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Pre-record Your Sunday Sermon With A Smartphone

As world governments respond to the COVID-19 epidemic, Churches are preparing to meet the needs of the community and their congregation despite restrictions on public gatherings and potential quarantines.
You can always livestream your services (which we discuss in another article), but if you have decided to cancel services altogether, it might be a better option to pre-record your services.

Fortunately, this can be done inexpensively without compromising on quality too much. This post will talk you through recording your sermon during the week to be uploaded to social media or your website when Sunday comes around.

Equipment

Smartphone

Any relatively recent smartphone will do a good enough job of live streaming your services, but there are a number of accessories that we’d recommend to help tackle some of the smartphone’s shortcomings.

Audio Adapter

Sound is 70% of any video production, so ensure you’re getting the best quality sound possible.

Fortunately there are plenty of options for sound recording on smartphones these days. RODE makes a handful of options for Apple products in particular. 

The Rode Videomic Me-L is an affordable, directional microphone for your Iphone.

The Videomic Me is the same thing with a TRRS connector for other smartphones.

Tripod

Unless you’re confident you can hold your smartphone perfectly still for an entire sermon, you’ll need a tripod or something similar.

Manfrotto makes some fantastic, affordable options, just make sure the tripod you go for isn’t too flimsy, wobbles in your video are a good way to make it unwatchable!


Smartphone Tripod Mount

Joby makes some fantastic phone holders that will allow you to put your phone on any tripod.

A lot of these mounts come packaged with a small tripod too, so if you don’t mind the inconvenience of a tiny tripod, that may be a good way to save a few bucks!

We’d suggest picking one of these or something similar.

 


How-To

Shooting

Now the fun part! Get yourself setup to record before you invite the pastor to sit in front of the camera. The key to getting good footage out of a phone, is to make sure you have plenty of light.


Sitting your subject next to an open window on a sunny day, will give you plenty of light, and positioning your subject with the window next to them provides a nice, natural key light.

I’d suggest filming your sermon seated as people are less inclined to move around when seated. It also means they can have their notes in their lap and refer to them in between sections without moving around too much.

Set your tripod up just below the height of your subject’s eyes. Having them looking very slightly down at the lens is usually the best look for this kind of content. 

Get your speaker to sit down, and set up your framing. If you’ve ever taken a photography class, you’ll be familiar with the rule of thirds. If not, this is a simple explanation.

Because your subject is speaking directly with the audience, make sure to let them know to look directly into the lens of the camera when addressing them. It’s often helpful to remind your subject to practice their sermon a couple of times before you start filming. It goes a long way to helping them appear more confident.

Most phones have AGC (automatic gain control) and will automatically adjust your mic levels for you. If you have manual options (with a third party app for example) use that to set your levels instead, making sure not to let your levels go too high and peak the audio. 

Now, tell your subject to go ahead and preach their sermon to the camera. If you don’t mind doing some editing, it’s OK to let your subject have a couple of tries. But try to encourage your speaker to do as much as they can in one take. 

Once you’re all done, we need to splice it together.


Editing

These days, you can do this on your phone in dozens of different apps. I’d suggest using Adobe Premiere Rush, which is cross platform (you can use it on Apple devices, a large portion of Android phones, and most computers) and very affordable at only $15 a month.

If your subject wants to include some slides in their sermon, you can export their power point or keynote presentation as JPEG images and import them into Adobe Rush. Slides are useful for covering up mistakes and cuts too, so I’d encourage you to use them. 

Adobe has some fantastic tutorials on using Premiere Rush here.


Delivery

Once your video is finished and exported, you’ll need to upload it to your social network of choice. We’d suggest using Facebook’s premiere feature. This allows you to upload your video ahead of time, while still providing viewers with a live experience.

You can schedule a video premiere from the video library on your Facebook page.

Make sure to select the Premiere option under your publishing settings.

Schedule your video and upload an image to use in your announcement post.

A post will be made as soon as you publish your premiere. Users can ask Facebook to remind them when the video is starting. You can also use other platforms for your videos, but Facebook is likely to be commonly used among your church community, and is free to use.

Hopefully it means you wont need to educate your congregation on how to use another platform like YouTube or Vimeo.

In Conclusion…

Simple, professional looking videos are not too hard to produce. We all have a good camera in our pocket, so with a little effort, you can produce very high quality content easily. And you might find yourself using your new-found skills to produce other content!

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch via facebook or Instagram if you need a hand getting setup, or require any advice. We’re happy to help.


A quick note on copyright

Double check your music licensing before using any music in your videos. Facebook in particular uses tools that will hide your video from users if they’re unsure about any copyright issues. Youtube does the same while uploading.


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