By Rich Birch

Source: unSeminary.com

Using video to communicate is a reality in many churches today.Whether you are producing a video to promote an upcoming event or if you are multisite church where video is at the core of how you deliver teaching … many pastors find themselves thinking about how to make great looking video projects. They sure didn’t teach this in seminary!

One reality of people who lead technology stuff at all the churches I’ve interacted with is they all want to buy new gear … now! This comes from a good place because they want to generate the best product they can and often you need better tools to get better results. But as church leaders our job is to discern when is the right time to acquire the tech gear we need to push the mission forward. Today I wanted to share a quick tip to help you think through when to buy new cameras for your church.

When it comes to getting great looking video there is a dance between the camera and the lighting. Generally speaking … when you get more light on whatever you are trying to shoot with a camera it will look better. Rather than spending on new fancy cameras you should consider upgrading your lighting to help the video out. We went through this last year where we made an update to the lighting rig at our “production” campus that results we’re fantastic! We kept the same cameras that we’ve had for almost 7 years but we got a much better image out of them. Take a look at this picture and compare the how the skin tones look more natural, the lighting is more even and it just looks better!

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All we did was upgrade the lighting and kept the same cameras … changing out the lighting is more economical way to improve your video quality than just swapping out the cameras. The effect is even more dramatic when you watch videos from before and after the lighting change. 

We’re still working on how to improve the video image that we generate every week at our church. We’re a multisite church where more people watch our teaching pastor on video than “live” and so we want to make sure we do the best we can to generate a great looking image. In December we rented cameras that would cost about $30k a piece to purchase … we set up our seven year old cameras that we paid $3.5k for at the time to see how it would look. Below is a side by side comparison of the two cameras … on the left is the $30k camera and on the right is our existing camera. (Ignore the “striping” around the outside of Tim … a rendering issue pulling caused be these two image types together.) You’ll notice the skin tones aren’t as good on the newer camera – probably caused by us not being able to tweak them enough at set up – but over all the image isn’t 10x better with the much more expensive camera. Spending more on cameras doesn’t automatically equate to a better image!

I’d love your feedback! What have you learned about generating great videos for your church over the years?

 

Image courtesy of unSeminary.com

Rich Birch

Author: Rich Birch

I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serve as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I speak at conferences like Orange, WFX and various regional multisite church events. I’m a featured writer on Auxano’s Vision Room, ChurchLeaders.com and MinistryBriefing. Currently, I'm the Pastor of Operations at Liquid Church in New Jersey.

3 Responses

  1. Church And Technology.ca's good reads, week 11 2014

    […] How to Get a Better Video Image Out of Your Existing Cameras – Christian Media Magazine While the camera budget talk about in this post may be more then you could ever fathom, ignore the amounts they’re talking about and pay attention to the key message. Lighting is more important then camera quality. If you’re looking at recording your service/sermon for posting to your website, or live streaming your service, worry less about the quality of the camera then about the amount of lighting. […]

  2. Richard Martz

    Over the years I’ve watched while churches recycle people from thier worship tech teams to video. That sometimes results in really good people taking an uninformed approach to video. Of course having fundamentally good lighting will result in better pictures. The lighting that you cite as “improved” still lacks any backlight (rim light) that will separate the subject from the background. Good lighting for television is fundamentally based on three points: Key light, Fill Light and Back Light (rim light). If you are working on a stage situation where you have multiple camera angles then you need to use a 4 light formula. Keep working on it.

  3. Don

    I agree with your decision to adjust lighting 100%. Trinity Baptist went through similar growing pains, but their decision was from 25+ year old cameras to HD, and the change was extreme. I posted a blog post regarding the benefits of both lighting and cameras here: http://donschaffer.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/balancing-lighting-and-video-for-tv-broadcast/.

    Beyond lighting, the camera demo does not present enough justice for me to make a call on the cameras themselves. For one, compression was a bit too high in the video, and two, if the demo camera was not adjusted for your room then you may not have seen the benefits – almost like having a science experiment with uncontrolled variables. Since your set is relatively dark, with the exception of the hot spot on the speaker, some tuning (knee, blacks) could have a significant impact on the final appearance, for instance. In all, though, returning to your premise, you made the right choice by working with lighting first.

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