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Ministry and Wedding Videos - Doing It Right

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 2/4/2010

How to record an indoor church service, wedding, or special event video with a focus on recording sound through a live sound board and where to set up your cameras.

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    Ministry and Wedding Videos - Doing It Right

    When it comes to videotaping events, nothing is more popular for the home video producer than church based venues, mainly religious ministries and weddings. Since these events have such emotional resonance for the family it is common to want quality recordings.

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    Getting Quality Audio

    When recording a live event where people are speaking, be sure to get quality audio. Most of the time the amateur video producer will rely strictly on the built-in microphone for getting audio while recording an event. Though this may be satisfactory for the family trip to Gettysburg, it will not give you acceptable audio for something like a wedding or church sermon. The best choice will always be to plug in directly to an audio board. If the church is large enough (usually if it has a consistent congregation of more than two-hundred and fifty people) it will have live sound mixing available. If that is the case, unplug the onboard microphone (if it has a built in microphone go into the system settings on your camera and disable it, then enable a foreign microphone input) and then use a standard XLR cable to run from the audio input on the camera to one of the audio outputs on the audio board. This way you will get only the audio that is coming through the location's speakers. What is great about being in a church with live audio is that the location is designed to be inclusive of all members of the congregation, so there are always reserved areas for those with hearing impairments. If you are worried that you are not hearing the exact audio that will be recorded you can plug headphones into the location provided for hearing impaired members. You will hear the exact output that is going through the audio board, and onto your recording.

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    Consider the Location

    Be sure to scope out the location ahead of time. If the audio board is too far away from the action that you want to film then it may be advisable to rent or purchase a wireless microphone set-up. With a wireless microphone you can use it to record directly from the sound booth from a distance. What you can do is take the wireless microphone and connect it to the audio board’s output using the XLR cable, just as you connected the camera to the audio board. Then plug the receiver into the camera with a second XLR cable (most wireless microphones come with a small XLR cable). Turn both of these elements of the wireless microphone on and you should now be receiving the output from the audio board into your camera and headphones. The most important thing to be aware of when you are using wireless microphones is the short battery life, so make sure you turn them off when you are not recording.

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    Positioning the Camera(s)

    After these elements are considered, it is just as important to consider how you want the image to appear. If you have more than one camera it is important to give them stable, consistent positions in the room where the event is occurring. This would normally be two images of the stage, and one of the audience. It is important to slightly change the angle and zoom range that you have in each position every few minutes to make it more dynamic. If you are using a single camera setup you would most likely need to use it hand-held and roam around the room. Choose the elements that are most important and do not stray from them, as the event is live and you do not want to miss any of it. Remember, if you are using a handheld video camera avoid zooming too closely because it will exaggerate the shaky nature of the image. Using a good tripod will help prevent this. Follow these tips and your recording of the special event will be great!