By now I think most churches have become experts at doing online church. Nonetheless, I think this post can still be useful. The experts say there will likely be a surge of covid19 in the winter, which could trigger another lockdown.
There is one element that supersedes all the others in terms of importance in doing online church.
Is it a good video camera?
You don’t have to get some fancy DSLR or video camera. Any smartphone these days provides excellent footage. I did the vast majority of my video elements this summer with my iPhone 7. If you have a good camera, of course, that’s great. But it’s not the most important element.
Is it good lighting?
In this post, I talked about why it’s so important to have good lighting. It is a big deal, but it’s not the most important element.
Ok, I could go on and on, but let me cut to the chase.
Here’s the most important element in doing online church: good audio.
People will forgive a whole spectrum of lighting and camera quality. Think about movies you’ve seen. Some of them have extended scenes in which things are dark or the characters are far away from the camera. But if you can’t hear what people are saying, it’s all over.
This is something I now immediately notice when I watch a YouTube video or a link of someone’s online service. It’s an immediate sign for me of someone’s knowledge and commitment to the craft. If I can hear an echo I think to myself, “Ok, they’re still learning. They haven’t gotten to this part yet.” But if they’re using a microphone and the audio is clean, I automatically attribute professionalism to what they’re doing.
I admit I didn’t always use a microphone. When we first started doing our online church services, my job was to do the welcome most weeks. I set up my iPhone on a tripod, I got by a large window where there’s good natural light, and I recorded my little piece.
I thought it seemed quite good. But then I sent it off to our media team. God bless them. They said, “Rodlie, you look good, but do you notice the echo in the room? It’s a little distracting.”
As soon as they pointed it out, I noticed. It’s one of those things that once you hear it you can never un-hear it. Again, it’s not about hearing a little bit of echo that’s the problem. The issue is about communicating a message as effectively as possible. If people have to struggle to hear what’s being said, they will tune out.
So what should you do if you haven’t been using a microphone?
First, let’s be clear that there’s a spectrum of uses and difficulty levels in this area.
There are wireless microphones you can clip on and that automatically sync audio with your smartphone. Here’s one called Hooke Lav that is hitting the market.
Here’s one called the SmartMike+ from Sabinetek.
If you Google “vlogging microphone” or “bluetooth microphone” you’ll see a lot.
So on one end of the spectrum are microphones like those that instantly sync the video and audio. If you don’t have much time, resources, or knowledge in this area, this might be a good option for you.
The week after I did my first lockdown welcome from my house and didn’t have great audio, our media team here at Pioneer sent me a lavalier microphone. Here’s a great review of one on YouTube so you can see what it looks and sounds like.
With a microphone like this, you’re recording audio separately from your phone. It has its own Micro-SD card where the audio gets recorded. The benefit of this is that you’ll get super clear audio and the microphone itself can easily be hidden using some gaffer tape if you don’t want to clip it onto your lapel.
The con of using this method is that the audio then has to be downloaded and synced to the audio, assuming this is a pre-recorded video. If you don’t have someone to help you do this, and if you don’t want to invest in figuring out how to make it happen, you might not want to go in this direction.
Ok, that’s it. That’s my humble opinion on the most important technical element of doing online church.
Whatever choice you go with, do make sure that you have a solution that includes an external microphone of some sort. Do not, I beg you, rely on just the microphone of your smartphone or your Mevo camera. Invest the time or the money to figure out a better solution. Your church will thank you.
So what do you think? Agree? Disagree? Have you been using an external microphone solution? To leave a comment click here.