Church Video Production for Newbies

Church Video Production for Newbies

July 13, 2015 by

I am not an expert at video production and have had no formal training whatsoever. Thus, everything that follows is completely applicable to anyone else in my situation!

Why Bother With Video?

I have learned a lot about video through trial and error, and I found some very simple and inexpensive ways to incorporate video into our ministries. We use video primarily for testimonies and weekly announcements. The benefits of using video might be obvious, but allow me to enumerate:

  1. People like to look at screens. They can either look down at their smartphones and tune out during announcements, or they can look up and pay attention to what’s being said on your screen. Give them somewhere to look, or they’ll look elsewhere.
  2. People expect video when they get together in a big group. Think of the last few times you went to a public gathering like a concert or sporting event. How many of them incorporated video in some capacity? I would be surprised at the ones that didn’t.
  3. Editing can make or break a video, especially for amateurs. Editing helps clarify the video’s message by cutting out unnecessary, awkward or distracting content. For example, someone in the congregation giving a testimony or announcement is most likely an novice public speaker, prone to nervousness and rambling (or worse). They’re likely not a polished professional speaker like your pastor. Although it’s great to hear voices other than the singers and pastors every once in a while, let’s be fair to the amateur speakers and to the audience by using video editing to communicate their message in the most effective way possible.
If you’ve thought about getting into video at your church, start filming today, even if it’s just on your smartphone.

How I Did It

So, how did I begin editing videos?

For starters, I got a MacBook. There are other laptops and tablets that can accomplish the same purpose, but a MacBook already has a built-in camera and easy-to-use video software. (They’re also not as expensive as you probably think: $800 or less will definitely do the trick. That’s $15 per week for a year of Sunday services—not a bad investment at all! Do a search for “certified refurbished Apple,” since Apple doesn’t make it easy to find deals on its site.)

Next, I found good lighting. The best spot in our church turns out to be the nursery: we have south-facing windows that allow plenty of light without making you squint. I would film in the mid-morning or early afternoon, thus not having to turn on the lights. (Because if you want people feel particularly bad about their appearance, just show them a video of themselves under fluorescent lighting.)

Also, I wanted a quiet room. I turned off the blowers while I shot to eliminate background noise. Most of us never realize how much noise surrounds us until the video camera picks it up. Rooms with soft surfaces—carpeting, flannelgraphs—are helpful to avoid echoes.

I would then put the MacBook on a music stand or tall podium, facing the person to be filmed. In iMovie, I would select “Import,” then “FaceTime Camera,” then hit the big red record button. Many phones and tablets have front-facing cameras too, so this can easily be accomplished using them the same way. Recording directly into iMovie, however, is very convenient for editing.

There’s plenty of video and audio editing you can do just within iMovie, depending on what you want the final product to be. You can add titles, cut out the coughs and yawns, etc. For more serious videos, especially testimonies, I would change the video to black and white. It’s amazing how dramatic (and professional) this can appear, especially in how it can amplify the emotions of the person being filmed.

Growing By Doing

Eventually, I started using an external camera to get profile shots (very useful for keeping the audience’s attention during long testimonies), as well as a microphone to capture better sound. Now, we practically have a video studio in my office, consisting of four light stands, a green screen, a wireless microphone, a four-channel audio mixer and a camcorder. I use a MacBook Air for everything, with GarageBand to edit the audio before importing it into Final Cut Pro to mix with the video.

I rarely use iMovie or the built-in camera any more, but there’s no way I could have made it to this point without the lessons learned by starting simply. There’s so much you can learn just by doing.

If you’ve thought about getting into video at your church, start filming today, even if it’s just on your smartphone. With a relatively modest investment of time and money, you may be amazed by how far God can take the tiniest beginnings of your efforts to improve storytelling.

What simple steps have you taken to incorporate video into your church’s services? Tell your story in the comments section below.


Post By:

Marc Aune

Marc Aune has served as director of worship ministries for North Haven Church in North St. Paul, Minn., since 2004. Marc is a frequent reader, semi-regular tweet replier, and occasional commenter of this website, and he's still sad that Keith Green died way too soon.
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2 Responses to “Church Video Production for Newbies”

  • Eric Dye
    September 2, 2015


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  • Robert
    February 22, 2017

    Excellent article on church video production. I would also add that if you don’t have the space or budget for a dedicated video area, you can setup a quick green screen and use backgrounds like for quick announcement videos.

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