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A guide to making quality church videos on a tight budget

A guide to making quality church videos on a tight budget

At the annual Episcopal Communicators Conference last month, I attended one workshop in particular that was so useful and informative I knew immediately that I would want to share it with our diocese: Video on the fly: how to make quality video on a tight budget.

Presenting the workshop was Trevor Black, who along with the Rev. Christian Anderson, a former actor and producer, founded the Episcopal Video Network (EVN) with the goal of providing beginner-level tutorials on how to create effective digital content for churches, geared towards the electronically inexperienced.

The best introduction to their approach to easily creating affordable and engaging church videos is to watch this humorous video, which was produced using the same techniques they teach through EVN – including using the video camera you already have in your smartphone:

The centerpiece of the EVN website is The Guide, a primer on making an effective and engaging welcome video on a limited budget. Black and Anderson are big proponents of church welcome videos in particular, which they describe as "crucial for the modern church." Why? "We live in a visual culture that wants to see and emotionally feel an experience before physically attending it," they state on the EVN site. "Think of a movie trailer."

Personally, this is an analogy that resonates for me, since I love movies, and love watching movie trailers to decide which movies to prioritize in my limited movie-watching time. Imagine having a "movie trailer" for your church to communicate with sight and sound what makes your church unique. For example, instead of stating, "We're involved in our community," show some footage of members actually doing whatever it is in your community.

The Guide breaks down the video production process into 20 steps, starting with "Assemble Your Team" and progressing methodically through writing, shot selection, lighting and editing to completing and promoting your video. Don’t be intimidated by the fact that there are 20 steps: each step is broken down into a brief, easily understandable chunk, and includes a downloadable checklist. Throughout the steps are included recommendations for accessories you might need, such as affordable video editing software for different skill levels.

Even though I already have a fair amount of experience producing videos, I could still learn a few things from EVN's guide. For example, I've never tried using storyboards to map out the scenes in advance. EVN's Guide not only recommends them, it even provides a link to free storyboard templates.

Have you ever created a video for your church – or are you interested giving this a try? If you follow EVN's Guide and find it useful, I would love to hear about it – and so would EVN.

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