Project Highlight: “Up Here”

I’m very excited and proud to share the music video “Up Here,” which I co-created with Trey Morrow, is finally released for your eyes and ears to feast on! This was so much fun to work on; Chris Paul Smith, Hayden Bishop, and Van Morrow delivered great performances, and all of our wonderful extras were a riot. If you like the song, check out Atraxia on Facebook or head to their bandcamp page to download it!

This video was shot on the Canon 60D and a few shots on the 7D. The stop-motion animation was also done on the 60D… but that may be worth a whole blog post…


Freelance Filmmaker

It has been a few months since I’ve posted, but I have an explanation for you!

On a non-filmmaking note, I have gotten married, taken a couple trips, moved, worked extensively on house renovation and gardening tasks, and relaxed (sparingly) inbetween. However, those items are beyond the focus of this blog, so in the world of filmmaking…

I have also left my full-time job to devote my energy to freelancing full-time; my transition was motivated by personal goals to challenge myself, to work with a diverse group of clients, and above all, to create. This move required a lot of my time and creativity, especially in updating my portfolio and reels at to provide clear examples of my work. All of this has kept me away from this blog, but I’m back!

So, what does this mean for you?

First, I hope to continue to find time to post here, but I may begin to talk more about specific projects. This should make for more interesting and useful information!

Second, I am available to collaborate. If I have your contact information, I can reach out to you when I need extra cast/crew or when my plate is too full to accept a potential gig. I hope you’ll reach out to me as well.

Third, I am available for hire. We form a tight network in this small community, and I am grateful for all of the referrals, job leads, and creative opportunities my friends have sent my way over the years. Please get in touch with me, or share my information anytime I might be an asset to someone else.

I have worked from a P.A. to a camera operator; no role is too big or small. I am primarily advertising my skills in commercial video production, live event recording, cinematography, camera operation, visual effects, animation/motion graphics, photo editing/restoration/manipulation, and video editing.

I look forward to working together with new people. Contact me through my website for questions about my availability and rates, or just to chat. If you’re a crew-member near the upstate of South Carolina, send me your contact information, availability, skillset, and proficiency. A link to your portfolio or reels would be excellent.

Ten Adobe Premiere Shortcuts for Faster Editing in 2015

Adobe Premiere Timeline

Editing can be tedious, but it doesn’t have to be slow. If your New Year’s Resolution is to improve your editing skills, learning your software’s keyboard shortcuts for repetitive tasks will allow you finish projects faster with less clicking, searching through menus, and aiming for tiny buttons. Here are ten shortcuts for beginners and advanced users of Adobe Premiere to add to their arsenal in 2015:

  1. Ctrl + S (Cmd + S Mac)
    • Save – This one’s obvious, but must be said. My left hand hovers over this side of the keyboard throughout the editing process and I save every time I make an edit I wouldn’t want to repeat in the event of a crash.
  2. Page Down / Page Up
    • Go to Next Cut / Previous Cut – This is a fast way to get your playhead exactly on a cut, or to fly through the timeline without zooming in and out so much. This command will ignore clips on video and audio layers that aren’t highlighted; click on the layer name (e.g. “Video 1”) to highlight or unselect a layer.
  3. Ctrl + M (Cmd + M Mac)
    • Export – This quick keystroke saves you several clicks every time you need to export, especially useful when queuing several short timelines from one project.
  4. ~ (Tilde a.k.a. “the squiggly worm key”)
    • Maximize Panel – At first glance, there is no “full screen” option in Premiere. In fact, you can maximize any panel by selecting that panel and pressing the “~” key. Use this to get a closer look at a cluttered bin or timeline on complex projects.
  5. J / K
    • Fast Forward / Rewind – When you’re scrubbing quickly through a timeline using the space bar to start and stop playback, many users reach for the mouse to drag the playhead back a few seconds to watch an edit again. Just hit rewind, then play again to accomplish the same with two quick keystrokes. Press these multiple times to increase the speed.
  6. I / O
    • In Point / Out Point – If you set in and out points on source clips, try these handy keys. I keep my hand ready on the “I” while playing through source clips looking for good material, then switch to “O” as I wait for the moment to end. If you aren’t setting in and out points to isolate a clip before putting it on your timeline, give it a try! That’s another blog post…
  7. * (asterisk on number pad)
    • Set Marker – Using markers is a great way to mark your timeline and find your place later, but mousing into menus to find this command is tedious and will stop playback. Just reach for the asterisk!
  8. Ctrl + D (Cmd + D Mac)
    • Video Transition – Hover near a cut to apply a transition on selected layers (see tip #2 about selecting layers). This is a personal favorite of mine, as it saves me many repetitious click-and-drag operations. In combination with tip #2, this is my secret weapon for slideshows. By default this applies “cross dissolve,” but you can right-click any video transition and “set as default.”
  9. Ctrl + Shift + D (Cmd + Shift + D Mac)
    • Audio Transition – Same as #8, but on audio layers.
  10. Backspace / Delete
    • This one is self-explanatory, but I’ve seen a lot of users right-clicking clips and choosing “clear” to remove items from the timeline. Just hit backspace as you would when typing. On that note, be careful not to hit backspace accidentally while a clip is selected, thinking you’re typing in another window.

Do you have any favorite tips or shortcuts? Share here, the list doesn’t have to stop at ten!

New Template: Prop & Equipment List

Two of my biggest fears on a film shoot are leaving props or equipment on location when we pack up, or forgetting to bring something in the first place. If you have an elaborate shooting day ahead with a lot to keep track of, then this Prop & Equipment list is for you.

Prop and Equipment List

Download my Prop and Equipment List

The purpose of this list is pretty self-explanatory. If you’ve ever made a packing list for a vacation, you’ll know what to do with this template. I’ve included space for equipment, wardrobe items, makeup, props, as well as food and beverage, but you can modify this template in MS Excel as needed. To the left of every item, there are two check-boxes – one for packing-in and one for packing-out. Familiarize your crew with the items on the list, and make enough copies of this sheet to share with everyone who helps you pack up the equipment. If you have a lot of extra hands on set, put someone in charge of checking off each item as it goes back to your vehicle.

Some expendable items, such as food and drink, may not need to be packed up when you’re through, but in many cases you may be responsible for packing out the trash associated with these items. Ensuring you take everything home with you is a great way to maintain your inventory and your relationship with the owner of your shooting location.

I’ve added this template to the Templates and Freebies page, where you’ll also find storyboard templates and other production essentials.

Adobe Premiere Media Cache

(or: How I Learned to Read the Manual, and Free up 294 GB on my Hard Drive…)

I go back to the days of Premiere 7 (as in ‘regular’ 7… before CS 1 came out), so for years my Premiere projects have created folders beside them to store cached media (copies of your raw files, generated upon import when Premiere says “conforming/indexing media”). Somewhere in the last few versions, Adobe changed this strategy without me noticing. In order to share cashed files across all of their programs, they created a central location called the “Media Cache Database”

“This media cache database is shared with Adobe Media Encoder, After Effects, Premiere Pro, Encore, and Soundbooth, so each of these applications can each read from and write to the same set of cached media files.” -Adobe Help

The downside:

If you’re accustomed to cleaning your projects out in one motion by deleting a root folder or moving it to archival storage, you may be surprised to discover that for all of the associated media, a cached file remains on your C:\ drive. If you’re like me and you have all the raw footage for a feature film, edit 1-2 hour event videos weekly, and sometimes just convert media in bulk for clients, this cached media starts to stack up.

The fix:

First, open Premiere and go to Edit>Preferences>Media. If you’re enjoying the upsides of Adobe’s shared cache strategy, this screen will allow you to clean your cache and even relocate it. The latter may be a wise choice if your C:\ drive is limited in space or you store your projects on another drive. I suspect this will be essential for those with SSD (solid-state) drives, where storage is a pricier commodity.

Clean CacheThere is also a checkbox here labeled “Save Media Cache files next to originals when possible,” which I suspect will make the program operate more like it did in the past. Keep in mind that this will make it easier to delete the cache files simultaneously with your project, but will also mean beefier project folders. If you’re working from or backing up a project to an external drive, this cached media will be moving along with your project.

More insight from Adobe Help:

“…the Clean button does not remove files that are associated with footage items for which the source files are still available.”

“If you change the location of the database from within any of these applications, the location is updated for the other applications, too. Each application can use its own cache folder, but the same database keeps track of them.”

So what does 2 years of cached media add up to? On my office computer, I just cleared 294 GB.

More information from Adobe about the Media Cache Database: Here

New Template: Shot List

If you’ve ever found yourself on set loosing track of progress, wondering if you shot everything you came to shoot, or just altogether forgetting where you are, you need a shot list. Even with a shot list on hand, I can get lost.

Shot List

“Wait… what are we shooting?”

A shot list is the organizational counterpart to the storyboard; this list contains everything to be shot that day, with details like type of shot, what’s in the shot, and of course a little box to place your check-mark when you’ve knocked it out. Your shot number will probably correspond with a marked script or storyboard panel, but it could also just indicate a letter or number for that specific day. When you review your footage later and someone calls out “Shot 81-b… Action!” at the beginning of the clip, you’ll know which shot it is. My friend Zach drew a new check mark for every take, so later I was able to see that a shot had one, two, or eight takes before we moved on. This helps a lot in the editing room when you need to label your footage (i.e. 81b (1).mov, 81b (2).mov, etc.). That’s why Zach is the man.

Download my Shot List Template

To really speed up your production, list all of your shots then rearrange them in order of convenience. Certain shots have to be taken first, some right at sunset; sometimes an actor’s availability or costume requirements means clumping their shots together. I always move my cutaways and prop shots to the end, so if there’s a delay at any point on set I know to skim to the bottom of the page and shoot some stuff that doesn’t require actors.

A shot list goes great with a storyboard, but either can be used by itself if your time is limited. My advice is to have both with a pen and clipboard on set at all times. But be warned: shot lists tend to sneak off and find their way onto a surface in your shot. My student film production probably had a shot list, script page, or storyboard in every other scene, sitting suspiciously close to a slice of pizza and can of beer in the background.

I’ve added this template to the Templates and Freebies page, where I also have storyboard templates and other production essentials.