Basic videography tips for congregations new to video production
As local churches continue creative and vital ministry during the COVID-19 pandemic, many are turning to online video for the first time. Pastors may now find their job description includes on-air personality, set designer and videographer.
Below are some basic videography tips from Conference Director of Communication Danette Clifton to help pastors, church staff and volunteers as they navigate this new chapter of video ministry.
If you are using a phone or tablet to record/stream your videos turn the device horizontally. This will make the shot wider than it is tall. This is how we are used to seeing videos. This composition also makes your video fit best on computer screens, television sets and mobile devices.
Basic Composition: Align your shot to make the speaker the center of the video. Just make sure your video has margins around the speaker’s face. Don’t make the shot too close/tight. Not only can that be uncomfortable for viewers, but some screens may clip portions of the video around the edges. Leaving outside margins helps make sure your video looks good on all devices.
Rule of Thirds: You can take your video composition up a notch and add some visual interest by using what is known as “the rule of thirds.” Here’s how it works. When you compose your shot imagine a tic-tac-toe board covering the screen. The four points where the lines intersect are the points of interest. Try to put a key area of focus on one of these points of interest. For example, line up the speaker’s eyes at the top right point. If you are showing an altar, have the Bible at the lower left point. Just like with basic composition don’t forget to leave outside margins.
Aim for Quality
Keep the video steady. Use a tripod. If you don’t have a tripod, find a secure way to prop your camera, phone or tablet on a table. If you must have someone else hold the camera, have them hold it with both hands close to their body so their arms don’t get tired and wobbly.
Don’t stand too far away from the camera. The closer you are the sharper the image will be. Unless you are using a high-quality video camera, avoid using the zoom feature because that will degrade the image quality. Instead, place the camera the correct distance away from the subject to get the shot you want.
No matter how you compose the shot, make sure the camera has a clear focus on the speaker’s face. If the speaker uses a lot of hand motions, move the camera back to make the shot “wider” to allow the audience to see the hand motions.
Don’t let the speaker stand too close to a wall. This looks uncomfortable! A little space behind the speaker will give the video some natural depth and will help both your speaker and audience breathe a little easier.
Make sure the background is not cluttered or busy. It’s okay to have something interesting in the background such as a picture, bookcase, sanctuary or altar. Just make sure there’s nothing in the background that is a distraction or takes attention away from the person in your video. Take special care to avoid glares and movement in the background.
Keep the camera at eye level and have the speaker talk directly to the lens so it looks like he or she is having a conversation with the viewing audience.
Make sure the speaker maintains eye contact with the camera lens throughout the video. This can feel awkward when someone is used to speaking to crowds and tries to make eye contact with different people throughout the room. However, constantly shifting your eyes away from the camera lens and looking around the room during a video is losing “eye contact” with your video audience.
Make sure the audio is clear. Speak loudly and clearly. If you have an external microphone that plugs directly into your camera, phone or tablet, use it. It will help ensure better audio quality.
Beware of background noise. Even the faintest ambient sound will be heard in your video, so find a quiet place to record/stream.
Shoot the video in a well-lit area. If there isn’t enough light your video will look grainy and low quality.
Make sure the light is in front of the speaker. For instance, don’t use an uncovered window as the video background. Instead, have the speaker face the window and let the natural light brighten his or her face.
Be yourself. You are primarily making videos to connect with your congregation. They are watching the videos because they want to see and connect with YOU, not some fake video persona.
Take a deep breath and pray. Viewers will be able to see if you are frazzled, so take a moment to center yourself before you hit record/stream.
Have fun. If being on camera makes you uncomfortable, don't focus on that. Instead, keep your focus on connecting with your audience. Videos are a great opportunity to connect with people longing for connection right now. You may want to keep specific people in mind as you speak to the camera so you will remember why you are making the video!
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