Technology plays a big role in our everyday lives and faith is no exception. Video is a wonderful tool for communicating and storytelling. Houses of worship (HOW) can use video to reach congregants in a more effective, visual manner whether they are broadcasting from Vatican City or any local, small church. Back in the day, video services were reserved for those with the money to afford expensive equipment and a staff to operate it. However, with all the innovations and easy integration of audio visual technology happening today, making videos is something that is accessible to virtually everyone. Even smaller churches can create compelling faith based videos for a congregation, but you will need more in-house equipment than simply a camera or two.
Equipment Needed to Record Services
Cameras. Speaking of cameras, they are obviously the most important equipment you need for recording services, and realistically, you should consider spending almost half of your allotted budget on a high-quality camera. Fortunately, there are many options to choose from at different price points. Do your research to compare the best camera choice for your HOW’s needs, since it will be the corner stone of your video production moving forward.
Mixers. After selecting the right camera, you will need a mixer to blend various video feeds into one. A mixers are especially necessary if your HOW is using more than one source, such as a camera, computer, and tablet, since it can combine all those sources together while editing the video, and allow you to create something really spectacular.
Audio Compressors. If your HOW plans on streaming live services, an audio compressor will be crucial so the audience won’t have to adjust their volume due to the equipment. The compressor will also take care of any unexpected pops in audio that can occur with live streaming services.
Lights. Whether using still photography or video, proper lighting is essential. Many houses of worship weren’t designed with lighting in mind, especially the kind that you need to record clear and clean video. Lighting needs to be consistent and bright enough to record images clearly. Many of your lighting choices will depend on the type of camera used.
Scaler. This equipment is necessary to allow SD signals (standard definition) to work on an HD device.
DVD Recorder. You will need a DVD recorder to allow you to record services for later use, or even for handouts to your congregation. Most DVD recorders have a built-in hard drive, so they also act as a storage device for your recordings, ensuring you always have a clean copy of the service.
Analog to Digital Converter. This equipment is necessary to convert the video signal into live streaming of your service.
Audio Video Distribution Amplifier. This gear is responsible for taking the audio and video coming in and splitting it across several outputs. It also works to carry the signals over longer distances, without the picture quality degrading.
Duplicator. The main difference between duplicators is how many discs they can burn at once. Some have internal hard drives and software that allow you to burn 10 CDs or DVDs, which could prove invaluable, especially if you are looking to make recorded services available through your website.
Recording Services in Houses of Worship
While video helps to visually tell a story, in a house of worship the music plays an equal, or many times, more important role. It’s crucial to make sure all the elements for amazing music are there to take your video to an even higher level of excellence.
Instruments. Church musicians are extremely talented, so to get the best sound quality, make sure all the instruments are professionally tuned, and in optimal condition.
Preparation. Practice, practice, and then practice some more. Make sure the band or performer is familiar with the music and in sync with any vocals. You will need to also decide if you will record live to two-track or live to multi-track. Keep this in mind as it will affect how you do your final edit, if required.
Mixing down. Once the service is recorded, it needs to be mixed down to create the final stereo recording. This is where you can get creative, since all the recorded channels need to be mixed to make the video. You can add effects and highlight certain vocals or instruments. Just be sure when you are experimenting, you create a balance. Don’t add effects ‘just because you can,’ as they will sometimes take away from the messaging you are trying to deliver.
What to Consider When Setting Up Equipment
When recording and broadcasting the worship services, the end product should be as perfect as possible. You will want to plan and get the best people on board to make the recording successful. Here are some things to consider.
Call an experienced sound engineer. If your HOW budget allows, call in an experienced sound engineer to help walk you, as well as any volunteers or other staff members who might be using the devices, through your equipment and get everything set-up correctly. This will help you feel confident that your system is working seamlessly before you hit that record button.
Have the best crew on board. If you can’t afford a professional crew, find people in your faith community who are dedicated and interested in learning about the video process. Make sure they take the time needed to become familiar with the equipment, and do dry runs with them so they can test out various angles and audio tweaks before recording an actual performance or sermon. With the advancements in today’s AV equipment, and relative ease of use, you don’t have to have super tech-savvy people helping out. But they do have to be willing roll their sleeves up, and learn the ins and outs of the AV system you have in place. Make sure training is available, and you will have a confident crew at your disposal.
Good groundwork and careful planning are the keys to successful worship recordings. The ability to share faith via video allows people across the world to experience something that transcends the four walls of a house of worship. With the right preparation and dedication, every service you record can become the greatest story ever told.