How to Do Video on a Budget

How to Do Video on a Budget

April 29, 2013 by

I started doing video for my church 10 years ago. I used my own $300 handheld camcorder and edited it on my own computer using the cheapest video editing software I could find.

Ten years later I am now the full-time director of video at my church. I don’t use a camcorder anymore.  I have several high-end cameras and video editing software suites. My team produces several videos a week, including the sermon videos for our multisite locations.

Getting here hasn’t been an easy road, nor has it been cheap. For those of you just starting your journey or for those without the means to purchase expensive equipment and software—fear not! It’s not as overwhelming or as impossible as it may seem.

Make the Most of What You Have
Early on I had to learn to be content with a limited budget and equipment. I became real familiar with what I call the “Good Enough Principle.” Using a handheld camcorder I would not be able to duplicate things I saw on TV. I started out with iMovie and Windows MovieMaker, and eventually graduated to Final Cut Express. They weren’t top of the line editing suites, but I still did everything I could to make our videos the best they could be with what we had.

Today you can shell out for high-end software or go with cheap stuff. But what I’ve come to find out is that it doesn’t much matter what software you use if you’re producing a simple announcement or testimony video. What matters is what you have available in real life. I had a few people I could count in front of a camera. We started producing things like sermon illustrations and eventually began to incorporate more of our service elements, such as announcements, into video. I worked with the creative and communications teams to get the artwork or graphics I needed for the projects. I knew that as long as I had the right people, and I was able to use the technology we had to add music or graphics into them, the videos would be good enough.

Continuing Education
Today’s rapid-fire advances in technology can make a turkey look smarter than you if you don’t keep up with the changes. Thankfully there’s an endless supply of online resources that can keep your current on the latest techniques. Just search for tutorials, how-to guides and videos from websites such as Ken Rockwell and Ripple Training. Set aside some dedicated time and never stop learning.

It’s All About the Shot
One day last summer I was filming a sermon at the beach for our Jonah series. I did not realize until I began editing that there was a couple making out on the beach in the distance behind the pastor.

It doesn’t matter if you’re using a $5 editing program on your iPhone or a $2,500 pro editing suite on your souped up desktop. If the shot isn’t set up correctly, there’s very little you can do to salvage your project in post-production.

Make sure the camera is in focus, the subjects are well lit and ensure there are no obvious distractions in the shot, like the hum of an air conditioner or somebody in the background doing cartwheels. Not only will setting up your shot correctly help you in post-production, it will also enable you to give your audience a distraction-free production that will enlighten, teach, inform and inspire.

Wrapping It Up in a Neat Little Bow
A well-made video needs to pique the interest of those watching it. That means adding text, graphics and music to the final product. Again, you don’t need an expensive piece of software to create something good. There are loads of resources on the Internet for you to utilize. A couple quick suggestions:

  • Video Blocks is a great tool that will give you unlimited downloads of thousands of sound effects, production music, motion backgrounds and video clips for only $79/month.
  • Creation Swap has been a great resource for graphics and backgrounds.
  • Freeplay Music has an endless library of production music. Other music resources include Incompetech and Free Music Archive.

Another “free” way of obtaining music for your video—if you have the capability to do so—is having your worship leader record something for you that matches the video’s mood. It’s amazing what music and graphics can do to spice up an otherwise boring video.

Everybody Has a Story to Tell
Perhaps the most important aspect of a video ministry is helping tell God’s story. There is nothing more powerful than a well-told story about someone whose life has been changed by Jesus. Fortunately, God’s story can be told with or without money or expensive equipment. So even if you’re working with a handheld camcorder and a flashlight, just turn the camera on, have the subject tell their story, add some soft piano music in the background and let God do the rest. That story has the potential to change lives. We pray that hearts are moved to worship Jesus through their story.

Video Samples
Here are some simple videos made during past Creative Missions trips to show what can be done quickly and simply:

We’re thrilled to partner with Creative Missions (our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication, handles the Creative Missions finances). Learn more about Creative Missions and this year’s trip to Alaska and consider a financial donation to help church communicators help other churches communicate better.

For more helpful tips like this, check out Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication. It’s a booklet of articles by Creative Missions alumni offering a crash course in church marketing basics.

Post By:

Dave Hartland

Dave Hartland is the director of video ministries at Grace Church in Erie, Pa. He loves snow, traveling, and tea.
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2 Responses to “How to Do Video on a Budget”

  • the Old Adam
    May 2, 2013

    Great stuff, Dave.

    We should have been videos for years now, but we lack energy and know- how.

    This helps quite a bit in the know- how department.


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  • christian a.
    June 16, 2015

    Thanks for the great info. Really enjoyed it and found it quite helpful.Do you have any direction or specific resources on using a iPhone or a Droid in creating content for church videos…particularly welcome videos? With budget and technological know how limitations, I am thinking that using our smart phones “smartly” might enable more media interaction and growth. thoughts?

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