Video Production: Dive in, Renew, Revitalize

You can’t just sit on your hands, safe in the knowledge that you learned what to do long ago, with no need to review, update or revise what you’re shooting.

Whether you know the road or are completely new to this race, you’re well aware of the importance of video. YouTube, for example, is so ubiquitous, that it is now considered a global utility.

To wantonly overlook the role of media and primarily video in our lives and culture, is to ignore something that is a fact. High-quality video today is a keystone of ministerial outreach.

And we aren’t just talking about filming worship services. Although that is a priority, all part of spreading the Gospel, it is at the heart of what we do.

Beyond that, the creation of bumpers, lead in/outs, promotional materials, event coverage, announcements and vignettes all play a role in presenting the vibrance and cohesiveness of church life to the world.

If this is your introduction to video production, let’s quickly burn through the basics of what you’ll need to get started.

Equipment & Training

If you’re looking for the fundamentals of video production, we’re going to list them below.

If you’re looking to set up a pro level studio (I hope) then you’d better call in some consultants.

I’m not kidding.

What are the things that you will need to make this happen?

For high production standards:

Camera(s)
Good sound source
Lights
An adequately modern computer to capture and/or edit with
A basic understanding of what shots to use and why

Camera(s)

How many do you need? More than one.

Why? You need more than a single camera, because the brains of humans (your audience) get bored looking at the same shot for 30-60 minutes. It works on the same psychological principle as why roads aren’t all straight lines, because people fall asleep if they are. If you’ve ever been to the Texas panhandle, then you know what I mean.

Don’t get an insanely complex pro level camera, if no one has the time or inclination to learn how to set it up. That’s just money wasted.

For example, the Canon XF305 is an amazing piece of equipment with buttons and knobs and dials ‘til Kingdom come. I have one. I love it. It can be a real handful in challenging conditions.

The Canon XF405 has an auto setting that will handle exposure masterfully, to where even a novice with a basic understanding of how to point a camera can get great shots with it. Assuming you’ve white balanced properly, that is.

Pick the right camera(s) for your crew.

Good Sound Source

Nothing will extinguish the interest in your video or broadcast to your audience more quickly than bad sound. I’m afraid you can’t get away with a mic somewhere in the room to capture ambient sound as your primary source.

Get it from the board, and feed it directly into your capture device, whether it be a computer or the cameras. Just get it from the board.

Good video without good sound is like a pretty girl with an annoying voice. What’s bad will cancel out what’s good.

Lights

This is less about lighting the room for the cameras, and more about proper subject lighting in any situation.

Seriously, educate yourself.

If, for instance, your subject is wearing clothing that blends in with a dark background and you haven’t properly backlit them, they’ll look like a floating head on screen. For the love of all that’s holy, backlight them, so this doesn’t happen.

Learn about key lights, backlights and multipoint lighting.

Editing

How much power do you need, and what kind of software do you want to use? Whether you fulfill your needs and wants here, it often will depend on your resources.

If you don’t have a choice for what hardware you will have access to, you will have to pick the right software that will work on your current computation machine.

To keep this section brief, read this article that outlines the pros and cons of different editing software you’ll want to look into that I wrote in June.

OK, Back To Business

We’re going to get back into the veteran topics. You’d better listen, too, newbies.

Broadcast standards evolve. Don’t just glance at that last sentence, go back and read it again. Never mind, I’ll do it for you.

Broadcast standards evolve.

This is not to say, of course, that the rule of thirds isn’t relevant. It is absolute. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then by all means, learn about it before you embarrass yourself or the Lord’s temple with a sloppy, haphazard film.

My point is this: You can’t just sit on your hands, safe in the knowledge that you learned what to do long ago, with no need to review, update or revise what you’re shooting.

Gone are the days where you could get away with two or three fixed shots. Cinematic lighting and framing techniques now have a permanent foothold in television.

So, do you need cinematic or broadcast shots? That depends.

When the sermon starts, stick with the standard formatting of old. Such as the way that the rule of thirds is rigidly streamlined for say, a news broadcast. During a worship service, event or program, however, exploit the rule of thirds to excite, maintain interest and convey emotion.

Don’t go crazy with it, just provide enough variety to keep people from falling asleep.

Audiences have come to appreciate this, as they’ve become accustomed to it on television and mark me, they have come to expect it.

Create Additional Content

This can have a bigger impact than you know. You can make something, assuming only a handful of people will see it, but you may find that the Lord had other uses for it.

Earlier this year, I was handed a clip of our senior pastor speaking about Independence Day. I liked the message, but hated the single, wide, still shot of him, standing in front of a flag while speaking.

I sliced up the audio, snagged a ton of stock footage from YouTube, laid some stock music under what was now a narration, and posted it to Facebook on the Fourth of July.

I thought, at best, a few hundred would watch it. It was seen and shared by thousands.

With just audio from the pastor and totally free resources, this is what I cranked out on the evening of July 3.

Don’t sell yourself short.

If, for instance, you’re handy with Adobe After Effects, great! If you aren’t, don’t just shrug it off and tell yourself that it’s out of your scope. You’d be surprised what can be accomplished with free resources and easy-to-use templates.

Somewhere out there, there’s a tutorial video for just the effect that you’re trying to achieve. Find it.

We’ve finally talked the staff into making video announcements. We got some sweet drone footage of the church and surrounding area, dropped them into an AE template and stuck a fork in it.

Announcements now take one minute, instead of 15, and people actually pay attention to them.

When people like what they see, they focus and listen.

If you get them totally jazzed about what they’re seeing on screen, then you’ll get the message through like never before.

What to Walk Away With

As long as this article is, I only scratched the surface on a few topics. Why? I wanted to put something in the hands of newcomers, and also because I’m tired of seeing stagnant, dated productions so often being created by church tech staffs.

Sure, old people will watch a stale broadcast that may as well be from the 1990s, but you’ll never draw in a new audience with it.

Use media to the full potential that you know it has, and the Lord will show you what He can do with it

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