Category Archives: personal

A look back and a look forward

While most of the country is experiencing early fall weather, here in Arizona the temps have dropped maybe 5 degrees, enough that we can feel the difference and know fall is around the corner! It’s been a busy summer (and fall) for our family, both professionally and personally. The blog has been a tad neglected and I haven’t been good about sharing and updating it regularly. The summer went so fast and lots of fun memories were made. The kids finished school at the end of May and the next day we packed up everyone and spent a week in Cancun Mexico. It was the kids first time out of the country and they had an absolute blast. Here is a short video captured on the GoPro of our adventures from there.

Now its mid September and weddings begin in less then 2 weeks! Eeeek!!! Each one is totally unique and different, I can’t wait to see and document each one. Now it’s time to start planning for fall mini shoots and I’ve already started booking! Click here for the list of available dates and times. I will be updating it regularly as spots get booked.

Also this summer, we were awarded the Gilbert Small Business Excellence Award for 2018 in the Videographers category. Thank-you to the Gilbert Small Business Excellence Awards Committee that recognizes us and honored us with this award. I love what I do, serving in our community and our amazing clients. We are blessed!

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How to make an awesome family home video – Part 2 of 2

In case you missed part 1, or need a refresher, you can scroll down or simply click here. In part 1, I covered a lot of the shooting elements that you will want to consider when capturing your video. In part 2, I am sharing helpful tips for editing, music selection, audio, and sharing your home video.

I used an iPhone 7 for this video.

#6 – As you decide which one song you want to use for your highlight video, make sure it won’t get kicked off popular online video sites such as Facebook, Vimeo, or YouTube. The most time consuming part of editing your highlight video will be cutting each clip to the beat of the song. There is nothing worse than putting in all those hours of getting it just right and then realizing you have to start over with a different song. Websites are required by copyright law to flag and take down videos with music that hasn’t been legally purchased. Luckily, you can avoid this problem by going to websites such as that offer you an endless selection and the ability to purchase the licensing rights for as little as $25. Remember, the better your highlight video turns out, the more you’ll want to be 100% certain everyone can watch it online.

#7 – When cutting your video clips to the beat of the song (also known as syncing), it’s always best to sync the fast actions parts of your video with the fast action/climax parts of the song. For example, in my Colorado highlight video, I made sure to place the boys zip lining and rafting on the rapids at high points of the song so the energy matched. Likewise, sync your less energetic and slower clips with the slower/softer parts of the song. A trick editors use to accomplish this is to lay out the high energy video clips with the climax parts of the songs right away. After making those decisions, you can then “fill” the in-between parts of the song with the rest of your clips. This also gives you a strong direction of how many slower video clips you’ll need to fill out the rest of the video and help you decide which clips to toss out. Never make the mistake of editing individual clips (color correcting, fine detailing, etc.) until after you’ve laid out your story and know for certain that clip will be part of the finished video.

#8 – Even though you might have chosen a song with lyrics instead of an instrumental song, it doesn’t mean you can’t allow some of the live audio to be heard at different parts of the highlight video. About 90% of the Colorado video has no live audio but I was able to improve the energy and emotions of some clips by raising the live audio. For example, even though the song is playing at the same volume throughout, I can still hear my son singing on the raft, the drilling in the mine, and the fish splashing in the water. You can even improve the viewer’s ability to hear live audio by strategically placing those clips in parts of the song where there’s no lyrics. Of course, the most honest reason to use music over live audio is so you don’t have to hear your own voice or all the times you shouted at the kids to knock it off and smile for the camera.

#9 – Never publish or share your finished video online until you’ve had a chance to watch it several times. Without fail, you will get creative ideas that will make it better and notice mistakes you need to fix. If you’re really smart, you’ll ask your spouse or someone else to watch it that will tell you the truth. I have a rule that I never upload a video online the same day I finished editing it. It never fails that the next day I will catch things I missed during my first “final” edit. Don’t be the person who takes down a video only to repost the new and improved version. Not only is that annoying but most people aren’t going to watch your video a second time.

#10 – Now that you’ve made your awesome highlight video and posted it online, you have to decide what to do with all the original video clips. When I grew up, this meant keeping all my VHS video tapes and breaking a tab off the tape so no one could accidentally record over it. Fortunately, all our video clips today are digital and can’t get tangled up when rewinding or fast forwarding. If your hard drive is large enough, keep all of the video clips in the program you used to make your highlight video. Once you decide to move or delete them, you’ll have to go through the painful process of reconnecting all the clips if you ever want to make changes to your highlight video. You should also copy all the video clips to an external hard drive and keep this external hard drive detached from your computer. We’ve all lost files because our computer’s hard drive crashed or we got a computer virus.

In addition to our boys loving the videos we’ve made, it also give me evidence for when they become teenagers and complain about how they never got to do anything fun or go anywhere. The moment I hear those words, I’ll pull up every one of our family highlight videos and make them watch them one by one.

– Mike

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Happy Easter 2017

If you’ve been following the blog for a long time, you might remember my boys are super BIG Easter fanatics! I’ve blogged about it a couple times before and thought I better again this year. Nathan is 11 now and I’m not sure how many more years he will want to color eggs. We actually spent a couple of hours boiling, dying, painting, and decorating several dozen eggs. Both boys took their time and had fun doing it. Nolan (above) whistled the entire time. I’m not kidding, the whole time! Haha. He has actually gotten quite good. Nathan wasn’t bothered by the whistling and was very focused on decorating his eggs. What’s Easter without a bunny right?! Our 1 year old Netherland Dwarf bunny (above) checking out everyone’s progress. He is a great pet and very bonded to Nathan. 

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How to make an awesome family home video – Part 1 of 2

Why is it worth your time and effort to make a family highlight video? Well, honestly ask yourself, when’s the last time you sat down and watched any of your family’s home videos? It’s probably been a long time. It’s not that you don’t enjoy watching that last family vacation but there can be some real obstacles. Your videos might be scattered across different camera phones or hard drives? Maybe you’ve captured some awesome moments but it takes so long to get to those parts? Perhaps there’s a lot of boring and slow footage to suffer through? What if instead of having to sit through all the boring parts to watch those handful of best moments, you could put them all together in one song? Amanda and our two boys love to watch our home videos because they’re fun and they’re really easy to access. I thought it would be a great idea to share with you a quick list of ten easy things you can do to make an awesome family highlight video!

I used an iPhone 5 camera phone for this home video.

#1 – Focus on people more than anything else. All of the scenery shots in your highlight video shouldn’t be more than 10% of the finished video. No matter how awesome that bridge is or how beautiful the sunset looks, keep it to a minimum. Think about it. When you watch your video years from now, no one’s going to comment on how cool the bridge is because they’ll be too busy looking at how little or cute the kids were at that age. The best way to showcase those scenic shots is with your subject in the same shot. Another trick is to frame the scenery shot beforehand and then have your subject walk into it. For example, it’s not by accident that when I shoot at the beach, I frame the shot so the boardwalk or dock is in the background. If you want to shoot a sign saying where you’re visiting, dedicate 1/3 of the camera to the sign and the other 2/3’s to your subjects. You’ll get the best of both worlds.

#2 – The average video clip in a fun highlight video is only 2-3 seconds long. This makes you want to watch it over and over to see details you missed. If you think this is too fast, the next time you watch your favorite movie or TV show, count the seconds before the camera switches to another shot or angle. You can’t even finish reading this sentence before the shot will move to a different angle. We’ve been conditioned to have terrible attention spans when watching videos. In fact, a typical four minute highlight song will need to have about 95 different angles/shots. Keep this in mind when your spouse tells you that you need to stop shooting video and to put your phone away.

#3 – When shooting, think about how many shots you can make within your current shot. For example, when my youngest son was surfing on the beach (not the actual water), I got a detailed shot of his feet on the board, his hands while he tried balancing himself, the expression of his face when he thought he was actually surfing, and a great scenic shot of the ocean and dock by shooting him from behind. All I had to do to was get closer, step back, take a few steps around him, and bend down to get a different angle. When I put these 2-3 second shots together in a highlight video, it’s funner to watch and the video will have more energy. Remember, for every large shot, there are several smaller detail shots. You just have to look for them.

#4 – When choosing the one song for the video, realize you’ll have to listen to it 10 and 20 years from now. Today’s billboard hits might be cool but you’re going to have to live with this decision every time you and your family sit down to watch it. If you decide to post it online for out-of-town relatives, your grandma is going to be watching it as well. I’ve had lots of great song ideas for our family videos but when I share them with Amanda, they end up not seeming so great after all. Nothing frustrates me more than finding a song with the perfect mood and speed but the lyrics aren’t something I want the kids singing around the house.

#5 – When editing, arrange your clips in an order that makes chronological sense. For example, if your video keeps bouncing back and forth between completely unrelated locations, it will be confusing for the viewer. Instead of them enjoying your finished video, they’ll be trying to figure out if the kids are still in Disneyland or Legoland. It makes sense to put all the clips together that were taken in one location such as an amusement park before moving onto an entirely different location like a beach. To make your transitions smoother between locations, you can use those great scenic shots to give context. I always stay away from putting text in the middle of my videos because a well thought out shot naturally tells the viewer we’ve moved to a different location.

Hopefully this list inspires you to gather up all those scattered video clips you’ve already shot and gives you some great ideas for the next time you pull out your video camera. Next week, I’ll share with you five other tips that you’ll want to know for making an awesome family highlight video!

– Mike

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Keep on riding

Hey friends, it’s been awhile since I shared anything personal on the blog, mainly because this spring has been one of my busiest to date! I feel very blessed that my business continues to be successful as my clients keep using my services over and over. Once all the spring weddings and events are finished and delivered, I am taking a little time off in May. I will be updating the website (long overdue) and gearing up for a busy June & July. I’m really excited about the new things I will be shooting (more to come) and the places we are going this summer and fall – Yahoo!

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