If your church is streaming online at all these days, you might not have a blank, black space behind your pastor or worship team while they are speaking or leading worship. Backdrops not only help to separate your subject and help create more depth on camera, but they also help tie together things like a sermon series, or the overlying themes of a season.
LED video walls are beginning to become more common as backdrops, especially because of their flexibility and cost savings over the long run. A video wall offers an endless blank canvas, that doesn’t have to stay the same. You also have the option of having the added benefit of your backgrounds having motion!
LED walls, however, do offer an interesting challenge, in trying to make the backdrop look good on camera, as it can be extremely bright, blowing out everything else on stage. At the same time, you can also have the side effect of having too saturated of a color scheme. Here are some tips on how you can have an amazing looking background, to avoid any such problems!
One of the most underrated jobs at a church is a graphics designer. Having someone who can come up with all your graphic needs is key! Someone who understands colors, contrast, and working with the right tools to create depth and texture, is crucial when planning on incorporating great custom backgrounds, while coming up with something that specifically matches your vision and direction.
Don’t have a graphics designer? Not a problem!
With the help of a number of great stock motion graphic websites, one can find numerous static and motion backgrounds that look fantastic on camera. My two favorite such websites to use are churchmotiongraphics.com and danstevers.com. Both these sites offer content that I absolutely love, and each site offers just what we need for what we do at Harvest. Each site offers a subscription service, so you have the ability to get fresh new content every month. Not to mention they have fantastic sermon/service preroll videos, that do such a great job at setting the mood.
Check it on camera
Having a video camera on, while you’re checking content on your backdrop, will help you balance between brightness, contrast, color saturation and content. Whenever we get new backgrounds at Harvest, we always do a camera test, to make sure it looks great on camera. After a while, your eyes do get trained to just know what type of content will work, and what kind will not. At Harvest, we have a graphic designer, Josh Huffman, who has developed an amazing skill for creating video wall content, which results in absolutely stunning looks on camera and in person!
Less is more
I have come to find that a lot of the time, less truly is more. When it comes to video walls for backgrounds, for instance, you will want to have a different background for every song. That’s not a bad idea at all, as we do that a lot at Harvest as well. I would think twice, though, before going past that, as changing your background throughout a song can serve as a distraction, if not done tastefully. I would definitely make sure you are intentional about changing your backgrounds, and just make sure it matches the feel and flow of the worship set.
At Harvest, we have actually been simplifying things of late, taking a step back in terms of backgrounds, by just doing lyrics in white on a black background. It is a really great palette cleanse, from all of the visual saturation that one gets from today’s world, and at other times during the service. It also doesn’t hurt to just do super simple sometimes, as it gives your team a little bit of a break and helps create something new without it being really complicated.
These are just a few tips and tricks from a lighting designer’s point of view on video backdrops, on how to work on creating great ones, and how they could help enhance your worship service.
Feel free to reach out to me with any comments or any questions!