What You Need to Launch a Video MinistryThe message from the pulpit in your house of worship reaches the parishioners each week, but launching a video ministry can help spread that message farther and last long after the service is over. With the world more connected and tech savvy each day, video provides a cost-effective opportunity to reach not only existing church members, but also prospective parishioners.

To utilize video as an effective communication tool for your house of worship, you will need the proper equipment. Whether your goal is live streaming, image magnification (IMAG) or DVD production, here’s what you will need to launch a video ministry.

Camera. A quality HD camera is the most important piece of equipment you can purchase for your video ministry. You may even need more than one, depending on how the room or building is laid out. Many times a system of three or more cameras can be strategically located for in-service filming. From basic to elaborate, the camera market is rich with choices at different price points. Make sure you choose the right camera for the type of video you want to produce. You should expect to spend up to half of your budget on HD cameras, since they will be the corner stone of your production.

You will also need tripods to hold the cameras, so think about that when considering your budget. If volunteers will be operating the camera equipment, make sure they are given thorough instructions so they feel comfortable filming the services.

Mixer. An HD video mixer, also called a video switcher, allows you to combine feeds from multiple sources into one. More top-end video mixers have the built-in capability to convert analog to digital signal via a USB or FireWire, making live streaming possible without using additional equipment. If the mixer you choose doesn’t have this capability and live streaming is on your agenda, you will need to purchase an analog-to-digital converter.

Scaler. This equipment is necessary to allow SD signals (standard definition) to work on an HD device. A scaler is particularly helpful in IMAG systems, where a live video feed is projected onto screens. Scalers convert digital signals to fit various aspect ratios and connections and ensure there is no quality degradation along the way.

DVD recorder. In order to take what you’ve captured in-camera directly to DVD, you’ll need a DVD recorder. This takes your live footage and finalizes it for a standard DVD player. It is advisable to purchase a DVD recorder with a built-in hard drive. This allows you to store the video and, even if your disc is bad, it minimizes the risk of losing data.

To YouTube or not to YouTube. If you plan to share your video over social media, you should create a YouTube channel for your ministry. It makes sharing easier and people can subscribe to your ministry’s channel. Note that YouTube has a limit of 15 minutes per video for unverified accounts. However, if you take the easy steps to verify your account, you’ll be able to increase your limits so you can upload longer. If YouTube isn’t for you, Vimeo is another option that works in a similar fashion.

Editing software. After capturing all the video you need, you are still left with raw video. If you want to add any production qualities to the final product for DVDs or social sharing, you will need editing software. This will enable you to cut in with still images, add text, modify music, or make transitions within the videos. While some cameras are equipped with very basic built-in editing tools, there are a host of nonlinear editing software options available, and many are free to use. Depending on what operating system you prefer, look for Microsoft’s Windows Movie Maker or Apple’s iMovie. If your editing skills are more advanced, you might want to use Adobe Premiere or Apple’s Final Cut Pro.

Lighting, plus. To ensure the quality of your finished video, you will need to include proper lighting in your initial setup. Your lighting choices will depend on the type of camera you use and how the house of worship is laid out. In addition, you may want an audio compressor, which will give you consistent volume throughout the video.

With the popularity of videos, it’s hard to deny the appeal and reach of a video ministry. The abundance of user-friendly technology now available allows a house of worship the ability to more easily expand its reach beyond the church walls. Marketers have long known the power of video to deliver messages and today many ministries are embracing that same medium to connect with a much larger audience than ever before.

photo credit: Melky Jean-Better (video shoot) 74 via photopin (license)