Creating Online Media for Worship

Creating Online Media for Worship

I am about to do a new thing;
   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? ~ Isaiah 43:19

With the prospect of shutting down churches the obvious question arises: how do we worship now? The Southern New England conference staff, with clergy and lay leaders across the conference, are working to find resources to help churches with this very question. One of the answers is to create virtual worships. Clergy and church leaders around the conference are looking at ways to post content online for congregations to view as an alternative to showing up in a building on Sundays.

Below are some helpful guidelines for creating video that may be put online for viewers. The main consideration should first be content: what message do you want to convey in the video. Once you have that clear, even scripted, you can plan to record the video. These guidelines will help create a better quality video so your viewers can experience the message clearly.

Shooting video:
Medium Shot Example
  • Shoot all video in landscape position (hold phone/tablet horizontally). No portrait shots.
    • The same for any images to include in video. Images should be 1600 pixels wide minimum in landscape format in order to add them to a video.
  • Shoot close to the subject. A medium shot is best. This shows the subject from the abdomen up (below the chest, but not all the way to the waist) and provides some of the surrounding environment. Do this with your feet, not the camera's zoom feature. See example to the right.
  • Lighting:
    • Use natural light in front of subject (windows, doors, or shoot outdoors).
    • Use multiple artificial lights if possible. If you have an overhead light, use another light to one side slightly in front of the subject.
    • Avoid any backlighting that creates a dark subject.
  • To allow for editing out errors, shoot 2 videos of the same take. Have one camera in medium shot and the other in close-up (top of shoulders and up). This allows editing errors to look natural as the video smoothly switches between shots while eliminating the error. Otherwise, any cuts will create very unnatural sudden breaks in the video.
Recording Sound:
The native sound on most cameras is not ideal for recording audio, but in many cases it will have to suffice.
  • Record where environmental sounds are quiet or can be controlled (indoors, with a building between subject and a road, etc.)
  • Use a windscreen if recording outdoors. Wind Noise can kill the sound completely making the video useless. No windscreen can prevent wind noise if wind is over 7 miles per hour.
  • Follow the video guidelines and have the camera close to the subject. Do NOT use zoom features as this keeps the camera's microphone further away from the subject.
  • Make sure the subject speaks louder than natural as if they are addressing a room full of people. Microphones don't pick up sound as well as our ears. It may sound okay to you while recording, but later you may find it too soft.
  • External recording is best – using a good quality digital recorder positioned close to the subject (within 3 feet of mouth). The sound file can be synchronize them during the editing process if the editing software has that capability.
    • A second phone or tablet positioned closer to the subject than the video camera will work as a higher quality external sound recording if it can be kept out of the shot. This can be a video showing nothing but recording the sound. Drew will then use the audio from that video as the source audio for the project.
Some other considerations:
  • Be aware of personal privacy when recording. Be certain anyone in the image is willing to have their picture included in the project. This is especially true of minors. Be sure parents agree to this before posting a child's image.
  • Be aware of copyright laws. Copyrighted music should never be added to video without licensing or documented permission from the copyright holder. Just because the music exists on the Internet does not mean it is free for use.
  • Keep content short. You online worship content is different from your worship in your church. Video should be short and clear. Try using multiple short videos to convey longer messages.
  • Consider different abilities of your audience. The hearing impaired will need closed captioning or transcripts of video content. Closed captioning is far easier for them to use while viewing a video. The visually impaired will also be able to enjoy your message if the video is recorded with clear audio and the content does not rely on visuals only.
  • Where to put your videos: some churches may have websites where they can upload and store videos. Other may use online media outlets such as YouTube and Facebook. These are fairly easy to manage and are generall accessible to all who have Internet access.
  • Finally, consider those without technology or who are uncomfortable with technology at home. Can your video copied to a drive and bought to these folks on a laptop or tablet? Are there other ways to bring these people to a safe location to view the online content with the help of others? A couple of people gathered together is still safer than large groups at this time if safety precautions are used.


Drew Page

Drew Page is the Media and Data Manager for the Southern New England Conference, and a member of the Conference's Communications Team. He writes and edits news, blogs, and devotionals, produces video, and spends a week each summer as a Dean at Silver...

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