Friday, February 28, 2014

Dedicated To All the Pregnant Mommies Out There...

aka "I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now"

With recently finding out a couple people in my life are expecting, it got me thinking that I should do a post dedicated to that amazing time that sometimes doesn't feel all that amazing. Don't worry, this isn't going to be a post about telling you to "get sleep while you can" or "enjoy your down time" or even "you think you're busy now..."  It's more about taking the time to really track what's going on with you physically and emotionally because it is such an important part of the process of bringing a new life into this world.  You may want to go back to your notes during subsequent pregnancies to remind yourself when certain changes occurred or maybe how long your nausea lasted. Or you may have friends or family who get pregnant after you who will want to compare notes.  Either way, you'll want to keep track because in those LONG nine months, believe it or not, every week, sometimes every day, is different.

First and foremost: those dreaded weekly profile pictures.  You may not feel like you're showing much in the beginning, but it will be nice to be able to track the changes when looking back. Take profile photos in the same location every time and try to wear something similar.  If there is something in the frame that can give you perspective of your bump size, that would be ideal.  I unfortunately only had "selfies," and they were taken all over the place. I didn't even take them every week, despite my sister telling me I would regret it if I didn't.  In subsequent pregnancies you will show sooner, so it would be nice to be able to have a record to compare to. Your little one will enjoy getting see themselves growing inside your belly years down the road.

As soon as you feel ready, do some journal entries about your feelings.  I know that sometimes it's hard to get excited about a pregnancy early on, especially if you're like me and miscarried before.  But even without getting excited, you can take note of how you are feeling about what is going on inside your body. Even writing about being scared can be good. Acknowledging your fears and doubt will help you deal with those feelings better. Stress and anxiety are worse if kept bottled up inside.  As you get further along and do start to get excited about your child coming into the world, start writing notes to him or her. Let your child know how you felt about them even before you've met. It will be a wonderful gift to share years down the road.

Another kind of journal entries to do are the ones tracking your symptoms.  Some days I would have the strangest feelings and would immediately go to the internet to check whether it was normal or not. Of course there really is no "normal" in pregnancy, everyone is different and every pregnancy is different even for the same person.  But looking back, I do wish I tracked when those things happened.  I remember I went through a week or two where my belly button was so sore.  I don't know when that was, maybe the second trimester? Early on, again not sure when, I had such pain in my abs, it was like I did two hundred crunches, but yet I hadn't been to the gym in at least a month. If I do go through pregnancy again, I wish I had written down when those different changes had occurred.  In addition, track when you start feeling kicks, when you are able to feel and see kicks from the outside, when your little one gets the hiccups and how often. Believe it or not, those memories do start to fade pretty quickly once your baby arrives.

Whether you have regular ultrasounds or just get to hear the heartbeat every so often, get video footage of it.  If it's an ultrasound and you have someone at the appointment with you, film the ultrasound with one camera phone, and get your reaction to it with another camera phone. You can always synch and edit them together later. Footage of you hearing your little one's heartbeat for the first time is priceless and you don't want to miss it.

And finally, if you have the budget for it or find someone looking to build their portfolio and will give you a good deal, get maternity photos taken. Do some searching on the internet for some ideas of poses and locations you like so you can present them to your photographer.  I wasn't really feeling up to doing a photo shoot the day we did ours, but I am so glad that we got those shots.  There are a set of pictures that he took candidly when my son was kicking and our reactions are full of such joy.

I know that some days the morning sickness and lethargy seem unbearable and you feel like you could never go through this again, but let me tell you, although you don't forget the horrible feelings of pregnancy after you go through it, you do realize how totally worth it it is and you are so willing to deal with it again for the amazing reward you get for going through it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Time Capsule Events

I started doing Time Capsule Events in my local area as an opportunity to educate mommies and mommies-to-be on the importance of documenting their little ones from the womb and beyond.  I am extremely passionate about this topic, as I had the unfortunate experience of dealing with the ramifications of my house catching on fire while I was in the hospital having my son.  I was all out of sorts having to spend my first night out of the hospital in a hotel, and that was in addition to the typical stress of being a new parent.  I was uprooted from my home for a total of five months, and lived in a construction zone for the following three.

As a professional filmmaker, I am pretty devastated that I was unable to capture any of my son's early moments with my professional gear, but what is even more disappointing is that I didn't do more with the tools I did have at my disposal throughout our various temporary housing situations.  And it's because of these reasons I like to help parents feel more confident in capturing their little ones as well as give them a small gift for attending my event, hoping to inspire them to continue to do even more on their own.

During our time together at the event, I spend the first part discussing why it's so important to capture milestones and which milestones are important to capture. I talk about the benefits of having my own baby book as a reference to use with my son and his development.  In addition, I talk about how my son will benefit in the future from the documenting I am currently doing.  I spend the next part of our time discussing tips and tricks for filming and documenting their little ones. I talk about many of the things discussed in my earlier blog posts, as well as help them with issues they may currently have with the tools that they are using.

The final part of the event consists of my attendees writing a letter to their children for a special event in the future. I then film the attendees reading this letter to their child and get some great shots of them interacting with their baby.  I also get some footage of the letter itself in order to capture the emotion that can only be expressed in one's handwriting.  Within the week following the event, I edit it together with some photos that they provide me to create a mini time capsule.

If you currently are in the Los Angeles area and are interested in attending one of my events or hosting one, please contact me.  If you are not local, you can check out my next blog post on how you can host your own time capsule event in your town.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Editing tips...Part II

As promised, here are some more technical tips for editing.  First off, if you're gotten as far as pulling all your clips and putting them into a cohesive story, congratulations! It's a big deal to even make it this far.  If you want to make your videos look even more professional, read on...

So your clips are either in chronological order or grouped together by types of milestones, now it's time to tweak the video it and make it look even better.  In my last post about editing, I recommended not using clips more than 20 seconds long, so you may have some clips of the same event right next to each other and it feels kind of jumpy going from one shot to the next.  Putting in a transition, like a cross dissolve, may help. But if you're cutting from one perspective to just a bit of time later from the same perspective, then your clips will still look a bit jumpy, even with a cross dissolve.  If you can cut away from the same perspective, even if the true passage of time is altered, it will look better to a viewer.  For example, you can cut away from the front perspective to the side perspective, and then back to the front perspective again.   In my filming tips I recommended shooting events from different distances and from different angles and the camera movement could be edited out.

Hopefully you have the option of cutting to shots from different perspectives.  Now it's important to make the cut on an action.  If you look at some of my sample videos, you'll gain a better understanding of what I mean. In my Video Baby Books Sampler at 1:22 you'll see I cut when his hand was hitting the table from the front perspective to the side perspective, so it almost looks like I shot this with two different cameras at the same time.  It was two different shots, but when cut it together on the action, it looks seamless.  Another example is in the First Haircut Video, at 1:23 I cut with the "cut" of her scissors from a wide shot to a tight shot. Because I edited from a wide shot to a tight shot, it's hard to tell that they were shot at a different time, continuity isn't an issue.

Another thing you want to take into account is the use of music and cutting on the beats of the music.  Sometimes you'll have a great edit that cuts on the action, but once you put a soundtrack to the video, it just doesn't feel as nice.  The music should enhance your story, not detract from it. When you're doing a montage with all different clips, it's easier to edit your clips to the music.  Just make sure that you have the best part of the clip still in the edit after you've tweaked your cuts to the music.  You may have to start the clips a bit earlier or a bit later.

In terms of putting clips together, you want to feel like your story is moving forwards.  You don't want to have too many similar clips one after another.  I have the benefit of being able to shoot in true slow motion HD on my Sony FS100.  If you're using a high quality editing software, you should be able to manipulate the passage of time in your clips.  However, when you make a clip slow motion, it will look a bit jumpy because the frames "between" the frames do not exist.  More specifically, if you shoot something at 30fps (typical digital frame rate in North America) and then play it back at 15fps, then every other frame will be missing.  If you're camera has the ability to shoot slow motion, it is actually filming twice as fast so that when you play back at normal speed, it looks slow motion.

I hope this information is helpful.  Remember, you can always take a stab at it yourself and then bring in an expert if it becomes too overwhelming.  I am available to help with editing remotely as well.  Be sure to check out my other blog posts for other tips on creating your own video baby books or take a look at some video baby books I've created on my site.