All posts in Video Production

Wrapping it All Up



Music can cover a multitude of audio mistakes…that’s from 1 Filmmakers 2:5. If you can get your hands on some stock music it will go a long way in making your production seem more professional. There are two things to keep in mind when adding music.

Make sure it sets the mood. Don’t put the music from “Halloween” behind a video encouraging people to take time with their families!

The next thing is to make sure that the level of music doesn’t dominate the level of the voices. This is really easy to do, but always remember that the music should come below the voices not above.

Burn baby, burn

Not that your film is complete it is time to figure out how to get it onto a DVD. Once again, find that 12-year old, bribe them with some pizza and ask them to burn it to a DVD. If you don’t know where to find a 12-year old, then it really isn’t that difficult because most PC’s these days come with the ability to burn a file to DVD.

The alternative to this is if you happen to use presentation software such as SongShow Plus, Media Shout, ProPresenter or a free software like OpenLP. In this case you will need to render your file to a format compatible with your software.

The debut

Wow, you are almost there! The service begins and your palms are sweaty. The pastor gives his cue for your video and your fumble for the “play” button and cross your fingers and hope it actually works! It does work! Whew! Everyone applauds wildly once the video finishes and the minister now proceeds to finish a life-transforming talk, which YOU played a part in!

Each time you make a video the process will get easier and your creativity will begin to flourish. At my church we began to think that if we enjoyed the video so much maybe other churches would find it useful as well. It is my belief that a video that has been developed by a church for use in a church will always be more effective than something that was created by a company that is just trying to produce videos.

Putting it all Together (Making Sermon Videos Part 3)


Cast away

Now you have a great concept, a beginning, middle and [maybe] end, now you just need some great actors to pull off your masterpiece. Unless you are blessed with living in Hollywood you probably don’t have professional actors to pull from. A good place to start looking is in your drama ministry, if your church has one. If not, perhaps the people that work with kids, they often tend to be very expressive. If none of these work, you can do what we oftentimes do…the “fog” test. Hold up a mirror to someone’s mouth and see if they fog it…if so, you have an actor!!


Many people have a hard time acting because they have a hard time remembering lines, that’s why we generally shoot a concept not a script. The director’s job then becomes to coach the actors before each scene and let them know a general idea of what they are supposed to do, and let them go for it. Are you going to win any awards? No, probably not, but you are helping to include people in teaching the message in a relevant way, and chances are it won’t turn out half-bad. Besides, it is my opinion that people enjoy a lower quality video with people they know and recognize rather than a video that is well made but with people they don’t know.

Also, when you use people you know, it is easier to tie in inside jokes. For example we made a video called “Ministry Swap” where my lovely wife was a teacher in children’s church and she swapped places with one of our drummers. You may watch the video and get a chuckle, but when our congregation saw it they were rolling! The difference is that they know these people and know how absurd the “swap” really was.

please install flash

Cut to the Chase

So, everything is filmed and ready for the cutting floor. This is probably one of the toughest parts of the process. First you need to digitize the footage and bring it into a non-linear editing program. If you don’t know how to do this, find a 12-year old kid and ask them to show you how.

As a rule of thumb, cut the video to be as short as possible. After you think it is finished show someone and get their opinion of the slower or weaker parts, then go back in and make it shorter. They say that great films aren’t edited they are re-edited!

As you are piecing together the clips of your blockbuster, please do everyone a favor…only use hard cuts and dissolves! There is no need for wipes, flips, 3D rotates and so forth unless the mood of the video calls for it or is you are going for the ultra cheesy look. When you go to the movies you never see those flashy transitions. In my opinion that is the difference of a pro and a rookie…well, maybe not completely.

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The Story (Making Sermon Videos Part 2)


Beginning, Middle and End (and when to break this rule)

Even if your time crunch doesn’t allow a fully written script, you can come up with the beginning, middle and end. Do not underestimate this step!  When coming up with a new concept ask yourself these questions:

  • Where does my story start (beginning)
  • How will it end (end)
  • How does it get there? (middle)

Many times people try to overcomplicate this process. Please don’t. Decide what point you want to get across or what question you want to ask and then figure out how to set it up and how to conclude it.

One thing to consider which does seems to contradict the “beginning, middle, end” philosophy and that is realizing that in some cases the video doesn’t really need to have an end. Now, you think I’m crazy! If you were shooting a movie or short to be played by itself with no explanation you would need to resolve everything, but often the videos that churches find most useful either show just a scenario or leave it open ended for the teacher to tie together.

An example of this is a video we created called “God’s Phone System.” In this video we were showing what it would be like if God had a phone system. Several people called in and through the next couple minutes became frustrated with pressing the correct options and getting put on “hold.” That video doesn’t stand well on its own, but when someone then begins to teach about prayer and how God isn’t like a phone system, it is a home run!

please install flash

Go for the Opposite

Sometimes the best video illustration is one that actually demonstrates the opposite of what you are trying to communicate. Maybe make a short informercial about a product that will supposedly help you to hear from God better. Or maybe an interview with someone that is talking about how they overcame anger but they get mad at the interviewer during the process.

That’s the great thing about video. You can hit a completely absurd angle which gets everyone laughing, and then the speaker can come up and drive home a point about prayer or about how each of us struggle with anger at times even if we don’t admit it.

Demystifying Church Video (Making Sermon Videos Part 1)


Shooting the Idea

About fifteen years ago my friend Don and I had an idea to create a short video to be used at a youth rally we were participating in. We had never seen anyone use video in church, in fact we though we invented the idea! Anyhow, we proceeded to take our SVHS camera and create a five-minute story about a kid who really wanted to follow Christ, but had a friend (the Devil) that he wasn’t willing to let go of.

please install flash

We really didn’t know what we were doing back then, but everyone liked the video even though the production quality wasn’t the highest. It is funny to think that that same video is still being shown in churches around the country!

That first venture into producing church media was very exciting for me. Many years, and films, later Don and I are still producing videos for our weekend church services. Sure, they may not always be “Hollywood quality” but they get the job done in a very effective way. A way that few other media forms can touch.

So can anyone make a video illustration? Everyone knows that the cost of quality video cameras and editing equipment has dropped to the point that anyone can produce videos with little expense…you can even shoot HD videos with your phone now!! So, the reality is, that everyone does have the potential to make great videos for church!

Start with a Solid Concept

Before you pull out your gear make sure that you have a clear concept in mind. Unlike Hollywood we rarely fully script a short video…maybe that is because we are usually shooting it on Friday to be used that weekend!! We come up with a creative idea that will setup a point that will be made that weekend.

One time we were doing a service on temptation and we came up with the concept of a mom making cookies and giving them to her kid. As is typical the child wanted more but the mom said “no.” After everyone was tucked into bed shots would be shown of someone sneaking into the kitchen and helping themselves to cookies. Then the light would come on and it would be the father.

We quickly decided on the location and actors and filmed “Cookie Temptation.”

please install flash

It is always a good idea to use humor in the concept because people tend to relate to humor very well. If something is funny they will generally overlook other flaws.

The idea of having a solid concept is crucial. Abstract concepts are generally great for film festivals and the like, but oftentimes they are not suited as well to use in the local church.