All posts tagged church media

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.

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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.

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.

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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.”

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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.