Here at Cinema Spice we like to showcase different filmmakers, motion graphic artists, video editors, and all around cool people in a something we like to call featured chef. This week’s featured chef is Sir Aaron Williams.

While he has never been “technically” knighted he is indeed a great man and great at what he does. Aaron works full time as a director of post-production at Snapshot Interactive as well as doing freelance editing, coloring, and motion graphics. It sounds like a dream job for many people so we decided to ask him a few questions about how he got to where he is now along with how he used the Long Shadows custom effect in one of his recent videos.

1. How did you get to where you are now?

Wow, big question! I actually got started in filmmaking at church in my youth group in middle school. By the time I was in high school, I knew that’s what I wanted to do for my career. I went to film school at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and focused most of my classes on post-production and graphic design (a great companion minor!). 

After college, I was hired by Biltmore Baptist Church, a huge church in Asheville, North Carolina. I worked there as the video producer and created all of their video content from scratch. About a year or so later, I was promoted to be the Creative Director for the communications department. 

Eventually, my wife and I decided that we wanted to move back to our hometown of Nashville, Tennessee so that we could be closer to family with our son. I got a job at Snapshot Interactive as an editor, and another year later I was promoted to Director of Pro-Production. During that whole time, I did freelance work in color grading, motion graphics, and editing for national cable spots on DiY and HGTV, service elements for other large churches, EPKs for artists like Amos Lee, etc. Pretty much all of my freelance work is referral work, which is great!

2. What is the one thing that has helped you out the most to get where you are now?

Don’t be afraid to cold call. You don’t have to wait open positions. When I was looking for a job here in Nashville, I just picked the companies I wanted got work for and sent them my stuff. A good reel, resume and intro letter can work wonders, and if your stuff is good enough, people will make a place for your talents.

3. If someone wanted to get into coloring, editing, or motion graphics, what advice would you give them?

First – read, research, and see what’s out there constantly. Trends and technology change quickly and often, so staying informed keeps you in the game. I have over 50 different sites in my feed reader just in the film, design, or creative direction categories that I keep up with to stay informed. 

Second, you and your time are valuable. Don’t work for free unless you really like the project and really do want to work for free. If you value yourself at $0 at the beginning, it will be hard for you to change their mind on that valuation. 

Third, investment in your education is worth it. Whether it’s college, online courses like MographMentor, independent training like the International Colorist Academy, get taught be great teachers, and listen to what they say. And don’t be afraid to ask them about the business side too! It’s not just software that matters in this industry. 

3. How can people get ahold of you, see more work that you have done or learn more about what you do?

The best way to chat with me is probably on Twitter at @videoaaron. I’m very active, and try to be very responsive. On a more professional note, I have a site where I do articles and tips on color grading, motion graphics and editing (though my writing has slowed down just a bit since my wife and I had our second kiddo a couple months ago). You can see examples of my work there, and also get ahold of me through the site. I also do some writing elsewhere around the web, including for Premium Beat’s blog, occasionally Pro Video Coalition, and guest posts on a few other sites.

In a recent lyrics video that he made for the Venture Christian Church, Aaron used the Long Shadows Custom Effect for AE.

Risen Lyric Video from Aaron Williams on Vimeo.

Here is what he had to say about making the video,

I was asked to do a freelance project by Venture Christian Church in the San Jose area for their Easter services this year. The project was an animated kinetic-type lyric video to be shown while the band played the song live to a click track. When working with the staff and discussing design direction, I thought a very bright-color, geometric based design would work well with the energy of the song. I wanted to use the current flat design trend as a base, and the long shadows look would add some good contrast to the single-hue sections throughout the piece. I did some research on how to create the long shadows look in Photoshop and Illustrator, but just happened to stubbled across Mikey’s preset through Twitter as I’m a follower of his. It was quite the “eureka!” moment that ended up making things much easier for me in After Effects.

The effect is about as simple as it gets in execution, which is exactly what I needed for this project. Timing the animation of the text with the song was crucial and detailed, and the preset was pretty much a “set it and forget it” thing that didn’t interfere with the animation I wanted to have on the text. All I had to do was precomp all of my text layers (not a requirement of the preset, it just made things easier for me if I decided to change any attributes of the effect), add the preset, and I was done. I didn’t even end up changing the default values since they looked so good.

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