Church Video Camera and Equipment Questions

I've had quite a few emails with queries about church cameras and other live video production equipment, and most of them are generally similar in nature, so I'd like to use this article to address some of these issues as it would save me replying to individual emails.

The most common question I get asked is what camera or camcorder should we buy if we want to record our church services on to DVD or for podcasting/web streaming.

I've made some recommendations on suitable equipment in a previous article titled church video cameras for new startup ministries, but the real answer to that question is always buy what will fot into your Pastor's church budget.
No matter the technical requirments that you will want your video production hardware to fufill, the bottom line is how much financies can be released to meet the meeds of the media department?

There is no point trying to buy a HD XDCAM video camera because it supports tapeless recording with a quicker workflow for editing footage (which is nice to have) if you can't justify or prove to the Bishop that it is money worth spending on a new department, but more importantly has the church really got that much money available considering it's other commitments?

You might have to start a department with single camera recording using a consumer grade or a church member's prosumer camcorde, which while not ideal, could be used to prove the concept that the department can function and is of benefit to the church before getting someting better or proceeding to multi cam live recording with a mixer/switcher.
A single camera can still record a service to dvd for home bound members, can be used for sermon highlights with a bit of time cosuming editing to produce professional looking results to put on a church website and will definately provide the training to media department members of video shooting, production and editing. The most important feature you need if you are limited to a single camera, is the ability to connect an audio imput from the sound desk. There is nothing as off putting and un-professional as a video with poor echoing sound.

Do we need a video mixer to record live services for broadcast or podcasting?If you already have an established video media ministry that has proved itself, and you think that the next step is to take your message to a wider audience via either television broadcasting or internet streaming/podcasting, then a muti-camera setup with a mixer being contriolled by a church video director that knows what he/she is doing is called for. What equipment you buy will always depend on your individual budget, so you might have to start with an Edirol V4 instead of that Sony Anycast production station which you really had your eyes on. The format you record with will also be dictated by church finances, so DV, DVCAM might have to do instead of BetaCam, HD or XDCAM.

Do forget that you need various other video hardware like Tripods, Lights, long high quality cable runs, talkback intercomms, camera control units (studio camera heads), so factor these in your budget otherwise you might have cameras and not be able to record a service because you forgot to get any interface boards for you multi channel industrial video switcher.

I've also had 2 emails recently which I'd like to post and answer here:

'My name is Amanda, from Malaysia. I am in the media ministry of our church and we would like to start a church video ministry. I came across your blog and hope to get some opinion on what equipment we should choose as beginners.

We target to do live on screen when worship with lyrics. I would like to know what equipment is suitable as we are in a low budget.

But we'd already planned to get a Sony Z5 and a normal video cam, but for switcher i'm still considering to use Sony Anycast or not?, besides that, should we use pc or mac, as i know propresenter is a very good software which only at mac platform.'

Amanda your question about equipment should have been answered by my article above, and from your email, I doubt if your budget would cover the Sony AnyCast station, maybe the Datavideo HS-1000 mobile studio or something cheap from their range would suit you better.
As far as song lyrics is concerned, the PC seems to be more popular for that since they are cheap and have a wider range of software, with easy worship being very popular.
As for projectors, there is a large range available to suit all budgets and the one you choose should suit your church lighting situation so that the screen can be seen with the lights on.

The second email is more to do with a technical issue:

'My name is Austin. I am the media director of my local church. Our ministry wants to go on air (video broadcast) and everything lies in my hands. I want you to help me solve one problem.

Our Current church video hardware consists of

EDIROL V4 (4 input channels)
Panasonic MD 10000
right now am facing an interference problem, the moment i connect audio lines to my recorder (MD 9000) lines appear on the video and when I unplug the audio line, the video will be clear. Sometimes the video will be clear with the audio line. Suprisingly, during night coverage this problem does not occur.'

Austin as you have rightly mentioned, you are suffering from some kind of interference being picked up by the cable run between the sound desk and video recorder. It could either be a ground loop issue, or more likely the audio cable is not fully shielded, and is therefore acting like a radio antenna picking up the interference.
You can try running a new high quality shielded audio cable between sound and video desks, making sure that it is wired correctly and grounded, otherwise you might need to get a trained technician in to find out what the problem is.

If you are starting a ministry and have any questions which haven't been answered by the various church video articles already posted (please use the search facility provided), then please leave a comment, and I'll do my best to answer it.


Anonymous said...

Wow there's a lot more to church video equipment than I thought. I know my church has a Vista Spyder system and it seems easy to use. I think it's because you have to have someone who knows what they are doing to run it, and then it looks easy. The whole video aspect is great I don't think my church does that now, but it seems like a great advantage so you can put online and more people can be a part of services.

Anderson Creative Productions said...

I have been approached many times to do some video production for church plays in the past and have always passed on the opporunity since most of my work has been in the corporate video industry. Once again this year I have been approached to shoot a 2 hr production of it is a wonderful life at a local church. I have the equipment for HD video and post production but I am not sure what to bid a church on this project. Any ideas where I can look?

Shola said...

I'm sorry, but can't help you there. I would have thought you would bid just the same as for your corporate clients and if that is too much for them, maybe negotiate something that is agreeable to both parties.

If they came to you because they saw your work, then it shouldn't be a problem. You've turned this work down in the past, so if you need the work, then it is up to you to decide how low you are willing o go.

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