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Recent Work

Livestream Setup for CCBC

I recently had the privilege of working with my friend Jerod Gilcher and some of his team at Christ Community Bible Church in Arlington, TX, helping them step up their livestream production.

Previously during the pandemic they were simply using a cell phone to stream their services. In some cases this is completely adequate. For example if a pastor is livestreaming a devotional or even a sermon from their home this works okay. However when you have a full band in a large echoey room with a congregation between the phone and the stage, it doesn’t work quite so well. The “signal” gets lost in the “noise.”

So Jerod contacted me asking for advice and in the end we decided it would be best for me to fly down, set it up and train their tech team on how to use it all! Here’s what we came up with:

This is the switcher setup—at the heart of the setup is the Black Magic ATEM Mini Pro Switcher (with built-in hardware encoder)

The system centers around the Black Magic ATEM Mini Pro Switcher. The reason I recommended this switcher is because it is also a hardware encoder, which means you don’t need a powerful computer to produce a high quality livestream, because it does all the work. You do hook it up to your computer for configuration and set up of overlays and and streaming URL and key etc, but the computer is just acting as an interface for the ATEM, not actually doing the work, and not actually sending or receiving any video signals.

Because of that, we were able to simply use a laptop that they already had, saving money and making good use of tools on hand.

In addition to the switcher I included a preview monitor, power strip, and ethernet switch, all mounted to a pedal board so that it could easily be packed away (one of the requirements as CCBC currently meets in a school) without having to disconnect and pack away all the individual pieces and cables after every service.

These are the two cameras (Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 6k) with Sigma 18-35mm on one and Sigma 50-100mm on the other

While we could have gotten away with cheaper cameras we went with two Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 6Ks for a few reasons:

  1. They are made by Black Magic, so there are some really handy integrations with the ATEM Switcher such as being able to change exposure and white balance settings from the ATEM software on the laptop in real time and built in tally system (which lets the camera operator know which camera is live and which is in preview.)
  2. They easily run on a 12V power supply that comes with the camera, so you don’t have to worry about battery life or getting dummy batteries or anything like that—just plug them in and forget about it!
  3. These are cinema cameras, so if they ever wanted to use them for recording other kinds of videos in the future, they could easily purchase some recording media and do so. In other words, they are flexible—great for a wide variety of uses.
  4. The EF lens mount meant we could easily purchase high quality lenses for a decent price without having to either spend alot of money on adaptors or compromise with cheap adaptors—which is where the Sigma Art Series 18-35mm and 50-100mm come in.

I selected these lenses so that they could run two cameras from one central point in the back of the auditorium giving them a wide shot and a tight shot.

Lastly a few more things you can’t really see in the pictures but that are actually really important are:

  • The audio set up—one of the biggest differences between great video content and amateurish video content actually has nothing to do with the picture—the quality of the audio is not something most viewers will consciously notice, but it is vitally important as it actually communicates the majority of the message, so you want it to be as clear and easy to listen to as possible. For CCBC, I was able to take an audio feed from their sound board and use the built-in audio processing in the switcher to optimize it for broadcast. And it sounds really good!
  • The ability for them to overlay lyrics and scripture readings as lower thirds from the same computer they are using for their in-house slides. I set this up using ProPresenter 7 and a Downstream Key. This again, keeps them from having to purchase another computer and gives the viewer of the livestream a lot better experience as they can easily sing along with worship and read along with the scriptures on screen.

It was an honor to get to work with CCBC and I’m so grateful to them for the opportunity! And they know that as questions arise, they can email me or call me at any time. This is not the first livestream set up I’ve done for churches other than my own and I have continued to help support them as needed! So if you’re looking to up your livestreaming game during the pandemic and want someone who is a partner in ministry for the long haul, shoot me an email at seth.weber@gmail.com

Categories
Communications Basics Free Communications Resources

The Weekly Bulletin

Every church has one, sometimes we call them bulletins, sometimes we call them newsletters or programs. And some churches even have some creative name for it that ties it to their brand.

In this article I want to give you a few ideas on how to improve and maybe simplify your weekly bulletin to make the most efficient use of your time as a pastor or church admin while giving those who pick up the bulletin a better experience. And then I’ll provide you with a few templates for you to try out if you’d like!

Categories
Communications Basics

Live Streaming vs. Pre-Recording Sunday Services

I was recently asked by a pastor friend of mine during this COVID-19 lockdown about the pros and cons of live streaming and pre-recording. My church has done both—we livestreamed for the first 4 weeks and then have been pre-recording since. (Our reasoning behind switching had more to do with the protection of our worship team and others who were gathering to do the livestream than the following pros and cons.)

So here are the pros and cons of each, with some tips as well. And then at the end I’ll help draw some conclusions.

Categories
Communications Basics

Tips for Video Production at Home

With the quarantine in place currently our pastoral and leadership teams have been recording videos from home for our services and social media channels a lot so I made a short video to help them make those videos as high quality as possible. Figured this information may also benefit other churches like yours! So here it is:

Note: This is not my house, we’re currently staying with my parents until we complete the purchase of our new home.

Categories
Communications Basics Free Communications Resources

Fonts for Churches

Before I start listing out some of my favorite font resources I want to give a little introduction to fonts and how to use them:

  1. If you have a brand guide that includes font usage directions, make sure to follow those.
  2. If you don’t have a brand guide or a brand font, you need to choose one. (I’d be happy to help you choose one if you don’t have a designer in your church who can help you find the right one for your brand. Shoot me an email at seth.weber@gmail.com)
  3. There are different kinds of fonts that are designed for different uses:
Categories
Communications Basics

Building Community

In my introduction to Church Communications article I said I would break down the categories and so I’m starting with Building Community.

A huge part of the mission of the church is to be a community that loves and cares for one another and makes disciples who make more disciples. And church communications, done well, can play a massive role in accomplishing that goal.

In this article we’re going to look at five things your church communications can do to help build community. Each of the five will include what channels will be used and what your primary audience will be.

Categories
Communications Basics

Church Communications Introduction

Definitions

If we’re going to explore “Church Communications” we first need to define church and communications on their own.

For the purpose of this article we’ll be looking talking about local churches, not the global Church. The church is not a business and we must not treat it as if it is. A local church is a community of believers commissioned by Jesus Christ to make disciples under the leadership of Biblically qualified elders. This includes both preaching the gospel to those who do not yet know Jesus and the building up the body of believers who are part of the church.

Communication is the means of transferring information from one person to another individual or group of people. Communications is the discipline of using available technologies to effectively and efficiently communicate to large groups of people on behalf of an organization.