A little while ago, we wrote a blog on why we love announcement videos. Today, we’ll give you an overview of the equipment we use to put ours together.
You’ve no doubt seen some amazing church videos that have been put together by huge teams at huge churches with huge budgets. If you’re part of a smaller church, it can be easy to become discouraged seeing videos like that (which is a shame, because that’s not the purpose of those videos!). Your visual media “department” may be entirely staffed by volunteers. You may feel restricted by your limited resources, equipment or budget. Or you may be just one single person trying to make visual media happen at your church with no one to help you.
If this is you, announcement videos are a great place to start! Here’s our list of equipment we use to put our videos together each week. It takes us less than 30 minutes each week to set up our equipment, shoot the video, and pack away, and the whole video can be edited and exported in under an hour. As little as two people are needed to make them happen (the presenter and the shooter), and there may well be people in your church who already have access to most of the equipment you need.
Obviously, you don’t need this exact equipment to get started — this is only the gear we use at our church. In fact, there are lots of other options out there that probably do a much better job! But this is what we have access to, and this is what we’re using week in, week out, to shoot and edit our announcement videos.
Camera body & lens: I use a Canon 6D with a 50mm lens. Reason being, I was a photographer before delving into video, and the 6D was what I was using at the time. The video quality is exceptional, you can achieve great results in Auto or Aperture Variable Mode (very handy if you’re not ready to start using manual settings on your camera), and, because it takes beautiful photographs too, you can use it to get awesome photos for your church website and publications. Having said that, I’ve been told by many people, with far more church media experience than me, that the Panasonic GH4 is amazing for shooting video announcements (better than Canon!) and a few hundred dollars cheaper than the Canon 6D.Either way, a good DSLR that allows manual settings in video mode will do the job fine.
Microphone: Your camera may have an inbuilt mic, but if you can afford an external mic, please get one!!! The audio quality will be so much better, and good audio makes for a good video. If the audio is poor, it doesn’t matter how amazing your footage or video editing skills are — it will feel like a bad video. Audio really matters, so invest in it when you can! We use this Rode VideoMic. It does a good job for the price, but be aware — if you plug it straight into your DSLR, you will most likely get some hiss in the background of your audio. This is an unfortunate result of plugging mics directly into DSLRs, and although it’s barely noticeable, you can eliminate it altogether by getting hold of an audio capturing device (like our Tascam DR-60DMK2– see below). If you’re filming outside, you’ll also need a deadcat or windshield to absorb wind noise (although it’s worth noting that even with a deadcat, the Rode Videomic still won’t perform too well outside on a very windy day unless it’s running through an audio capturing device first).
Audio capturing: Your DSLR will most likely allow you to connect your microphone directly into the camera (this is what we were doing for months), but if you want your audio to sound awesome, and want more control over the sound, then you’ll need a device to receive and mix the audio. Our Tascam DR-60DMK2 is great for this! Our audio is recorded directly onto an SD card (you also have the option to run the audio through the device, then back into the camera), and we sync up the audio and video in Premiere Pro.
Lighting: If you can’t get your hands on some studio lights, you really need to make sure your shooting location has LOTS of natural light. If not, you’re better off just shooting outside. But if you are able to get two or three lights as part of your video setup, you won’t regret it! A beautiful LED studio light kit is currently sitting right at the top of our wishlist, but for now, we’re making do with a cheap bulb and softbox kit from eBay. And actually, it’s fine. It does the job. It eliminates nasty shadows on the presenter’s face, and illuminates the presenter nicely. But if you have the budget, lights like these would be awesome!
Video Tripod & Boom Pole: This is the icing on the cake. You certainly don’t need these things (a $30 tripod from Kmart will do the job!) but our video tripod and free-standing boom pole really do make my job a lot easier. They weren’t cheap (around $350-$400 each), so we didn’t buy them straight away, but when we finally did, it improved the quality, boosted efficiency, and reduced the general frustration that comes with using limited equipment. Get them if you can, but you can definitely get started without them!
Software: Our videos are edited using Adobe Premiere Pro. This is some seriously good software, and video makers are using it for projects that are much more complex and involved than church video announcements, but it’s such a well-made program that it’s easy to get started with limited experience. You could always use iMovie or any other free video editing software, but Premiere Pro is lovely to use, and there’s so much online support to get you started. But if purchasing new software is out of the question, then iMove will be just fine.
So that’s our basic set-up. We certainly have a long way to go in terms of building our equipment inventory, but our system is working and we’re grateful for what we have.
If your church is making regular videos, we’d love to hear what equipment you’re using!