Twelve years ago, Rob released our first ever mini movie to some local Dallas churches. The feedback was strong, and a year later, in 2003, Igniter released an additional four more videos as part of a DVD (and an ill-fated VHS) compilation. Soon thereafter, we opened up a (mostly) operational website. And we were off and running.
In the years that have followed, we’ve made countdowns, backgrounds, song tracks, bumpers, and much more. But at the heart of it all, we’ve remained dedicated to the mini movie.
Today, we’re proud to announce that big changes are coming to Igniter. Coming soon, Igniter’s website will be 100% filled with mini movies. And not just our mini movies. We’re partnering with a few of the top church media producers in order to offer a wider range of quality content. Overnight, we’ll go from 125 mini movies to around 700.
We’re also excited to let you know that we’re bringing back a-la-carte purchasing. Find what you want, when you want it. And for those that like memberships, the Igniter Mini Movie membership isn’t going anywhere. It’s just getting a whole lot better. All of the producers joining our site will be including their content in our membership. With these changes, we’re confident that the new Igniter website will be right for church budgets of all shapes and sizes.
As for Igniter, we’ll most definitely still be creating original content.
We still believe in the power of God’s story. We still believe that some stories are better told visually. We still believe that we can help a pastor communicate THE message in a way that will inspire and transform. We still believe there are stories waiting to be told. And it’s those stories … that’s what we get really excited about.
Igniter 6.0 is coming this summer. Stay tuned whether via blog, email, Facebook, or Twitter. It’ll be here before you know it. Next week, we’ll begin the process of communicating to our current members all of the ways this will make their memberships more valuable.
P.S. We haven’t given up on backgrounds. We’re just moving them over to our sister company, Graceway Media. For the past couple of years, we’ve made backgrounds for both Igniter and Graceway. We’re not making any fewer going forward, we’re just putting them all in the same place. Thus, Graceway’s extensive catalog only gets better and remains the perfect place for your church or ministry to grab all of its still imagery, title graphics, and motion background needs. To learn more about the changes going on at Graceway, click here.
I think a lot of times, it’s easy for us to forget that pastors have a pretty tough job. Whether their church is a start-up or one that’s been around for over 50 years, each phase brings different challenges. One of the greatest challenges that remains every step of the way is how to drive home a point that needs to be made. You know…that emphatic moment that will forever be etched into a congregations memory.
This video shows an example of how to do this…in ALL of the wrong ways!
Next time, our recommendation is to check out some of our videos and let one of them make that point for you.
With the weekend approaching, we were thinking about all of our loyal members out there, and the different ministry tips we could give you to help make your services this weekend great. Although a number of different items came to mind, we felt that it was absolutely vital to share this one, very important tip with you all.
Don’t drive your motorcycle into the church.
When planning “Sounds of The Cross” we set out to create scenes that depicted the events leading up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. We needed shots that felt realistic, without having to plan something at the scale (and price) of a Hollywood-style recreation. All along, we had planned for the sound design to really carry the project, and to let the visuals simply act as support.
What this led us to was a simplified “found-footage” style (think Cloverfield, Chronicle, etc), in the sense that the camera is not necessarily filming the action – rather, it just happened to be left somewhere, recording whatever happened in front of it. This way, we didn’t even need to hire actors – all the hands and feet you see in the video are Igniter Media crew. I’d like to take a minute to explain how we accomplished a few of our shots.
Oh, I lied. One of the hands in the video is not from the Igniter Media crew. We hired Will Frary, of The Grapevine Blacksmith Shop to create our Roman nails. He had big, weathered hands that were perfect for the shot – so we just had him throw the nails on the ground and pick them up, only a few minutes after he had finished making them.
Here is a short video documenting the process Will took to create the nails:
Ok back to behind the scenes.
The scene that gets asked about most is the earthquake scene. To achieve our shaking ground, we piled a bunch of rocks and dirt onto a 4×8 sheet of plywood that was placed unsteadily atop a few large rocks. Next we set the camera up right next to it, used a bed sheet to block the sunlight (because it was supposed to be a dark sky), and had one person bang and accelerate their fists on the edge of the sheet. Voila! Earthquake!
The last shot in the film, where the rock is rolled away from the tomb was quite simple as well. The rocks in the shot were only about 15 inches across, and we placed two of them next to each other, aiming the camera almost directly into the 6pm sun so that light would streak across the tomb floor and wall. Rolling the rock very slowly forward, while shooting in slow motion, helped to give the rock a weighty feel.
My personal favorite was the shot of Golgotha in the distance, with the three crosses on top of it. Since we weren’t about to build 3 full-size crosses, we instead used a technique called “Forced Perspective”.
As Wikipedia states: “Forced Perspective is a technique that employs optical illusion to make an object appear farther away, closer, larger or smaller than it actually is.” This is exactly what we did with the crosses. Our team went out and purchased 3 crucifixes that were about 8 inches long. Then when we were out shooting, we found a pile of rocks, added some dirt, and placed the crosses in the dirt on top. We pulled up any plants that were growing on the mound, so that we didn’t have “gigantic” blades of grass, and then we put the camera very low, so that anything on the horizon would not throw off the illusion we were trying to create. Any tree, shrub, or even hill in the distance could ruin the perspective. Finally, to hide the fact that the crosses weren’t real, we backlit them with the sun so that they would be silhouetted, and then focused on a rock in the foreground so that the lack of realistic detail of the crucifix’s wouldn’t be apparent.
Originally we had planned for this scene to be where the soldiers are casting lots for Jesus’ garments, which is why there is a cloth in the foreground later on in the following video. In the editing room we decided this was too busy, so we began the cloth was removed. Finally, we did a sky replacement with a stormy-clouds shot that we got a few days later.
As soon as Phil walks behind the mound, it becomes apparent what size the crosses actually are. Giant Phil!
All of this, as well as a little creativity with tiki torches, spray-painted chains, fake blood, and many different linens from the local fabric store made for one of the most interesting and fun shoots I’ve ever been a part of. I also think an entire blog post could probably be written about pre-production and prop design. We are blessed with some talented and hard working people here at RT/Igniter. It was a large team effort going out and finding the necessary elements that would be filmed, as well as the creation of things like the THE KING OF THE JEWS sign. That, combined with many hours of foley/sound design, and meeting a Messianic Jewish Rabbi to record Aramaic voices for us, it certainly made for a project that took us on a journey.
It was an honor to try to recreate this event, and while we feel that we will never be able to fully do it justice, we are very happy with the way it turned out.
Sometimes our projects benefit from outside help. We love getting to work with talented folks and had that opportunity with our latest video.
We just released A Four Fold Blessing and it included some amazing photography from Mo Sadjadpour and Hoyoung Lee.
Mo Sadjadpour of mosadjadpour.com shared a number of photos with us, including images like this one.
This image from the tornadoes in Moore, OK was shared by Hoyoung Lee of sohostory.com.
We are grateful for these artists and the other talented folks we have had the opportunity work with.