Let’s be real: church is going digital. In fact, the reality is clearer than that: church has gone digital. If your church isn’t online yet, or hasn’t figured out livestream, you might be behind the curve.
We are living in a world of short, digestible story videos that pull viewers in, keep their attention (but not for long) and then give them an action step to complete. Long sermons don’t work as well as they used to for engaging people, and churches are finding themselves pivoting in online worship and promotional formats.
Feeling tech dis-inclined? Like you’ll never be able to scale the mountain that is the process of actually producing a video?
I’m here to tell you it’s easier than you think. My church is holding a video production and editing class, and I’m going to try and share with you as much wisdom from that class as possible.
Week 1 was all about what you need to get started, and it wasn’t as much as I had thought. Here’s a rundown of what might be most helpful as you create your content.
Step 1: Video Recording Equipment
Most videos that are taken on smartphones are high enough quality (especially if you have an IPhone) to use and edit together to create something short and sweet. Just try to make sure if you’re editing it for a TV screen or livestream that it’s landscape instead of portrait (but for social media, portrait is just fine).
But if you decide you want to up the ante and invest in something small (or if you’re still rocking the vintage flip phone), there are other options that you can use to take video – if you decide to use your desktop or laptop, you can choose a webcam with a microphone (normally the computer’s webcam and microphone are sub-par), or you can try a digital camera made for videos, there are a ton of options out there in all price ranges:
Note, all links in this article are affiliate links, meant to help you browse more easily while supporting the ministry of this website, and profits will support the makers of the video course at my home church, Central United Methodist.
Step 2: Steady The Image
Sometimes, holding your phone and doing a “selfie video” is a great effect. But if you’re creating videos for worship, you might want something to steady the image so your arm isn’t in the photo or your images don’t come out too wobbly.
In class, it was suggested that you consider one of three tools for the job, depending on who is holding the video recorder/cell phone (you or someone else) and how much movement you expect.
First option: a monopod. A monopod looks like a selfie stick, but is meant to stand straight up and down. You can carry it pretty indiscreetly (they normally telescope) and put it on the ground to guarantee steady shots.
Second option: a tripod. Some monopods come as a set with a tripod, which for me is double-value, in case you need one of each. A tripod works well when you need your hands to do something. A tripod can sit on your desk, can sit outside if you’re filming out there, it definitely gives you the most stability and frees up your hands. If you’re using a phone-specific tripod, you can even find one with buttons (see one of the options below) that connects to your Bluetooth – no need to press the screen to start!
Third option: a Gimbal. This one is something I hadn’t heard of before, and kind of sounds like a selfie-stick with a gyro inside to ensure that your picture stays upright no matter what. Here are a few options so you can see – this is something that is an option if you are walking during videos and want the picture to stay steady. These are definitely the most expensive of the three options, due to the inclusion of stabilizers.
Step 3: Lighting and Setting
I put setting and lighting together because they both create the ambience of your video space. If you’re doing regular videos, many pastors use book cases behind them. This is an alright approach, but for me it’s overdone. Consider something more unique, like chairs and some books, but with other visual interests.
Choose a space that does not have open windows behind you – light behind you that’s brighter than the light in front of you is a big no-no when it comes to videos, and will make you appear darker than you are.
Whatever you do, do NOT video yourself against a white wall, if you can avoid it. If you only have a white wall to use, consider getting a green screen so you can play around with backgrounds superimposed onto the green screen. White walls make you appear washed out, and drain the color from anything put against it.
Here is the green screen that I use in my video editing, and it even comes with the whole kit-and-kaboodle – lights, backdrop, the works. I asked for it for my birthday, and I didn’t think it was super expensive for what you get:
I also included the simple green screen too, although you can always use a green sheet if you find one in the right shade.
Let’s talk a little about lighting in your space. Make sure there’s adequate light that is both in front of you and to the side, but not too bright (or you’ll have shadows on your face). If you decide to use the green screen set mentioned above, there are two lights that you can play around with (with diffusers so it’s not so harsh). But another option is the round LED light that works well for illuminating faces and spaces when connected to a cell phone, and these are less expensive options:
If you notice, some of these lights come with a tripod – so be sure you don’t double-purchase and end up with two tripods. I guess there are worse things to worry about in life, but if you’re trying to save money while getting the best setup, pay attention to what’s included in these kits.
Usually, the light you have in your space will not light your face enough to get a great picture – so consider an extra bit of lighting to get your face and space to “pop.”
Step 4: Record!
If you’re using a cell phone to record, or a video camera, this will be simple. Just find the “record” function on the phone or camera and you’re good to go.
But if you’re on a computer, it gets a little trickier. Not all computers have video recording software on them, so what do you do then?
It seems strange, but one of my favorite recording mechanisms for my computer is Zoom – I like creating my own “room” and hitting the record button. It’s a very simple way (there are free accounts) to get a simple video recorded from your computer.
Make sure you save and back-up your video files, whether you decide to use something like Dropbox or Google Drive (along with your hard drive or cell phone memory). Don’t just rely on the memory card on your camera or phone.
Step 5: Edit
There are some really easy-to-use quick vlogging software you can use for your phone, like Vlog Star or Power Director, that will help you get familiar with video editing.
But if you’re hoping to do some things that are more complicated, like putting music behind prayers (one of my favorite things to do, really rounds out the sound), you might want to consider using you desktop/laptop computer with Corel Video Studio, which is what was recommended by the teachers of the video class I’m taking.Save on Corel VideoStudio Pro! Buy now!
This is an affiliate link through Corel Video Studio – profits from purchase of the software support this ministry as well as the ministries of Central United Methodist Church, who created the video editing class.
Corel Video Studio is a lower-cost version of high-powered software, and has everything you’d need to create beautiful, high-quality videos. Plus, they have amazing support documentation, to help you shorten your learning curve to be able to use the software.
Should you decide that Corel Video Studio is right for you, our instructor suggested you start with this video: Video Studio for Beginners.
I’m in week one of a four-week course on video editing through my church, and am excited to see what other insights I glean that I can share with you all! I want you all to have top-quality videos so that the world hears your message and your vision loud and clear!
Have any questions? Any products you’ve used that you’ve loved and want me to include on these lists? Let me know in the comments!
This article has been created as a unique way to help the video class at Central United Methodist Church raise funds for their programming. They already had students looking to purchase these materials, and with affiliate linking they’ll be able to capitalize on those purchases. Do you have a program in mind that you think could benefit from this kind of program or blog post? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to talk more with you about the possibilities!