3 Easy Pro Video Solutions for Small Churches

Small churches can easily feel left out of pro video ministry because of a lack of resources. Find out how you can make high quality video by making the most of what you have.

A few years ago, my senior pastor asked me to do the impossible — create professional video announcements for our church. I had neither experience nor equipment, so I did a lot of research and came up with the following creative solutions:

1. Use What You Have

Most small churches don’t have much of a budget to work with, so it’s really important to use what resources you already have. Maybe there’s someone in your church who has a decent point-and-shoot camera with video capabilities, or you have a friend with a DSLR camera that can also record video. You may also try asking your local school if they have a media department where you can borrow some equipment. Never underestimate the power of asking!

These days most everyone has a cell phone that can record video. My first announcement videos were all made on my iPhone. The video quality was great, and the audio wasn’t bad either. After the first week’s presentation, people couldn’t believe that what we created was from a cell phone! I’d highly recommend beginning with this before tackling any more advanced equipment.

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2. Write a Script

Before we understood the beauty of having a script, our first announcement video took about two hours to shoot. That’s right, two hours. We had to come up with what to say and then the presenter had to memorize the entire thing. In retrospect, that was a terrible idea.

Here’s a better idea: Give your presenters a written copy of what you want them to say. Not only is it the best use of their time, but it also helps to clearly communicate what you want each announcement to say. What we did is print out the script and place it on a music stand. Then I would rest my hands on the stand while holding my cell phone to keep it from shaking (super advanced stuff)! What it accomplished, however, was to keep the presenter in a sightline with the camera — and t kept everything really basic and cheap.

3. Lighting is Key

After recording decent audio, lighting is one of the most important aspects when recording video. It would be a shame to have an amazing presenter with an engaging announcement script, and no one able to see anything because of dark shadows. Like we talked about in the first solution, it’s important to use what you have available. Any lighting is better than no lighting.

When you’re looking for a good location to shoot your video, find a spot that has good overhead lighting and some windows. The overhead lighting can be anything from office fluorescent fixtures, to recessed can lights, to even someone holding a house lamp (yes, we’ve done that too). This helps to set your presenter apart from whatever is going on in the background. Make sure that the light helps to eliminate shadows and accentuates your presenter’s face without washing it out. Windows will help give some ambient natural light for both your presenter’s face and the rest of their body.

These are a few simple solutions that I hope help you to make your videos look more professional on a small church budget. I’d love to hear what you think, as well as your ideas for more solutions in the comments below!

Andrew Bernardez has been serving as the Music & Worship Minister/Media Director at Nicholson Christian Church since 2008. He enjoys the challenge of communicating and telling stories through video. He grew up in a small church, and has a passion for continuing to help other small churches give their best to the Lord.

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  • Fritz Scanlan

    Great job Andrew. This really encouraged me as I’ve done all of our work online for my church from my cellphone as well. I like the simple and quick way you explained things. Gotta say, this was blog post met my level of expectations that I’m used too getting from Brady… and that’s pretty high.

    • Andrew Bernardez

      Wow, thank you for the encouragement! Brady and his team really put out some high quality content. I can only hope to continue striving for their level of excellence in how I serve. I’m also glad to hear that my ideas weren’t crazy, and that there are others out there who enjoy being just as resourceful!

  • Bryan Bowers

    So timely as our church plant is making the plunge into video. We are going with a two camera setup using iPod Touch 6Gen units as the cameras, and an iPad mini 4 as the control unit. We will be using this software to manage everything: http://recolive.com/en/

    • Andrew Bernardez

      Bryan, I think you just changed my life haha! That Recolive software is amazing, and even revolutionary to how someone can use what they already have to create professional-grade videos! That’s a really cool setup, and I think I’ll be messing around with that as a possible portable solution in the future!

      • Bryan Bowers

        Hahaha! We like to be on the cutting edge of tech even though we are a church plant. It helps that I’ve been an IT professional for 20+ years before jumping into ministry. 🙂

        Now I don’t have any of this in place yet as I just ordered it last week and I am waiting for everything to arrive. It might be an epic fail but it seems like a solid concept.

        We are using these tripod mounts: http://www.iographer.com/collections/cases with these telephoto lens that attach to the tripod mounts: http://www.iographer.com/collections/lens-options/products/iographer-37mm-2x-telephoto-lens

        I’m going to use an XLR to 1/8″ cable to go from the aux out on our sound board to the iPod we designate as the sound input.

        What’s super sweet is that we can add two more iPods to the mix and have 4 different camera perspectives.

        I’m going to import the transitioned video into iMovie, trim the beginning and end & viola, we are ready to post to YouTube.

        • Andrew Bernardez

          That’s a solid plan! I’m really interested in hearing how it all works out!

          • Bryan Bowers

            It will be a week or two before we go online. I’ll let you know.

          • Have used similar. Great for simple multicam shoots, don’t go near it for live stream/to screens tho 😉 It’s great for what it is, but it’s still a simplistic solution