The 123,000,000 Mile Traveler | Context, Music Choice, Symbolism

Published by Darron Toy on


Today, a story about an incredible spacecraft, ideas that drive it forward, and ways that you can use them in your storytelling right now. My name is Jeff Bartsch, this is Story Greenlight. My little son is a huge fan of airplanes, and the California Science Center in Downtown Los Angeles has some pretty cool ones. There’s a fighter jet outside the front entrance, and in the front entryway there’s a glider built by Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1902. And up in the main atrium you can see two more fighter jets hanging from the ceiling. But as cool as those are, there’s one aircraft at the museum that far outshines all the others. In 2011, the American Space Shuttle Program officially ended after 135 missions. In 2012, after having flown 25 of them, traveling nearly 123,000,000 miles, the space shuttle Endeavour crossed the country for its own final journey. It landed at Los Angeles International Airport, and over the next four days rolled across the surface streets of LA, sometimes clearing nearby houses or trees by mere inches. At the time, I didn’t make the effort to see this happening in person, somehow not realizing what a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it would be. And I would regret that a lot more, had this incredible vehicle not ended its journey at a place where it could be seen by anyone in person up close. Very, very close. I’ve seen huge airplanes up close before. But this is no ordinary airplane. Each of the Endeavour’s faded tiles speak of epic battles against unthinkable forces of heat and gravity. Crew and cargo were rocketed forward into outer space by now silent engines who knew their mighty power represented only a fraction of the heavy lifting. The real push came first from the men and women who built this ship and the program it represented. But ultimately, the greatest force came from the words and the flag on its side. The dreams of millions of human beings pushing beyond the here and now to strive, to fail, to ultimately accomplish what others said was impossible. While its physical journeys to space may have come to an end, this proud traveler serves an ongoing mission: to inspire all who see to pursue our own journeys. That whatever our endeavours, we put our hand to them with all our might. So whatever your mission might be: Press on. Howdy. Here are some ideas that drive the piece you just saw. No. 1: Shifting of Context. Now, this piece is structured around starting in one space and ending up another place where we didn’t expect. It’s not just “Hey, we went to a museum, it was cool and that’s it”, it was “We went to a museum, we saw some cool stuff, but then we saw some REALLY really cool stuff that we never would have expected, that reminds us of lessons that we can all take forward into our own lives.” Watch the video again and watch how that context shifts from what we expect to something that we don’t. Music choices The piece has three sections that tell the story, and there are three main sections of music. The first piece is kind of an upbeat, exploratory kind of a thing, just like a lighthearted “Hey, we’re going to the museum.” Then, the next piece is the backstory to what we’re going to see in the third piece. Kind of a military, foreboding march kind of a thing. Kind of like an army marching off on a mission, kind of like a space shuttle marching across the streets of Los Angeles inch by inch the way it did. And then, when it gets to the third section of the piece, it’s not some big, blasty, epic thing, because actually, if you go there and you see the shuttle in person they have like big loud… …which I get why they do that, but for this piece I wanted something more intimate, more emotional, that draws people in. Watch the video again and see how the choices of music follow in sequence, they play off each other, and they set up the progression of emotion. Last big idea: Symbolism. Or as I like to call it: The Thing Under the Thing. Now, I was looking forward to go into the museum, and I knew that it was gonna be cool, but when I was actually there, standing underneath that aircraft, my heart started pounding, because I knew that this was much more than an aircraft. And that’s the time when I knew that I had to tell a story about this, because whenever you start connecting with things on a deeper level than what the surface of it seems to be, that’s when you know you have a story that has something powerful to say. This piece is full of symbols – things that mean something more than what they actually are, just as an object or an idea in and of themselves. Go back, watch the video again and see how many of these you can find. They are all over the place. And leave a comment below, tell me your thoughts, I’d like to to hear what you think about this. Areas to improve. I’m gonna come right out and say it: I’ve spent my career here in Hollywood sitting in an edit bay, not operating or standing behind or running and gunning with a camera. So the camera work is not incredible, especially in the third section. I have an app called Hyperlapse that works with the gyroscope on my smartphone to digitally smooth out video, and it does a great job. Unfortunately there’s only so much that it can do when you’re doing what I was doing, walking backwards quickly in flip-flops. The cool thing is, though, it’s not critical to have every single element of your piece completely perfect. This piece is not perfect, very few pieces are. And that’s just the way it is, so take that as an encouragement. Just keep focusing on the most foundational elements that really drive your story and the impact of your emotion forward, and you will find success. So here it is, this is the video No. 1 of the Story Greenlight channel, and I really wanted this to be the first video, candidly because it’s something that I need to keep telling myself. The idea of “whatever you do, do it well.” There will be difficulties, there will be roadblocks, there will be challenges, there will be failure. And there’s no way around that. But challenges are meant to be taken on and overcome. And we will come out on the other side, the better for it. If you’ve appreciated this video, hit the like button, hit the subscribe button and leave a comment about what you think. What resonated with you? What didn’t resonate with you? Let’s keep this conversation going. So, until then, I’m Jeff Bartsch. And consider this your green light to take your stories to the world.


24 Comments

Scott Simmons · September 11, 2017 at 4:18 pm

This is awesome!

Joe Gilder • Home Studio Corner · September 22, 2017 at 1:00 am

Man I so rarely think about the story, but it seems like every piece of content I create CAN have a story, even if it's a straight up tutorial piece. I imagine it would make it so much more engaging and memorable.
I'm good at injecting my personality into my videos. And I've juuuust started doing heavier editing to tighten things up and make them entertaining, but thinking along the lines of STORY seems to be the next big focus for me. Thanks for this.
Are you a Donald Miller fan, by chance? I want to take his StoryBrand seminar one of these days.

Scott Gunn · September 22, 2017 at 1:03 am

Well done, Jeff!

Dafter Things · September 22, 2017 at 9:57 am

There are so many elements that go into storytelling that some of the less obvious can be missed. As I watched the film I didn't consider the context, music (ok I did notice it changed) or the symbolism. As a result, my own stories would be less than they could be. It needs somebody who has that experience to help me see/hear better…. so many thanks for doing that and looking forward to what comes in the future.

Jeff Mines · September 22, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Hi Jeff. This piece inspires me to rethink how I tell my stories both visually and through music. Loved your book. I read it cover to cover.

THEDocMonster · September 29, 2017 at 7:08 pm

I appreciate your understanding of how to technically present a piece to appeal to a wide audience while remaining true to your connection to the subject and the emotions it evoked in you. Your technical expertise coupled with your emotional honesty are what I find most amazing in this presentation. That's not an easy balancing act, but you pulled it off effortlessly. Thank you for inspiring me. Excellent job!

atvinsel · September 29, 2017 at 9:46 pm

This is great! I have to admit, as an editor who has done many infomercial and corporate videos, I am pretty jaded. Your video definitely brought out my emotions. (I also was able to see a shuttle take off, which was amazing.)
Have you read "On Writing" by Stephen King? You video reminds me of his book.

Video Creators · February 4, 2018 at 8:05 pm

Love this format, Jeff, of telling a story and then dissecting the elements that made it great. Very helpful!

Nighthawk Gliders · February 5, 2018 at 6:13 am

I love this story, Jeff! This rings so true for me right now. Wonderful writing, great video, and thoughtful encouragement for me to press on with my endeavors! Thanks for sharing! 😀

Eric Hanson · March 22, 2018 at 4:49 pm

Seriously you’re channel is killing the game Jeff. You’re talking about YouTube the way I want to do it. I also have a hunch that in 5 years this is how everyone will be talking about online video.

G Media · March 25, 2018 at 9:35 pm

Would love to see a video about how a pro seamlessly pulls in and out of music edits. Where the music is clipped to fit the segment. Lots of us use free music that doesn't come with adjustable lengths.

Fleance TV · March 30, 2018 at 7:45 am

Hey Jeff, just wanna express my thanks to you for your work. I've subscribed, watched all your videos on Youtube and halfway thru your book Edit Better. I'm learning alot & you've also inspired to create an awesome Youtube channel of my own. Nobody better to learn from but the guru Jeff himself IMHO. Thank you once again & hoping to have a chance to collab once I get my channel up & running soon! Cheers!

Tony Young · April 22, 2018 at 9:25 am

Great video and well done crutique. But there are places where the music almost drowns out the narration.

LA CHAÎNE QUI PARLE DE SECOURISME · July 12, 2018 at 5:30 am

I realy like your videos. (Sorry i write on english only when my brain out of the bed)

Maria Czarzasty · July 28, 2018 at 1:35 am

Beautifully told story. 👏 I had tears in my eyes. I was so absorbed in the story and emotions that I did not notice the lack of smoothness in the footage you pointed out. Thank you very much, Jeff for sharing your experiences. I'm so glad that I found your channel 🙏. I have so many camcorder tapes from our home videos for editing. Now I am learning taking videos with DSLR camera, but time is harsh on me (big 60 comming,🤭) Best regards from 🇵🇱/🇨🇦

Asta Panayitou · August 12, 2018 at 12:39 pm

I am here for a binge session, there is a lot to be learnt. I found you on your video with Codey

Princess Jasmine · September 16, 2018 at 10:27 am

Do this more. Love it.

Erik Calderon · October 22, 2018 at 1:14 am

Appreciate this video, thanks for helping become a better story teller.

Music Nerd Revolution · October 22, 2018 at 9:49 am

The thing that speaks to me is the different ways you can tell a story in, to be able to get the viewers attention in different ways than just fast editing

Drey Koss · January 13, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Great Story, and most importantly seamless!

JoeSimple ! · March 28, 2019 at 10:43 pm

Bro, your killing it! I greatly appreciate your stuff. I'm dipping my toe in to the YouTube ocean and want to stand out. Anyone can do a video about building this and that. But now all i can think about is what's the story / the thing under the thing. And i feel like that will help me stand out. Some days I feel like I dont have time for this. Then i watch your videos and it gives me inspiration. Keep on creating!

Ant Pugh · April 1, 2019 at 7:19 am

I'm not getting TTUTT. is it USA? Patriotism? I would love to know what elements you're intimating at here – it's not clear (to me at least).

Romy Macias · April 6, 2019 at 2:02 am

Jeff, you are ahead of your time. And that is precisely why I'm following you. It will probably take time to take-off, but when you do, remember this: You saw what many weren't able to at first. Congratulations!

Story Greenlight · April 11, 2019 at 9:01 pm

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