Noah—He Walked With God—How the Video Was Made
“HE GETS up in the morning talking about it. He watches it three or four times during the day and again before he goes to bed at night.” What is this California mother talking about? Her two-year-old son and his love of the video Noah—He Walked With God. * She adds: “When he plays outside, he talks about building a lifesaving ark, with his hammer in hand.”
Another mother wrote: “I must give a big thank-you for all the effort, time, and love that was put into the Noah video. I have a three-year-old who has memorized practically the whole video, even the sound effects! It is his favorite video, and he asks to see it every day, two or three times a day.”
One little girl, Danielle, wrote: “I like it, and I want to follow the things that Noah did. I hope you make more videos for kids.”
Of course, Bible videos take time to make. Why is that?
How Was the Noah Video Made?
Long before any sequence was filmed or any pictures painted, a scriptwriter drafted a story line based on the Bible account. This would eventually become a storyboard and then a script. A storyboard is a series of small, rough drawings that help artists establish the sequence and design of a story. Several individuals, including the artists, discussed how the history of Noah could be illustrated—which portions would use actors and which would best be represented by paintings. Enacted sequences help to establish the reality of an account in a child’s mind. They show that the Bible speaks of real people who served Jehovah thousands of years ago. What would be the next step in the production?
A cast was chosen to represent Noah and his family. Their costumes were designed, and the color schemes for each scene were decided upon. All of this was necessary because the artists could not draw and paint Noah and his wife and sons and daughters-in-law until they knew what the actors looked like in their costumes. The paintings had to be consistent with the real-life scenes. But where would these scenes be filmed?
Denmark was chosen, since the branch office of the Watch Tower Society in that country had skilled prop builders and sufficient factory space available for the necessary indoor scenes. A film crew went from the Audio/Video Services Department of the Watchtower Educational Center at Patterson, New York, to do the filming, which also involved Danish personnel. The story is told through narration. This has made it much easier to produce the program in other languages because it eliminates the difficult step of dubbing, that is, inserting a synchronized translation of dialogue. But how was the difficult artwork prepared?
Art and a Special Camera
Artists prepared hundreds of watercolor paintings based on the storyboard that the creative team had prepared. These were not necessarily square or rectangular paintings. Sometimes they were curved or oval-shaped, depending on the camera angle that was going to be used. None of the paintings were larger than 22 inches [56 cm] by 30 inches [76 cm], and most were as small as 11 inches [28 cm] by 15 inches [38 cm].
A special motion-control camera was needed to film the paintings. In order to give a three-dimensional effect, the artwork was set up in three layers—foreground, middle distance, and background. In this way views could be shot through trees, through the legs of an elephant, or through whatever else was needed to give the effect of depth. The camera was controlled by a computer and could pan over a scene or zoom in to create a special effect. This can give the impression that the scene is moving when, in fact, it is only the camera that is doing so.
Since the Watch Tower Society does not have the skills or the resources to do genuine animation, the mixed-media approach of using enacted sequences along with paintings serves as a viable compromise. Children in the 3- to 12-year-old age-group, for whom the video was designed, have enjoyed this method. And the video clearly points out many lessons that can be learned from Noah’s example. Furthermore, the quiz on the video sleeve helps parents review the main points of the story with their children.
Other special effects, such as the increasing downpour at the time of the Flood, were achieved by computer technology. It is easy to see that much time and creative effort went into the production of the Noah video.
Since Bible accounts do not change, the video Noah—He Walked With God will always be current and can help teach each new generation of youngsters. Children and parents have written hundreds of letters of appreciation asking for more videos. One person wrote: “I am 50 years old and raised my children long ago. But I think it would be an invaluable tool today for parents with young children to have a video library of Bible stories.”
^ par. 2 This video was released in 1997 and has been translated into Albanian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Serbian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, and Thai. More languages are planned.
[Diagram/Picture on page 25]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
The motion-control camera films while moving, giving life to the artwork
[Pictures on page 22, 23]
Production began with the storyboard
[Pictures on page 23]
Most enacted sequences were filmed in Denmark
[Pictures on page 24, 25]
Artists drew and painted some 230 separate scenes
[Pictures on page 25]
Computer editing, special effects, narration, music, and sound completed the video