What Equipment Do You Need To Start A Church Video Production Ministry?
This article was first featured on our church technology website called Easy Church Tech.
What equipment do you need for quality video production for your church? While most smartphones and tablets can record HD video and may include basic editing features, you need additional equipment and tools for professional-quality video production.
Some of the most-needed items for church video production include cameras, microphones, switchers, mixers, and video editing software. However, other equipment may be required, depending on the type of project you are filming. If you want quality results, use the following guide to video production equipment.
Essential Gear for Professional Church Video Production
For amateur productions, you may not need a lot of equipment. A quality handheld HD video camera, smartphone, or tablet will allow you to record video and sound. For professional productions, you should consider the following equipment:
Keep in mind that you may not need all these items for your church video production. For example, depending on the software that you plan to use on your computer, you may not need a video switcher or audio mixer. However, the software, mics, and cameras are essential gear for any pro video production.
Top Features to Look for in Pro Cameras and Mics
A quality video production starts with the selection of quality video cameras. Without clear, high-resolution video, the rest of the equipment does not matter. The compact, handheld HD video cameras that cost $1,000 or less are not much better than the cameras found on most smartphones.
If you want professional video, you may need to invest in a pro-grade consumer video camera. These cameras start at several thousand dollars with the best options costing close to $20,000. However, the extra cost of these cameras is put to good use. With a pro-grade camera, you get a bigger imaging chip.
The imaging chip or imaging sensor is responsible for converting the optical image that you see with your naked eye into a digital image. The camera in your smartphone or the handheld HD cameras typically includes complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS imaging sensors).
The high-end cameras often used charge-coupled device (CDD) imaging sensors, which can produce a clearer, more realistic image. When choosing a pro-quality camera, this imaging chip is one of the main features to consider. The best cameras have larger sensors that can capture more pixels.
For a professional video production, you may also want the option to switch lenses. You can rarely change lenses on the handheld HD cameras while the pro-grade consumer cameras may allow you to purchase separate lenses.
The next consideration is the audio. The built-in microphones may not provide the sound quality that you want. It is also better to have a separate audio track that you can add to your edited video track instead of capturing audio and video together on the camera.
When shopping for microphones, you should understand the different types of pick-up patterns. These patterns refer to the directions that the microphone can capture sound and include three main types:
Omni-directional mics pick up sound from every direction while cardioid mics mostly pick up audio in front and to the sides of the mic. The unidirectional mics pick up sound directly in front of the mic.
If you need to keep the mics hidden, you have two primary options. You can purchase lapel microphones with wireless transmitters or you can purchase a shotgun microphone and a boom pole.
The lapel mics often use omnidirectional pick up to ensure that the person wearing the mic is heard. These mics are typically clipped to the inside of a shirt with the cable running to the wireless transmitter in a back pocket or strapped to the waist.
While these mics are easy to conceal, they may be partially visible. They are mostly used in newsrooms and talk shows.
When you do not want the performer’s microphone to be visible, a shotgun microphone with a boom pole is your best option. The shotgun mic has a unidirectional pattern, picking up sound directly where the mic is pointed. It can then be attached to a long boom pole and held out of the view of the camera, but close to the performer.
If the mic does not need to remain hidden, you may consider purchasing a handheld microphone. These are the microphones typically used by presenters, broadcasters, and on-location news reporters. They may be wireless or wired and typically have a cardioid pick-up pattern that can capture sound around the speaker.
With these items, you can start shooting professional-quality video. However, there are still several items that you may want to think about getting to help improve the quality of your video, such as:
- Stabilizers and dollies
- Extra lighting
- Light reflectors and umbrellas
Tripods are perfect for keeping your camera steady. They are available in various sizes and allow you to keep the camera steady as you pan.
Along with the tripod, there is a wide range of stabilizers and dollies that you can use for smoother recording in different settings. For example, a dolly allows you to keep the camera steady while moving the camera along a set path. You may also use a handheld stabilizer for mobile shots.
Extra lighting, including lights, reflectors, and umbrellas, helps you get the light you need for clearer shots. Unless you are filming outdoors on a bright, sunny day, lighting or reflectors are necessary.
Professional lights are typically sold as individual fixtures that require a separate light stand. In certain settings, you may also hang the lights from beams. The reflectors and umbrellas let you modify the light and direct it where you want.
Do You Need a Vision Mixer and Audio Mixer?
A vision mixer and an audio mixer may be necessary. If you are planning to live stream your video production, these tools are essential. The vision mixer allows you to easily switch between cameras while the audio mixer allows you to compile quality sound from your various mics.
When planning a studio production, these items are not always required. Some of the best video cameras include XLR inputs for connecting microphones, allowing you to capture video and audio without additional equipment.
After transferring the data to your computer, the video editing software can isolate the video and audio tracks. This setup is recommended for projects that only require a single camera or mic.
The vision mixer or video switcher is a piece of equipment with multiple inputs for connecting video cameras. It then outputs the main video feed to your computer. With the vision mixer, you can easily switch between cameras, which is useful for live video streams.
You can also find vision mixers that include hardware encoding. If you do not plan on editing your video on your computer, these vision mixers are beneficial. The feed that you send to your computer is ready for broadcast, eliminating the need for separate software on your computer.
For video production that includes a lot of editing, the vision mixer is not a necessity. Using professional encoding software, you can encode and edit your videos on your computer in an easy-to-view timeline. You can add video from multiple cameras and then splice them together using the software.
An audio mixer is a useful tool for professional video productions. They help simplify the editing process by allowing you to mix the sound live instead of mixing it on your computer. While some editing software may allow you to add multiple audio tracks, an audio mixer allows you to create one master audio track.
There are also some video switchers that include built-in audio mixers. They provide basic equalizer settings and multiple inputs. Depending on your sound needs, these video switchers may help eliminate the need for a separate audio mixer.
The audio mixer should include enough inputs for connecting all your mics. Unless you have a lot of microphones, an eight-channel analog or digital mixer should suit your needs.
Last Thoughts on Video Production Equipment
The most essential items for quality video production include cameras, mics, and computer software. Along with these items, you may want video mixers, audio mixers, tripods, stabilizers, lights, and reflectors.
Video and audio mixers are also useful but not always necessary. The video switcher is best suited for live productions involving multiple cameras. However, you may also find a switcher beneficial for avoiding issues with syncing. The multiple cameras are automatically synced as they are recording at the same time.
An audio mixer is another piece of equipment that you may not require. However, having the option to control the sound levels of each mic separately is useful. You may also add effects and tweak the sound to your liking.
Basically, an audio mixer simplifies the process of compiling a quality video. While you may need to mix several video tracks together in your editing software, you may not want to mix several audio tracks.
The equipment that you choose depends on your production. Consider where you are going to be filming, how you plan to capture audio, and how you intend to edit everything together.