Capturing the 2016 AIM Series

 The AIM Series is a video project from Adventures in Ministry where we are releasing eight quality videos from eight outstanding speakers every year. This is our second year, and we're excited to be providing this free resource to all starting on May 1st. 

But how are we doing it? 

Well, the University Church of Christ in Montgomery, Alabama and the Graymere Church of Christ in Columbia, Tennessee have been gracious enough to grant us use of their equipment and space as we film these videos. Most of the video were filmed inside of the Graymere TV studio. 

How it's technically put together is probably a lot less complex than you might think. High Definition video has come a long way in the past decade. 

Central to everything is the Blackmagic ATEM TV Studio. It's a hub that connects all of our cameras up (we're using three) and routes one video signal to our BlackMagic Shuttle capture system. Everything is captured digitally, there's no actual film or tapes involved. 

We're able to switch the views dynamically as the video is captured with the Blackmagic software. This simulates a real board that you might pay thousands of dollars for but is included the Blackmagic ATEM hub.

We're using some great cameras for the AIM series this year - two Sony HDR FX7's and a Canon Vixia HF 500 for the short black and white views you'll see on the videos this year. All three cameras are extremely high quality and professional grade. 

Speaking of professional grade, we're capturing audio separately with the Zoom H5 recorder. We have a Shure lapel mic that all of out speakers will be wearing to capture really great quality audio. 

After the video is captured on our solid state hard drive, we plug it up to our Mac mini and use an app called Compressor to, well, compress the footage. Our 15 minute videos are usually about 25 gigs each before we compress them down to about 3 gigs each. 

After that's done, we take the compressed video files and put them into Final Cut Pro. Alongside that we we take the audio from the Zoom H5 and sync it with the video in Final Cut. We make any edits necessary to the video, and add the graphics and titles in. 

Our beginning motion graphics we composed entirely in Adobe After Effects and both the paper AIM sequence and the Legit sequence took over 17 hours of work to create. They are rendered into self-contained videos and then put in front of all our videos this year. 

After all the editing and adding titles is done, we'll do some audio cleanup and color correction and then export our project to one, self-contained video that you can download on theaimseries.com and view on our AIM YouTube channel. 

Every video averages about five hours of work to complete, but it's well worth it to give your churches a high-quality and FREE resource to use this summer. 

Head over to theaimseries.com to sign up. We can't wait to show you these videos on May 1st! 

AIM Logo Redesign Process

I'll admit, sometimes I get a little carried away with stuff. 

When I get a good design in my head, it just has to get out. So when Paul Spurlin of Adventures in Ministry (AIM) contacted me about getting Ministry Bits on their podcast network, he wanted to some design assistance as well. 

Paul never approved or asked for a redesign. I was just presumptuous and sent him my idea. Fortunately for me, he really loved it. 

I won't talk about the old design, just the new one. I wanted to first simplify, simplify, simplify. As is with any project I tackle. I haven't done many logo redesigns, so this was rare for me. 

AIM Logo, version 1.0

AIM Logo, version 1.0

AIM 2.0

AIM 2.0

One thing Paul said was that he liked the navy blue and gray colors. I was trying to find a way to incorporate this into the redesign while not taking anything away from the new logo. 

The result was a simple, two-tone effect made possible by the "crosshairs" that center on the "I" in AIM. Slightly slanted to give a alternate, moving effect, the two colors in the logo actually blend nicely. The font used was a standard modern font names Avenir Next, a favorite of typographers and designers lately. I used the "Heavy" weight for all the lettering. The only custom letter is the "A," which I added a missing strip on the left side to distinguish it just a bit more. 

The crosshairs in the new design accomplish three purposes. 1) It gives focus to the new dynamic of the logo, 2) it forms a cross, which is the universal Christian symbol, and 3) It gives an impression of seeking and hitting your mark. This is exactly what the underlying mission of Adventures in Ministry is all about: hitting your mark to make the most impact on spreading the Gospel and bringing people to God. 

The best thing about designing simple things is that most times they're actually simple to design. As I was testing out ideas for the logo, what did I use in Photoshop for the design? The Eraser and Paint Bucket tools. That's right. No fancy drawing in Illustrator, no vectorizing. Just simple typing the A-I-M out, getting my kerning the way I want it, rasterizing the type, and then working to erase the lines of the crosshairs the way I want them to look. 

Detail on the crosshairs.

Detail on the crosshairs.

The most difficult thing to accomplish was the rounded edges on the center of the crosshairs. I had to go in a basically erase pixel by pixel to get the exact curvature I wanted. This gave the crosshairs a "sweeping out" effect, if you will, as if they were moving.

All in all, I'd say the redesign was a smashing success. I'd never intended to come in as the AIM guys had invited me in and make sweeping changes, but I had an idea, ran with it, and took a chance and presented it to Paul. Usually, as a designer, that can go two ways. You're super-excited about an idea and when you pitch it to the client, but they hate it. Or worse, they're indifferent and don't have the gumption to tell you that they hate it. But Paul was honest with me in the design and said "I just want to keep that this way with these colors" and so on. Luckily, he loved the final design, and it is now AIM's official logo, both on the website and the app on iOS and Android. 

I am so very happy to be working with Paul, Eric, Jon, and Andrew on this venture. I see a lot of great things coming down the pipe. 

You can check out Adventures in Ministry, where they have links to the podcast network, devotionals and songs for download, as well as full resources like classes and retreats. Head over there and download some good stuff!