Tag Archives: video

7 Days in Haiti

In May of 2011, I was part of a team of men who went to Mare Rouge, Haiti on a mission trip. We were there to work at a school for orphaned boys, doing construction projects, discipleship, and to be an encouragement to our Haitian brothers in Christ. This video is the story of our experience.

7 Days in Haiti from Chad Stembridge on Vimeo.

There’s so much I wish I had done differently or paid more attention to while capturing the footage during our mission trip. But I do believe it’s good that the story of Human Care School for Orphan Boys in Haiti is finally being told.

To learn more about what Heart of the Bride is doing in Haiti, check out their website.

HD is Overrated

*GASP* What did I just say???

Okay, quick disclaimer: I like HD. There’s nothing like being able to watch a video in high quality filling the whole 24 inches of my iMac screen. And the color definition… Yep, I’m looking forward to the day when I can afford to switch from Standard Definition to High Def (Red, anyone?).

However, I don’t hate SD. HD can be so overrated, in my opinion — there’s nothing magical about it at all. An HD camera + bad camera operator + bad editor + bad color grading = bad 1920×1080 video. The only difference between that and SD is 1,728,000 effective square pixels. And that’s only from a technical standpoint.

HD doesn’t automatically make weak acting or story stronger. My desire is to learn how to tell a great story (which includes knowing how to operate a camera well, edit well, grade color well) with whatever equipment I have. Not that technical aspects aren’t important, of course.

But this is why I think HD can be way overrated: storytelling should be more of a priority than the technical equipment with which it’s being told.

Toy Story: An Analysis of the Story Structure

The other night whilst my dear mother was enjoying some sort of “Snowman Party,” us guys (Dad, Tyler, an I) were at home (boys night in!). I was elated that a couple XLR cables had arrived that day, and after doing a test with my shotgun mic (which, before this, I had been unable to use due to my lack of a cable) which went extremely well, Tyler suggested that we do a “Toy Story” marathon. That means watching Toy Story and Toy Story 2 back to back.

Though I wasn’t particularly excited at the chance to sit in front of a TV for four hours doing practically nothing, I did. But just before we started, I had an idea.

So I got my trusty pad of paper and a pen, and sat poised and ready to write as the first movie began.

Instead of a wasted four hours, it was perhaps a little beneficial, as I was learning about story structure by taking notes (and watching camera moves… BTW, did you ever notice that there’s absolutely no depth-of-field in the first movie, except for where there’s a matte painting behind the 3D animation?) on it.

I thought that I would share my findings with you. So here they are:

Toy Story


Story Structure
ACT I
— Inciting Event — “Bank Robbery” introduces the setting, main toys (characters), Andy, Andy’s room.
— Introduction of Settings

  • Toys are organized
  • Use of dutch angles to create confusion (okay, so that doesn’t have anything to do with the story…)
  • Toy “hierarchy”
  • Introduction of new character “Buzz,” conflict
  • Conflict deepened, introduction of the “Sid” plot
  • ACT II
    Main Plot

  • Woody’ conspiracy against Buzz
  • The two are lost
  • Enter Sid’s house
  • Buzz discovers the truth about himself
  • Hope rises for escape, is dashed, mistrust in Andy’s room at it’s height
  • ACT III

  • Buzz loses all hope
  • Conflict heightens
  • Victory, but then complications
  • Buzz is lost
  • Conflict from dog, traffic, other toys
  • Small bit of relief
  • All hope is gone
  • Hope rises, problems are overcome (“Wait a minute… I just lit a rocket, and rockets explode!”)
  • Conflict is resolved!
  • Toy Story 2


    Story Structure
    NOTE: It’s kinda hard to tell whether or not this movie is in a standard 3-act story structure, or a 5-act. The conflict is different from that which is in the first movie, and there are several “false fronts” that lead into the actual plot. For the sake of simplicity and not exploding or imploding my own brain, I’ve organized this into the 3-act story structure.

    ACT I
    Inciting incident (supposed)– Buzz in space, actually a video game
    Introduction:

  • Woody going to camp, lost hat
  • Theme of “belonging” introduced
  • “Al” introduced (in the TV ad)
  • Setup for plot:

  • Woody is broken, has to stay home, dream sequence
  • Finds “Wheezy”
  • The yard sale, goes to rescue Wheezy, complications
  • Inciting event (actual) — Woody is stolen (leads into the actual plot)

    ACT II

  • Toys trying to solve mystery
  • Al is the culprit, Woody is captive
  • Backstory to Woody’s value, introduction of the “Prospector,” “Jessy,” “Bulls-eye”
  • The plot to save Woody
  • More backstory for the “Roundup Gang,” museum plot
  • Woody loses his arm, delays Al
  • Failed attempt to get arm back
  • Toy’s victorious invasion of Al’s Toy Barn
  • Video game magazine element (tied back into the supposed inciting incident, tied to other future elements as well)
  • Introduce second “Buzz,” develop the conflict in Al’s Toy Barn
  • Theme of “belonging” further developed
  • Woody’s choice of staying or leaving
  • Toy’s failure to find Woody at Al’s Toy Barn
  • Zurg introduced, problems overcome, connection to video game magazine
  • Roundup Gang preparing to leave / toys getting closer to rescue
  • Rescue operation going amiss, conflict with the Buzzes, conflict with the Prospector, escape deterred by Al
  • Conflict with Zurg, exit the Buzz/Zurg/video game plot (these elements simply help the toys get on with the plot)
  • Problem overcome (“Pizza anyone?”)
  • ACT III

  • Airport conflict, confusion
  • Disappointment
  • Conflict with the Prospector (again…)
  • Rescue
  • Problems, attempted rescue by Woody,
  • Ingenuity/conflict
  • Resolution (Woody is fixed, the theme of “belonging” is completed)
  • McGuffins

    And now for a few thoughts on the McGuffins from each movie. If you don’t know what a McGuffin is, read about it here.

    Toy Story’s McGuffin
    What’s the first movie’s McGuffin? I believe that it’s RC. Yep, the little remote control car. Why?

    1) RC is used to enter the main plot in Act II with Woody’s conspiracy
    2) RC brings everyone back together again at the resolution (well, except for Mr. Potato Head, who ends up being spread all over the floor of the moving truck by RC)

    Toy Story 2’s McGuffin
    Woody. He’s the second movie’s McGuffin, at least, that’s what I think. Perhaps I’m wrong (the video game element could be it, but I tend to think of this element as a secondary McGuffin that simply helps the plot along a bit).

    But think about it: Woody is what’s stolen (and thus brings in the plot), he’s the one who is crucial to the Roundup Gang (without him, they go back into storage), and he’s crucial to the Andy’s Room toys as well (in their rescue operation, which is the main plot).

    Woody brings all the characters together (except for the second Buzz and Zurg; I tend to think that the video game element is a whole different side-story), tears them apart (not literally; only in that the Rounup Gang’s hopes and dreams are torn between Woody’s desire for Andy, and to keep the Gang together), and finally brings the movie to it’s climactic resolution (he rescues Jessie).

    So those are my thoughts on the movies. What do you think?

    I’ll also say that, for some reason (perhaps it being simply because it’s been so long since I’ve watched them, or perhaps because the Lord opened my eyes to it), there seemed to be a hint of mockery going on at Christianity. It was extremely subtle (and perhaps I’m wrong, don’t take my word for it), but I could see it there. Maybe I’m wrong. I’d have to watch it again and specifically take notes for that (I can’t remember exactly what the elements where at the moment)… So I’ll just leave it at that.

    So anyways, I feel like I learned a little bit from charting the story structure!