Thursday, 16 February 2012

Lights, Camera, ACTION!!!

Lights, Camera, ACTION!!!

This year PTQ is taking a journey into area’s unexplored and I am taking you along for the ride to share the ups, downs and all the in between. For the past five or six years my students have been encouraging, begging, emailing and posting on my facebook, requesting that I have my classes put on video. Now it’s not that I am camera shy, I’ve been on dozens of TV and On Line quilting shows in the past, and we often film live on the spot Utube videos for PTQProductions, it’s been more of a challenge to find the right camera crew. This might sound odd but I needed to know that the finished video would be, not only of the highest quality, but also that it would be as close to being with me in a class as possible. They say the hardest thing to do is to create the same energy level of a “live class” setting, on an “in studio” filming. This means that even after hours of endless takes and retakes and “A” shots and “B” shots that I needed to know that when we where finished taping you would still feel at least some of the crazy excitement that we share in class. I didn’t want the video to end up looking and sounding like a college instructor lecturing to class of sleeping students, and lets be honest, my biggest fear of course was that it would end up all work and no play! After all, my whole out look on free motion quilting is that it should be first and foremost FUN! Like I always say... It’s not brain surgery... It’s Quilting. I have been looking for the right film crew for the past five years... do you know how hard it is to find a film crew that understands not only quilting but quilters with my personality? Take it from me it’s harder then you might think. Then, last year I was asked to film half a dozen episodes for Linda V. Taylor’s “The Quilting School”. Before I was half way through the first episode I knew in my heart and in my mind that this was the perfect set up, the perfect crew, and the perfect everything to make the magic happen. 
The perfect crew !! The perfect place!!

 Knowing who you want to film your videos and where you want to film them is just the beginning. Before leaving Crazy Horse Production Studios, Jon (my partner and the business side of my brain) and I booked an appointment to meet with everyone that would be involved while we were all in Houston at Market and Festival. There where about six or maybe seven or eight, people at that meeting... I couldn’t tell you exactly who was there as I may have been to busy chatting with Linda and doodling in my note pad while I should have been paying attention. If there is one thing I have learned over the past 12 years, it this; know your strength’s and your weaknesses. Handle what you are best at and have someone else you trust handle the rest. I am not good at business meetings, contracts, any kind of paperwork that involves writing or typing or anything other then drawing really.  We can’t be good at everything and why would we want to be? My philosophy in life is simply this; Find something that you are passionate about and talented at and find a way to earn an income doing just what you love. Don’t miss understand me, you need to know it takes hours of hard work and strict determination to turn your passions into a business, but when you love what you are doing, the 24 hour, 365 days a year it takes to make a living with that passion, doesn’t seem nearly as hard as working a job you hate 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I LOVE to share tips, tricks, and new design ideas!

I LOVE to share my passion for quilting through lectures and trunk show!

 Jon took the lead at the meeting, knowing that I was just there to answer short yes and no direct questions. Jon, Rick and Todd discussed the over all feel of the videos, the time and length that the finished product should be, the money... who pays what, when and why. They agreed on a time date and location and before I knew it the business end of the planning was complete. Coffee time! I can’t remember if we signed contracts of intent but we probably did. Then the real work began. As soon as I arrived home the emails started flooding in. Todd needed a brake down of the classes, descriptions, content, some form of script, even though we all knew that I would not be using a prompter and that I would surely re-script as we filmed on the spur of the moment. He needed to know in advance what shots where the most important to capture and when and where I would be talking directly to the camera for my close up’s and when the camera should be focused just on my stitching! It was all very over whelming. I was sure the emails should have been going to Jon as they looked a lot like paperwork to me. When I filmed for the TV episodes I just had to have Jon send them my class outline and make sure that I brought lots of pretty samples to show. The hostess would ask me questions that I would answer while I was quilting out the techniques we  discussed, before I knew it someone would yell “CUT” and the episode would be complete.
Answer a few questions, quilt a little for the camera and Cut!

 So the emails kept coming and by the time we headed out to The Crazy Horse Productions Studio I had lots of “paperwork” printed out, ready to be filled in but nothing completed to hand to Todd when we arrived. Truth be told... the last few emails, I just printed with out even reading them, hoping that the quilting fairy would come along while I was asleep and fill in all the information for me...The fairy never came! The paperwork never got filled out...
This is where an awesome film crew that understands us (when I say us, I mean those of us who pay more attention to colour and design then questions and answers) comes into play... After we arrived Todd had me answer a few simple questions and write out a paragraph or two on what I wanted to see on the completed video. Then he worked it onto a “film sheet” and broke it down into takes, retakes, “A” shots and “B” shots. Of course I had no idea at this point what the difference between an “A” shot and a “B” shot was, but I can tell you now that one is the close up where I am talking to you or drawing on the white board and the other is me talking while you are watching a close up of the quilting. 
Oh did we start filming already? Oops!
No one can see that I am wearing my glasses right?
No one will know you have your glasses on, we're doing a ZenSuedle Close Up!

These are shot at different times and then edited together later to make it look like it is all happening at the same time. This allows the crew to reset the lights and camera angles for a clear, more professional looking video when all is said and done. The trick is remembering what I said when and where and which boots went with witch jacket and don’t even get me started on the earrings and bracelets and necklaces that went with each outfit. Oh and quick tip... remember to turn off your microphone between takes, you never know who might be listening in...
They think my designs are really cool.... I can hear them...

It takes about 4-6 hours to tape 1-2 hours of completed video with all the lighting and placement changes but it is well worth it in the end. We managed to shoot 6 full length videos all between 1 ½ and 2 hours in length in 3 ½ days, including all the photo shots for promotion, adds, and the video covers. We started at the break of dawn.  
Yes Coffee first!! Hair and make up can wait!!

 Each morning after breakfast Linda would decorate my nails, just one of the many perks at Crazy Horse Studio’s, while Rick and Todd prepared the lighting and the sets.
WOW it's like Linda is ZenSuedling my nails!!
 Then it was hair, make up and which outfit to wear. All the samples were pre arranged in staging areas, the longarm machine was loaded with jet black fabric (my favourite) and brightly coloured variegated threads and we were filming every morning by 9 am. We usually started with the close ups, the introduction and the thanks for joining us, and the step by step instructions either on the white board or at the table.

What! Am I saying hello and welcome to Quilt It With... or goodbye?

And here we go... bump-back-over

 Then it was time for a quick lighting change, a quick cup of coffee, and then onto the close ups of the stitch outs.
A cup between takes always makes me smile!

And just like we saw it on the white board we'll just bump-back-over

WOW that adds Awesome texture doesn't it?!?
 We averaged about 4 ½ hours per video which allowed us to complete one in the morning and another in the afternoon. Of course we had to stop for lunch, a quick clothing change and let us not forget that Linda re-painted my nails for every video, morning, noon and night!
I have never been so excited to here “That’s a Wrap!!” on that final day of taping. We were so exhausted we were lucky to remember our own names. Still the promo shots had to be done so a few quick clothing changes, some giggles and some smiles, and some fun super star poses close ups and I was sure we were done!
Hurry I have a leg cramp and I'm falling!!!
I'm too cool for my own good here but just couldn't find the strength to smile.

 But just when I thought we were done... it was on to all the final last minute details. We spent an entire day laying out the look of the video covers, front and back, choosing the right fonts for the headers, the perfect picture for the cover and the final details and descriptions on the back. Then it was onto the business stuff... when and how the videos would be released the cost of the finished product based on the length of each completed video, the brilliant idea to release a “limited edition” case that would include all 6 videos at a special pre order price... 

Then it was time for Jon and me to pack everything up and make the 37 hour drive home (I may have slept the whole time while Jon drove). Todd and Rick got right to work editing the footage and completing the cases, and creating the really cool intro we wanted. After all, you don’t think I’d do videos with out a really cool intro do you?
Now as Jon works on adding the video to our site, that is ready to be launched  and Todd and Rick complete the editing, I am working on the next group of video’s scheduled to be taped this July. I can’t wait to see what awesome nail designs Linda comes up with. All in all it was an awesome experience, but one that I would never have managed to get through with out the awesome help of Jon, Todd, Rick and Linda. If you have ever thought of creating your own videos to share and are looking for that perfect crew like I was, I highly recommend that you contact Todd Fletcher at at Crazy Horse Productions Studios. Although they specialize in quilting they offer a full range of video opportunities. I hope this blog inspires you to take the next leap through that open door of success and happy filming... And Remember...Smile there are real people on the other side of the camera and they are all watching you!!!

I would like to take this blog space to thank all my students that encouraged me to take this step and get these videos done. I would also like to thank Linda V. Taylor, Rick Taylor and Todd Fletcher at Crazy Horse Production Studio for making this such an awesome experience. Also, although it goes with out saying... I would like to thank Jon Vorich for arranging the opening of that door of opportunity, and handling all the business stuff, with out him the creative side of my brain would only have dreamed of creating a video to share rather then actually making it happen.


  1. wow, would have loved to be there for that!!!!

  2. Awesome! I can't wait to see the videos!!!

  3. Oh, I'd love to pick your brain! I started creating a video, and after several days of set design, sample-making, staging, video and audio testing, I had to reluctantly call it quits. Not for lack of enthusiasm and the right people, but due to push-back on the technical aspects of the equipment, and costs. Good for you to have all the pieces in place to make it happen!

  4. Sue, congratulations on your new videos, can hardly wait to see them !!!

  5. Oh Linda I know exactly what you are going through... we thought we could do it here at our studio... but not so much. By the time you get it all together and figure the cost of the equipment, lights, cameras, video programs for editing... it just goes on and on for ever. We just booked out time in with the crew and they made it all happen. It's so worth it to have someone... a real video crew do your videos. The hardest thing I did was get there and the truth is Jon drove while I slept.

  6. Thanks for writing this post - so excited for you!!

    I wanted to point out a spelling error on the back of your DVD cover. In the paragraph for the second disk, "boarders" should say "borders." Hopefully someone caught that before too many are printed! :)

  7. Congrats!! I can't wait for your videos to be released!! I took a class of yours at IQF last fall & you inspired me so much!!

  8. Thanks LoveBug I have sent an email to Todd who is working on the covers... looks like he caught it on the second proof... I was tooo excited to wait and posted it before I even looked it over... the art side of my brain just say a really cool DVD with my picture floating on one of my ZenSuedle designs lol

  9. We are on the final count down! The Limited Edition Collection is ready for pre sale! Now we are just waiting for the final up load of the web site!!! I will keep you posted but it looks like the complete 6 disk set will be offered at $200.00 (it's like getting one disk free) and shipping for all pre sale orders will be sometime in March! I am actually doing the happy dance!! This is soooo exciting!!! Remember ones the pre sale is done the Limited Edition will be gone forever.... that's just so sad.


  11. Video sales are going great!!! thank you to everyone who has placed an order... if you would like to order before they are all gone please go to Happy quilting. We will begin shipping sometime in March 2012.

  12. We know have at single video's for sale on our site... just go to and click on the video page. I will try to post some pre views over the next week or two. Life has been crazy with the new fabric line coming out and lots of new things happening but I promise to add a new blog post very soon.