In Jewish law, a boy becomes a man at age 13. The occasion is commemorated with a special ceremony called a Bar Mitzvah.
In Freiman law, every son's Bar Mitzvah is celebrated with an over-the-top video production... and Zachary's Bar Mitzvah was no exception.
Two years ago when my oldest son Max was Bar Mitzvahed, I decided to make a mockumentary about him. I combined video footage of Max at different ages with newly shot footage, including a sequence that had Max marching his cello down the football field in tribute to Woody Allen's classic "Take The Money And Run." Several friends (including our Rabbi) acted in the film, posing as Max's agent, psychiatrist, Mafia boss, etc. As I said earlier, I tend to go a little over the top with my productions! It was a lot of fun to make, and all the guests at the Bar Mitzvah party really enjoyed it. The only problem was the constant stream of people asking me what I was going to do for my next son!
(Scroll down to end of article to see the full video.)
Cut to 2011. It was time for video number two. Zack is very musical, so I naturally thought about writing a song for him. Like my other boys, he has a good sense of humor, so I knew it was going to be a funny song. My original thought was that he would perform the song at his Bar Mitzvah party. By the time I had fleshed out my idea, it had turned into a full scale music production involving some of Zack's friends, as well as an elaborate music video complete with special effects. (See "over the top" above.)
After writing the lyrics, I composed the music and did the arrangement in Pro Tools. I made use of scores of plug-ins, including all of the Spectrasonics instruments (Stylus RMX, Trillian, Omnisphere) and quite a few from Native Instruments (Kontakt, Massive, Battery, etc.). In addition to a host of Waves, SoundToys, and Digidesign effects, I also applied some effects with Native Instruments' THE FINGER. (See my recent Native Instruments Tips and Tricks tutorial to learn more about THE FINGER.) It was a lot of fun writing something in this genre since most of my recent writing has been orchestral.
Finally, Zack and his friends stepped into my vocal booth to record their vocals and harmonies. Although I really hate auto-tuning, I did use the Waves Tune plug-in to create a T-Pain style effect for a "modern" touch. (You can use Logic's built-in plugins to achieve the T-Pain effect too - Editor.)
Once the song was finished, I set to work storyboarding the music video. A friend of mine, Ed Greenberg, runs an incredible video studio, www.m360.com. He was kind enough to lend me his green screen studio for a video shoot and to suggest a lot of ideas for the video. (Among other things, Ed, a former juggler, is responsible for the great hat tricks that my sons do in the video.) Working with another friend, Russell Peckham, an outstanding cinematographer, we spent about 12 hours shooting video over two days with the kids lip-syncing to the video while acting and dancing against the green screen. (Our "rapper", Benjamin Milan-Polisar, helped choreograph the background singers.)
Here's where MacProVideo came to the rescue. I'm an MPV trainer, but I'm also a customer. So, with several hours of green screen footage and no idea how to begin editing it, I dove headfirst into After Effects CS5 101: Core After Effects CS5 with Richard Lainhart. By the time I finished the course, I was well on my way to becoming an After Effects guru.
I edited the film in two passes. First, I created a sequence that I called "Rough Edit" in Final Cut Pro and did a complete edit using the green screen footage, as well as some footage we shot in a hallway. I chose the best takes, decided on the cuts, and made decisions about how shots would be combined in After Effects. Since we didn't have timecode when we shot the footage, I also had to manually line up the music with the lip syncing.
Once I had a flow that I was happy with, I moved on to After Effects. I would export one or more edited clips from Final Cut and then import them into After Effects. There, I replaced the green screen with backgrounds and added a variety of motion and special effects. No one in the film business would be satisfied with the quality of my work, but I'm just a measly musician and was pretty happy with it! (YouTube and TIME Newsfeed disagree... They love it! - Editor)
Once the After Effects work was complete, I exported the clips and imported them back into a new sequence in Final Cut for final editing.
The first time Zack saw the finished product was at the Bar Mitzvah party. He was blown away as were all the guests. I had many requests to put the video up on YouTube. Before I knew it, the video had gone viral with over 140,000 views in only two days.
I couldn't have done this without the friends who donated their time and energy to the project, not to mention all of the kids who sang and acted in the video. And, of course, I could never have learned my way around After Effects as quickly as I did without the help of Richard Lainhart and MacProVideo!
P.S. My third son, Jack, is going to be Bar Mitzvahed in 2013. I'm already searching MacProVideo to find ideas for his video!