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How to Pre-Record Your Sunday Service

How to Pre-Record Your Sunday Service—for those with more technical training and background

One of the methods of doing church online is to pre-record your messages. 

We recognize that most churches don’t have access to the same tech as what is listed below. However, you don’t need all of this equipment; you can still make great content with just your smartphone. You can even set up multiple phones for more angles. As for audio, an external microphone would be the best option, but if you don’t have one, use another phone for just the audio recording. Then, you can synchronize the audio with the video in post-production. 

Regardless of what equipment you have available, the basics of pre-recording are the same. We hope this guide can help keep you connected to your church during these times. 

The following is a detailed process of how one church in Slovakia plans, preps, and pre-records their Sunday services.

Pre-Recording

Once the pastor finishes preparing his message, we arrange a day to film as a team. We record two online Sunday services and it takes a full day to edit the final video. For our team, Thursday is the best option, as we also include worship. If you only record the sermon, it’s ok to record it on Saturday afternoon.

Recording

For recording, we get to church an hour in advance, prepare the sound console, prepare a computer for multitrack recording and start setting up the cameras. If you only have access to a single camera, your process can take more time if you desire to have multiple takes or angles for the recording. Then, when the recording starts (we start at 10AM), we first record the sermon and everything that is the spoken word, and then we record the band.

Post-Production

After we record everything, we upload all the videos and audio captured to a computer and organize it by parts of the program and by takes. For post-production, we split the editing with one other team member. We separate the worship from the spoken word, and, when those parts are complete, we edit the whole service together.

Posting

We post our online sermons to our Facebook page, website, and YouTube. We post the video on Facebook and YouTube, and we copy an embed link from YouTube and post it on our website. For both Facebook and YouTube, we schedule the video to post at 9AM as a premiere, so people watching have a live experience. We would suggest to upload and schedule the video the day before the scheduled time, just in case something won’t work.

Here are links to our first video:

Here are links to our second video:

Technical Information on Sound and Video Recording

We have our Behringer X32 digital sound console at church with an X-USB extension card (which comes with the console). We have a USB stick plugged into the board where we record the master output from the board (.wav format). Then, we have the console connected to a computer via USB cable. On one computer, we use a program called Reaper for a multitrack recording of the band. For the spoken word, we record direct input (PreFader) to the USB stick. For the worship band, we record the master output from the console to the USB stick and the multitrack on a computer at the same time.

We use headphones to mix the worship “live” as we are recording, so the master out mix is as good as it can be because we use some effects. This would take a long time to do in Reaper for the multitrack recording. We try to mix the worship so we can use the master out recording and we don’t have to deal with the multitrack recording. The multitrack is just a backup. For the band, we have one or two vocals, acoustic guitar, and an upright piano.

Gear Used:

  • Behringer X32 (sound console)
  • MacBook Pro (multitrack recording)

Microphones:

  • 2xShure SM58 (vocals)
  • Shure SM57 (acoustic guitar)
  • 2xAKG C1000s (upright piano)
  • Audio Technica ATW 3110B (spoken word)
  • D.I.Box (guitar)

Cameras and Lenses:

  • Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4k + 18-135mm
  • Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera + 50mm
  • Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera + 14-42mm
  • Canon 600D + 55-250mm

Specs:

  • Resolution: 1920x1080
  • Codec: Apple ProRes Proxy (H.264 on Canon)
  • Framerate: 25fps

For the video recording, we have 4 cameras and 4 tripods. We set up the cameras from 4 different angles and leave them the same for all of the spoken words, then change it for the band. Before we start recording, we check every camera to make sure it’s in focus, not over or underexposed, and to ensure that all of the cameras have the same settings. When we start recording, we press record on all of the cameras one by one and then we clap, so it’s easier to synchronize all of the cameras and the audio in post-production. We usually do just one take for every spoken word, but, if someone makes a mistake, we do more. For the band, we do at least three takes for every song. The third take is almost always the best.

We edit in Adobe PremierePro, where we import all of the camera angles from the best takes. The program then synchronizes them. Then, we bring the audio from the sound console, synchronize it with the video, and then we start switching cameras. When we don’t like the master output audio from the console, we open the multitrack recording, mix it, render it, and then use it instead of the master output. But, it has to be the audio from the same take the video is from, otherwise, it won’t synchronize with the video. After we finish with the camera switching, we color-grade the footage. When the whole video is done, we render a decent quality output to show others. Then, they say if it’s ok or if they would like to change or add something. If everything is okay, we render a top-quality output and we post it online.

 

 

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