mini-movies, probably either “Worship 1/2” or “Lukewarm Hymns”. I was thinking what other video I could start to work on, because they’ve seen all of mine by now, and I need some new material! I’ve been too busy to be creative lately. At least that was the lie I was telling myself; a typical one for most creative people like me. Then my phone rang. My wife told me in her something’s dreadfully wrong tone that Joplin, our hometown had been hit by a large tornado. I skipped out early and went home to watch the weather channel. I remember hearing the tornado sirens, and getting into the storm cellar when I lived in Joplin. I thought maybe they would report that a business had been damaged like on another occasion when a video store had sustained damage from a tornado. This time, when I saw the images and the devastation it was so much worse than anything I expected to see. I was glued to the TV set, and all of my priorities and focus changed in that instant. It took a while to find out how our family was. Thankfully, they all are still with us. On June 5th, after church, my wife and I left our 4 kids behind and took our minivan full of supplies and some monetary donations and set out on a 16 hour drive north to our beloved town. Of course, I brought my camera with me. Interestingly enough, by the time we made it to Joplin, the TV cameras were all gone and the news was old. I set out to document this amazing scene, and do my part to bring awareness to the large and ongoing need in Joplin. Since then, I’ve been able to take the
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images I captured, and in renewed moments of inspired creativity, I have edited short videos that are accomplishing those very goals. In a blog post I wrote while in Joplin entitled “No Amount of Words...” I typed the following: “My own video and pictures…[will not] do justice to the immense and utterly terrible scene here in this big little town. I saw all of the images before I arrived here. But they pale in comparison to standing in the middle of it all…where no lens is able to capture what the human eye is capable of absorbing. In taking video, I felt like I needed to detach myself in order to get decent quality images, but every time I drive through I’m shocked and amazed again at the complete and vast devastation. It’s incredibly horrifying to me. Just imagine what it is for the many people who endured it and survived!” Though this sentiment is very true, some image is better than no image, so I went to the editing room. I wanted to raise awareness, but I also knew that through social media, many friends and family in Joplin
by GREGORY FISH
would see my videos. Because of this, I wanted to use my videos to be an encouragement to them as well. By God’s grace, the videos that I’ve created thus far have been a success in that sense. These are different than most of the videos I make (for one, they will not make me a single dime) but they have and will inspire many to give to a much needed cause near to my heart. These videos were born out of real brokenness, where some of the best art typically comes from, just ask David the Psalmist. Many other videos of mine are posted and made public and ignored. These were shared so much I could hardly keep track of them. The first had at least 700 different people sharing it on Facebook alone in 3 days. A church that already gave to Joplin showed one of my videos and after people were tearing up they committed another semi trailer of supplies. That’s the power of inspired creativity in a well-thought out film. I’ve come to learn that many other groups and churches are using them. Some of them asked permission, others just used it, and I say that’s great; praise the Lord! There are many ways to help, but this is the way that I can help most effectively. Just as comics will lift the spirit of some in Joplin tonight, and next week Christian artists will take the stage, as a filmmaker, this is my way. Big media has forgotten this story. Surprisingly, our local channel is doing specials on Joplin everyday this week. They even interviewed us yesterday and some VBS kids that delivered school supplies for them to take up there. The reporter saw my videos before we made our trip to Joplin. She thought they were well done. Right now, the task is up to us, the little people to keep telling the story of survival, rebuilding, and hope rising up again in the heartland. I’ve got several other Joplin videos planned, but I’m going to spread them out. I’ve completed three and that’s good for now. The first one is a music video. I heard Gungor’s song “Beautiful Things” while I was in Missouri and it was perfect. Here’s a version of it: http://vimeo.com/25570760. A lot of people did tribute videos using all sorts of different pictures and video. I wanted to do one that used only my footage and only my pictures and that told a story, a remarkable story. I saw
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horrible things in Joplin. But I saw some beautiful things as well! On the second video I used some of my friend’s footage as well. He and I both went out one day to film. I drove him while he used his glide cam to shoot some areas of town. So we are sharing that footage. This one took what preachers said at the Memorial Service that aired on all the big news channels one week after the tornado. I edited it down and told that story with my images. Here it is: http://vimeo.com/25552332. On the third video, I used audio I obtained from a weak signal live stream on the internet. Randy Gariss was my pastor back home in Joplin at College Heights Christian Church. He was the master of ceremonies at the Memorial Service. He spoke briefly at the North American Christian Convention in July 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio on how to help Joplin. He shared insights from private conversations with both the Governor of Missouri and the President of the United States: http://vimeo.com/26528596. More than discussing technical aspects of these videos (some of those could be better anyway!) I just want you to see what good can come of video projects when they come from the heart. When you pour your own soul into a project, you will be picky about the soundtrack behind it and find the perfect score. You’ll match the dynamics in the music. You’ll be careful and selective in your shot sequence. You’ll pay close attention to the feel and the pacing. You’ll do the best you can with the skill and time resources available to you. Don’t shy away from a great story that grips you. You’re likely not the only one that will be impacted by it! So what’s a story that inspires your creativity? Gregory is a preacher in South Texas with a passion for combining the timeless message of God’s grace with the technology of our day. On the side he produces videos for “FishXpressions” at various Christian video websites. He has set out on a journey to learn how to create better and higher quality films. Apart from this column, he also maintains a production blog with tips, helpful links, and other musings at www.fishxpressions.wordpress.com.
By Robert Kramer
his is likely to be a very unpopular editorial. That being said, it really is a topic that must be discussed again and again. For those of you who know copyright law and abide by it, please move on. But, if you are newer to the media and a little unclear I will try to make things a bit clearer about what you can and cannot do.
Being a media producer, I will primarily approach this from that angle, but I also have a degree in Criminal Justice and worked in the field for a few years prior to my current career. The impetus for writing this comes from a “friend” on Facebook who has been battling to protect his film from “Christian” pirates. I have witnessed, over many months, a variety of attacks on his character for not “giving” his film away. And I can understand his frustration when he discovers fellow believers downloading his film for free or making it available for free download without his permission. It is a sad saga and quite a statement about our culture today. Let’s start at the beginning. I will be referring to media throughout this article. Media is the plural form of medium. Film is a medium. Radio is a medium. Together they are media. When I speak of media, I will be referring to print, broadcast (radio/TV), film/video, internet, CDs/DVDs/ MP3s and more. So, why isn’t all media free? Media costs money to produce. You have to pay the talent. The talent is the people who invest their creative energy and time into creating something new. In addition to the talent, you have to pay the crew. The crew is the hard working people without whom nothing gets accomplished. Then there are costs like props, printing, replicating, promoting, and distributing. And this is just a very brief, 30,000 foot, perspective. So, why isn’t media free? Because
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it costs a lot to produce. There are some who argue that Christian media should be free because it acts as an evangelistic tool. They would also argue that many cannot afford to pay the costs of acquiring the media and they should not be deprived simply because they cannot afford it. Looking at these arguments simply demonstrates their absurdity. Take the first argument, Christian media is an evangelistic tool. Yes, it is. But if you steal it then what is really being promoted? Not the gospel. The second argument also fails. It suggests that simply because one cannot afford something that they should not be deprived of it. This argument would justify every theft ever. Some would say that downloading it isn’t stealing it. The law would suggest otherwise. Copyright law forbids the illegal copying and distribution of all media. What is illegal? Doing it without permission of the creator/copyright holder. How do I know if it is copyright protected? All media are copyright protected as soon as they are created, whether they have been officially filed with the government or not. The law says they are protected. This editorial is legally protected as soon as the words are formed on my monitor. Does that apply internationally? Yes. U.S. copyright protection is recognized as valid in most countries worldwide, as are the copyright laws of other counties recognized in the U.S. However, some countries do not share this reciprocal relationship. Does that mean that a site
By Robert Kramer
on the internet based in a foreign country isn’t breaking the law by distributing copyrighted material? They are not breaking the laws of their country, but you, by downloading and viewing the material are infringing on the copyright owners ability to make a profit. So, you are breaking the law. (disclaimer: I am not a copyright attorney, nor do I play one on TV) What if a site promotes free Christian media? How do I know if it’s legal or not? Chances are that it’s not. If you are in doubt then don’t utilize their services until you can verify the veracity of their claims. Christian media creators, as a whole, are very willing to let you know whether their work is truly free or not. And, in the absence of clear information, you should always assume the work is protected. But I’m not really stealing anything if I just watch it online and then it’s gone. I have heard this before. Media can be intangible and fleeting and therefore some may believe that it’s not really stealing or of value. Or they may believe that since they purchased a copy they are free to make copies for friends. These are both fallacies. All forms of entertainment have become commodities. Simply because your experience is fleeting does not mean that it should be free. Food is fleeting, but not free. And making copies of a product you own and distributing it to others without permission is stealing. This goes for CDs, books, DVDs, any form of media. You are infringing on the copyright holders ability to make money. There are many philosophies about this topic that would disagree, but the law is clear.
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What if I rent a movie and show it to my friends? The law allows for limited social gatherings (generally of 10 or fewer viewers in a private space). It does prohibit public exhibition without proper licensing from the copyright holder, even if the media was obtained from a library or is being used by a non-profit. I always go back to this example: I work for a company with 20,000 employees. If each pen the company has is worth 10 cents and, over the course of a year, each employee take home 10 pens, then the employees have stolen $20,000 from the company. One pen at 10 cents doesn’t seem like much, but theft is theft, no matter the cost. So, if a movie or CD is being sold for $10 and 10,000 (that’s a really low number) people access it illegally or give copies to their friends. That equates to $100,000 lost. That could be the difference between being able to make another product or bankruptcy for the creator. The real rub comes when it is Christians who are ignorant or feel entitled and are the ones guilty of the crime. We should support our creative industry in every way or our industry will cease to exist. Yes, God can always make a way. But theft is a sin. It doesn’t get more direct than “Thou shall not steal.” For more information about copyright laws go to:
www.copyright.gov/help/faq/ Or check out www.praisepictures.com/christian-movies-onlinefree.php
by MARTIN BAGGS
X-Men: First Class -Choices and Differences
n the alternate world imagined by Stan Lee and the Marvel comic-book writers, mutants are all around us. But during the early 1960’s civil rights movement, the mutants relied on the “don’t ask, don’t tell” philosophy later made famous by the military’s approach to gay rights. They simply remained hidden, believing themselves alone and different. This atmosphere sets the scene for the bulk of this prequel. experimentation. In the lab, he meets a scientist who would It actually starts two decades earlier. In the prologue become the powerful super-villain in the heart of this film: we see the origins of the two heroes, Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), who will become Magneto, and Charles Sebastian Shaw. Kevin Bacon’s delicious world-ruling hunger as the German Shaw makes him a perfect arch-vilXavier (James McAvoy), who will become Professor X. lain. He shows Erik how to harness his metal-manipulating Their origins are as different as their characters’ personalities. McAvoy infuses Xavier with the right level of youthful magnetic powers, through his anger. But the first lesson comes at a painful cost, one that charm and innodefines Erik forever. cence to counter Remember, before showing clips from Charles Xavier, on the Erik’s cynicism movies, be sure you have a license to do other hand, grows up in a manand violence. Their so. Check out Church Video License to sion in New York despite being chemistry gives the be sure you are legal. www.cvli.com British. It is here that he meets film its depth. Raven, a young shape-shifting Ten years mutant who would become Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). ago Bryan Singer rebooted the super-hero genre with the Meeting her provides them both with the surprising news original X-Men film. Here, he produces this terrific prethat there are other mutants. They are not alone, after all. quel from a script he co-wrote. Working with a strong cast, director Matthew Vaughn creates a James Bond-like movie, She becomes a surrogate sister, though she has desires on with intricate gadgets and toys (a submarine inside a luxury him. The grown Xavier runs into CIA agent Moira McTagliner) and lingerie-clad girls, a film that satisfies with its gert (Rose Byrne) when she seeks an expert on mutations. action sequences and yet is built on the character developAs a telepath, he knows she has seen others like him and ment between the leads. Raven, and is ready to join her. She is after Shaw, who is Revisiting footage from an earlier X-Men film, Erik is ripped from his mother’s embrace as Nazis push his parents using his own telepath Emma Frost (January Jones) to put the weapons in place to create the Cuban Missile Crisis. towards the concentration camps, while he is destined for
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by MARTIN BAGGS
Meanwhile, Erik is on a personal mission of vengeance against the Nazis and looking specifically for Shaw. We see Erik hunting and killing the Germans who routinely murdered Jews during the war. He is an avenging angel of destruction. But we see, too, the impact of the atrocities of that war on his psyche. He has become a relentless killing machine, thriving on it, even enjoying it. Vengeance does this. It carves away at our character until love and mercy is gone, killed off by this cancer. It is not surprising that the apostle Paul derided this, quoting the Mosaic Law (Deut. 32:35), “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). Vengeance belongs to God, not to man. Xavier meets Erik while both are hunting for Shaw and he recruits him. Together, they go in search of other mutants, enlisting them in their new “school” for mutants, courtesy of the CIA. In one poignant scene, a handful of these mutants, who have given themselves new names based on their powers, are observed by regular CIA agents who comment that the circus is in town. Here is the heart of the X-Men stories. They are different and hence mocked, scorned or feared. For millennia, people groups have found themselves to be different from those around them. Separated by language at the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11), they have formed their own cultures and subcultures. For example, the Israelites were a nation apart from the Philistines and Egyptians. In the 20th century, Jews were targeted by the Nazis, labeled as sub-human. When people feel different, they naturally gather in like-communities, thereby separating themselves from the world. This natural cycle reinforces what the external world thinks of them, and often exacerbates the world’s fear. Even Christian communities have been like this. The first monasteries were formed by Christians who wanted to separate themselves from the world. But Christians are called to be in the world, even while not being a part of the world (Jn. 17:15-18). To separate from those who do not know Jesus, how will they ever hear the liberating message of the gospel (Rom. 10:14)? Believers must unite with fellow followers of Jesus, regardless of color or race, and
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together live out the gospel message before a world that might respond with persecution rather than acceptance. The middle portion of the film focuses on Xavier’s teaching his small team how to control their powers. He realizes this is war between two different groups of mutants with the world of humans in the balance. Shaw and his murderous team want to destroy the world and reclaim it for the more powerful mutantkind. He is willing to stop at nothing, killing anyone in his way, to accomplish this goal. He would prefer, however, that the other mutants would join him and his “super-race”. (Does this sound like Hitler and his Aryan ideals?) Xavier, on the other hand, feels a sense of responsibility for humanity. He realizes he is still human, though mutated to be more powerful than most. Xavier stands in contrast to both Shaw and Erik. His upbringing as a rich kid left him with a powerful sense of obligation. He understood that privilege brings responsibility. He is willing to selflessly commit himself to help mankind, even if that very same group turns against him as being different, a freak. He sees beyond their shortsightedness. Shaw is selfish and evil, wanting to rule with an iron-fist. His philosophy is the survival of the fittest and the elimination of those weaker than him. Erik can only feel the pain inflicted by the Nazis and is determined to payback that pain with interest. He lives a self-centered life. Even while he is part of Xavier’s team, he is focused on his mission to kill Shaw. He realizes that the world will not thank them for saving them from Shaw. Rather, they will turn on the mutants like dogs. He is ready to wage war against humanity rather than turning the other cheek. This reminds us that Jesus came preaching a message of peace (Acts 10:36), of turning the other cheek (Matt. 5:39), going the extra mile (Matt. 5:41). But he also came as savior of the world (1 Jn. 4:14). But the world did not want to hear this. Instead, it turned on him and killed him. He lived an unselfish life, caring for those who were the outcasts of society, not seeking, at that time, a kingdom that was rightfully his. Meekness and mercy are often better than power and politics. In the third act, with the missile crisis at its peak, the two teams of mutants enter into a thrilling battle above the battle-cruisers from America and Russia below. Clad in yel-
by MARTIN BAGGS
low and black flight-suits, Xavier’s team look united against Shaw’s villainous forces. But in the end, Erik, now called Magneto challenges Xavier’s philosophy, pitting friend against friend. Blood brothers turn into arch enemies. Once more this brings our thoughts back to Jesus. He was surrounded by 12 friends closer than brothers, his band of disciples. Yet one of them out of greed (Jn. 12:4) ultimately disagreed with his philosophy and turned against him, becoming his enemy. Judas entered history as the betrayer, the former blood-brother turned enemy of Jesus (Mk. 14:10). Twice, once in the middle and then again at the end, the theme of choice emerges. The young mutants in the CIA base are offered the choice by Shaw of joining him in his war against humanity. Some do, some don’t. At the end, Magneto offers the same choice to all the mutants. We are offered this same choice, not once or twice, in the middle or end of our lives, but many times. Will we choose to remain in darkness, essentially on the side of Satan and the world of fallen humanity (Jn. 12:31)? Or will we choose to join Jesus, our leader of light (Jn. 8:12), who will be the ultimate victor (Gen. 3:15)? He stands, like Magneto, hand open, arm outstretched (Rev. 3:20), waiting for us to join him in his mission of bringing salvation to the world. Like in the X-Men world of Professor X and Magneto, we know the end of the real story. Jesus wins . . . whether we join him or not.
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Copyright ©2011, Martin Baggs Martin works as a manager in the high tech industry. He leads a monthly film review group at Mosaic Church in Portland, Oregon. He writes film responses from a biblical perspective on his blog:
www.mosaicmovieconnectgroup.blogspot.com Contact: email@example.com
By RYAN GEESAMAN
This Changes Everything
ur church, LCBC, opened its first multi-site campus in 2007. Multi-site campuses are church campuses that use video teaching from an originating campus. In addition to the teaching, they usually share the same leadership, elder board, and centralized support staff. If you are not familiar with the concept of multi-site, you’re lucky: at least from a technical perspective. From a ministry perspective, multi-site campuses allow the church to reach more people in a larger area without the overhead in staff and years of creating an identity that can be necessary with a new church.
When discussions started with the technical and creative staff about the prospect of becoming a multisite church, we were assured that nothing would change about our gatherings. We would simply be recording the message portion of the gatherings and playing them back at other campuses. No one could have anticipated how misplaced that assurance was. In fact, the opposite is closer to the truth: becoming a multi-site church will change everything. There are a few different flavors of multi-site models out there. Our particular setup involves two video feeds: a standard definition (SD) recording of our Image Magnification (IMAG), and a high definition (HD) recording of a static, 26-foot-wide shot of our stage. The two feeds are played back in sync on screens in the multi-site campus auditoriums. The SD feed is projected onto two side screens, and the HD feed is projected onto a large screen that basically covers the stage. The first thing we realized is that a motorized 26-foot-wide by 14.5-foot-tall screen takes about 20 seconds to travel. Since the music at the campuses is done live, the screen moves twice during the gathering. Sitting in silence while watching a huge, blank screen move for 20 seconds feels like hours in the middle of
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a gathering. We decided that every time the screen moved the audience’s attention needed to be directed elsewhere. Most of the time, this is accomplished through a video on the IMAG feed or a prayer. We started creating a video bumper for every sermon series that plays at the beginning of the multi-site recording. We call it the sermon roll-in. Requiring that video element at the beginning of every recording adds a layer of complexity in planning as well. Since the purpose of the sermon roll-in is simply a transitional element that is graphically tied to the sermon series but doesn’t necessarily convey any information, it really only works well coming out of a song or a prayer. If we change the flow of our gathering for some reason and the speaker is talking before the sermon roll-in, it can become very awkward. If they say, “Watch the screens for a moment,” the audience expects to be able to learn something or have a question provoked by the video. If it’s the same sermon roll-in they saw the week before, the only question provoked is, “Why did he draw my attention to this?” The other issue raised by the use of sermon roll-ins is that there always needs to be one: even when there is no sermon series. We occasionally have weekend
by RYAN GEESAMAN
gatherings that are not part of a sermon series. We have created a generic roll-in that can be used, but it does not always have the right feel. In those cases we have to create something for that specific gathering. We were previously able to place songs in the middle of the message portion of the gathering if the speaker felt it would help to emphasize a point or draw the audience deeper into the theme. This became problematic since it meant four movements of the screen instead of two. We tried it once in our first multi-site campus before deciding it was less than ideal. Another thing that changed was our use of drama. Before we were a multi-site church, we often used live drama in our gatherings. We tried a couple different things to keep it once we moved to a multi-site model. The first was simply to record the drama in the same way that we recorded the message for the multi-site campuses. We had even purchased a second HD camera in order to have a shot of a second portion of our stage for the drama. While there was not any specific reason this did not work, there was something different about watching the recording of live drama that was not a factor in watching the speaker deliver the message. It was not bad, but it was obviously not best. The next thing we tried…once…was to have live actors at each campus. Again, it worked, but it was obviously not a long-term solution. It meant twice the rehearsal, double the number of actors, and sacrificing the best person for the role to one campus and not the other. Twice the rehearsal and double the number of volunteers was not something that scared us. We had already surmounted that obstacle with our volunteer bands. The problem was simply that there was not the same talent pool available to us in acting at the new campus as there was in music. Sacrificing quality was not an option. Finally, the decision was made to try moving from live drama to a short film format. We started videotaping the dramas film-style. “Film-style” means we would use one camera to record multiple takes of the scene from different angles and then produce the final scene through editing. We used a boom microphone
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to capture the audio and augmented the lighting with professional lighting kits. The result was a video of the drama that captured the best performance from the actors with perfect sound and lighting that was the same for every gathering in every campus. While there is something to be said for the spontaneity of live theater, there is also something to be said for predictability in a worship gathering. We found that in a multi-site environment, predictability was much more important. One additional benefit to moving to this format was the ability to change our style with culture. When we started doing drama on video, we used a very traditional film style. Over the years, we have moved to a more handheld, mockumentary style similar to that of “The Office” or “Modern Family.” One final thing that changes when moving to multisite model is the length of every meeting. At the beginning, every meeting will take twice as long. Eventually, it will back off to 50% longer. Every element in the gathering will have to be run through the multi-site filter. Will this work at every campus? When will the screen come down/go up? Will this video have footage from every campus? Eventually, we found our groove. We understand what works and what does not. We still experiment. Some experiments go well and become part of our repertoire. Some only survive one gathering. Things have changed and will continue to change in light of being a multi-site church, but two things have and will not: our vision and purpose. As long as those remain constant through all the changes, a thriving church will continue to do what it does best: introduce people to Christ.