Quick Tips for Volunteer Camera Operators in Church

Ok so you’ve been asked to operate a camera at church. You might have been thrown in the deep end because hey – sometimes that’s what happens in church life. Here you are going to find some quick tips to get you started.

First off, well done for volunteering. Having run a church production team for a number of years, I realise how essential camera operators are to the whole process. You have a priceless task of helping to bring worship and the word to people who can’t make it to the service. That’s huge.

Tips for Church Camera Operators

These three tips come from experience. I’m assuming you are operating a fixed camera on a good quality tripod. I’m also assuming you are operating your camera for live streaming your service or recording your service to distribute later.

These are often the tips I repeated many times with my team over the years. So here goes.

Frame Singers and Musicians Towards the Top of the Screen

When many volunteers start filming for the first time, they often put the face of the musician or singer right in the middle of the picture.

I don’t blame them. Kind of makes sense to point and shoot and get them in the centre right?

Problem is it leaves this big space void above their heads. All of that dead space could be used to help tell the story to the audience – to capture the emotion of the worshipper, the skill of the musician.

Remember those who are watching at home or on their device are not experiencing the surrounding of their senses in the church auditorium. All they have is the screen they are watching on. So it is critical that the screen is filled with an image to tell the story and communicate what is happening.

Here is a good example. Compare the first shot below to the one beneath it. With the first shot you can clearly see the singer’s expression and emotion as she sings to God:

This second shot is a bit further back and it is harder to capture the expression of the worshipper.

Granted, this shot is from the audience and implies participation from the crowd. It serves a slightly different purpose. And that’s ok.

But in general if you are starting out the general rule is to frame the singer or musician to fit completely within the frame.

Stay A Little Wide If the Preacher Moves Around A Lot

From my experience, most preachers like to move around a lot. They walk up and down the stage, eye balling the audience, engaging and connecting with the church.

In these cases it is best to stay a little wider on the shot. If you are zoomed in too tight you are going to have a hard time keeping up with the preacher as they move around. Not only that, but the fast movement can be a little uneasy for those watching your camera work. The background can become blurry.

I know this seems to be the opposite advice to the first tip. But trust me, you will regret having that tight shot when your preacher start’s moving around. It’s far better to stay a little wide then get caught out from a sudden movement.

Below is a good example of framing. You can see there is plenty of room either side in case he decides to move one way or the other.

Imply but Don’t Focus on the Congregation

There is an art to implying there is an actively participating congregation without focusing on any particular member.

To imply there is a crowd, is to capture a hand raised, or perhaps the back of a head that is looking skyward. To focus on a member is to capture a close shot of their face so that they are recognisable. In most cases it is good to imply a crowd, and not good to focus on a member of the congregation.

Why?

For most people, participating in worship is a private thing between them and God. To have them worried about getting caught on camera distracts them from the moment.

Furthermore, if they aren’t aware they are on camera, they could pick their nose or yawn or look at their watch, or check Facebook – you know – all those things we do in church when we think no one is looking.

I can’t tell you the number of times this happens. Just when you think you have that perfect shot of a sincere worshipper with arms raised towards heaven, they’ll stop and check the time. All captured on camera and onto your live feed.

While I completely understand that these things happen during a normal worship service and that is fine (except for a nose pick) it doesn’t communicate well through the screen.

Remember, those watching through a screen are looking for cues as to how the worship is happening, how people are responding to it as they seek to develop their own response and moment with God. The ill timed actions of a particular person may in no way communicate what God is actually doing in the lives of people in that moment.

That’s why its best, as a general rule to not focus in on congregation members. Your team leader may give you different advice and if they do – please go with that. But in my experience, it was best for the flow of the service that we didn’t focus on individual members during the capture.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. A few simple tips to be aware of. If you stick to these and follow the communications of your team leader you’ll do great. Remember what you are doing is a vital ministry that can being healing, hope and understanding to many people. Well done for volunteering and enjoy it!

Inexpensive Platforms for Live Streaming Your Church Service

The Covid 19 crisis has seen many churches scrambling to put together streaming solutions so their members can participate in church services from their homes. Even if you haven’t been affected by the crisis, it makes sense to get live streaming happening for your service so that members who can’t make it to your service can still be part of it.

Assuming you have covered the things to consider before live streaming your service, you are now ready to choose the actual platform through which you will live stream.

What is A Live Streaming Platform?

The live streaming platform is the internet service that delivers the live stream of your service to your audience. There is more to it than just putting a video up on the web.

Here are some of the things to consider when choosing a live streaming service:

  1. Bandwidth. Can the service deliver your video to lots of people at once?
  2. Resolution. Can the live streaming platform handle HD and Full HD and even 4k Streaming and ensure a high quality video is delivered?
  3. Usability. Is the platform easy to navigate? Can your congregation easily go to the website and find your streaming service?
  4. Interaction. Does the platform allow for views to interact with the videos by providing comments, likes and other forms of interaction?
  5. Embed. Some platforms allow you to embed the live stream onto your website. Importantly this keeps visitors on your website and not on live streaming website which could show ads and other content which could distract your audience.

Live streaming services can be very expensive. And while the old adage is true that you get what you pay for, there are some inexpensive options that can be surprisingly effective at getting your video content online.

What Choices Do You Have?

To a certain degree, the decision about which platform to live stream your church service may already be limited or even determined by the equipment you are using. For example, certain capture devices are built to work with certain platforms.

It is also important that you understand what resolution video is coming into your capture device. Typically consumer level cameras will output a 1280p Full HD signal. Once that signal is fed into your capture device, the software used to stream the video may change the resolution so that it streams well over the internet.

Facebook LIve

Facebook live is one of the most popular first choices for churches to live stream their service. Setting up your live stream using facebook live is fairly straight forward and you can do it quite quickly.

Many churches start their live streaming with Facebook Live due to its ease of use. All you need is a smart phone for a really simple setup. Though your audio can lack clarity when you use a smart phone.

Benefits of Using Facebook live for Church Streaming

  • Many people are already familiar with the platform and use it everyday
  • It’s free to stream to your Church page via Facebook live
  • It encourages people to engage on your Facebook page, where you can share other information, links and material throughout the week
  • Facebook rewards live streaming, which means your content is more likely to show up in peoples feeds during the live stream.
  • Once the live stream is complete, the video is saved on your page for future viewing / reference

Cons of Using Facebook Live for Church Streaming

  • The biggest issue here is that anyone can comment on a video that is being live streamed and everyone watching can see that comment. It means that if a troll posts something negative or distracting, everyone sees it. A safeguard for this is to publish through your Church Facebook Page, where hopefully, most members are vetted, and therefore less likely to post something inappropriate.
  • Quality of the stream. While generally the quality of Facebook live is good, there is a lack of control over it. Furthermore, because Facebook users are typically on their mobile, and most camera streams are a 16:9 aspect ratio, the video may appear small on the users phone as they watch it.
  • Maximum Length of 90 minutes. This means if your church service goes longer than an hour and a half, your stream will be cut off and your audience possibly left wondering why.

Some Technical Details About Facebook Live Streaming

The Facebook live streaming service allows for the following specifications:

  • Video bitrate: no higher 2500 Kbps
  • Max Resolution 720p
  • Frames per second: 30

YouTube Live

To stream live on YouTube, you are going to need to have a verified YouTube account. Your church may not have this, but it is reasonably easy to set this up.

Youtube is the second largest search engine behind Google Search, so one of the huge benefits to streaming on YouTube is that more people may discover your content through searching on the platform for things like “online church service”. If that is important to you, and your church service is particularly focused on reaching new people then YouTube may be the best platform to use.

Benefits of Live Streaming Your Church Service With YouTube

  • Your video remains searchable after the live stream on the second highest searched website in the world behind google.com
  • You have a lot more control over the quality settings and bitrate settings
  • It’s Free!
  • You can embed the live stream on your website. This is a huge plus if you want to keep your church members on your website and engage there.

Cons of Live Streaming Your Church Service with YouTube Live

  • Without a doubt the biggest drawback to using YouTube live is the fact that ads will appear on the videos. These ads will be determined largely by the search history and demographic targeting of each individual user as they watch your content.
  • Not everyone has a YouTube account. While it’s not essential for users to have a YouTube account to watch your live stream, they will need one if they wish to comment, subscribe or like your video. This is not a big deal if interaction is not a huge focus.

Specifications of YouTube Live Streaming

As alluded to already, the specifications for YouTube Live are far superior to Facebook Live. You can set high bitrates and resolutions which means if your audience has good internet, they are going to see a high resolution video of your church service.

How good are these specs? Well for the tech geeks, here is the numbers:

  • Max bitrate 51 Mbps
  • Max Resolution: 4k
  • Frame Rate: up to 60fps

Do These Specs Matter When Live Streaming Church?

While these numbers are impressive, in most cases they are overkill. Church footage is typically not fast moving so you are not going to need hi frame rates and bit rates, which can help to deliver smooth motion when things are moving fast. It depends how animated your preacher is I guess??

Where these specs are going to help is the high resolution. Not so much about seeing your worship leader’s beautiful face (though that could be a bonus), but more so the clarity of text on the screen. If you are looking to add text, titles, lower thirds and bible verses to your video, then a higher resolution such as 4k or Full HD will help to ensure it is clear. Just keep in mind that your audience may be watching on their phone, where your beautiful title design work may be lost so there is a limit to this.

Other Platforms

Perhaps Facebook and YouTube are not for your church and you want something with a little more control. There are dedicated platforms out there which allow you to stream but they will cost a monthly fee. While there are many of these platforms, here are a few of the more popular ones, as well as some specs and pricing for their entry level platforms:

DaCast

This Platform has seen a rapid rise in popularity due to providing a great, accessible service. It is a very affordable service with features only seen on other more expensive platforms.

DaCast provides the ability to create your own Church channel which your members can easily access to see your live service as well as an archive of previous services.

Most importantly, you can fully control if / how people comment on your live stream and who can see them. Unlike YouTube, there wont be any third party ads at the bottom of your live stream window.

The DaCast Starter plan is just $19 per month with a bandwidth of 100GB. This makes it a suitable solution for smaller churches who are looking for a professional, inexpensive solution.

IBM Video Streaming

It seems the video streaming world is constantly changing. This service used to be called Ustream and was one of the most popular services a few years back. We used Ustream for our services and found it an excellent service.

When IBM acquired the service, they changed some of the features. It is now considered a high end professional streaming service. Starting at $99 / month you get up to 1TB of storage and a very high quality system suited to medium and large churches.

Sermon Cast

This is a live streaming service built specifically for churches. Prices start from just $29 / month for video on demand (not live) and $49 / month for the live streaming service.

What you may like about this service is the integrated backend features you wont see on generic Live Stream services such as sermon notes and small group management. Their website could do with a bit of a polish but the service itself seems robust and it’s worth a try.

Conclusion

As you can see there is a myriad of options when it comes to live streaming your church service. The summary of it is this:

  • If you want something easy and can put up with viewer comments, Facebook Live could be right for you.
  • If you want a high quality service and can put up with some third party ads on your video, YouTube live could be right.
  • If you want something professional and still fairly cheap, then start with DaCast
  • If you are happy to pay a bit more for a church dedicated solution, then go with SermonCast

Thats it! feel free to share your experience with live streaming services below and let me know what I missed. Over to you 🙂

Things To Consider Before Live Streaming Your Church Service

Thinking of Live Streaming your church service? There are a host of things to consider. To be honest the whole world of live streaming is overwhelming. From the technical jargon, expensive equipment and various methods you can take.

Hopefully this article gives you a bit of clarity.

What is Live Streaming?

First off, let’s just be clear on what exactly live streaming your church service is. Live streaming is providing people a live video of your church service as it is actually happening. The live stream is provided through an online live streaming service that people can use to watch your service through their computer or smartphone device.

Live streaming is not be confused with video on demand, where you provide a pre recorded video that is published at a specific time. During the Covid 19 Crisis, many churches are opting for the video on demand option which, we will soon explain is an easier option to deliver.

Do you need to live stream?

It may be a better option to pre record your service earlier in the week and then schedule it to be published to your Facebook / Youtube channels on the weekend. Many churches are taking this option because it eliminates the stress of having to coordinate recording and live streaming simultaneously.

It also eliminates the pressure of having to get everything right on the day. For example if audio fails you can just re record and still get it out on the weekend.

Another option here is to record the church service and provide it online after the service. This helps those who perhaps couldn’t make it to church but doesn’t create the added pressure of having to get the live feed right. With this approach you can always edit the service if any part of the recording did go wrong or there was some components you didn’t want to put out there on there on the web.

Things to Consider Before Live Streaming

Ok so lets jump in with some things you may need to consider. There can be a lot of cost and time involved with live streaming, so going through some of these things will help achieve a better outcome for you and your church.

How is Your Camera and Audio Set Up?

The first thing to consider is your current audio and camera system setup.

You don’t necessarily need a multiple camera set up, but you do need to ensure the scene you stream is well lit and most importantly, the audio is clear. It is possible to live stream from a smart phone, though there are limitations in terms of how well the visual and audio can be captured.

The questions to ask around the production of your service is:

  • Single fixed camera?
  • Single roaming camera?
  • Multiple fixed camera?
  • Multiple roaming cameras?
  • PTZ cameras? (remote controlled pan, tilt and zoom cameras)

Of course if you are starting out then a single fixed camera is your likely starting point. You are going to want to make sure that that camera is a good one that can sufficiently capture the scene. There are better cameras more suited to streaming your service that you should consider.

Do You Want to Include Titles, Announcements and Lower Thirds?

Most churches want to the ability to include text on their screens. Whether it’s the bible verse, song lyrics or other information, there is ample need to include text on the live feed.

These words can be either be inserted or mixed in with the video feed using a computer and presentation software such as Pro Presenter.

Option 1 – Mix Camera and Graphics Into One Computer

If your Pro Presenter computer is beefed up it may be able to handle overlaying the Pro Presenter slides over a video stream. If you have one camera with a capture system that feeds video into your PC that is also running the presentation graphics, then this may be possible.

Option 2 – Full Video Mixer Setup

Most of the time you are going to need a separate video mixer setup. The good news is these mixers used to cost at least $10k. Ouch. Now they are less than $1k for some amazing systems. And the price is going down all the time.

Option 3 – Use Your Streaming Software to Overlay Graphics

If the whole mixer thing is something you’re not ready for, inserting text can also be done later (further down the stream) if you are capturing your video feed into a computer. The software used to live stream may have the ability to insert text and graphics just prior to pushing that video through to the streaming service. 

Is your Video and Audio Sources Close Together?

To stream, you need to capture both the video and audio into a capture device. If you have cameras in one part of the church building and your sound desk somewhere else, you are going to want to be able to get these close together.

Transporting HD video over a distance can be problematic, so ideally you are going to want to have your cameras and sound desk close together so this is easy to do. 

I have seen many churches trip up with this one. They have bought a couple of cameras, and assumed that they can run HDMI over a distance longer than 5-10metres. They then wonder why their signal drops in and out or flickers. It’s because HDMI doesn’t run well over long distances.

To get around this you are going to need to convert your video signal to run over SDI. This is broadcast quality and what commercial stations use to transmit videos over large distances at live events. So you are going to have to either use SDI or put everything close together.

How is Your Internet Connection?

Streaming video requires a good internet connection. It’s best if you use a local area network cable (Lan Cable) rather than rely on the Wifi Connection in your church building.

You are going to make sure your facility has a good data plan with your internet service provider. The good news is that Church usually happens on a Sunday Morning, which is often off-peak for many localities. It means that your internet performance is more likely to be fast and available at this time.

How Will You Capture the Video / Audio and Stream It?

Assuming you are not going to rely on streaming on a smart phone, but streaming through some sort of audio / video source you are going to need a capture device. This is a device that takes audio and video inputs and turns it into an encoded internet ready stream.

The type of capture device you get will depend on how you intend to stream your service. Here are the things to consider:

  • How will the video and audio stream be supplied? Most of the time it will be sent via HDMI
  • Will the audio be embedded in the HDMI video feed? Depending on how you integrate your audio and video feeds, you may need a capture device with audio input ability
  • Do you want to stream straight from the capture device to your streaming service? Some devices are built to talk to Live Streaming services such as YouTube Live which means you don’t need a computer to do this for you.
  • If streaming from a computer, what inputs will the computer take? Capture devices can have a range of output options such as USB, USB3, and thunderbolt. Make sure the caputre device will be able to talk to your computer.

What Resolution Do You Want to Stream?

In most cases, a HD stream 720p will be sufficient quality for your church service streaming. If you really want to stream Full HD 1280 or even 4k, you are going to need a good quality computer and internet connection.

Video streaming is resource intensive and often the actual delivered quality is not full resolution as experienced by the end user. Therefore it makes sense most of the time to simply stream at HD 720p, which makes for good quality viewing, providing the lighting and audio quality is good. 

If you intend to use a lot of graphics in your live stream, then you may want to use at least full HD. Text can become unclear at HD resolution. Just keep in mind that some people will be watching your service on their phone and may not be able to see small text very well so there is a limit to how much text you can use on a screen.

Final Thoughts

Ok hit me up. What have I missed? What did I get wrong. This topic is seriously massive and I realise that it’s changing all the time. I am speaking largely from helping my own church do live streaming. Hopefully this has helped you avoid some of the mistakes I made in the process!

Best Cameras for Live Streaming Church

Covid 19 has changed how we do church. Not being able to meet in together means we now rely on cameras and live streaming more than ever.

This calls for the need of some good quality camcorders that can help bring lifelike streaming from the church to people. If you’re looking for a good video camera to facilitate the best live streaming from church, then this can be a helpful read for you.

We have surveyed to bring a comprehensive list of 3 models that have the best combination of features and specifications to facilitate a good quality live streaming. Read along to understand each model in detail and perhaps choose one that suits you the best.

Comparison Chart

Camera ModelLens CMOS specificationsPurchase Details
Sony PXW-X70 Handheld Solid-State Memory Camcorder
29-mm Wide-angle Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T Lens with 12x Optical Zoom (Maximum)1.0-inch type Exmor R CMOS Sensor with a Resolution of 20 Megapixels
Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K Digital Cinema Camera (EF-Mount)
4608 x 2592 Video35mm CMOS Sensor
Canon VIXIA HF R800 HD Camcorder
57x (32.5-1853Mm) advanced zoom3.28 Megapixel full HD CMOS image sensor

Top 3 Camcorders for live streaming

Sony PXW-X70 Handheld Solid-State Memory Camcorder

Sony are known for high level prosumer cameras that produce professional results. Their PXW-X70 is no exception.

What makes this camera ideal for church is it’s highly sensitive CMOS Sensor. This makes for great performance in low light conditions, making it the ideal camera for Church Auditoriums.

If you have a budget of around $1500 for a camera this could quite possibly be the best camera you could get in that range.

Pros of the Sony PXW-X70

  • lightweight makes it easy for church volunteers to operate
  • Exceptional low light performance – great for Church auditoriums
  • Compatibility for HDMI or SDI output – enabling image data to be transported over long distances via bnc cable – perfect for a Church Multi Camera Set Up with Live Streaming
  • Very sturdy construction – ideal for volunteer usage.

See the Sony PXW-X70 on Amazon

Cons 

  • To make it a 4k camera requires a software upgrade which some users have had some trouble with

Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K Digital Cinema Camera 

If you are looking for a high-end model to invest in and budget is not a constraint, then perhaps the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6K Digital Cinema Camera can be a good choice for you. 

This camera is an accurate device meant for cinematic purposes. You can not only expect premium quality live streaming but also still shots as it covers all the aspects of cinema capturing. The only thing to consider is that it comes at a hefty price. 

With a 4608 x 2592 Video recording, the 4.6K mini digital has a 35 mm image sensor which is unreal for real-life like recording facility. It offers compressed raw recording features along with a ready to edit ProRes recording. It includes dual CFast 2.0 memory slots that can shoot full feature films; thus, no interruptions will be observed.

Pros 

  • The 4.6k sensing feature is a class apart for providing a multitude of options for dynamic recording.
  • The sound quality is supreme with built-in inputs from XLR, and the device offers a compact structure.
  • The set of features are real value for money even at a high price.

Cons 

  • There is a certain level of exclusivity regarding the memory cards and the batteries which are needed to be specific for this device.
  • The price is really a point to consider for the budget.

See the Blackmagic Design URSA Mini 4.6k Camera on Amazon

Canon VIXIA HF R800 HD Camcorder

If you’re working with a tight budget and the church needs a service live streaming device, we have come across one that offers a multitude of features that too within a budget. The Canon VIXIA HF R800 HD Camcorder can be the choice for you, in this case.

This camera provides a 57x advanced zoom along with a 32x Optical and 1140x Digital and Super range OIS. A 3.28 Megapixel full HD CMOS image sensor makes it great for live video streaming and transmission quality video generation. 

A MPEG 4 video recording system is inclusive with the provision of up to 0.4 lux of illumination in low lighting mode. It includes an SD card slot along with a Hi-speed USB terminal. It is compatible with the NTSC standard video colour signal, which is a pretty decent configuration for service streaming in real-time. An HDMI mini connector is also included along with a 3.5mm stereo mini-jack.

Pros 

  • 57x advanced zoom enables to zoom and capture high-quality clips of the service for live streaming.
  • The device is excellent for recording MP4 files with ease and also incorporates a good calibration mic jack for good audio quality.
  • The memory card allows up to seventy hours of video recording, which is more than sufficient for service streaming.
  • The HD CMOS image sensor provides clarity and vibrant quality images in low light settings.

Cons 

  • The accessories and set up equipment in provision with this model are not the best quality.
  • Some focus issues have been observed by the users, with the camera going out of focus on some occasions.

See the Canon VIXIA HF R800 HD Camcorder on Amazon

Final Verdict 

Thus, it is fair to say that there are some things you need to consider before making your choice for the camera that would fit you the best. The budget that you have in mind can be the right place, to begin with. It isn’t always about having every possible feature but the ones that would be most useful to you. 

Through our comprehensive research, we have come across these cameras to have been like the best for the purpose of live streaming. Each model listed with its own set of pros and cons will be suitable for a different scale and environment of streaming. We hope that this has been a helpful read for you to pick out the one that best caters to your needs.

Free Church Mothers Day Video and AE Template

Mothers Day Silhouette Welcome

Mothers Day is a great time to honour Motherhood in Church. To Celebrate we are giving away a free Church Mothers Day Video and Mothers Day Quotes After Effects Template with any other Mother’s Day Product Purchase.

We have a great collection of Mothers Day Videos, Countdowns and After Effects Templates. All these products also come with bonus links to the Mothers Day Quotes AE Template and Video.

church-mothers-day-videos

Just simply purchase one of these products and you will also get download links for The Mothers Day Quotes Template and Video. View our Mother’s Day Products Catalogue

Video Starters for your Christmas Service

Church Christmas Video that he gave

This Christmas it’s likely that people will visit your church services simply because it’s Christmas. This year we have a whole heap of great value videos perfect to start your Church Christmas Service and create a festive feel. These videos will cause your church to stop, reflect and appreciate God’s good will toward humanity through the Christmas Story. As a gift to you this Christmas we are giving away a looping Christmas Motion Worship background and a Scripture Scroll After Effects Template (only valid until December 30 2014). See details Below:

Church Christmas Video that he gave
Church Christmas Video that he gave

That He Gave – $15

The Christmas story comes down to one simple truth. God loved us so much, that He gave Jesus. Because of this, eternity has changed forever. Grace arrived in Bethlehem that night and the world was never the same.

Messiah – $15

This powerful, scripture driven video travels from prophecy, to proclamation, to the birth of our Savior. Perfect for the Advent season, Christmas Eve or any Christmas holiday service.

Church Welcome Christmas
Church Welcome Christmas

Church Christmas Welcome – $15

This Christmas, set your visitors at ease by letting them know they are accepted, cared about and loved. Let them know church is a place they can call home…where they can belong, find friends and most importantly, experience the miracle of Christmas.

Christmas Tree Countdown – $5

This Christmas countdown video can be used to introduce any christmas event. Contains a simple “welcome” message with a five minute countdown timer above it. The tree alongside it and glowing background provide a warm festive feel as people await the beginning of your event. Video also includes the soundtrack designed to add to the Christmas Ambience.

Vintage Christmas Countdown – $5

Use this vintage Christmas Service Countdown video download as a video to introduce your christmas or festive event. Video has a black and white vintage style which will invoke the tradition and emotions of Christmas. Audio included.

Christmas Story – $10

A short video which contains the message and meaning of Christmas. Deals with the important question of why there is so much hurt in the world if Jesus has come to save us?

Red Christmas Snow Motion Loop

A Red Christmas motion loop with falling snow flakes. Perfect for the festive season to use with your worship presentation software.

Scripture Scroll

Not your usual template… this is a simple scrolling animation designed to show a large portion of scripture or text. As seen in a related article, it provides a good foundation to overlay your own images / footage to match the text.

Promote Your Christmas Event with our PSD’s and Free Vector Template

Red Snow Christmas Flyer CMYK

Here are a couple of Christmas PSD Flyer templates perfect for promoting your Christmas event. These templates have been set up so you can edit them quickly to add information about your own Church Service events. Create a printable flyer and / or reduce the resolution and spread the word over social media.

Red Snow Christmas Flyer – $5 (Go to Product Page)

With a bit of a Bokeh feel the Red Snow A5 Flyer has room for two events and space to add your church logo, address and website.

Royal Red Christmas Flyer – $5 (Go to Product Page)

The Royal Red Flyer gives a vintage / old world charm look to your Christmas event.

red christmas flyer psd
red christmas flyer psd

Free Vector Foliage Banners

Of Course Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without some nice freebies. How about this awesome set of four Vector Foliage Banners? We used them to create massive 4 meter banners in our auditorium and now we are sharing them with the world. Download for free 🙂

free church vector banners
free church vector banners

Make Your Own Christmas Event Video Promo

Christmas Video Promo

Because Christmas is so close I thought it would be good to share a couple of Christmas Service Video Promotions I have created using Adobe After effects Templates from Church Media Resource. The examples below are very different in style and show the diverse feeling that video can create in the lead up to an event. The first video here is a promo of our 2011 Christmas Spectacular event. It was created using the Epic Sci Fi Logo template available in our After Effects Templates.

This template has been one of our most popular and has since been updated with some great new flares and lights. The legacy version comes with the updated version. Here is how it now looks:

The Template is super easy to customise because all you need to do is place your logo and caption text. It was a great way to build up to our event.

Another Template used to promote our Christmas Spectacular was the Vintage Christmas After Effects Template. Here it was a matter of placing some footage in the three placeholders as well as some final text. Again it was very easy to edit and create an excellent promotion for our Christmas events that we were able to share over social media.

Videos Perfect for Your Thanksgiving Service

Thanksgiving Welcome Video

This Thanksgiving we have a range of Videos which are perfect for your Thanksgiving Themed service. You will find our Video Downloads are cheaper than any other website because of our low marketing and advertising budgets. So if you know about us consider yourself an “insider” and take advantage of our quality Church media at the best prices today.

Give Thanks Video
Give Thanks Video

GIVE THANKS – $15

Scripture is filled with Thanksgiving, Thankfulness is something we are all called to. Thankfulness for our families, our church, our work and every aspect of our lives. Most importantly, we are called to be thankful to God. Thankful for His grace, His love and His promise of eternity. This Thanksgiving…Give thank to God for all He has done.

Thanksgiving Welcome Video
Thanksgiving Welcome Video

THANKSGIVING WELCOME – $15

This Thanksgiving, welcome people to church by letting them know they are accepted, cared about and loved. Let them know church is a place they can call home…where they can belong, find friends and most importantly, experience God. Let them know just how thankful you are for them.

Thank You God Video
Thank You God Video

THANK YOU GOD – $15

This Thanksgiving, take some time to reflect on everything God has done. Thank Him for His grace, His love, His forgiveness and faithfulness. Thank Him for hearing our prayers, for sending His Son and for changing our lives. God is worthy of our praise…offer it to Him this Thanksgiving.

happy thanksgiving icon

THANKSGIVING ICONS PACK – $20

This pack contains all 6 of the Thanksgiving Icons Videos for your Church Service. With this set you will be able to have a consistent media style across your entire Thanksgiving Service. Separately the combined worth of these videos is $35

Thanksgiving Welcome to Church
Thanksgiving Welcome to Church

THANKSGIVING TABLE PACK – $25

This pack contains all 7 of the Thanksgiving Table Videos for your Church Service. With this set you will be able to have a consistent media style across your entire Thanksgiving Service. Separately the combined worth of these videos is $40. The Videos that are Included are:

Looping Corn Crop Video
Looping Corn Crop Video

CORN CROP PACK – $20

A pack of 5 looping and countdown videos designed for your church service. The combined individual price of these packs is worth $30 but as a pack they are just $20. These videos have looping footage of a Corn Crop and make a perfect a visual theme for a thanksgiving service, or a service focused on harvest, provision or growth. The Pack includes a church welcome video, a farewell video, a motion worship background

Edit After Effects Template – Tree Notes

After Effects Tutorial Tree Notes

Tree Notes is cool fresh looking AE project (Go to Tree Notes Product Page). It contains vibrant footage of our Apple Tree at the end of Summer as the leaves start to turn and the sun flares through the leaves. In After Effects I’ve added four placeholders that look like notes hanging from the tree. Check out the tutorial below to see how to edit the project.

I also discuss the typography that can be used in the project (or any project) which is a current looking style which combines Italic serif and Bold sans serif fonts together.

5 Vital Tips For Church TV Production

church-tv-ministry

Starting a TV Ministry – A Television Ministry is cheaper than you think!

Shaun Walker  (www.newlifemedia.com.au) draws on his 20 years broadcasting experience to share with you 5 vital tips for starting a simple yet excellent church TV production in your church. 

One of the most common barriers to beginning a church TV production or video ministry in a church is the misconception that it will be way too expensive to set up, especially for smaller churches.

And I can certainly understand this belief. After all, anyone who has spent any time watching Christian television will look at Hillsong, Bethel and Joel Osteen and conclude that a TV ministry is only for the “big guys”. But this could not be further from the truth!

Regardless of how small your church is, you too can have a TV ministry in your church, and for a fraction of the cost of those larger productions. But how?

There is a common misconception that production equipment is way too expensive for a small church to even consider videoing their Sunday services, or to start their video ministry.

Now, while this may have been true 15 or 20 years ago, it is a very different situation today. When I first began in church TV production, production equipment was extremely cost prohibitive. The church I was involved in was a fairly large church, and even with a Senior Pastor with a huge vision for television ministry, it was very difficult for us to source affordable equipment.

It took quite a few years to get to the point where our programs and services began to look like they were produced by professionals! Nowadays a quick peruse of the Electronics section of any department store will offer up any number of affordable High Definition Camcorders which will produce the kinds of images that we could only dream of 20 years ago.

However, this is only one part of the story.

Have you ever videoed an important event or situation, only to watch it later and it’s dark, wobbly, and constantly shunting in and out of focus? If we are just, say, showing Aunty Doris and Uncle Bill the video of our kids first recital, this won’t matter too much.

As long as little Jimmy is somewhere in the frame then it doesn’t make any difference. But a TV ministry is an entirely different matter. Audiences used to high production values will take one look at the quality and most probably turn it off.

Even if your Pastor is preaching up a storm, only the most diehard will persevere with a video that is dark, out of focus, wobbling all over the place and with hard to hear audio. But with these few simple tips your video ministry can start producing great looking productions!

Buy the best camera you can afford.

As I stated earlier, even a sub-$200 HD camera can produce beautiful images. However, there are a number of things you should look out for in a camera that can be very helpful in producing professional looking videos.

Firstly, most cameras are fully automatic, so exposure, focus and audio are all unadjustable. More expensive cameras allow the user to utilise manual focus and manual exposure, avoiding issues such as the exposure shunting up and down and the lens searching for focus.

However, if your budget doesn’t extend towards purchasing a more expensive camera, then there are ways to avoid some of these issues. I will cover the ways to make your cheap camera look great in a future article.

Buy a good fluid head tripod

A fluid head tripod is perhaps the most important piece of equipment in a production kit (apart from the camera of course).

Sadly, the tripod seems to be the one item that most video camera owners skimp on. I have lost count of how many times I have seen people videoing their children’s concerts or other events hand-held, more often than not zoomed in the whole way.

I call this “sea-sick TV”, because the result is essentially unwatchable wobble cam, with the subject occasionally appearing in the frame as the image bounces up and down like a raft adrift in a Category 4 ocean storm.

And then you have the other scenario. The operator is using a tripod, but it’s a stock standard photographer’s tripod with a non-tensioned head. Whenever they attempt a pan or a tilt the lack of tension means that the movements are sharp and not smooth.

A slow pan or tilt is virtually impossible to achieve. Instead, the video ends up full of whip pans and sharp, plunging tilts, giving the viewer the feeling that they are riding on a roller coaster, rather than watching a cute video of Wendy’s pre-school graduation.

A fluid head on the other hand allows the user to execute smooth pans and tilts, especially when zoomed in. The difference between a non-tensioned head and a fluid head is quite frankly the difference between a bad video and a good one.

The combination of a $200 HD Camcorder and a good fluid head tripod elevates the production value up several, if not many notches, compared to a $200 Camcorder handheld or on a non-tensioned tripod. And contrary to what you may think, a good fluid head tripod is more than affordable. Good quality ones can be purchased online for under $200.

Lighting

Good lighting is another key difference between an ok video and a great video. Modern HD Camcorders look beautiful under full sunlight, but use them in a dim room and it’s another story.

In a low light environment the camera will attempt to compensate for the low light by introducing “gain”, an electronic amplification process within the camera, whereby once the camera’s exposure reaches its limit the camera will add more voltage to the pixels, causing them to electronically amplify or brighten the image.

Whilst this process will allow the image to be seen more brightly under low light, a visible “graininess” will be introduced on the image. More often than not this graininess is very prominent, and the crispness and clarity if the image is diminished.

The best way to avoid this graininess is to light the scene or stage. Once again, lighting is not as cost prohibitive as some may think. Lighting can come in several different forms – tungsten, fluorescent and LED.

Each has their distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Tungsten burns very bright, and so small stage or pulpit area can be lit with approximately four lights, depending on the size of the room and the wattage of the lights (I will go into more detail on wattage and lighting set ups in a future article).

Inexpensive 500-1000 watt tungsten lighting can be purchased at most hardware stores, as can some fluorescent work lights (however these flouros aren’t as bright). Tungsten lights are very hot, so in a small room they can heat the room up very quickly.

Additionally, because they do burn hot the bulbs tend to burn out quicker, so you might find that you are replacing globes regularly.

The most common form of tungsten lighting in churches are PAR Cans. These lights are relatively inexpensive, however they can have very narrow beams, meaning that the subject may end up walking in and out of pools of bright light, which will play havoc with the camera’s exposure.

Flouro lights aren’t anywhere near as bright as tungsten, however, they are cool burning lights, so are great for small rooms. LED lights are another option, although they are a more expensive option than either tungsten or flouros.

Newer PAR cans have evolved from the tungsten type into LED lights, so this type of light might be a viable alternative. However, these LED PAR cans have some problems also. I will go into more detail on lighting in future articles.

Audio

I started my Television career as a location soundo for a national nightly TV News program. We used to joke with the camera ops that TV was simply radio with pictures, and in some respect that is correct.

Whilst images without sound can still tell a story, good audio accompanying the vision completes the story.

In a ministry environment the audio is perhaps the most important element of the production. Without being able to hear the speaker clearly, the viewer will become frustrated and turn off.

Audio is perhaps the easiest element of our production to get right. Most churches will have some kind of sound system that amplifies the audio for the room, so it is usually simply a case of either running an output from the desk straight to the camera, or into a portable recording device such as a Zoom H4n.

However, there are some things that can cause issues, so I will cover audio in a future article also.

Post Production

Even if your plan is to stream your services live to the web, a good post production set up is still an essential part of your production kit. As is the case with all of the other elements we have looked at, an edit suite is not as expensive as you might imagine.

When I first began to edit I was editing on what is known as a linear, or machine based system. Each machine was worth around $120,000, and we were editing with three of them. As technology advanced we were able to source smaller and cheaper VTR’s, but it was still an extremely cost prohibitive system.

And then along came computer based, or non-linear edit systems. When these systems first became available you would still not get much change from $100,000, but, thankfully, a lot has changed in the last 15 years – in fact even in the last two years we have seen dramatic decreases in prices!

The edit suite that I use is a Mac based system called Final Cut Pro. When I bought the system in 2008 it cost me around $12,000 (although I also bought a Mac Book Pro as part of the edit suite package), whereas now a copy of Final Cut Pro X will cost just $300 from the online Apple Store.

You can also purchase other apps that allow you to Colour Grade, burn to DVD, do Motion Graphics, and sweeten your audio, with each of the apps an additional $52 each.

Other systems, such as Adobe Premier, which is a cross platform editing program, costs around $1800 as a part of the production suite. This suite contains Colour Grading software, Adobe After Effects (my preferred Motion Graphics software), audio software, Photoshop and a host of other video and graphics software.

Both of these edit systems will be more than adequate to produce top quality video productions. Other manufacturers have produced similar non-linear edit systems, so once again it comes down to what you can afford.

However, for pure value for money you cannot go past Final Cut. In fact, it is the system that is used by most professionals, and this fact alone speaks volumes regarding its efficacy.

So, as you can see, for under $3000 your church can set up a good quality Television or video ministry. A resource that was once the sole domain of the Mega-Church is now available for the much smaller local church.

So what is stopping you? If you have a vision for a Television Ministry in your church, do it!

Make An Effective Church Easter Video for your Service

Church Easter Video Tutorial

When putting together a video that powerfully moves people the most important element to that video is a great audio track. The following church easter video project demonstrates this principal with a simple looping background product available here combined with the “Sirius” track by Allan Parsons Project (avaialable from itunes) and a message on the Victory of the Cross of Christ by David Wilkerson. The result was this:

We wanted our Easter Service to focus on what happened as a result of the cross rather than focussing on only the cross.

So How Was it Put Together

The Video was made all in adobe Premier. So if you don’t have after effects, you can still put together something like this using just video editing software such as Vegas, Final Cut, Premiere or even Imovie or Windows Movie Maker. The basic steps were as follows:

1) Downloaded the Easter Background Video and Imported it into Premiere and placed it on the timeline repeatedly

2) Imported the sermon by David Wilkerson. Cut out the parts I wanted from it and placed it under the easter background video on the timeline. Added a reverb effect to it.

3) Imported the song “Sirius” which I had downloaded from Itunes and layed that on a second audio track under the sermon. Cutting it precisely so I could repeat the intro a second time to build anticipation and so the song built at the time I wanted it to

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4) Added a crowd cheering sound effect to a third audio track (I got mine from the loops library on my computer but sound effects like this are usually available for free online). The crowd does cheer in David Wilkerson’s Sermon but it doesn’t come through very loudly. Adding this sound effect gave me some room to control the level of the crowd cheering and increase drama.

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5) Add in the text titles and overlay them above the background video track. With the Audio in place I am now able to place text in where it fits with the audio to add emphasis. The font used was Century Gothic Bold – A perfect font to use with video because of it’s clarity and contemporary feel.

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6) And that was about it! Just added in fade in and fade out effects to the video and audio. (the fade out was cut out on the example video above but on the original was there).

I had just a few hours to put the video together so naturally wasn’t really able to build an video animation for it. These backgrounds and countdowns now available at churchmediaresource.com are ideal kickstarters to your next video project.

Finally here is the reverb set up in Premiere for David Wilkersons Sermon:


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Editing The Tower After Effects Template To Create a Video to Welcome a Guest Ministry

after effects the tower

This is a quick after effects tutorial showing you how to quickly turn The Tower After Effects template into an ad promoting an upcoming event. The Tower has been one of our most popular After effects template. It is super easy to customise with only basic AE skills needed. Watch the after effects tutorial to see the skills needed such as importing content, editing a text layer, exporting etc.

Multi-Camera Setup with Atem Television Studio Church

multicamera-setup-atem-tvs

Not so long ago you needed a massive budget in order to have a full hd multi-camera set up. Full Hd switchers alone were in the vicinity of $7000-$10,000 which meant for many churches a multi camera set up was just not an option.

What is a Multi Camera Set up?

For starters, a multi-camera setup is simply having multiple cameras to record a service or event. The cameras are all connected to a central device known as a video switcher which is controlled by an operator.

The operator would have a monitor for each camera and would cut between shots, choosing the best shot at any given moment. They would usually also have some sort of key source where they could overlay titles and images over the footage. The final output would be recorded and distributed. This typically is how a any live or tape delayed show you see on TV works.

As you can imagine it is very labour intensive and requires a lot of personnel in camera operators, switchers, keying etc

Why Multicamera Setup’s have become accessible to churches

Many churches are now embracing the multicamera setup to record their services and get what is happening within their four walls out to the world. More churches are able to achieve basic consumer level multicamera setups quite simply because the technology has become less expensive.

Consumer level Full HD cameras are relatively inexpensive compared to 10 years ago and there are now options for software switching devices, which are controlled by a computer meaning you only pay for the hardware. One of these being the ATEM Television Studio (TVS) by blackmagic design.

The video below shows how our church has a multicamera setup using a few older computers and three Sony Cameras using the ATEM TVS:

The Atem TVS allows you to input up to 6 sources which is more than enough for most smaller situations.

It also can receive a digital audio signal. Devices like the Behringer Ultra Match 2 are cost effective solutions for converting your analogue signal to a digital one which the ATEM TVS can receive.

With an old G5 Mac we were able to both control the switcher and also record the full hd video which the TVS was outputting simultaneously.

Below is an low quality example of footage we have captured and uploaded to You Tube using this setup. We had to reduce the resolution of the video so it was suitable for youtube so the quality is not a true reflection, but gives you an idea. We used this video to showcase our 7 Pack of Lower Thirds:

Live Streaming with the ATEM Television Studio

Live streaming is also an option. There are many ways you can do it, but we found the easiest way was to convert the HDMI out signal from the Atem Television Studio into a composite signal.

You can buy these converters for around $40 from hong kong on ebay. Then we bought a simple USB video capture card which captured the composite signal. We used an old PC and with the free flash media live encoder installed.

There are a number of free services, but we found Justin.tv to be the most suitable as they only run one ad at the start of the stream and then do not interrupt the stream after that.

UPDATE:

We now are using Ustream. The ads occur more often on their free service, but we are finding that they provide a more reliable, consistent stream.

Video Editing After Effects – Starry Red Promotion Template

after effects editing

This video shows how to edit the Starry Red Promotion After effects template available from church media resource. The template has been set up so it is very simple to customise.

The project contains a logo and caption area, two text areas and three image and caption areas. In the tutorial it is used to create a promotion for a plumbing company which it is ideal for. The project has also been used for event promotion and in church news ads.

After Effects Tutorial – Starry Red Promo

This tutorial shows you how to customise the starry red promo template. It covers basic After Effects Skills like importing images, resizing and positioning images, editing text, resizing and positioning text.

Exporting the After Effects Project

The tutorial also covers exporting the project. The project comes with an audio file and ensures that the options and codec are selected to produce the final project with audio included.

Free After Effects Presets – MTV video clip look

free ae preset

Adobe Premiere is great for importing, viewing and cutting footage on the fly. After effects is great for coloring and applying effects to footage that has already been cut up. Watch this tutorial on how to develop a workflow which utilizes the strengths of both programs in a fast efficient way. Along the way we look at a couple of tips and include how to create a great coloring effect which will give your video an MTV video clip look. This is one of our free After Effects Presets you can download. Download the free CMR Video Clip Look preset from

FREE Video Clip Effect

The Curves adjustments were made in After Effects which turned the Original footage (left) into the MTV Video Clip look (Right). Download the Preset for free at the bottom of this page by clicking “add to cart.

free ae preset
free ae preset

Workflow

– Original footage was taken with a HVR-Z1u with the iris open all the way to 1.8 and NO GAIN. This prevented Graininess

– Footage was captured in Full HD via firewire to a sony harddrive as MTS files.

– The MTS files were taken into premiere where they were cut up and sequenced to the soundtrack.

– The sequence in Premiere was HD which allowed for scale adjustments in the full HD footage.

– The project was saved and imported into After Effects.

– In After Effects the Shadow lift and curves effects were applied to give the footage an MTV Video Clip look

– Text was also added to the footage as well as some footage tracking (font – HDV Poster)

– Composition was exported in After Effects

Church News Video Template – how to edit Valley and Sky Template to make an ad for Ladies Meeting

valley and sky after effects

In this tutorial I create an ad for a ladies meeting at our church using the valley and sky after effects template available from church media resource. This Church News Video Template contains text areas with strong imagery so you don’t need to come up with images for the ad. Simply add in your text and logo at the end. The style of the project can be controlled by the font used, which is also demonstrated in the tutorial.

Tutorial – How to Edit Offering Charts After Effects Template Expressions

after effects charts

The Offering charts after effects template allows you to showcase three generic amounts in a 3d graph format. This After Effects Tutorial shows you how to control the amounts that are shown in the template so you customise it and use it in your own presentation. The graphs are controlled by expressions which determine how high they rise. Watch the tutorial to find out more:

Creating A Bible Verse Video for an Easter Production

easter service media after effects

A Bible Verse Video can be used to communicate lengthy portions of scripture in a dynamic and creative way. The video shown below I put together for our recent Easter Service. The border of the video was used to compliment a massive frame we had on stage. The scripture was placed on the “scripture scroll” after effect template with scenes from “the passion of the christ” overlaying it. This will hopefully give you some inspiration for your own ideas.

If you are interested in creating a similar project for your church you can download the Scripture Scroll AE template from here

Media Game by Ravi Zacharias

media game ravi zacharias

Jesus said his followers are the salt of the earth. In a mediterranean climate with no fridges, this statement took on a profound meaning to those listening. Christians stop the world from going rotten! What a sobering thought for them and us.

There is no place too dark, no corner of our globe too rotten that we as believers can’t go to and make a difference. We talk about the 10-40 window as the final frontier for the gospel but there are other places also… One of those places I believe is Hollywood. For so long the movie industry has been dominated by humanist ideologies and moral relativity. But God is doing something new! Christians are producing quality films which the world is taking notice of. They promote biblical morality without compromising on quality or slipping into ‘cheesiness’.

If you are interested in what God is doing and how you could be used, check out a resource from Ravi Zacharias here. The blurb is below:

Join Ravi in his new message, “The Media Game” as he encourages believers to go into the world and change the way art and media is done to make a difference for Christ. This DVD features a message followed by a live Q&A featuring Michael Landon, Jr. and Art Franklin before a crowd at New Birth MBC in Lithonia, Georgia.

“God is also the God of the visual and he wants us to glorify Him in whatever we think, speak, or say.” – Ravi Zacharias

I just heard Bill Johnson recently shared in his Podcast (Stable Hope – Jan 16th 2011) about an actress who walked into a meeting at Bethel Church and got healed! She is now impacting others with her story. Continue to pray that God will move through Hollywood and the movie industry with healing and the miraculous. Its a season of God’s goodness across the earth.

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