Shooting within the confines of a live event can try the patience of Job. But pulling it off is heavenly joy.
Churchgoers around the world are experiencing a transformation. Many worship services now incorporate video elements, and there are several reasons for the change. Most obvious is the fact that time marches on. The modern media world surrounds us in our everyday lives, so why should the church experience be a step into the time machine? In addition, generations have learned to watch television from birth. Why not leverage that information to distribute the messages you want to get across? What follows are ten popular ways to use video in the church world.
1 – Using the Big Screen
Back in the early days of church video, most congregations used PowerPoint to display their media. Given its limited feature set, this proved impractical and inflexible. Churches needed access to a database of song lyrics and scriptures, along with some media muscle. After a few false starts, the worship software category was born. These media-savvy applications offer instant access to lyrics, Bible verses and sermon notes. In addition, they can play videos from the hard drive, network or even DVD. They allow still and moving images to serve as backgrounds. There is full control over text font, size, color, alignment and weight. Most of these applications require a fast computer with a large hard drive and a dual-head graphics card. Windows is the most common operating system, but Mac solutions are also available. The best part: one person can easily control all the media for the service or event.
2 – Get the Message Out
Years ago in my home church, we suffered through two straight weekends of 15-minute announcements. The church leadership decided this could not continue, so the next weekend, we hooked a computer to a video projector and ran a PowerPoint loop with each announcement on its own slide. This played before and after every service. This was a new concept at the time, and the slides captivated the members. People would come into the auditorium early just to read the announcements on the big screen. The irony was that the exact same information was printed in their weekly bulletin, but hey, whatever works.
3 – Digital Signage
A natural progression from the simple PowerPoint loop is digital signage. Rather than print large posters, many churches have re-purposed their graphics and video into digital versions of printed materials. Hook a computer to a large-screen LCD, and you have a digital sign. Turn the display on end, and it’s a poster-shaped format. Attach the computer to a distribution amp and feed multiple displays in different areas, or use two feeds for more variety. You can run the display with PowerPoint, dedicated presentation hardware or even a DVD player – your choice.
4 – Video from the Outside
For whatever reason, many church members never participate in church events outside the building. With a video camera and some production skill, you can bring the events to them in the form of a documentary, video recap or promotional announcement. This is great for mission trips, summer Bible clubs or community service projects. Who knows, they may see something they like and sign up for the next event.
5 – Punctuating the Message
As you know, video is a powerful communication tool, and it can be used to accent sermons or Bible studies. This can take several forms. Maybe there’s a clip from a movie or TV show that reinforces a main point. Alternatively, you may choose to produce a short segment for that purpose. Humorous clips and spoofs are always winners that get the people smiling and more receptive to the message.
6 – IMAG
Image Magnification – or IMAG – is the technique of displaying a close shot of your speaker on a large screen for everyone to see. Common in large churches, this technique offers a simple way to get up close and personal with your priest, pastor or senior minister. The shot should be no wider than waist-up and closer if possible. You need a long zoom lens and solid tripod for this type of shot. In addition, your camera operator needs to be alert to follow unexpected movement. You can also use this type of shot in the next point…
7 – Switch It Live
This is a little more involved, but the benefits have high potential. Using two or three cameras, a video switcher and a recording deck (or computer), you can produce a professional video version of your church service or group study. Be sure to include any graphics and text you plan to use in the program. The finished video can be played on a public access channel, distributed to homebound members or placed in your video library for later reference.
8 – Video Venues
An extension of IMAG and live switching is the Video Venue. Formerly just closed-circuit overflow rooms, video venues blend a video duplicate of the service with additional music, graphics, lighting and sound elements. This creates an inviting environment, rather than simply a place to watch church on TV. Video venues can be on-site or at a remote location, using video from a tape, DVD or hard drive.
9 – Advertising/Promotion
Cable advertising in most markets is fairly cost-
effective, and Internet video is virtually free. With these very affordable rates, your church may consider advertising for the first time. An effective 30-second commercial might include images of your services, classes, activities, music programs or something that makes your church unique. Advertising video can also be used in-house to promote certain programs, classes and special events.
10 – On the Web
Many tech-savvy churches have discovered that the Internet is a great place to use their video. Sermon videos, advertising and other promotional pieces give your Web audience a closer connection to the church. Members can email links to friends offering them a non-threatening peek inside. If your church Web site doesn’t support streaming video, create a YouTube channel and link to it. Everyone loves Internet video, and the church is no exception.
We don’t have the space to elaborate on any of these topics, but hopefully we’ve sparked your imagination. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see Videomaker cover in depth, let us know. In the meantime, Google “church video resources” and talk to media people in other churches. You’ll find a wealth of tips and hints to make video a powerful and useful part of your worship experience.
Contributing Editor Hal Robertson has served as a consulting
Technical Director and media producer for several churches over
the past 10 years.
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